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Kenya 2016 - A trip to Lake Turkana


Botswanadreams
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Hello safaritalker

We are back from an amazing trip to Kenya.

For many years Kenya was not in my focus because seeing pictures of this mass of cars in the Mara. We were fallen in love with Africa in the south part of the continent. After two times Tanzania and one times Uganda my interest for Kenya started as I followed the South African couple Stan Weakley and his wife during a Trans Africa 2015/2016 on their blog
www.slowdonkey.com.

 

Lake Turkana, a place very less people have ever seen, didn’t get out of my head as one of our possible destinations in Kenya. The big question was who would go with us in the far North. The first contacts with Kenyan Tour Operators weren’t successful. I found by accident a post on this nice “safaritalk” forum.

 

“One thing he will NOT do is promote me as a guide or ... as a company, unless someone specifically asks him in a private message.”

 

 

Ok, let’s try, I thought. It was on 21/11/2015

 

Eight weeks intensive communication via mail later we agreed to go together on a “Private Guided Basic Camping Trip” in September 2016.

 

Unfortunately my English is too bad to write a whole trip report in English. It'll be in German on our homepage. Google translate will help you with English.

 

I really hope that our excellent Kenyan Guide ... and well known member of this forum will help me with all his background knowledge that you all have a bit fun to follow us through Kenya.

In the next weeks I'll give always a short note with a few pictures after a new part is online.

Today I’m starting with a short version of our
final itinerary.

In the whole we had 32 nights in Kenya from 01/09/2016 - 02/10/2016.

 

  • Meru National Park
  • Buffalo Springs National Reserve
  • Mt. Marsabit National Park
  • Chalbi Desert
  • Sibiloi National Park
  • Loyiangalani and Mt. Kulal
  • Maralal National Reserve
  • Lake Baringo
  • Kitale with Saiwa Swamps National Park and Cherangani Hills
  • Mt. Elgon National Park
  • Kakamega Forest
  • Mara Naboisho Conservancy
  • Mara Triangle

Lets met in Meru National Park next time.

 

Christa

 

post-50522-0-11702700-1477228351_thumb.jpg

 

Petrified Forest Sibiloi National Park

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Definitely no mass of cars in the petrified forest of Sibiloi National Park!

 

Fascinating itinerary. You will have my rapt attention for

 

 

  • Kitale with Saiwa Swamps National Park
  • Kakamega Forest

Looking forward to this off the beaten path adventure.

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@@Botswanadreams what an off the beaten track itinerary, I am really looking forward to your TR.

 

I really enjoyed the Slow Donkey blog when I was mulling over ideas for Uganda. Especially keen to hear about Kitale, Baringo and Kakamega.

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@michael-bk will translate for you. (Okay I didn't ask him yet..... small detail... haha)

 

Otherwise it's (young) schoolboy German and Google translate.... Or just look at the pictures. Definitely an excellent itinerary to stay away from people. Can't wait to meet in Meru.

Edited by pault
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Thanks for your interest traveling with us to Lake Turkana.

 

 

@@Atravelynn

As I remember right we haven't seen any other car from a few kilometers behind Marsabit to a short distance before Maralal except in Loyiangalani and around the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project. The car in the pic is ours.

 

@@Treepol

The Slow Donkey blog is a big source of information about Africa. We were in contact as he planned his Uganda part.

 

@@pault

Staying away from the mass tourism is normally what we are looking for. You can't avoid it everywhere. Otherwise you would miss places like Ngorongoro and so on.

 

 

Before we really start with our journey I would like to introduce our little party.

 

 

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That's me and my husband Herbert on the bank of Ewaso Ng'iro River in Shaba National Reserve

 

 

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That's our travel companions on the way between South Horr and Marsabit

 

from the left to the right

Vincent - our Chef with a helping hand for everything

Zarek Cockar - our Guide (I think most of you know who he is)

Mike - Samburu and a source of his culture, security on our way to Lake Turkana, if he isn't traveling with us he is Ranger in Samburu National Reserve

 

 

Next Time Meru - promised.

 

Christa

Edited by Botswanadreams
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I think that your itinerary is simply incredible,especially since I live in Nairobi. You have added so many new destinations to my itinerary. I used to think that I wasn't interested in scenery without some interesting wildlife to accompany it,but now I'm having my doubts. I now remember when I went to Namibia as part of my second African safari no less than seven years ago,and at times we didn't see much safari. I have to say however that the breathtaking scenery made up for it. So many of the places that your'e visiting on your safari are truly off the beaten track. I can't wait to visit Joy's Camp in Shaba Park when it reopens after being renovated.

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So many of the places that your'e visiting on your safari are truly off the beaten track.

 

 

@@optig

That's a shame but I know that most of the tourists are rushing. Kenya has so incredible landscapes. We only saw a little part. Way do you want to wait with a vised to Shaba until Joy's Camp is reopened. Take a Guide, a chief and camp on the red rock in Shaba for a few days. It is a completely different experience to be in the bush. You don't need a lion behind every bush again. You already have seen. Enjoy the little things of nature, take your time and you'll get gifts back.

 

I'll tell you. I grow up in the GDR. Camping was the only way to travel we could afford. After the wall came down in Berlin a said never again camping because of the toilets on East European campsites. What does we do now? Camping in Africa, back to nature, the way how Muzungus explored in the past and I love it.

Edited by Botswanadreams
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If Meru is promised and language is not an issue the best updated reports are in Italian! By the way, did you see the Afrikanischer Schlangenhalsvogel along the rivers? One of my German favorite names..

 

Il secondo punto era in un’area vicina al Tana River strada lunga ma poco difficile. In un’area accidentata con presenza di rocce ecco sulla punta, la sagoma caratteristica del Caracal! Rallento, ci guarda per un attimo e poi con balzo sparisce nella notte. E’ la mia prima osservazione della specie nel parco. L’ascolto evidenzia la presenza di rane e rospi in canto nelle aree adiacenti il fiume ma il ritorno ci regala un altra osservazione esaltante. Un incontro ravvicinato con un Protele, la iena più piccola e più schiva, e con questo sono tutte le specie di carnivori, grandi e piccoli, potenzialmente presenti nell’area!!., Grazie Meru, grazie Africa. Un saluto alla prossima.

 

The second point was in an area close to the Tana River, long road but little difficult. In a rugged area with presence of rocks here is the tip, the characteristic shape of the Caracal! Slow down, look at us for a moment and then leap disappears into the night. It 's my first observation of the species in the park. Listening shows the presence of frogs and toads in singing in the areas adjacent the river but the return gives us another exciting observation. A close encounter with an Aardwolf, the smallest hyena and dodges, and with this are all sorts of carnivores, large and small, potentially present in the area !!

With Meru, through Africa. A salute to the next.

http://www.maurizioravasini.it/2016/02/

 

The only cat not found in the census was the most elusive of them all- the panther. Black cats exist but no leopard has been found in the last 10 years. Rare or extinct? Worth a repeat visit to find out.. http://africageographic.com/blog/melanistic-serval-seen-again/

 

And if you are in to rare toilets the ones in Kampi Ya Simba, Kora are unique.

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What a wonderful adventure - I'm glad @@armchair bushman got to guide you for such a neat safari!

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I'm hooked already with this TR @@Botswanadreams - the furthest north I've been was to Shaba and Buffalo Springs - but I've always been fascinated reading books and stories about Lake Turkana and NFD- so I'm really going to enjoy learning of your adventures and experiences.

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@@pault I think we could make a moderator out of you yet! ;)

 

Haha I'm a bit too unpredictable and talkative for that I think! Just trying to be "community-minded". :D

 

 

 

 

 

And way too many typos too!

Edited by pault
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@@pault I think we could make a moderator out of you yet! ;)

 

Haha I'm a bit too unpredictable and talkative for that I think! Just trying to be "community-minded". :D

 

 

 

 

 

And way too many typos too!

 

 

Yes, the typos could cause you to be hauled over the coals!!!!! :rolleyes:

I like your "community mindedness" .........

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I have to say that you are giving me lots of ideas,especially because i live here in Nairobi.I just love doing simple camping in the bush,and I especially enjoy fly camping.Of course i still enjoy staying at fine lodges and will continue to do so. Nevertherless, I'd prefer camping with an excellent guide.

 

I know a lot about the GDR. I can still remember having long discussions with people I met while in Budapest in 1983. I also met people from the GDR in Prague in 1980. Please excuse me from getting off the topic.

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@nhang

When you are looking for "Afrikanischer Schlangenhalsvogel" - African Darter you should go to Lake Baringo.

 

@ offshorebirder

It was an adventure for all of us including Zarek I think. Ok - it was sometimes a bit dusty, a bit windy, a bit rainy, a bit too much creatures to close - later we will tell more about this. I can really say that we were very happy having him as our Guide. With pleasure again.

 

@@Caracal and all the others

Welcome on board and thanks for all the kind words.

 

@optic

I have to say that you are giving me lots of ideas,especially because i live here in Nairobi.I just love doing simple camping in the bush,and I especially enjoy fly camping.Of course i still enjoy staying at fine lodges and will continue to do so. Nevertherless, I'd prefer camping with an excellent guide.

You are welcome and you make me a bit proud that I'm allowed to show you a bit more from the country you are living in. We like this kind of traveling with an excellent guide. That's what we did in the last years in Africa for a few times.

 

 

 

So it looks like Zarek is somewhere lost in the African bush without connection to the world and the safaritalkers. Lets official start with Meru

 

 

Welcome to Meru National Park

 

 

With the following few pics I would like to invite you to take a look on our homepage as long as you haven't done for the report and much more pictures. As I said unfortunately it is written in German but you have a google translator to the right.

 

Here is the link.

 

 

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Hartlaub's Bustard (Lissotis hartlaubii)

 

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White-browed Coucal (Centropus superciliosus)

 

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post-50522-0-32298100-1477584449_thumb.jpg

 

Have fun.

Christa

Edited by Botswanadreams
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Apologies for the long silence everyone. Great to see this thread up and running and that there has been some good interest in it.
​From the moment Christa first contacted me many months ago, I knew this was going to be an exciting, interesting trip. We discussed the itinerary and destination options at length. The more we communicated back and forth, the more excited I got about planning and conducting this trip. We’d be visiting a number of places I had never been to before as well as a few that I had always wanted to explore a little more. At first, the proposed 32 days was a little daunting from a planning and logistics standpoint, but in 2016, the most basic of supplies can be found in some pretty surprising places, and over the months, things began to take shape in my mind. I decided to use my own personal vehicle along with a trailer to carry equipment and supplies.

Anyway, enough about the planning (unless you want more of that), and on to the meaty bits. This is @@Botswanadreams trip report, so I’ll leave most of the details (and certainly the photos) to her. I’ll just fill in my own little tid-bits here and there.

Meru National Park is probably my personal favourite KWS-run wildlife area in Kenya. It’s easy to get to, the wildlife viewing has always been good for me, and I rarely see other vehicles on game drives. Meru has more of an ‘untamed wilderness’ feel than most of the other popular parks and reserves here. Something about the colour of the grass and bush, the tsetses, the Doum palms, and the place names (Shifta Rocks, Malka Ratha, etc) – Meru just does it for me. Then there’s the wildlife and birdlife. There’s really nothing in Meru that you won’t find elsewhere (except maybe Pel’s Fishing Owl), but the variety here coupled with the background scenery is something special.

A few of my own photos (taken on a little Canon Powershot ‘point-and-shoot’) are here.

 

A Naked Mole Rat - on the final morning, we were looking for lions that we had heard come through camp a few hours previously. We never found the lions, but had a short glimpse of a Ratel (Honey Badger) and this bizarre creature, whose life history, social structure, and ecological niche is very similar to most Termites!
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Reticulated Giraffe near Leopard Rock
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Looking South West from just below the old Meru Mulika Lodge
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Meru is full of both Buff and Giraffe.
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Quintessential Meru
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Cubs along the Bwatherongi stream
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Laying with their mother next to the road
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We chose to camp at Bwatherongi Public Campsite. The private campsites in Meru are generally quite nice and well-located, but this was the first stop on a long safari and Bwatherongi served out purposes well. Running water in the showers allowed us to wash off the day's dirt and grime and to cool off in the hot afternoons. The campsite, as some of you know, has a swimming pool, which, up until quite recently was in good working order. Sadly, it had been neglected for some time and the water was rather green, so we did not swim.
Bwatherongi is also very centrally located, allowing you to explore more of the park without doubling up your routes too often.

My photos don't do Meru, or Kenya, justice. We saw lots of wildlife, including plenty of Lesser Kudu, an Aardwolf and cub, lots of Elephants, Ostrich, etc.

I'll let Botswanadreams continue with the next leg of the journey before adding my two cents.

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@Botswanadreams Nice report and quite easy to read with google translate actually - a little knowledge of German and Meru helps but it's quite clear.This is going to work.

 

@@Zarek Cockar Hoiney Badger and Naked Mole Rat sopunds much better than lions I think - although all three would be better still. And all three times I have seen a Naked Mole Rat (in someone else's trip report and a documentary) they have been in Meru, so perhaps that should go with the Pels Fishing Owl on the "something you are very unlikely to see in Meru but even less likely to see anywhere else in Kenya" list?

 

So do Aardwolves have cubs rather than pups then? As with pangolins, it's just not language you ever expect to need - in facr even using the plural feels strange.

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@@pault

We did see Naked Mole Rat in Samburu as well - not far from the bridge. But yes, I would say both Naked Mole Rat and Ratel should be on the list of 3 species you're more likely to see in Meru than anywhere else in Kenya (along with the owl).

 

You know, I don't know for sure about Aardwolf cubs/pups. However, Hyenas have cubs, not pups. And Aardwolves are technically Hyenas.... so, there you go.

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@@Zarek Cockar I've never seen Naked Mole Rat but your'e already making my mind race at the prospect of seeing one. I did see a striped hyena in Meru which was high on my list of dream species to see.

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@@optig

Look loose dirt being flung out of circular holes in the ground. We saw them in a number of places - all were surrounded by bare dirt.

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What a fabulous itinerary.

Well done for doing something different.

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@zarekcockar

 

I did see a striped hyena when I stayed at Elsa's Kopje; I'm sure that you'd agree that this one mammal that your'e not likely to see in many places. Is Meru considered a particularly good place to see striped hyena?

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@@optig

Ya, stripeys are not commonly seen anywhere, but basically in any savannah park in Kenya, there's a chance to see them - especially if the park's opening hours are a little later. The nice thing about Meru NP is that you don't have to be back at the campsite until 7pm, which differs from the likes of Nairobi NP, where you have to be out of the park by 6pm, or Samburu, which is 6:30pm.
One of my best Striped Hyena sightings was in Shaba at 6:00 am.

many of the private ranches and conservancies in Laikipia are also a good bet as they have higher numbers of striped hyenas than other areas and you can do night drives.

I was at Laikipia Wilderness Camp recently. They say that their Striped Hyena sightings are seasonal. They'll go through several months of seeing them very often and then suddenly they won't see them for a few months. They don't know where they go, but obviously sightings are more reliable when they're denning, and less reliable when they're wandering free.

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