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Lewa safari camp June 2015 life does not get any better


COSMIC RHINO
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I get to the hotel the day before , there is almost no one there, turns out to be a bit of an off season, the hotel was much busier on my return

 

I was travelling on 1 June which turns about to be a public holiday

 

The transfer flight was brought foward a few hours as the roads between the hotel and wilson airport, and around wilson itself are involved in the celebrations and would be very busy.

 

I arrive at the Safarilink counter, they are going easy on things , the couple before me are told that their luggage weighs in at 64 kg and there is no mention of paying an excess

 

had the staff been told that they could go to the celebrations or home once people had been checked in ?

 

well making them pay would take extra time

 

I got there niece and early , and before a large tour bus arrived

 

I had taken special care to keep to the 15 kg limit light advanced compact camera, take one one spare shirt, not much clothing at all, well things can be washed. I have even unpicked the shirt label, and then 2 people get away with over double the allowed weight.

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@@COSMIC RHINO looking forward to your report on your favourite place.

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The original departure time was 11 am, it leaves around 0830, the plane is full, there are a whole lot of American women who are rather noisy during the flight, actively using their cell phones to check the web, oh what a bill they will get. They are rather noisy I end up with a headache . They are also going to Lewa , hopefully to another camp. They don't know much about the place, talking on the lions they will see , well there are not many lions there .

 

Fortunately they are going to sirokoi , I guess I come across them a few days later on game drive at a distance, I see a full vehicle and hear loud laughter.

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the transfer from the airstrip takes a while

 

for anyone who wants to know they have a proper toilet and hand basin in a wooden building at the airstrip.

 

I am with my favourite guide Laban who is a rhino specalist.

 

I talk to a wilderness lodge guide about poaching, without being specially asked he says that he is impressed by the appointment of Richard Leakey to head the KWS.

 

It is good being back on sacred ground

 

I get to camp, hand over my school donations ( I had applied for extra weight allowance but Lewa office could not get an airline response ,so I took what I could ) and the place is not busy

 

I am the sole guest ,so it is pvt vehicle, well this time is not busy at all I have pvt vehicle for 7 days.

 

originally my agent asked for a tent with a good view , I was given no 5. This has since been reallocated to no 4, all my visits have used this tent.

 

the changes with taking down the fence made not difference with rhino viewing they are all around the place

 

the camp has mown lawns around the office, main dining/lounge building and pool

 

this is for a fire break and so they can detect the presence of snakes

 

the tents themselves are widely spread for privacy reasons , there is a gravel path , and a low illumination light around the stone tent number marker.

 

each tent has 1 powerpoint in the bathroom, bring a double adapter if you need to charge more than one thing at a time.

 

power is available 24 hrs per day

 

if you need to charge a computer find a powerpoint in the lounge/dining area

 

USB charging is available at the bar

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THE HIDE

 

has wonderfully views of the surrounding bush and some animals visits occasionally

 

I visted it everyday between lunch and afternoon drive

 

do not go with the supplied umberalla , check to see that it works some of them are difficult to put up and down

 

they can always give you another one

 

it is a long walk to and from the hide , I got a bit wet on the first day as it rained lightly.

 

walk past tent 1 and onto a divided path

immediately ahead you will find a largish building, don't go there it is the driver's/pilots house I sat outside there last year and got rather hot as the shade is not great

 

countinue walking and you will find a path which goes down to a thatch roof shelter, this is the hide

 

when you come back you will see tents 1 to 3, don't walk that way as the paths can be confusing

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Glad to hear you loved your Lewa stay again. Welcome back.

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A pleasant contrast to that other place.

 

Your specifics, right down to the brelly points, are always fun.

 

Things are looking up!

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Welcome back CR.

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I have been thinking of mountain gorillas from time to time

 

well I know that this is out of the question

 

Lewa is at only 5,500 feet elevation

 

walking up from the hide to the tent 1 at a slight incline makes me feel umcomfortable

 

I keep time for the game drive by having a electronic timer with me, on one day there were some other visitors , they started to walk briskly when they heard my timer, I semi kept up with them and ended up feeling a bit pooped.

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my transfer from the airstrip took time as my driver Daniel was taking time to let a good sized elephant family group move closer to the track, in fact when we left they were very close

 

Laban had come to meet me, then went back to transfer some guests who had decided on the camp breakfast to the airstrip

 

the devault offering is camp breakfast on your final morning, remember to ask for the packed breakfast , all my final drives have been memorable

 

I have not been offered a camp breakfast since the first time when I said " I did not come here to eat, I will have the packed breakfast and leave at 0630 thanks"

 

ELEPHANTS

 

There were a whole lot of them , in groups of different sizes including some larger families with young ,some of them were very young

 

I had one wonderfull encounter amongst a heard with many young

 

eles like Lewa for its better security and are there in good numbers when the vegetation cover is better

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BIG 5

 

as mentioned before I am not their typical visitor and they like this

 

at one of my partial afternoon teas Laban said he is here for the big 5 rhino,elephant, grevy's zebras, reticulated giraffe and the land

 

well that is the emphasis of the reserve , not the hunter's list

 

this is what my viewing was emphasising and I did not have to mention it once

 

in 7 days I saw sleeping lions on one occasion for about a minute, Laban wandered what was nearby and drove of

 

during this period I shared a animal siting with one other vehicle 4 times

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I travel with both a noisy cheap alarm clock (you hear every tick and the alarm) and an a multi hour electronic kitchen timer , which keeps me on time for all activies, and is a backup alarm

 

I was fully dressed before all the wakeup calls ,had the juice , then walked around the tracks in my area photographing the trees on night landscape mode

 

the timer was usefull to remind when to go from the hide to the abbreviated afternoon time

 

Laban likes being with guests who are keenly interested in rhinos , the camp likes having him with them as it keeps his rhino tracking skills up to date

 

he told me that he is not keen on list checkers, those who ask for lions are told that there not many of them, perhaps they are in the wetland

 

he even came out and said "I do not do Ferrari safaris "

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since it was only me all the afternoon drives left early except the first one due a slight rain shower

 

I would go to the dinning area have a brief chat with the guides then go, or Laban would be waiting at the vehicle already

 

at Lewa the guides are part of the rhino security, they report the sitings

 

I kind of guess what was going on , seeing rhinos SMS being sent

 

so I asked ,yes all guides are meant to, Laban always does he reports rhino positions to Lewa security and rhino monitors by text message

 

He was asked if he could find a particular rhino wanted for ear notching, he did, sent a message, and they had a monitor with tent there in 30 minutes

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BEAN BAGS

 

each vehicle now has 2 large and very heavy photographic bean bags

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I did the game drives only , wanting to see as many of my favourite animals as I could

 

hikes are also included in the daily rate

 

at added cost you can do horse riding trips from the Lewa wilderness or be taken to do the forest walk

 

when I was there the camel trips had been temporarily moved from Lewa as the moisture content from the recent rains made it less than ideal

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WIFI ETC

 

there is a wifi connection at the camp but it is not very good

 

it is best to use this on the bench seat outside the office, sitting in the lounge , or from the terrace near the lounge

 

the food is very good and served in more than sufficient quantity, but that is not why I came for

 

the charging point in the bathroom only has bench space to fir a batter charger or similar , that is why I say charge your computer in the lounge

 

Lewa has both black cotton and red ochre soil areas

 

the foothills of my Kenya are about 40 km away and can be easily seen in several areas

 

mt Kenya can be seen in one area depending on cloud cover

 

the whole place was green and verdant with a wildflower carpet in the grass

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the main dam went from a good supply of water to almost dry in the time I was there

 

I made good use of the max zoom 1000 mm on my Nikon P 520 to bring in distant animals closer , my guide estimates that a good image can be produced of an animal 1 km away

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there is a dominant white rhino male around the main dam

 

he likes to throw his weight around and be unpleasant both with females who reject his advances and other males who come there to drink

 

he has a proper name, I started to call him grumpy guy , the guides also call him this

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individual black rhinos have been changed between Lewa, Ol Pejeta and Solio to prevent inbreeding

 

there are still plenty of rhinos being seen at Lewa after the boundry fence being taken down with Borana conservancy

 

Lewa has good numbers of orynx and Somali ostrich which are uncommon elsewhere, as before plains zebras and buffalo are in good numbers

 

grevy's zebras and reticulated giraffe are in good numbers

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BABY RHINO VISITS

 

these are now again being conducted for a fee of USD 15 and can be booked at your camp

 

I strongly recommend that you wear shoes with solid souls preferably boots , no open shoes, light shoes, sandles, flips or thongs

 

well they are getting a quiet a lot bigger and come very close , in fact I had my foot stood on 2 or 3 times.

 

you can stroke 3 baby rhinos one from a poached , one from a blind mother ,one who is blind

 

they walk around a bit , one of them briefly used my trouser leg as a rubbing post

 

you will get to feed a bottle of milk to the youngest , I feed the whole bottle as I was the only one there on the day

 

they use the same formular as daphne sheldrick's orphan elephants S26 human infant feed plus vitamins

 

someone sleeps with them at night

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LIONS

 

There are not many of them at Lewa

 

many of them have been removed to other reserves with the help of the KWS to protect Grevy's zebras of all ages and rhino calves

 

on a game drive the instruction is to help a mother rhino if needed when a lion is nearby , by making a whole lot of noise and parking the vehicle in the way

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I am not sure how long this has been happening for, but according to the room folders Lewa Safari camp is operated at a profit which is donated to Lewa Conservancy

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Love that term, 'Ferrari Safari'. Sums up that rushing around that some people like (not me!) so well.

Pleased to gear Lewa lived up to your hopes.

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Great to hear that your return to Lew lived up to your expectations. Very lucky to have a private vehicle for your entire visit. Can you provide more details on how to arrange the visit to see the orphaned rhinos?

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