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Tsavo West, Amboseli, Meru & Samburu — January, 2015


Tom Kellie

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Tom Kellie

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Leaf and Seed Fantasia



~ The colors of these fallen leaves leaped out to me when we were driving along. Ever-patient Anthony stopped and backed up for me to photograph them as a still life. My Chinese friend may have started to question my sanity at that point!



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Muscicapa striata



Seeing a small bird, I hesitated asking for another photo stop, as I understood we needed to keep moving or risk a shortened game drive later in the day. It was Muscicapa striata, Spotted Flycatcher.



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Two Weaver Nests



Both Anthony and I like weaver nests. He's actually a connoisseur of weavers and their intricately engineered nests. Seeing these two suspended, side by side, merited a stop, which gladly did.




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Beijing to Nairobi Lights Out on EY 889 ~ After my safari partner, Peking University medical student and researcher, XU Ni, 徐铌, rendezvoused at my Beijing campus apartment, we r

Quenching And then there were elephants...by the dozen! We rounded a tight bend to head onward to the lodge when Loxodonta africana in force appeared. They were hustling along, as if urgency co

Madoqua kirkii Pair ~ Just the two of them. Nothing else in sight. Small. Wary. Yet not so anxious. Madoqua kirkii, Kirk's Dikdik in the tall grass beside a Tsavo West track. Nothing fancy, yet

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Tom Kellie

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Pachyderm Water Pipeline



~ Trunk to gullet. It's as basic as that. The reflection on the waterhole surface is a bonus. If elements rule, water sustains.



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Baobab, Acacia, Elephant, Waterhole



If one ever felt that big cats were beautiful in a way that elephants weren't, this image might give reason to reconsider. The grace and elegance of the elephant stands out, while the truly immense trees in the background remain in silent witness, having lived as numerous past elephants stopped there to quench their midday thirst.

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Acacias and a Young Baobab



~ The previous day I'd asked Anthony what young baobabs looked like. What I had in mind was a 2 meter baobab, which I couldn't visualize. He very thoughtfully stopped to bring to my attention this relatively young baobab beside a waterhole.



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Henpecked



This pair of Pseudonigrita cananisi, Black-capped Social-Weaver, in an acacia might serve as a ‘give-this-a-caption’ competition, if it had been an unobstructed, darker background image.



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Sharp Points



There's more than one kind of sharp point shown here.



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Yellow Vine



In the 11 day safari, this may be my own favorite botanical image. I spotted it when we were traveling at a fairly fast clip. It stayed in my mind for several seconds before I overcame my hesitance, asking Anthony to stop and back up. I'm crazy about vines, so this highly saturated color vine contrasting with a neutral background thrilled me. Looking at it again tonight, it still does gives a thrill.



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Young Warthogs Are Alert



Lest it be thought that we saw no warthogs in Tsavo West, here's a mother and young who near a male, who's visible on the extreme right of the image.



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Melierax poliopterus Near Mtito Andei Gate



One of the final images taken inside Tsavo West National Park, this Melierax poliopterus, Eastern Chanting-Goshawk, was surveying the surrounding area from atop a snag.







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Tom Kellie

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For John Dolittle, M.D.



~ Hugh Lofting's classic animal tales of Dr. Dolittle were favorites of mine as a child. “If I could talk to the animals...” sang Sammy Davis, Jr. in the film version of Dr. Dolittle.



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Safari Van Reflected on an Impala's Eye



For anyone wondering what Anthony's Toyota safari van looked like, it's unmistakably visible in the reflection on this male impala's eye. The lens and camera sensor ‘done good’.



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Face-to-Face with a Male Impala



His self-evident curiosity about our presence, coupled with what looked like a willingness to engage, motivated us to roll to a halt and photograph this male impala. He was the final mammal we photographed in Tsavo West National Park.


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Tom Kellie

Merops nubicus




Our morning game drive over, the Mtito Andei Entrance visible in the


distance, our visit to Tsavo West National Park had come to a close.


Except it hadn't. In the finest tradition of salesman Steve Jobs, there


was “one more thing”. I saw a solitary bird on the end of a dead branch.


We stopped, despite the fact that bright sunlight behind it added


complexity to photography. It was Merops nubicus, Northern Carmine


Bee-eater. I'd only seen the species once before, at Lake Baringo,


Kenya, during the February, 2014 safari. It was an attractive


species with which to conclude our Tsavo West visit.




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Merops nubicus Out on a Limb



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Merops nubicus Flight




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Merops nubicus



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Merops nubicus Multi-hued Plumage

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Tom Kellie

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What Calcium Does



~ Just inside the Mtito Andei Entrance is this mockup of an adult giraffe with the skeleton wired together. Looking at it, I feel fortunate to have been born in an era when such an organism walks on Earth. Natural selection came up with a doozy when it produced giraffes.



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Terminalia orbicularis Sign



I appreciate it when public parks or gardens place signage which identifies botanical species which might otherwise be unfamiliar to visitors. Consideration for the needs of others raises overall quality.



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Terminalia orbicularis Redux



As it began, so it concludes. With Terminalis orbicularis seeds. Thus concludes the January, 2015 visit to Tsavo West National Park. On to Amboseli!





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Tom Kellie

Tsavo West National Park to Amboseli National Park




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Decorated Gourds for Sale



~ As a few days before, we returned to the Mombasa Highway, this time heading somewhat northwest. The clarity of design on these gourds impressed me as we drove past.



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Baskets and Gourds



Their marketing techniques appealed to me. The wooden cross-poles with nails for hanging the merchandise, all in fine array. Such handicrafts in rural Kenya are generally tastefully decorated.



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Brickyard Beneath Baobabs



Three large baobabs beside the highway grew beside a cornfield lined with agaves. This image shows a brickyard operating there, with freshly made bricks drying in the sunshine.



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Roadside Mosque in Green and White



Nearly every mosque I've seen in Kenya has been painted white with green trim. This mosque was no different, with thriving vegetation which resembled breadfruit planted around the entrance.



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Mombasa Highway Panorama



A cornfield and a flock of goats are in the background of this panoramic view of a typical view along the Mombasa Highway. What's especially praiseworthy is the complete absence of any discarded trash. Did the goats do their part to contribute to the tidiness?



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固基修道履方致远 Strengthen the Foundation and Pave the Road to Reach the Future



The construction of the bed for the Mombasa to Nairobi link of the new standard gauge railway is a large scale undertaking. To encourage workers and those passing by alike, Chinese language slogans with English or Swahili translations have been prominently displayed along the route. Unlike their equivalent in Beijing, where large red banners with bright yellow lettering are the norm, those in Kenya are white on blue.



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安全发展



Most of the signs around the railway construction sites along the Mombasa Highway were completely written in Chinese. As nearly all of the laborers are Kenyan, there may be a comprehension gap, as Chinese literacy is nil in Kenya. The red and white banner says: “Security and Development”.



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Jamia Mosque in Makindu



Makindu is a pleasant settlement on the Mombasa Highway, a few kilometers southeast of Kiboko. The Jamia Mosque in Makindu is located in a fenced, park-like compound.



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Giraffe on the Road Seen from Inside the Safari Van



After turning off Mombasa Highway onto the road leading to the Iremito Gate of Amboseli National Park, we encountered a giraffe about to cross the road. This photo was taken from my seat in the rear of the safari van, looking past Anthony to the giraffe.



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Photographed Through the Safari Van Windshield



While parked on the road, waiting for the giraffe to move, I used the super telephoto lens to photograph the giraffe through the safari van's front windshield. That's the only time that the lens has ever been used that way from inside the safari van. A few seconds after this image was made, the giraffe sauntered across the road to browse on the other side.

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Tom Kellie

Amboseli National Park




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Iremito Gate of Amboseli National Park



We entered Amboseli National Park through the Iremito Gate. In two previous visits to Amboseli, I'd entered through the Kimana Gate, to the east. The atmosphere was languid, as if little of note had happened there lately.



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Phacochoerus africanus in Early Evening



The early evening light on these Phacochoerus africanus, Common Warthogs, gave them a lighter-than-usual color, which contrasted with the deep blue of Mt. Kilimanjaro's foothills.



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Distant Safari Vehicles Gathered to Watch Elephants



A view of clustered safari vehicles, Amboseli-style, presumably gazing at elephants feeding. As Anthony isn't the sort to chase after other vehicles, we proceeded to seek out our own elephants, without anyone else around.



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Wading Connochaetes taurinus albojubatus



There were a small number of Connochaetes taurinus albojubatus, White-bearded Wildebeest, wading in the shallow water of Ol Okenya Swamp. Their solitary habit was a striking contrast to the migrating wildebeest herds in Masai Mara.



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Double Eastern White-bearded Wildebeests



Chinese speak of ‘double happiness’ at weddings. In this image it's double wildebeests. This image lasted but a moment as they walked away from each other.



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Balearica regulorum Seeking Morsels



An enduring feature of Amboseli's swamps are the Balearica regulorum, Grey Crowned Crane, which live there. This crane was wading and eating in the day's remaining sunlight.

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Tom Kellie

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Wet Elephants Crossing A Track



Anthony found elephants — a family crossing from one side of the track we were on to the other. They'd been grazing in the swamp. Their crossing was slow and deliberate, which we didn't mind.



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Algae Socks



Vibrant green anklets, no less.



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Tail as Fly-whisk



I like seeing the tail in use as a fly-whisk by the elephant herself. I wouldn't feel the same if were in a human hand.



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Amboseli Tusker



Not to be confused with Kenyan beer of the same name...




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Tom Kellie

Bubulcus ibis Catching a Frog



Full credit for this sighting goes to XU Ni, who kindly


called it to my attention. I'd been watching an African


Jacana on the east side of the track. This Bubulcus ibis,


Cattle Egret, was on the west side. It had a corpulent


frog in its bill, toying with the hapless amphibian.




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Bubulcus ibis Catching a Frog



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Frog in the Beak



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Grasped by the Neck



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Catch of the Day

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Tom Kellie

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Actophilornis africanus in Amboseli National Park



In the long wavelength light of early evening, the dark chestnut plumage of Actophilornis africanus, African Jacana, contrasted with the powder-blue of its shield and bill. It was the closest I'd ever been to an African Jacana.



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Actophilornis africanus Stalking



When stalking for food, it lowered itself so as to be nearer to the water surface. The algae strands which adhered to its grey legs are visible in the image.


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Tom Kellie

A baby elephant had wandered off from its mother to


graze in lush Ol Olkenya Swamp. It noticed our arrival


and proceeded to put on a little show for us. An audience


of three, one African, one Asian, one Caucasian, all


charmed by the antics of a baby elephant.




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Jambo, Tembo!



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Baby Elephant Portrait



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Sashaying in the Grass



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Wandering Off, Grass in Trunk

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Tom Kellie

The baby elephant we'd watched returned to the family,


eating grass with its miniature trunk until hunger pangs


drove it to the warm familiarity of its mother, the source


of milk, safety, reassurance and lessons in living.




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Extended Trunk, Bent Knee



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Young and Younger



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At the Nursing Age



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Infant and Adult



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The Various Uses of Trunks

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graceland

@ Tom Kellie,

 

Enjoyed the ride along with you to Amboselli, I've not been, so its very enjoyable to see and read of parks in Kenya I've yet to visit.

 

This last series of the baby elie are just too darn adorable. I was going to comment on the giraffe shot through the window, the birds, the mosque, the chinese signage and much more...but WAIT; those thoughts went out like a light as soon as I saw the baby elephant with Mum. Great shots you were able to take with Anthony taking his own road away from the safari vehicles gathering around.

 

Can never get too much - they are truly adorable, laughable, cherishable, and highly desirable for a sighting. Thanks for sharing one of my fav. African Mammals.

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Tom Kellie

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Alopochen aegyptiacus Feeding with Syncerus caffer in the Background



~ The Alopochen aegyptiacus, Egyptian Geese, were spread out from one another, feeding as a single Syncerus caffer, African Buffalo, grazed in the distance. Far beyond, the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro.



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Amboseli's Water in Early Evening



The source of life remains water, from whence our most ancient ancestors came onto land. The sapphire blue band is why the verdant green is there, which in turn is why the elephants, jacanas and wildebeests are there. Water the common link of all. We live on the blue planet, the water planet.



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Walking in the Shadow of Kilimanjaro



Steadily plodding across the swamp grass in the same way their ancestors have done for generations. The players are different, but the pattern remains unchanged. Behavioral continuity, very slow to change.



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Track Rising Over a Culvert



Much of Amboseli is like this. Do I mind? This was my third visit to Amboseli, and I hope not my last.


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Tom Kellie

@ Tom Kellie,

 

Enjoyed the ride along with you to Amboselli, I've not been, so its very enjoyable to see and read of parks in Kenya I've yet to visit.

 

This last series of the baby elie are just too darn adorable. I was going to comment on the giraffe shot through the window, the birds, the mosque, the chinese signage and much more...but WAIT; those thoughts went out like a light as soon as I saw the baby elephant with Mum. Great shots you were able to take with Anthony taking his own road away from the safari vehicles gathering around.

 

Can never get too much - they are truly adorable, laughable, cherishable, and highly desirable for a sighting. Thanks for sharing one of my fav. African Mammals.

 

~ @graceland:

 

What a nice surprise! It's been hours with no one around, so I've been uploading as much as possible before the work week begins anew.

I had no idea you might be online. Very glad that you enjoyed the mix of images.

Tsavo West was lovely, but Amboseli has its own charms.

The baby ele...what can I say? It was a charmer. Such a little show-off. In the end, back to mom and the comforts of family, but not before having done its own thing for us.

There's more to come with Amboseli, but no wild dogs, European rollers or terrapins.

Thanks every so much for your encouragement in what is deep night in Beijing.

Tom K.

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An adult male Struthio camelus, Ostrich, walked across


flat ground to pass in front of us. None of us spoke


for several minutes as we watched it approach,


cross the road with the grace of a ballet dancer,


and go on its way into the far beyond.




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Ostrich Near a Mound



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Large Foot with Large Toes



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How About My Graceful Steps?



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Like a Ballet Dancer



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Now, Wasn't That Easy?



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Struthio camelus at Dusk

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Tom Kellie

Our third day on safari ended with sunset, the great


volcano, Kilimanjaro, looming above, its snowy


peak symbolizing the Earth's power over all life.




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Amboseli Sunset with Acacia Silhouettes



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Amboseli Sunset with Acacias



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Snow-covered Summit at Sunset



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Amboseli Sunset Colors


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Tom Kellie

~ @Tdgraves:

 

Thank you for liking the ‘Bubulcus ibis Catching a Frog’ images.

That reassures me, as I'd wondered if such photos might be a bit too graphic.

In a sense, they're almost the only ‘kill’ shots during the safari, as I never saw any predators eating a kill.

I tried to iudentify the frog species, as there's considerable detail when the images are magnified.

My African amphibian resources are limited, and online searching wasn't much better, especially as Google is no longer available in Beijing.

At later stages of the safari, there may be comparable images, but that remains a way off, as I've just concluded day #3 of the safari report.

I appreciate your interest and encouragement.

Tom K.

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Tom Kellie

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Dawn at the Lodge Entrance



The fourth day of the safari began at just after 6 am with a stroll around the grounds of the Amboseli Sopa Lodge. The lighting on the bougainvillea blooms beside the porte-cochère bathed them in harsh luminosity.



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Epomophorus wahlbergi



A moderately sized bat slowly flew past the harsh lights and settled up on an overhead tree limb. It rustled its wings, turned, then turned again before settling into one position. Had it been hunting in the pre-dawn twilight?



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Epomophorus wahlbergi Detail



The bat was Epomophorus wahlbergi, Wahlberg's Epauletted Fruit Bat. A fruit-eater, it frequents well-lit locations and is not averse to living in or near human structures.





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Amboseli Sopa Lodge



We stayed a short drive east of the Kimana Gate of Amboseli


National Park in the Amboseli Sopa Lodge. It was nearly


empty, thus we never felt crowded. The only other guests


were a cheerful group of Christian ladies building


schools as well as a pair of friendly Canadian ladies


from Edmonton. My room was large enough for a small


family but I enjoyed its spacious comforts. XU Ni stayed


in an adjacent room after using the Wi-Fi service to chat


with friends in China. The meals were fine, with


dinner served on an outside terrace where


animal sounds echoed through the night.




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Amboseli Sopa Lodge



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Early Morning Seating Available



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Awaiting Breakfast



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Repeated Coil Motif



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Bee and Ant on an Aloe Vera Bloom Spike



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Amboseli Sopa Lodge Decorative Pot



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Like Amboseli, Like Beijing



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Angel's Portal



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View from Reception to Restaurant



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Flagstone Walkway to Guest Rooms


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Mt. Kilimanjaro



The morning of the safari's fourth day was blessed with a


cloudless appearance of Mt. Kilimanjaro. The ‘Roof of Africa


consists of three volcanic cones, Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira.


Uhuru Peak is the 5,888 meter summit on the crater rim


of Kibo, which remains dormant but may someday awake.




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Mt. Kilimanjaro Uhuru Summit



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Kibo — Uhuru Summit



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Western Upper Slope



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Eastern Upper Slope



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Mawenzi



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Mt. Kilimanjaro Summit Panorama

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Tdgraves

~ @Tdgraves:

 

 

Thank you for liking the ‘Bubulcus ibis Catching a Frog’ images.

That reassures me, as I'd wondered if such photos might be a bit too graphic.

In a sense, they're almost the only ‘kill’ shots during the safari, as I never saw any predators eating a kill.

I tried to iudentify the frog species, as there's considerable detail when the images are magnified.

My African amphibian resources are limited, and online searching wasn't much better, especially as Google is no longer available in Beijing.

At later stages of the safari, there may be comparable images, but that remains a way off, as I've just concluded day #3 of the safari report.

I appreciate your interest and encouragement.

Tom K.

My "kills" also usually consist of insects etc. as well! We managed a scorpion, a tortoise, a squirrel and a mouse on our recent trip to the KTP though.....

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Tom Kellie

Giraffe and Mt. Kilimanjaro




We drove towards the Kimana Gate, elated by the


unspoiled loveliness of Mt. Kilimanjaro. What joy


to be alive and experiencing one of our planet's


greatest sights. An elderly giraffe was between


us and the great volcano — postcard photo


time! The giraffe was a most obliging model


despite its great age. After that we drove


to Kimana Gate and entered the park.




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Mawenzi and Kibo Summits



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Nzuri Asubuhi, Amboseli!



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Mt. Kilimanjaro and Giraffe Panorama



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Giraffe and Mt. Kilimanjaro



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Amboseli Giraffe and Mt. Kilimanjaro



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USAID/Kenya at Kimana Gate

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twaffle

The frog capture … a winning sighting for sure. You also have some lovely shots of the snows of Kilimanjaro. Excellent.

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