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A wild old time: a green season visit to Kenya October/November 2014


CaroleE
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Ok guys be gentle with me, this is my first trip report!

 

A short summary, impressions, maybe some helpful information and some photos from my trip last October/November to Kenya.

Green season (not so busy, also not so expensive) and a return trip but visiting parks which were new to me.

 

Basic schedule was

2 nights Lake Elementaita /Lake Nakuru (Sleeping Warrior Camp)

3 nights Samburu (Elephant Bedroom Camp)

4 nights Laikipia (Laikipia Wilderness Camp)

 

And to end my trip 6 nights on Zanzibar to (finally) visit Stone Town and for some R&R after the wildlife, Why I hadn't managed to see Stone Town on my previous visit is a story for another time.,,,,,,for that you will have to wait :)

 

Impressions.

Most importantly I totally lucked out with my guides. Apart from Laikipia which I had chosen because I knew I would have good guides this was more by luck than judgement! As I am serious about my woldlife I wasn't going to tag on a few gane drives in between lazing by the pool or having a facial. Nope I was going first and foremost for the wildlife and birdlife! Therefore my guides made this a truly memorable trip. Their knowledge, experience and intuition meant I had some fantastic sightings.

 

I chose three new parks to experience different habitats, eco-systems and to see new species. High point was always going to be the wild dogs in Laikipia. But I also wanted to see African Rhino for the first time.

 

The camps were not completely my choice, I went with the advice of my travel agent. He had also spent time at LWC and was so enthusiastic that I knew I had made the right choice there.

 

Sleeping Warrior was really a stop off point to visit Lake Nakuru NP. I ended up in the lodge instead of the camp as it was closed for the start of the short rains. The lodge was a tad more luxurious than my usual camp! I have the impression that it is more a place to kick back and relax with the odd game drive thrown in. Their morning game drives are not usually scheduled to start before 9am!

View from the lodge was spectacular, overlooking the Sleeping Warrior crator (which you can climb.) From my cottage (huge, by the way!) I got an excellent view of one of the waterholes. Food was excellent but way too much for me: cooked breakfast, 3 course lunch and 4 course dinner. I was really pleased I wasn't staying longer, I would have gained kilo's :) If going to the lodge I would check for national holidays/long weekends, it gets packed with residents from Nairobi coming up for the weekend. The co-owner Jacqueline was fantastic, nothing was too much trouble and she manages the lodge very very well. Her hisband who had designed and helped build the place was unfortunately away so I didn't get to meet him.

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I did one afternoon game drive in the Soysamba Conservency. The lodge is the only camp/lodge in the conservency so no danger of being overrun by other vehicles. They also arranged a proper night drive (starting 9pm).for me. Lots and lots of birdlife, zebra, Rothschild giraffe, golden and black backed jackal, buffalo, hippo, impala, Thomson and Grant's gazelle and yes, a leopard. A fleeting glimpse of it stalking through the bushes but I saw one, Night drive was pretty quiet but Spring hares were spotted leaping or is that bouncing around! A new species for me!

Day in Lake Nakuru NP was great. The lodge did take some persuasion to leave earlier than 9am but as I had booked sole use of vehicle and guide I eventually got there a bit earlier. The black rhino were elusive but in total I spotted 7 white rhino, one lion (high up a tree....Uganda isn't the only place with tree climbing lions then!) and the usual suspects of buffalo, gazelle, dik dik, jackal, zebra, giraffe, impala etc etc. There are a few more flamingo on the lake but defintely not the high numbers in years gone by. Water levels were retreating so they were hoping for more to come back from further north as lower levels meant more algae for them to eat.

So I got my wish to see African Rhino. The way things are going with poaching I count myself very lucky!

My guide on all drives and my day in Nakuru was John. Knowledgeable, personable. Very good!

 

Ok, that is part one. It's not very short afterall :) Thank goodness fior my notebook from the trip! Photos coming up but am going to post this in case I lose it all.

Edited by CaroleE
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A few photos from Nakuru. Hope the quality is good enough. I resized these from the original files.

 

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Sleepimg Warrior crater

 

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Part two: Samburu

 

Early start, drive to Nairobi than a Safarilink flight to Samburu. Curious if anyone knows of a better way to do this journey.

 

Samburu was hot!! Everything much drier. They still hadn't had much rain. Colour hues were different: browns; orange of the dirt roads; not very much green.

 

Ok impressions, opinions. Elephant Bedroom was a disappointment in some ways. Took some persuasion for me to go there. Camp was a bit rough around the edges in places, things didn't work in my tent, food was very hit and miss and my impression was that maximising profit was very important. No flexibility: you had a morning and afternoon game drive of fixed length and that was it. I had booked a stay here as walking safaris were offered but these were not aviallable. Small moan, no sundowners apart from one evening when we got a dreadful cocktail at the mess tent. I know sundowners are not always necessary but I would have liked the choice!

This just cemented my preference for small owner run places. Not run by an inches thick manual, open to ideas and flexibility.

 

Positives!!

Sightings were very good. My guide Julius was fab despite a bit of a rocky start. My first game drive was with a French couple who didn't interact at all and spent most of the time checking messges and their mobiles. I was doubting if I had made a good choice to stay here. But the next couple of days I had sole use of the car. Not paid for, another advantage to going in the green season! And the sightings just got better and better.

 

Naturally as it was Samburu, lots of elephants including the two bull eles who paid regular visits to the camp. Disturbing lunch, searching for fruits/berries and eating the bushes around my tent. All night long. Good job I like elephants!

Numerous ele sightings out in the park. With some very big herds slowly coming down the hillside, into view. Not too concerned we were there so they came pretty close to the car and were relaxed

 

Lots of raptors: first ever Martial Eagle, falcons (Pygmy and Common), goshawks and other eagles. Marabou storks. Vulturine guinea fowl.

And new species: somali ostrich, reticulated giraffe. Even a small leopard tortoise.

 

My staggering (and I choose that word correctly) luck with big cats continued. Lions, a much better sighting of a leopard and cheetah. The leopard was enjoying its kill but got scared away by some appalling behaviour from other vehicles (another story, another rant, I will stop here :))

 

Here prime examples of a good guide. There were a few cars watching the cheetah and Julius suggested going round the back of the scrub area where they were sitting (partially hidden) and waiting as he was pretty sure they were going to walk off in that direction. Off we went and no-one else followed us or was in sight. We had the time to wait and I was prepared to do so. I didn't want to simply tick another species off my list. I prefer to spend time and see behaviour which you may not see in the first five minutes. And of course the cheetah came walking out of the bushes. First the mother and then her two young (approx 1 year old) stopping and playing, rolling around on the ground. The mother stopped, looked around and chose a log for the classic cheetah pose: front legs on something higher for a better view. They then made their way in front of the car and sat under a tree in the shade. That afternoon, Julius spent a lot of time tracking the cheetah and found them with a fresh kill. Looked like a young impala. Again I was fortunate to spend time with them with hardly any other vehicles around.

 

The lions also gave me a joyous sighting. Lions were Mum and her young (a brother and sister approx 3 years old) We had been watching them as they sat in the shade and followed as they began walking away. We stopped and waited just by the roadside. Sister came out first and had a good look round. Her brother wasn't in sight. She then headed for the side of the road and sat in a gully. What was she doing? She eventually crouched down, sinking lower and lower, so that she was completely out of sight. Her brother came out into the open and had no idea she was there. He carried on walking, getting closer and closer to the road edge. When he got there Bam! his sister pounced on him.

Lions like playing hide and seek :) Naturally also good practice for hunting.

After a bit of play fighting they carried merrily on their way. Walking so close to the edge of my vehicle I am still pretty sure there was no space between vehicle and lion!

 

Lesson here is, very good guide = very good sightings!

 

Numerous good sightings in Samburu but these two are my highlights. Photos to follow when I have more time to post. Then it will be part three: Laikipia. Hands up those who think I enjoyed my time in Laikipia? :)

Edited by CaroleE
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~ @@CaroleE

 

What an active safari you've described in your first trip report!

I've sat at my computer desk enjoying the pacing of your narrative.

Your love for wildlife comes through in every paragraph.

You saw springhares? Wonderful! I've yet to spot them as I'm typically back in camp or in a lodge after dark.

The cheetah sequence sounds outstanding! Your guide, Julius, was wise in taking a different approach, thereby enabling you to enjoy a very special Samburu cheetah sighting.

Having been to Samburu and observed cheetah, your vivid description sparked memories.

I'm so pleased that you did see a rhino! That's a highlight of any safari.

You're a natural trip report author — all that you explain flows so smoothly.

Knowing the time and care needed to write a trip report, your work is greatly appreciated!

Tom K.

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This has been a real pleasure so far. I'm looking forward to seeing some photos of the lions and cheetahs you've described. Did you have any notable hyena encounters?

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@@CaroleE

 

--

Thank you for sharing your Green Season in Kenya; thus far most enjoyable with the flamingos, rhino and views; and sounds like Laikipia was a hit!

 

The story of the cheetah sighting with an observant guide is evident of your enjoyment with Julius during your stay- even though Elephant Bedroom as not up to your expectations.

Looking forward to more!

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Sounds as though your trip went pretty well and that you had a lot of good sightings. Shame about Elephant bedroom and the lack of walking.

 

Looking forward to hearing about your Laikipia experience; it has become a popular place for ST members. I wonder why that would be? ;)

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~ @@CaroleE

 

What an active safari you've described in your first trip report!

I've sat at my computer desk enjoying the pacing of your narrative.

Your love for wildlife comes through in every paragraph.

You saw springhares? Wonderful! I've yet to spot them as I'm typically back in camp or in a lodge after dark.

The cheetah sequence sounds outstanding! Your guide, Julius, was wise in taking a different approach, thereby enabling you to enjoy a very special Samburu cheetah sighting.

Having been to Samburu and observed cheetah, your vivid description sparked memories.

I'm so pleased that you did see a rhino! That's a highlight of any safari.

You're a natural trip report author — all that you explain flows so smoothly.

Knowing the time and care needed to write a trip report, your work is greatly appreciated!

Tom K.

 

@@Tom Kellie

Thank you very much for your positive comments on my first trip report. Good to hear that it was appreciated. I really didn't know which tone to use so I just went with my usual style of writing and hoped others would find it a pleasing read.

 

Yes, the spring hares were great! I think I only saw them because we were out on a real night drive (starting 9pm) so they were out in force and really active.

The cheetahs in Samburu were a big bonus! For some reason I didn't expect to see them there. Oh how wrong I was! Good to hear that my Samburu cheetah bought back memories of yours....another good reason to share your stories. It brings back memories for others.

 

After this positive feedback I have more confidence to carry on with tis trip report and do the last part of this trip. This part will take some time to write as LOTS happened in Laikipia :)

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michael-ibk

Great first trip report, all the details are much appreciated! Interesting about Elephant Bedroom Camp, generally they seem to be in pretty high regard. Looking forward to more pics! :)

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This has been a real pleasure so far. I'm looking forward to seeing some photos of the lions and cheetahs you've described. Did you have any notable hyena encounters?

@@Marks

 

Thank you for kind comment on the story so far! I am revisiting the Samburu photos so that I can post some of the lions and cheetahs. Watch this space!

Hyena were spotted, I think the best was a striped hyena on my first game drive in Laikipia. A new species for me....one happy Carole after that :)

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@@graceland

Thank you for your kind comment.

Yes it was a great holiday, Samburu was very good and the fact that Julius was such a good guide made it so. My theory whilst there, and still, was that the wildlife sightings were far outweighing the slightly disappointing camp therefore all was good.

 

Part three Laikipia will be added but it may take a while to write as so much happened I don't yet know which bits to include, maybe I will just have to include everything :)

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@@wilddog

 

Thank you for your comment. Yes, the lack of walking was a disappointment but the sightings made up for it!

Laikipia does appear to be popular here! I was reading your trip report the other day, sounds like you had an excellent visit there too. I have just realised I didn't respond or even 'like' it....I will do that directly!

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No worries @@CaroleE I am just delighted you read it. :)

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Great first trip report, all the details are much appreciated! Interesting about Elephant Bedroom Camp, generally they seem to be in pretty high regard. Looking forward to more pics! :)

 

Maybe Elephant Bedroom were having a few off days on the FOH side. I certainly had no complaints re the guiding.

There will be more pics, just have to select a few!

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Wow, what a lot of positive comments and likes! I really appreciate them all. Thank you.

 

Gives me more impetus to carry on with the rest. Pictures from Samburu to follow first. Then I will start the mammoth task of trying to cram Lakipia into a not too incredibly long post!

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Pics from Samburu, part one

 

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Grevys

 

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Being told in no uncertain terms to go away!

 

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Leopard beating a hasty retreat from its kill

 

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At least someone benefited from the leopard's misfortune

 

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Mum had disappeared a few days earlier so dad was looking after the little one

 

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Daily visitor, on the way to my tent

 

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Samburu pics part two

 

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Marabou storks drying out after a very localised shower: one side of camp got it, the other not

 

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Someone is in for a bit of a surprise......

 

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@@CaroleE I like the photo of the sunset ele crossing the river and the vulturine guineafowl. Your daily ele visitor looks very much at home on the way to your tent!

 

Thanks for the feedback on Elephant Bedroom.

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I love the selection of photos from Samburu, especially the ele river crossing. Great start to your report, although disturbing news about bad tourist behaviour.

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@@CaroleE

 

Great report and photos. Happy to hear that you saw a golden Jackal. I didn't think these were very common in Kenya.

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@@Tom Kellie

Thank you very much for your positive comments on my first trip report. Good to hear that it was appreciated. I really didn't know which tone to use so I just went with my usual style of writing and hoped others would find it a pleasing read.

 

Yes, the spring hares were great! I think I only saw them because we were out on a real night drive (starting 9pm) so they were out in force and really active.

The cheetahs in Samburu were a big bonus! For some reason I didn't expect to see them there. Oh how wrong I was! Good to hear that my Samburu cheetah bought back memories of yours....another good reason to share your stories. It brings back memories for others.

 

After this positive feedback I have more confidence to carry on with tis trip report and do the last part of this trip. This part will take some time to write as LOTS happened in Laikipia :)

 

~ @@CaroleE

 

The spring hares sound delightful! Having seen them in field guides but not in the field, my imagination struggles to envision them.

Samburu cheetahs — GREAT!

I've passed by and through Laikipia, therefore lack any substantive awareness of it.

What you write will open my understanding.

With Appreciation,

Tom K.

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@@CaroleE I like the photo of the sunset ele crossing the river and the vulturine guineafowl. Your daily ele visitor looks very much at home on the way to your tent!

 

Thanks for the feedback on Elephant Bedroom.

 

@@Treepol

The ele was one of those moments when you are thankful for that golden hour of unsurpassable African light at the end of the day! When it is like that sometimes I don't mind not seeing things, I just enjoy being there.

 

Yes, the daily ele visitor was very much at home...especially at night when he was wide awake foragging for food around my tent and I wanted to sleep! But it all adds to the experience :)

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I love the selection of photos from Samburu, especially the ele river crossing. Great start to your report, although disturbing news about bad tourist behaviour.

 

Thank you @@twaffle. You liking a selection of my photos I will take as a big compliment; before signing up I was lurking as a guest for quite a while therefore I have seen the quality of your photos! I have a wider shot of the ele river crossing.

 

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Wasn't too sure which to include.

 

The bad tourist behaviour was on one occassion so bad - scaring a leopard off its kill, with several vehicles then speeding after it, in so many directions and off road!!! They were very lucky that one of the vehicles didn't run it over. I was fuming after this incident and seriously considerd making a complaint about the driver/guide in the vehicle but my guide couldn't or wouldn't tell me which camp/company they were from. Some people really have no idea how to behave!

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@@PT123

Thank you. I was very lucky with my sightings, especially of new species. I'm not one for ticking things off lists but it does give you a buzz when you see something new!

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What a nice thing to have a daily visit from a handsome elephant (or so I am assuming - the view of it that I see on the previous page is at a very specific angle ;) ).

 

Eager to see more.

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