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Bush dog

Kenya, a quarter of a century ago

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Bush dog

INTRODUCTION

 

The trip I made, in 1989, to Kenya was my first trip completely devoted to wildlife observation. On previous trips, I had made brief incursions into the animal world, in particular in Nepal, where I had my first contact with wildlife. But what got me to become absolutely mad about the African bush find its origins outside Africa. During a trip to Sri Lanka, I had the opportunity to visit the small reserve of Bundala. I lived an intense moment when I encountered, on foot, an elephant. It was short, but so magical.

 

Misty morning in the Chitwan Nepal, 1981 : Elephants of the Tiger Tops Lodge.

 

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Some wildlife pictures from Sri Lanka (1988).

 

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Yet, it was not my first travel to Africa. Indeed, I set foot for the first time on the African continent during a two weeks’ professional trip to Niger and Burkina Faso. As part of my work, I was led to travel to remote locations where I saw some wildlife. I still remember my first wild elephant, a big bull walking along the road Niamey-Dosso. On the other hand, what I remember of Burkina Faso has nothing to do with wildlife. Indeed, it was in the days of the revolution of Captain Sankara. Two things are always clearly present in my mind , adolescents and even children , boys and girls in rags, heavily armed , who were the guardians of the revolution and patrolling in Ouagadougou and outside, and something I never saw elsewhere in Africa, motorcycle police women.

 

This topic also includes, but incidentally, the second trip I made to Kenya in 1994. The time has, since, cleared a lot of things from my memory. So, it will be more a photo album, sometimes commented, than a detailed report. The pictures are scanned slides that have not stood very well the test of time, and 10X15 cm poor quality prints.

 

For the 1989 trip, reservations had been made by exchange of faxes with a local Tour Operator that was owned by the State. Some lodges were also owned by the State. My opinion of the driver-guide was excellent at the time, as that of most of those who complete their first safari. Indeed, when you are on a first trip in the bush, most of the time, you don’t know a lot about wildlife. So, if the guide has empathy, good eyes and is attentive to his customers’ wishes, no doubt that he will be considered as being very good. Now looking back, failing to have been an experienced guide, I must say that he was a good driver and a very reliable person. He was retired from an elite regiment of the army. This aspect of his personality was important, because at the time some attacks, whose victims were tourists, were committed by poachers, mainly Somalis. Moreover tragic news occurred in the second part of my stay, in which there was much talk because of the reputation of the victim; George Adamson was murdered, by Somali bandits (shiftas), trying to defend a tourist. Anyway, I enjoyed his company. I recall his name, Joseph Kiluvutu.

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Marks

Looking forward to more stories from your wealth of experiences (and even your allegedly poor quality scans are sure to be of interest!).

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Tom Kellie

~ @@Bush dog

 

For someone who's relatively green to Africa, your historical report is of great value.

One of the challenges for a johnny-come-lately like yours truly is the lack of context for changes during recent decades.

What you're taking time to explain is adding much needed perspective to my fragmentary awareness of Africa.

Thank you for sharing this on Safaritalk.

Tom K.

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Atravelynn

A fascinating beginning spanning 2 continents.

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michael-ibk

Really looking forward to this one, somehow scanned slides have a very special "mood" to them which I really like. Love the Chitwan pics!

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Bush dog

@@Tom Kellie

 

Thanks a lot. As you said, you are perhaps "relatively green to Africa", but at the pace you set about doing it, you will soon catch up with everyone and even surpass! Better late than never!

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Bush dog

We spent the first night at the Panafric Hotel (in 1989, owned by the state but nowadays, Sarova Panafric) in Nairobi.

 

Kenyatta Avenue, Uhuru Park and city center from Panafric Hotel.

 

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The next day, we were on the road, going north. Our first stopping place was, in MOUNT KENYA NP, the Mountain Lodge (in 1989, owned by the state but nowadays, Serena Mountain Lodge). There is nothing much to say, at least that I recall, about our short stay there (one night). We saw elephants and buffaloes at the water hole and the salt lick.

 

Coffee plantation along the road

 

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The morning after, we were on our way to Meru. The next pictures were taken somewhere between Nairobi and Samburu. It would be interesting if someone could identify this town.

 

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MERU

 

In 1989, Meru was considered to be a rather unsafe area because of gangs of bandits and poachers who regularly infested the region. On this subject, I remember that during one of the transfers, to or from Meru, we were accompanied by two armed soldiers. But in those days, we were not yet become great paranoiacs, isn’t it?

 

We stayed, at least I think, at Meru Mulika. I am not sure because I do not remember if it was the only lodge in the park. At that time, everywhere, most of the lodges were big with many beds and a lot of them, state properties, proof that the strategy of Kenya has always been to encourage and promote mass tourism. Still, the general bed capacity was lower and thus, there were significantly fewer people in parks than currently.

 

View from the lodge

 

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Meru was my first real bush experience. For the reasons mentioned above, the lodge was far from being fully booked. So, I remember a beautiful remote place with relatively not a lot of wildlife. I did not see any lion or leopard and I even think that there were neither elephant nor buffalo, which, then, had greatly disappointed me. Anyway, twenty five years ago, it was extremely difficult to spot a leopard. I did not see any leopard at all, as in 1989 than in 1994. I had to wait two more travels, to see my first one.

 

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My first wild cheetah

 

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madaboutcheetah

Ah! Mike - so, that's how Kenya was in 1989!!! Amazing.....

 

Shame on me - I haven't been to Sri Lanka yet! (it's an hour flight from here).

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Treepol

@@Bush dog I am so looking forward to reading about your Kenya memories. Its just 25 years ago, but at the rate of change it seems like a lifetime ago. Your scanned slides are so interesting, I particularly like the langur group - you have been a master photographer for many years I can see.

 

A couple of things I noted from your introduction are booking by fax and the murder of George Adamson, which underscore the timeframe of just 25 years.

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Marks

The view from the Panafric hotel offered a very impressive vantage point.

Your first wild cheetah presents an alluring almost-silhouette amongst all that grass, too.

 

@@Bush dog Its just 25 years ago, but at the rate of change it seems like a lifetime ago.

 

To think what changes may have occurred 25 years from now is also pretty interesting (and potentially alarming).

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Bush dog

BUFFALO SPRINGS

 

We stayed at Buffalo Springs Tented Camp (one more state property). It was a big camp with a lot of big tents, looking a bit like those one can find in an army camp meaning quite basic but nevertheless comfortable. It was one of the first permanent tented camps in Kenya.

 

In 1994, we stayed at Sarova Shaba and at Serena. The first one was not a good choice. Indeed, though the area is beautiful, there was not a lot of wildlife. So we did all our game drives in Buffalo Springs. In fact, I did see a leopard during our stay at Serena, but this one, in my view did not count. Indeed, they used to put a dead goat on a tree on the other side of the river; not really my cup of tea, that kind of initiative.

 

There was much more wildlife, then, than now: a lot of oryx, zebras (I do not think I even saw one of those two species in 2008) and gerenuks, more giraffes, lions and cheetahs also. I also feel that it was less dry.

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Bush dog

To close the Buffalo Springs chapter a series about my first wild lions.

 

 

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Atravelynn

From the days of the dead goat on the tree. I remember those days. Your photos are lovely reminders.

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Bush dog

BOGORIA

 

Then we went to Baringo. I do not remember where we exactly stayed, probably Baringo Country Club. From there, we made a one-day excursion to Bogoria. I also visited Bogoria in 1994. The flamingoes were present in great number.

 

 

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PT123

Thanks for posting this. This is a nice reminder that there have been some positive developments in Kenya over the last 20+ years (improved security and partial restoration of wildlife) in Meru, Shaba, et al. Great shots of the lionesses crossing the river!

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Bush dog

NAKURU

 

Then we went to Nakuru. I came back in 1994, in the same lodge, Lake Nakuru Lodge.

 

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Flamingoes with the city in the background.

 

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A typical attitude of the reedbuck when in presence of a potential danger.

 

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TonyQ

Great to see Kenya from this period. Really interesting photos

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Alexander33

As a relative newcomer to Africa, I find your insights fascinating. Thank you for taking the time to set forth your experiences and observations from that time (25 years isn't that long, but, then, again, in some respects I suppose it is).

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Bush dog

@@Alexander33

 

In absolute terms, 25 years are not that long, but nowadays, at the pace things are changing , it is still longer!

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Bush dog

From Nakuru, we went to Naivasha and then to the Mara, where we stayed at Keekorok Lodge. In 1994, we stayed at Serena. I do not have strong memories of those two stopping places. I just recall that the road from Naivasha to the Mara was a nightmare, in the circumstances, an uninterrupted series of potholes. I also remember that at a petrol station, in 1994, while we stretched our legs, a man offered me a number of cows to buy my daughter who was then 14 years. I replied that I was very honored by his request but also my daughter was not for sale.

 

Naivasha

 

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Masai Mara

 

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PT123

Ha - I wonder what 14 cows adjusted for inflation would work out to be?! Great shot of hyenas in the water.

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Marks

Ha - I wonder what 14 cows adjusted for inflation would work out to be?! Great shot of hyenas in the water.

 

Seconded, love that hyena photo.

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Bush dog

AMBOSELI We spent a night in Nairobi and then went to Amboseli. It was my favorite stopping place of the whole trip. In those days, Amboseli was still a place with a great diversity of wildlife. We came back in 1994 and it had already decreased. We stayed at Serena both years. Amboseli has always attracted visitors for the great view of the Kilimandjaro but to catch sight of its summit, you will have to be very lucky and we were not in 1989 as in 1994. In fact, in 2003, I only saw, for the first time, its snowcapped summit, emerging from the clouds, from a flight to Lilongwe.

 

Elephants were everywhere in great number and I believe nowadays they still are.

 

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Other residents on their roost.

 

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Tom Kellie

~ @@Bush dog

 

Happy New Year to you and your loved ones!

Thank you for posting these views of Amboseli “back when”.

The three times I've visited Amboseli in the past three years there were indeed numerous elephants.

Is the roosting bird a long-crested eagle...or another species? I like all of the ‘roosters’.

Tom K.

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Bush dog

@@Tom Kellie

 

Happy New Year to you also, full of new places to discover!

 

It's indeed a long-crested eagle.

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