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Kenya after the Rains (mostly): Meru, Ol Pejeta, Olare Motorogi


TonyQ
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Our first trip to Kenya. (MrsQ a.k.a @Thursday’s Child and I) We have visited a number of other African countries but never Kenya. Why? – ignorance based on inaccurate stereotypes of a Kenyan safari. Well, Safaritalk has put us right – many thanks to those of you who have contributed Kenya trip reports.

 

The trip was booked through Expert Africa following long and helpful discussions with Richard Trillo (a Safaritalk member @@richard Trillo) and with Eleanor Dunkels. We had used Expert Africa to book our Zambia trip a couple of years ago and were pleased with them again.

 

Summary of Trip:

 

Wilson Aero Club Nairobi 1 night (January 9th)

Offbeat Meru 4 nights

Kicheche Laikipia, Ol Pejeta 5 nights

Kicheche Bush, Olare Motorogi Conservancy 4 nights

 

 

The rains had been heavier and longer than is usual. Before the visit we nervously checked the weather forecasts and hoped! All of our previous safaris had been in the dry season. Still, it would be interesting.

 

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@@TonyQ

 

So glad that you like Kenya!! My wife and I just returned from a few days in Meru and the Mara last week. When were you in Meru? The bush was quite dense due to the prolonged rains but we did see quite a lot and hope that you did as well.

 

Cheers - Paul in Boston

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Our BA flight from London arrived in Nairobi at about 9pm. We had obtained an eVisa before we set out, but I am not sure it made much difference compared to visa on arrival. Our queue was by far the slowest – the finger print machine was particularly slow – but we got through with no problem, visited some ATM machines to find some that would accept my card, and then were transferred to the Aero Club at Wilson Airport. Fairly basic, clean and very, very convenient for asleep and the next morning flight.

 

A good breakfast and a very short (3 minutes) taxi ride to check in at Wilson Airport for our flight to Meru. Our main bags were weighed, but not our carry-on bags (with camera gear) or our heavily loaded pockets! There were 6 passengers – two would get off at Nanyuki, we would get off at Meru and the remaining two would go on to Samburu.

 

We sat on the right of the plane as we hope to see Mount Kenya but clouds had a different idea. But it is always exciting to see a new country from the air and it all looked so green. The flight was smooth and uneventful; as the plane descended towards the Meru airstrip we saw a reticulated giraffe, bright terracotta standing out against the rich greens. Welcome to Meru.

 

We were met at the airstrip by Stanley, who would be our guide for our stay. Would we like to go direct to Offbeat Meru or go on a game drive?

(What do you think?).

 

At the edge of the airstrip we saw our first Impala

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Surrounded by greenery and flowers, as we had never seen them before.

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We saw a number of birds

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Von Der Decken’s Hornbill

 

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Northern White-Crowned Shrike

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Black-faced Sandgrouse

 

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We saw more impala, waterbuck,

 

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then a buffalo (with passenger)

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and some more enjoying some cooling water

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But some other visitors had different ideas – so the buffalo left

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The elephants started to enjoy the water - and the mud

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And more continued to arrive (their colour is due to Meru dust which is red in many parts of the park)

 

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The mud bath is an important social gathering

 

We loved sitting watching the interaction between the elephants, involving much physical contact. It looked like fun.

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Excellent elephant shots - Meru is really a great elephant park. I feel like I saw more elephants in Meru than in Amboseli...

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And some were throwing themselves fully into the fun

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Or enjoying a good soak

Then a signal unheard by us led them to leave the water, cross the track and disappear into the bush.

 

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We started to head towards the camp, seeing more buffalo, waterbuck, just enjoying being there

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First Lilac Breasted Roller of the trip (and we thought of Graceland)

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Martial Eagle looking down on us

 

As well as the greenery, flowers, there were also clouds of butterflies bringing a smile to our faces

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Looking forward to the journey and loved the elle photos.

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Great elephant shots,glad you enjoyed Kenya. I just booked Meru for later this year and am interested in hearing your views on the park.

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@@TonyQ What a great start (both to your trip and to this report). Looking forward to more.

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I've been looking forward to this, glad the two of you had a good time. Love the reddish Eles against that lush background - Meru really looks beautiful in the Green Season.

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Lion under a rainbow sets the tone! Your perspective on Kenya will be a helpful to others who have not gone for various reasons. The red elephants of Meru are an inviting sight.

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We have been anxiously waiting for your report. Fantastic photo of the lion under the rainbow. Also the elies in the mud bath. We saw a herd of close to 200 a day after you and Mrs. Q left.

It will be fun to compare your perspective of Meru with ours.

 

I am struggling with trying to figure out how to post photos to a trip report. Just managed to finally get a camp report

to post by changing Internet Explorer to Google Chrome.

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@@PT123

Thank you - we were in Meru the nights of January 10, 11, 12, 13

 

@PCNW @dlo @@michael-ibk @@pomkiwi @@Atravelynn

Thank you for your encouraging comments!

 

@@mapumbo

It was great to meet you at Offbeat Meru - we really enjoyed our brief time with you. I look forward to sharing perspectives

(for posting photos, have you seen this thread?

http://safaritalk.net/topic/14-posting-images-in-the-text/page-20

Post 399 and onwards to the next page might be helpful)

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That was a beautiful elephant sighting.

 

I have been looking forward to this one.... will be great to "catch up" with all these places - and of course the "TonyQ" brand guarantees quality. :)

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Our first trip to Kenya. (MrsQ a.k.a @Thursday’s Child and I) We have visited a number of other African countries but never Kenya. Why? – ignorance based on inaccurate stereotypes of a Kenyan safari. Well, Safaritalk has put us right – many thanks to those of you who have contributed Kenya trip reports.

 

 

 

@@TonyQ

 

Looking forward to this report. We thought exactly the same as you for many years until joining ST and later this year we will also be on our first trip to Kenya.

 

Love the red elephants - great pictures

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offshorebirder

Alright - I've been looking forward to this trip report. Great start as usual @@TonyQ.

 

I am keen to hear how your green season experience was in Meru, Ol Pej and OMC.

 

Outstanding photos so far - I am curious what camera and lens rig you used? Any particular beanbag or stabilization setup?

 

I find myself wondering what the first bird in the second post is. I think it might be a strange-colored White-headed Buffalo Weaver. The head, bill shape + color, dark wings and tail, slightly forked tail, and little hint of the little red wing patch at the forewing indicate White-headed Buffalo Weaver. But I have never seen a light brown one like that. Immature bird perhaps? Stained somehow after a dirt bath?

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@@TonyQ

 

Great start! I was hooked with your initial wide angle shot of the lion, the tree and the rainbow. The elephants are just fantastic.

 

Funny, as I've been tossing around the idea of a green season safari to Kenya as well. I am looking forward to hearing more of your impressions on this. When exactly were you there?

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i've been waiting for your report! thanks for beginning so soon after you both had returned.

 

what a welcome - a rainbow and a big cat relaxing under an African tree. lovely pix of the red eles, although one decided to stand out with its all grey muddy tone.

such a powerful pix of the martial eagle, and I love the butterflies.

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@@TonyQ It was this time 2 years ago the 'dude and I were staying in Offbeat Meru. I can't believe the intervening time has gone so quickly. That trip marked a couple of milestones in my life: a return to Africa after a very long absence, and of course, perhaps arguably more significant, meeting @@Safaridude himself... Best not talk about the airsickness en route to Meru though...

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@@mapumbo Am looking forward to reading your report as well: I, with my limited safari experience, thought Meru to be a special place - a real highlight for me was to be sat on the veranda of my tent surrounded by a huge herd of elephants.

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@@pault

Thank you (that's a lot to live up to!)

@@Zim Girl

I am sure you will enjoy Kenya - we loved it

@@Alexander33

We were there from January 9th -January 23rd

@@Kitsafari

Thank you - I thought if I started fairly soon it would push me into getting the photos done!

@@offshorebirder

Thank you. Almost all pictures are with Canon 70D and 100-400 Mark ii (same as your lens!) which I got in November - so first safari outing. Some of the wider pictures were taken with Canon 550D and Sigma 17-70C. In Meru I used a small bean bag filled with polystyrene beads - later in the trip the 2 Kicheche camps provided heavier bean bags filled with, well, beans. A lot of the shots will be hand held.

Re: the bird - there is a reason I didn't put a name on it :) . I think you are right about the White Headed Buffalo Weaver - but the colour is very different to our book. It could be the dust - but I don't really know.

 

@@Game Warden @@Safaridude

Your report on the camp and Meru was instrumental in us going there as you made it look so appealing. Stanley, our guide remembered you both. I asked him if he remembered Matt, a man with a big beard. He remembered you and the "antelope researcher" which we recognise as @@Safaridude So you both made an impact!

Edited by TonyQ
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Offbeat Meru

We arrived at camp, were given a welcome cold drink and sat in the “lounge area” for a safety briefing by Craig, the manager

 

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Lounge Area

Light, airy, with a selection of books. It was a very nice area – but we didn’t spend a great deal of time there.

 

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View from lounge area

 

and were shown our tent

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Our tent

Airy, everything you need. Bucket shower, flush toilet, water for washing in a jug

 

We had a very good lunch, shared with Craig and the one other guest in the camp (a very nice American man). Craig joined us for dinner every night and most lunches. Food was very good and as non-meat eaters we were very well catered for.

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We unpacked, had a rest for a bit – then coffee and cake (it would be rude not to) in the lounge and out for the afternoon/evening drive.

We were lucky in having the vehicle and Stanley as our guide all to ourselves for almost all of our stay.

 

Soon we saw in a single tree

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Red-billed hornbill displaying

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African Grey Hornbill Display

It was fascinating to watch and listento the different displays.

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Crested Francolin

 

You may be forgiven for thinking that TonyQ is showing us a lot of birds at this point - and Meru was wonderful for birds. Before the trip I could confidently identify an Ostrich (in good light) but I do enjoy seeing birds. But some mammals also-

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Dwarf Mongoose

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Long-tailed Fiscal

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