Jump to content

Ol Pejeta: Heaven on Earth?


PHALANX
 Share

Recommended Posts

After landing at Nanyuki air strip I was swiftly transferred to Sweetwater's tented camp on Ol Pejeta conservancy, a place I have come to call home. Making my way to my tent I noticed a small herd of Eland at the waterhole, my favourite antelope, their peaceful drink was being disturbed by a lone male Buffalo taking a mud bath. There was nothing unusual about this scene, sweetwaters waterhole is nearly always active, it was a nice to be home.


Much had changed in the six months since my last visit. The whole area had been transformed by the unusually high rain fall in December & January, usually the driest months. The game then was not in good condition, especially the Buffalo, but this old bull was looking very healthy. I spent the first few days enjoying the what the camp grounds & waterhole had to offer, and that was quite a lot. The waterhole was generally busy through the morning with Rhino several times a day, and the most beautiful of Giraffes, the Reticulated, gracing us with their presence. They would appear on the horizon, standing for long periods just looking in the general direction of the waterhole, then slowly they would move forward with the occasional falter in their step to check all was as it should be. The regular cast would come & go through out the day, Zebra being the most frequent, but they never stay long. The Defassa waterbuck, Grants Gazelle & Impala on the other hand were always around grazing on the bountiful grasses that were available.


My first game drive was a pleasant one. It started with the usual plains game and then two Black Rhino, we had not gone far and another black Rhino. It really is very difficult to take a game drive here without seeing Rhino. Giraffe were seen intermittently through out the drive which is always nice. On our way back we saw two Black back Jackal and some Jackson's Hartebeest.


The waterhole continued to be busy and two more black Rhino visited. Surprisingly they were quite tolerant of the excited tourist snapping away at them. At one point they came quite close to the ditch which separates the game from the guests, which made for some excellent photo opportunities. my favourite (Eland) came later that day and with Mt Kenya as the back drop my afternoon was complete. Most Evenings around seven pm a big herd of Buffalo would arrive. They did not stay long and after drinking melted into the African night. Not wanting to sound repetitive, we would have Black Rhino on most nights. An unusual experience to be had at Sweetwaters in the evening is watching the Waterbuck. They slowly start lining up close to the ditch around seven thirty and with total suspicion of everything & anything that moves, they gradually pluck up the courage to leap over the ditch, along with a few Impala, and spend the night in the woods at the back of the camp.


After a early morning game drive & a late breakfast I fill the mornings with a bird walk within the camp grounds. The grounds are quite large with a variety of habitats giving a wonderful diversity of species. On this trip I spotted over 100 different species within the camp, boosting that to a record for me, of 155 including game drives. When walking along the camps perimeter I often saw Rhino and Elephants along with the plains game.


Five days in and things were building up nicely. You don't really want all the big five in one early rush. So with Elephant, Rhino & Buffalo under my belt it was perfect timing when we came across two female Lions. They were resting in an open area with the occasional lifting of the head to check where each other were. After about twenty minutes one of them sat up and looking quite fixedly towards three wart hogs in the distance. Suddenly she was off with her sister following shortly afterwards. There wasn't the commitment one normally sees when Lions are hunting and it was not long before they settled back down in the long grass. Driving back to camp we saw two more black-back Jackals which was to become the norm on each drive and there was a lot of Lesser Kestrels around. On one occasion we saw 30 in one tree. There were also a lot of Pallid Harriers and Eurasian Bee-eaters, though the best spot was a Carmine Bee-eater. I had seen several around the camp but at a distance, this one obliged with some beautiful photos. The marsh area was quite productive with Saddle bill Stork, Augur Buzzard & Fish Eagle the best spots, and my first sighting of a young Crowned Crane. Back at camp the waterhole was as productive as ever with Black Rhino, Eland & Reticulated giraffe, again in good numbers and a handful of Elephants passed slowly by in the distance.


The most difficult animal to see on Ol Pejeta is the Leopard. A week had passed and Leopards had been seen, but I was not holding my breath as I have never seen a Leopard here during my 100+ days staying at sweetwaters, but we live in hope. Another game drive produced more Rhino both black & white and both with calves at different times. A lone Oryx appeared along with some Jackson's Hartebeest and more Black-back Jackals. Several Black-bellied Bustards and a pair of White-bellied Bustards along with a Secretary bird were seen in the long grasses on Oryx plain. While observing the Bustard we heard a very loud yelp from a Jackal, the kind of yelp which can only mean there is a predator around. Checking the bushes ahead where the Jackals warning was coming from and male Defassa waterbuck was starring intently we could not see anything, though the Jackals yelps were getting more agitated. We decided to go back to a track which we had passed which would take us around the back of the bushes. Following the track which took us deeper into the bushes we saw what was disturbing the Jackal, two Spotted Hyena. But something was not right. The Hyena were also agitated. Edging a little further along the track we were stunned when ahead of us a Leopard climbed down from a small tree. He did not run away as we expected, but went a little way ahead and sat staring at us from within a thicket. He stayed for a few minutes before moving to another bush check to see where the Hyena were. We think they thought the Leopard may have a kill and were more interested in that as they never came near the leopard. A few minutes later he was gone. Wow! What a fabulous way to see my first Ol Pejeta Leopard.


With so much vegetation around the game was breeding well, especially the Common Zebra. There were Zebra foals everywhere along with young Impala, Thompson Gazelles, Defassa waterbuck, Black-back Jackal and Reticulated Giraffe. Of course a healthy population of game is always a good sign that there will be a healthy population of predators. My final morning game drive gave me the perfect finish to my stay on Ol Pejeta, a male & female Lion. He was a fine example of the savannah's king and carried that air of indifference these beautiful creatures have. As is the norm for cats, they did not do much, Just the occasional glance at each other. But there was an underlying problem we had not picked up on. The male suddenly stood up, walked a few meters and let out the biggest roar I have ever heard. Several more lesser roars followed and then he walked off. The female had sat up and had an expression of complete bewilderment. What ever his problem was, she did not have a clue. Eventually she followed him with an air of resignation that what ever the problem was he would get over it.


Once again Africa has not failed to impress. Even after my many years of travelling to Africa I always see something new or different. Something new was an Amur Falcon and something different was seeing young Crowned cranes & very young Helmeted Guinea-fowl.



Kwaheri ya kuonana. Good by until next time. :)



PS: check out my photo's of this trip.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

~ @@PHALANX

 

Welcome to Safaritalk!

Thank you so much for sharing this trip report with us.

All of the details are useful in understanding your experience.

You mention the photos of your trip.

Is there a link to them somewhere? I haven't seen it.

If it's comfortable and convenient, a self-introduction in the Introductions section would be especially appreciated.

You saw so much, which is great! Thank you for telling us about it.

Tom K.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How do I make a link. The photos are in my Gallery.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@@PHALANX

There is a thread on posting images in the text

I have found a post from @ inyathi - Post Number 134 onwards

http://safaritalk.net/topic/14-posting-images-in-the-text/page-7

 

It explains how to put photos into the report you are doing. You have already started a thread, so you can add your photos in newposts in this thread.

I was at Ol Pejeta recently and loved it (and I have had a look in your gallery!) so I look forward to seeing your pictures here :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi @PHALANX

 

Thanks for your nice trip report and I really liked your photos, especially the carmine bee-eater.

 

I was recently at Ol Pejeta (I am just about to start my trip report) and one night I had a game ride with the local driver/guide Vivianne. She told me about you, and your fascination for birds. You are apparently their most frequent regular. :)

 

I´m glad you have joined Safaritalk och thanks för sharing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I expect to see photos of "our" rhino from all of you ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome to Safaritalk @@PHALANX.

I enjoyed reading your report, which brought back happy memories for me. In 2003, at the age of seventy nine, my mother achieved her dream of going on safari. It was the first time to Africa for both of us, we went on a group safari and our first camp was.......... Sweetwaters!

Wonderful to be able to look forward to reading more about your visits to this special place.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi @PHALANX

 

Thanks for your nice trip report and I really liked your photos, especially the carmine bee-eater.

 

I was recently at Ol Pejeta (I am just about to start my trip report) and one night I had a game ride with the local driver/guide Vivianne. She told me about you, and your fascination for birds. You are apparently their most frequent regular. :)

 

I´m glad you have joined Safaritalk och thanks för sharing.

Hi Gregor. Yes, Vivianne and I go way back. Of all Serena's drivers she is the best & most keen on birds so our drives are always productive. We both got quite excited on seeing young Crowned cranes as niether of us had seen them before. I look forward reading your trip report. AJ

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nice report! Enjoyed reading about your sightings. Not everywhere can boast such reliable rhinos (sadly). Also just finished looking at your gallery - great stuff. The waterhole looks and sounds especially pleasant.

Edited by Marks
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Safaritalk uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using Safaritalk you agree to our use of cookies. If you wish to refuse the setting of cookies you can change settings on your browser to clear and block cookies. However, by doing so, Safaritalk may not work properly and you may not be able to access all areas. If you are happy to accept cookies and haven't adjusted browser settings to refuse cookies, Safaritalk will issue cookies when you log on to our site. Please also take a moment to read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy: Terms of Use l Privacy Policy