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3 days in Laikipia Wilderness Camp (July 2013)


Anomalure
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I spent the last 3 days of July 2013 in Laikipia Wilderness Camp as the start of a longer safari in Kenya/Tanzania. It was my first time in Kenya and LWC was the first camp visited -- what an intro to the country it was!!

 

It seems that LWC is pretty well covered on this forum with lots of TRs, so I'm not going to spend too much time going on about logistics, etc.

 

Day 1:

 

Laikipia Wilderness Camp is centrally located for the wildlife action, but not as accessible as some other camps in terms of airstrips, etc - exactly the way I prefer. Anyway, given that flying into either Sosian or Loisaba airstrips would entail an hour or two of driving after an hour's flight from Nairobi and a reasonable amount of airport procedures, I figured I'd be better off (or at least the same) driving instead. At the very least even if I didn't see too much wildlife, I'd get to know the country a little better.

 

I did the standard "tourist drive" north from Nairobi up to Nanyuki, but at this point things got interesting as we turned off the main road into the bush (eventually heading North towards Maralal I think). I first saw small numbers of Thomson's Gazelles (not present in LWC, so this area near Nanyuki is the only place to see them according to Steve) and Plains Zebras in some degraded bush just outside Nanyuki, but things got interesting as we headed deeper into Laikipia.

 

After traversing several small ranches, we then began following the border of a ranch, which Steve informed me later, was called Naibor. I then spotted two small dik-diks drinking from a puddle next to the road. I grabbed my camera and shot off a couple of poor pictures before leaving after snatching a view of the animals in my binoculars. I was expecting Gunther's as that is the only species present in much of Laikipia but these seemed much more like Kirk's, lacking the pronounced proboscis of Gunther's. I was surprised as Kirk's has not been confirmed from the plateau but Steve informed me later that he has seen them at this same area.

 

Shortly after, I then spotted my first Reticulated Giraffe, a beautiful animal which I stopped to admire a bit, and a Martial Eagle in a roadside tree. As we headed along Ol Jogi, I started seeing increasing numbers of Impala, Olive Baboons, and small groups of Grant's Gazelles. But one bigger surprise was in store for me. As we drove through a large area of dense, scrubby Acacia, I spotted a few slender antelopes run off into the bush; I first thought they were Impala, but then realized they were my first Gerenuk and my driver confirmed! This was a species I thought I might miss on this trip as LWC was the only area in Gerenuk habitat I was visiting, and here they are apparently rare. I was amazed at my luck regarding this sighting the rest of the day until Steve told me that he sees Gerenuk often here - he told me that if I found a Lesser Kudu though, I'd be truly lucky (he's only seen tracks in this area, probably the only place in Western Laikipia where they occur - they are common further E in Tumaren, Tassia, etc.). I also saw some Warthogs at this site which I thought might be Desert at first due to their small size and habitat; I was later informed by Steve that there are no confirmed sightings of Desert Warthog in Laikipia and these animals are Common Warthog, which can be very to tricky to differentiate sometimes.

 

We continued onto the Mpala Plains past the main bridge, where I saw more of the same species (except Gerenuk and Kirk's Dik-dik of course), plus a distant herd of Beisa Oryx - my first of the species. It turned out that this small, far-off group of 4 animals was the only sighting I would have of this species as it is apparently quite rare in the area around LWC. My next goal was to try to find a Greater Kudu, one of my main targets for LWC, but all concerns about kudu subsided when I found out we were back at a place we had passed earlier and my driver didn't really know which turn to take to get to camp. We called Steve at LWC, and he sent a staff member on a motorbike, who found us and led us back to camp.

 

We had a bit of a late lunch with Steve (due to the unexpected detour along the way) after meeting our fabulous guide, Barend. My main question was the Wild Dogs, which Steve seemed a little apprehensive about as he hadn't seen them in a couple of days and feared they might be deep into the next ranch, Mpala, which he doesn't have free traversing rights for anymore. After finishing lunch, I returned to my room for a few hours before coming back out for a snack. I met Steve and Barend here again and both were looking off into the distance, watching the heavy downpour over the escarpment to the South. Steve told me there would be a change in plans for the evening - as instead of taking a longer drive up to the escarpment (with our dinner), the best area for night drives, we would stick to the area along the river (the rocky road to the top of the escarpment is too tricky to drive with recent heavy rain). I was a little disappointed, but knew no one was at fault here so hoped that the shorter drive might deliver too.

 

We set off for our drive with dark clouds overhead, but got our first lucky break barely a minute from the leaving camp; on the track towards the river, Mugambe spotted 3 Defassa Waterbuck in an area of tall brush. We weren't in a position for pictures, but got great views at the animals moving through the tall grass and dense Combretum. I was happy to hear that these are difficult to see in the area - it's always great to stumble upon something unexpected. I was interested to notice that these were Defassa, not Common even though they are East of the Rift escarpment (the general pattern is Common to the East, Defassa to the West), but it turns out that Laikipia is an exception!! **Interestingly, I saw lots of Defassa Waterbuck the next year at Lewa Downs, much lower in elevation and further East in Laikipia as well - this was an area I was expecting Common in but apparently even up to the Samburu reserve complex you can see Defassa characteristics in the animals (birding tour groups have recorded hybrids in Buffalo Springs).

 

As we arrived at the river, there was slight drizzle in the air but concern subsided when we soon found a group of African Bush Elephants coming down to drink at the Ewaso Narok. We walked down to the river opposite the elephants, following Joseph's lead. The rushing river, drinking Elephants, drizzle, tall grass, and breeze made the moment truly sublime. At this point, 3 Hippos cruised into the shallows not far from us. Not a species that I was expecting to find here in this rocky and fast river, but apparently they are commonly seen here.

 

At this point, we continued into denser brush as the sun set, spotting lots of Guenther's Dik-diks, African Savanna Hares (they call this animal "Scrub Hare" here, but true Scrub Hares are native to Namibia/SA!), and my first flocks of wonderfully iridescent Vulturine Guineafowl (pictures are poor due to dim light though). As darkness fell Joseph pulled out the spotlight and started scanning for wildlife in the dense bush. I was hoping for a Side-striped Jackal, Zorilla, or African Wildcat, but Joseph shocked me when he quietly said "Caracal." As I stumbled around trying to get a look, the animal moved into the open a little more and Joseph and I realized it was probably just a Bush Duiker. Oops!!

 

As we continued back to camp, we saw lots of Dik-diks, Hares, and Nightjars along the road, but little big wildlife, but this changed abruptly when 8 Eland dashed off into the bush next to the car, giving great views - the closest I had during the course of my stay. We then headed to a den which was apparently occupied by a family of Spotted Hyenas, but were shocked to pull up and see a Common Warthog dash out! Seems either the Hyenas have left or he is an incredible lucky tenant to leave that burrow alive!! At this point the wildlife came thick and fast as we started seeing large groups of Impalas, then a Common Genet and a White-tailed Mongoose foraging very close to each other. We then hit a big break when Barend spotted a small herd of Plains Zebras trailed by 2 magnificent Grevy's Zebra stallions - a truly magnificent sight and my first sighting of this species (lots of firsts/"lifers" for me here!). I was a little surprised to see Grevy's mixing with Plain's like this but apparently the species have hybridized in the past and there is one hybrid animal that crosses into LWC's ranch (Ol Doinyo Lemboro) occasionally from Sosian. As we neared camp, we checked a burrow at the entrance that is home to a Crested Porcupine, but no luck - only some freshly shed quills at the entrance.

 

I was really happy at this point as the only primary herbivore target I had left for Laikipia was East African Greater Kudu -- so now I could focus on Wild Dogs and nocturnal species. Since Steve and Barend informed me that there was a female kudu that could often be observed on the kopje behind camp, I figured I'd have plenty of opportunities to look for her at some point in my stay. After such a long day, all I needed at this point was some rest!

Edited by Anomalure
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Day 2:

 

We were up early and while walking out of my tent, Steve called me over to show me Striped Hyena tracks on the path between one of the other tents and the mess room. At this point, Barend and I set up a camera trap on a trail just behind camp to see if we could locate something interesting the next night. After a quick breakfast, we set off to find Wild Dogs! The main plan was to head to the top of the nearest escarpment and try to locate a faint signal of the Wild Dogs from there (they hadn't been located in 2 days, so no one really knew where they would be), then radio-track the signal from the pack closer and closer to the animals. The drive to the escarpment was filled with life - a medium-sized herd of Elephants, lots of Vulturine Guineafowl, Impalas, Grevy's and Plains Zebras, Common Warthogs, and small numbers of lovely Reticulated Giraffes. While driving up the muddy road to the top of the escarpment, I spotted big pugmarks next to the road and Barend and I got out of the car to examine the fresh Lion tracks from the night. We remarked that we should return to spotlight this area that night - Lions are present, but not particularly easy to locate in the area without radio-tracking and fresh sign is always something promising to investigate.

 

We continued up to the escarpment, past bushy cliffs studded with exotic-looking endemic Dracaena trees and scanned the high grasslands up to from the lone male Chanler's Mountain Reedbuck that is sometimes observed in different areas of the plains on top of the escarpment in Old Doinyo Lemboro. We weren't lucky in this regard, but were relieved when we heard a faint signal from the tracking device from the Wild Dog pack instead (incidentally, the Wild Dogs are likely the reason for the rarity of the Chanler's Mountain Reedbuck here, as the once healthy population has significantly declined to only a few, maybe only 1 individual).

 

Down in the valley, we climbed a small kopje trying to get a signal from the dogs. The signal was still reasonably faint, but a little stronger than before, but I was a little alarmed to see Barend and Joseph shaking their heads. After asking, it turned out that given the direction it was coming from, they believed the dogs were in Mpala Ranch just across the border from Ol Doinyo Lemboro. If they were on the other ranch, chances were that we wouldn't get to see them and would have to hope that they would cross over (while LWC had traversing rights for Mpala previously, due to a new tourism tax on properties hosting visitors, Mpala stopped all tourist access including Steve's access privileges). To pick up our spirits a little, we visited another area of kopjes where I found some Rock Hyrax, 2 Bush Hyrax, Olive Baboons, and a large Leopard Tortoise then started walking down towards a dam where our lunch was set up. Along the way, we found lots of Buffalo sign, but despite our best efforts, couldn't track down animals themselves. At the dam, we were surprised to find that the Buffalo had been drinking all along and had left just before our arrival!

 

The dam is wonderful and lunch here is one of the highlights at LWC. Watching the herds of Elephants come and go is wonderful and eating lunch a few feet from something like 60-80 Elephants (depending on the day) is a very unique and special experience. Through the course of our meal, we also had a few other visitors including small numbers of Impalas, a few Reticulated Giraffes, and several Warthogs. While returning to camp, we had a pleasant surprise when Joseph spotted 3 Eland off in the distance and then 2 Striped Ground Squirrels, only found in the wetter NW and W-Central parts of Laikipia. We then checked a small grassy patch where a pair of Black-backed Jackals often rests in the middle of the day, but had no luck here. Following the river back to camp however, I spotted my first Vervet Monkeys of the trip - not too common in this part of Laikipia, where they prefer to stick to riverine Yellow Fever tree woodlands. We circled around the kopje at camp once again hoping to find the female Greater Kudu resting in the shade, but struck out. This would be a noticeable trend through the trip, resulting in our wondering what happened to the once resident Kudu...

 

At this point, we returned to LWC and told Steve about our predicament with the Wild Dogs. He too was a little sad that they were probably just across the ranch boundary so called his friend, the manager of Mpala, to see if he could do anything about it. A half hour later, he informed us that we had been granted access, but were to head straight for the Wild Dogs, spend a relatively short time with them, then leave the ranch - so no game drives or night drives on Mpala for us (this was a bit of shame, as Mpala would be fabulous for night drives).

 

We set off in dreary weather for Mpala and raced up the track to the ranch. After entering Mpala, the search began in earnest, but we soon found out that our new tracker Sakumi (Joseph had been reassigned to another group) was nowhere near as capable as Joseph was at radio-tracking. Barend took the helm instead and he followed the steadily stronger signal until we stopped at a point along the road -- Barend told us they were in the bush just beyond this point, so we'd have to do some off-roading to get there.

 

We then began charging through some nasty Acacia and Euphorbia over difficult sandy grassland full of Aardvark holes. The huge burrows of these elusive, strange mammals were so prevalent in fact that Barend thought that this would be a great place to try to spot them at night (alas, we didn't have permission to conduct a night drive/stakeout here through). At one point, we crashed over a huge chunk of dead Euphorbia when we were right next to the Dogs and I thought that would have scared them away for good. Thankfully, we soon drove around a shrub and I spotted the white-tipped tail of a Wild Dog move into a clearing in the bush. We then quietly drove in and soon found ourselves surrounded by African Wild Dogs!

 

Barend then instructed me to quietly get of the car and lie on the ground behind him. Within 10 minutes, the dogs, having finished their meal of Impala, curiously walked up to us, stretched, and yawned - at one point less than 6 ft from Barend! I was stunned and overjoyed at this point, the Wild Dog sighting above and beyond my wildest dreams.

 

We then got back onto the road which the Wild Dogs were now travelling and stopped briefly to fix our flat tire. The other was sagging slightly, so Barend contacted Steve to deliver one at dinner time. Unfortunately, this meant we could not go to the escarpment plains for the night drive once again, but I really couldn't complain given the fabulous luck I had had with the Wild Dogs. Barend figured the best thing to do at this point would be to try to observe a hunt as sometimes, Wild Dog kills sometimes also bring in Striped and Spotted Hyenas, the former of which especially I was hoping to find. While we never found any trailing hyenas, this was an awesome experience as we got to watch Wild Dog's flush out and kill numerous dik-diks and even one Impala (a little sad though too, but better since we didn't have to watch the prey suffer as the dogs finished the kill so quickly). I didn't know much about Wild Dog hunting dynamics, so it was very interesting learning about them from Barend (and Steve, who had joined us with some other guests). I found their system of clicks and squeaks for communication particularly interesting to listen to.

 

At this point, we arrived at a small clearing for dinner by the fire. Very relaxing and a good time to reflect on the day's events. We then headed out on a longer night drive (compared to the previous evening at least), hoping for Lions on the escarpment, Striped and Spotted Hyenas around the Wild Dog kills, and perhaps a chance Aardvark due to the recent rain (they are easier to see at this time as they spend more time above ground). We first drove by the Lion track site, but found nothing and then by an area of meadows where Barend had seen an Aardwolf a few days previously. No luck here, but we did see two Spotted Hyenas near where we had seen the Wild Dogs earlier. We checked the Jackal site again but no luck and only saw a Blotched Genet and on the camp entrance road, a White-tailed Mongoose. No sightings of the large ungulates like Grevy's or Elands. So a slightly less productive night drive than I had hoped for (especially given the clouded over moon). Barend was wondering about the same thing and we figured that the cold winds blowing consistently through the drive probably dampened wildlife activity (animals like it when it's warm and still at night). That said, I really had no reason to complain as it was an amazing day.

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Day 3:

 

Today was to be our main mammal-searching day, during which we planned to search out a bunch of diurnal targets that had eluded us so far, then take an extended night drive on the escarpment and valley below specifically focused on elusive nocturnal species.

 

At breakfast, I dicussed the plan for the day's drive with Barend and we decided to split it up into morning and evening sections, with a couple hours' rest at camp in the hottest hours at the middle of the day. For the morning, we'd drive up the escarpment towards Sosian through the Ewaso Narok Valley, past a region of lush, vegetated kopjes to the moist scrubby savannas on top of the canyon. From there, we would climb down through the rugged canyon of the Mutara River and follow the Mutara back into the main valley near camp and eventually to what was now our regular lunch spot - the dam (where we'd meet the other guests). Along the way, we were hoping to check sites for lots of species including Greater Kudu, African Buffalo, Southern Tree Hyrax, Klipspringer, Striped Ground Squirrel (I was hoping for better views), Black-backed and Side-striped Jackals, Chanler's Mountain Reedbuck, Bat-eared Fox, and more - so a lot of fun for me!

 

As promised, the drive began following the Ewaso Narok through dense Acacia thickets and Yellow Fever tree woodlands. In small clearings in the Acacia, we scanned for Buffalo and Kudu. Fresh sign of both species was everywhere, but we simply weren't lucky enough to stumble upon any animals. That said, the river was full of life and we observed several Vervet Monkeys; troops of Olive Baboons; Long-crested, Martial, Verreaux's (Black), and Black-chested Snake Eagles; Pygmy Falcon; Goliath and Grey Herons; Saddle-billed and Yellow-billed Storks, and more.

 

Continuing up to the kopjes from the river valley, we passed a site where Barend had seen a small group of Defassa Waterbuck, but had no luck. In the densely vegetated kopjes, I quickly found Rock Hyrax, Bush Hyrax, and then 2 Southern Tree Hyraxes on a Dracaena plant among the lush, dense vegetation. I was hoping to see a Side-striped Jackal among the lush savannas, but didn't find one. We scanned carefully for Klipspringers among the boulders, but none were on show here today, so we drove up to the top of the escarpment to try for Chanler's Mountain Reedbuck in the gently sloping, broken wet savannas punctuated with boulders. Steve had also apparently spotlit Servals up here on night drives in the past, so I was hoping to get lucky with a daytime sighting of one of these beautiful cats as well. While driving through the plains, we admired a lovely group of 10+ Reticulated Giraffes, then I got a brief view of a small animal which bursted from a thicket - at first I thought it was some kind of Mongoose, but Barend told me that Sakumi thought it was probably a Bush Duiker, which made more sense. After this, the road sloped down from the escarpment into the Mutara River Canyon, prime Greater Kudu habitat. Greater Kudus, once common throughout Africa, were devastated by the great Rinderpest Epidemic. Their main stronghold is now in the rocky, densely vegetated river gorges of Northern Laikipia.

 

Soon, Sakumi spotted something among the bush on the opposite side of the river and whispered, "inyathi," pointing to some black shapes in a small clearing across the canyon. Well spotted! The views were poor and distant, but in the binoculars I could see them watching our vehicle as we moved down the track, clearly wary and nervous in our presence (that would explain why we couldn't track them the previous day!). As we headed towards the river, I carefully scanned the slopes of the gorge until I spotted the silhouette of a Klipspringer peering down at us from the top of the gorge. A big surprise and an interesting sight! After crossing the river (an adventure in itself), we drove towards the dam, spotting two more Striped Ground Squirrels, one of which scurried across the track in full view, allowing me to see its stripe clearly. Excellent!

 

At the dam, even more Elephants had joined us for lunch (80+) this time and the irritated, confrontational bull (probably in musth) that had caused us to beat a hasty retreat before finishing lunch the previous day wasn't present. A shy herd of Eland also came to water and we talked to the other guests about how their day had been. The first group, a Belgian family, had come to see the Wild Dogs and had made them the main focus of their morning. Steve had taken the second group out for a drive and they had been lucky enough not only to find a family of Klipspringers very close to the car (they saw them in boulders on the escarpment we had climbed to track wild dogs the previous day -- an inferior site to look for them compared to the kopjes we visited) but also a family of Greater Kudus, including a magnificent male on the same escarpment! Finding kudus anywhere on the escarpment (even in good sites) needs luck (according to both Barend and Steve), so I was feeling a little gutted at this point with my fortune... On the drive back, I finally found the Black-backed Jackal pair at their site near camp, but a drive around the kopje failed to turn up the supposedly resident Kudu female. My luck would change for the better however that evening...

 

Back at camp, I rested a little to get ready for the evening's program - one that I was very excited for. We would be heading for the escarpment plains - an area where Steve regularly observes Aardwolf, Striped Hyena, Caracal, Zorilla, Bat-eared Fox, and sometimes Aardvark, Serval, and African Wildcat on night drives. Add to that chances for Lion in the area where we had found tracks the previous day, excellent chances for Leopard and Spotted Hyena on the long night drive, a possibility of Crested Porcupine in camp and good chances for Greater Kudu, Mountain Reedbuck, Grant's Gazelle, and Beisa Oyrx on the plains and I was feeling quite optimistic.

 

Setting off from camp, we began seeing many Grevy's and Plains Zebras alongside Impalas, Gunther's Dik-diks, Vulturine Guineafowl, and Savanna Hares. As we neared the rocky base of the escarpment, Sakumi spotted a Leopard hunting Impala in the thick brush and we stopped the car and turned off the engine. The cat was in dense brush, so we only got brief looks at his ears and tale in the vegetation, but hoped that he would explosively bound out to chase the impala at some point, giving views. This never happened and the Impala bounded off, and in the end, the Leopard disappeared without a trace! While waiting for the Leopard to reappear however, I spotted a medium sized antelope move across the track further up the slope of the escarpment in my binoculars. I called my father, who was with me, and he glimpsed it too, agreeing that it was too big for a Dik-dik or Duiker. After a short discussion with Barend, we figured that the gray/fawn coloration suggested that most likely candidate was Mountain Reedbuck, present on the escarpment incline.

 

We then followed the edge of the escarpment, getting amazing views over the surrounding lowlands. We walked up to a couple of vantage points to try to scan for Klipspringer, Greater Kudu, or Mountain Reedbuck, but never got lucky with sightings here. At the top of the escarpment, I made up for that in a big way by spotting a male Mt. Kenya Hartebeest in a small clearing in the Acacia. We raced back and watched him as he stared at us for 2 minutes before moving off into the bush. This was only Barend's third sighting and a great animal. Continuing into the plains, we saw small groups of Plains Zebras and then a small herd of Grant's Gazelle before setting up our dinner. After dinner, we decided to spend some time up in the plains before circling through the valley to get back to camp.

 

As soon as we began our course through the plains, the winds picked up however and I was starting to get worried. We were seeing very little until Sakumi spotted 4 Bat-eared Foxes in the beam - a very interesting sighting. The winds blew consistently while were on the escarpment top, so Barend suggested we head down into the valley. I was a little saddened by the weather, but decided that this was our best option so we checked several tracks in the valley for wildlife. The quantity wasn't high, but diversity was great with White-tailed Mongoose, both Common and Blotched Genets, 2 Black-backed Jackals, and as a grand finale, 15 Grevy's Zebras, the largest herd Barend had ever seen here. Back at camp however, we were shocked to find that Steve had gotten a brief view of a Striped Hyena on the entrance road to camp that evening however after dropping off his group back at camp!

 

So a fabulous stay with a bunch of nice mammals and sightings. The night drives were a little disappointing due to the uncooperative weather, but the Wild Dogs more than made up for it - LWC was the place that set the bar for the rest of my trip and I'm happy to say that it was my favorite place visited on that safari. I'm hoping to return at some point, to spend more time with the dogs and hopefully have the weather cooperate on the night drives a little better.

 

Day 4:

 

Today, the plan was to leave early and drive to Nanyuki airstrip to pick up my flight to the Mara, my next destination. Steve had asked the driver from camp to detour through a section of the Ewaso Narok in Mpala that is often productive for kudu sightings to improve my chances. The wildlife was clearly far from over, as Barend informed me that while picking up guests the previous week from the airstrip, he had seen Leopard, Spotted Hyena, Bat-eared Fox, and Black-backed Jackal!

 

As we set out from camp, I saw lots of Impala, then a Gerenuk, feeding on its back legs - an unusual sighting this far into Mpala. Shortly after the Gerenuk, we then had a phenomenal sighting of a Leopard walking along the track in front of the car, then turning and facing us before disappearing into the dense Acacia mellifera thickets. We then spotted an Elephant with a tiny calf and lots of Grant's Gazelles in the open plains along with 1 male Masai Ostrich with a notably pink neck - an uncommon sighting and interesting as I thought previously that Somali were the species present in this region. After this, we spotted a Black-backed Jackal pair and a female Elephant with a tiny calf! We passed through an area of whistling thorn savanna that was good for Beisa Oryx, but could find any.

 

Entering the Ewaso Narok canyon, we began searching for Greater Kudu in earnest, stopping and scanning from the bridge, but spotting only several Bush Hyraxes, Vervet Monkeys, and 2 shy Defassa Waterbucks. As we left the canyon, we had a final surprise in the form of a Grevy's Zebra, but no kudus. Oh well, there's always something to come back for...

 

Entering the extensive Ol Jogi plains, I then spotted a small group of Thomson's Gazelles near the road - a lucky sighting in this area, where they are quite rare. Further in the ranch, we found lots of Reticulated Giraffes, including one interesting looking, dark individual that may be an intergrade with Rothschild's Giraffe (intergrades are common further N near Mugie Ranch and so on). We then continued through the plains, while I looked for Golden Jackal and perhaps Cape Hare (if present), but came up empty. In the dense Acacia scrub near the Ol Jogi entrance, I spotted another Gerenuk, which this time stayed still, allowing for a picture, and an Unstriped Ground Squirrel, which was colored the same shade of reddish-brown as the soil. Soon, we left the wilderness and entered Nanyuki on a delightfully clear day. I was happy to see that Mt. Kenya was in full view and I admired it for a little while before leaving from the airport...

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Thanks for this report - very enjoyable! I am looking forward to visiting LWC so I always enjoy a report about it. Any photos?

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Yes. Photos will be put in soon - they may take a little while since I have to transfer a bunch to my laptop though.

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Dining with elephants and an up-close dog encounter both sound like amazing opportunities.

 

Also appreciate the scrub hare clarification, looks like I may need to revisit one of our IDs.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well, this was really nice to find. Great report and I really like the studious, checklist approach. Would be fantastic to have you in the vehicle making up for our own laziness in researching what we're likely to see during a day's drive.not that it's dry though - you've struck a nice balance. Great dog sightings, and after that I think you were wrong to be jealous of others! They'd probably have given you their Greater Kudu and part of their right arm for your dog sighting. Understand the excitement about Greater Kudu though. I always thought Ruaha was the northernmost viewable-on-a-holiday population, and these are some way north of there! I even picked up a new word - intergrade. I shall use that when "cross" doesn't do it for me.

 

Anyway, I really feel I know what LWC has to offer now, even though we've had some great reports from there over the last couple of years.

 

Thanks for this, and hope we get to see the photos soon. And did you write up that Mara part? And more recent travels - or older?

 

You'll need to vary the writing approach for somewhere like the Mara conservancies or Ruaha though, or you'll be writing half a page about what you might see before every drive! @@Anomalure

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I was at LWC over the long weekend for 4 nights last weekend - I literally spent 4 days with the wild dog pack of 17. In that time I saw them kill 15 dik-dik, 1 impala, mate, play in the river, swim in the dam, fight with hyena, fight amongst themselves, photographed them from the ground whilst they were almost touching my camera etc...

 

Insane experience! What I would say is that anyone with the faintest interest in wild dogs has to go to LWC soon as I doubt you will get a better wild dog experience elsewhere.

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@@pault

 

I saw Greater Kudu on the north side of Lewa downs last July. Not a common sighting here and definitely more difficult in this area than around LWC - so I guess all that previous effort was rectified. Needless to say, I was very, very happy with them.

 

Hopefully I didn't seem unhappy with the wild dogs - they are still one of my all time greatest wildlife sightings! Lying on the ground six feet from a Wild Dog is an experience that will not soon be forgotten... :)

 

As a side note, you can see Greater Kudu all the way up to Nechisar NP in Ethiopia in the brushy hills/escarpments surrounding the Ethiopian Rift Valley in East Africa (and of course, locally in Zakouma and near Tiringoulou in NE CAR). @@inyathi Did you see them in Nechisar when you visited (jealous of your Zakouma kudu sighting!!)?

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@@Anomalure Yes I saw 3 in Nechisar, greater kudu should be quite widely distributed across southern Ethiopia, for some reason there's a problem with the IUCN website and I can't access their greater kudu page so I can't link to their map, however I have looked at an IUCN PDF which states that Awash NP is one of the northern parks that may have a long term viable population, I saw lots of lesser there but I don't recall seeing greater but I'm not certain as I can't find my Ethiopian list. Although I've seen loads of greater kudus because they're so common in Ruaha and almost anywhere in Zimbabwe, Botswana or Namibia I still really wanted to see some in Zakouma I guess because I never thought we would and it was one of the only large mammals we hadn't seen there on the previous trip so those sightings were very special. Mind you they're such beautiful animals I'm happy to look at them anywhere even where very common.

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Thanks for sharing your exciting intro to Kenya. Lots of fascinating stuff but what really caught my eye was the "6 feet" with respect to the wild dog.

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Thanks for the clarification about Greater Kudu. Good to know.

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