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My Unfortunately Suspended Safari to Chuyulu Hills,Nairobi National Park, Ol Malo Camp in Laikipia and Sarara Camp in the Matthews Range


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I returned to Ol Donyo Camp in Chyulu Hills National Park to celebrate my 56th birthday with Amy and Sean who are by all accounts not two of the best managers to be found anywhere, but are also two of the finest and most charming hosts. I spent 4 wonderful days there. I managed to walk through the lava tubes,go hose back riding for the first time in 42 years, and sleep out under the stars. I had even better views of Kilimanjaro in all it's glory than I did last year. I was again guided by Jeremiah.

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I think you mean 'not only two' in the first line @@optig...........................

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Why was the safari suspended?

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@@wilddog Thanks for the correction. @@Geoff thank you for your concern; my safari was suspended due to the fact that I developed dysentery at Ol Malo Camp. The food was excellent so I don't think it was due to the food. I was medically evacuated to Nairobi by plane and spent 3 days in Nairobi Hospital. Fortunately, all of my bills were paid by UAP my Kenyan insurance carrier. I have to say that in general the care that I received at Nairobi Hospital was superb, especially the security. In fact everything even my cash was returned to me. Since then I've recovered completely. Fortunately, Sarara Camp will still honor the five days that I booked including the one hour trip by helicopter over Lake Turkana; I'll be going in March.

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I am glad to hear that you have recovered quickly from this unfortunate adventure. The Nairobi hospital has indeed an excellent reputation. Before their repatriation, my brother and a friend stayed there for eight days, a few years ago, after being attacked, in northern Ethiopia, near the border with Eritrea. The care they received was also superb.

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Sounds like it was great while it lasted! So sorry that you fell ill, but glad that you are feeling better now.

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Let me get back to my trip report. I went to the hide twice and saw plenty of big tuskers. I can't remember seeing more giraffes anywhere. There were towers everywhere. I also saw Coke's hartebeest for the first time. I saw the biggest herd of eland that I've ever seen before. I also saw zebra, wildebeest and the other usual suspects. i did see jackals. I had a spectacular confrontation with three baboons who were looking into my room. The birding was excellent as expected.

Edited by optig
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These are just a few of my photos of the wildlife which I saw in Chyulu Hills National Park. While by all accounts Chuyulu Hills may not have density nor the quantity of wildlife that one sees in Amboseli or even Tsavo East or West it makes up for it by the fact that you'll have the wonderful feeling of having the entire National park to yourself. I never saw another vehicle while i was there during the four days I was there. Ol Donyo Lodge not only has a hide; it offers night drives, horseback riding, visits to the Lava Tubes, walking and sleeping out under the stars. The accommodation, food,wine and staff were all superb. It's simply one of the finest lodges in Africa.

I also learned about Ol Donyo Lodge's commitment to conservation in the area. There apparently has only been one elephant that has been the victim of poaching in the concession in the last 7 years. Every guest pays no less than $120.00 a day to local conservation. All the local villagers are compensated for any of their livestock which is killed by lions,leopards or hyenas. Big Life Foundation which was started by Richard Bonham and Nick Brandt is responsible for this.

To prevent lying all livestock killed by predators are photographed by employees of Big Life Foundation who travel by motorcycle.

I forgot to mention that I also saw oryx as well. They are beautiful animals which I never tire of seeing.

Edited by optig
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I was surprised to see Masai in the reserve who are quite traditional. They are missing a tooth in the center,wearing tribal jewelry and carrying spears. Whilst I did see Masai children continuing to herd livestock the good news is that no less than 70% of the Masai children in the conservancy are currently going to primary school. Of course the staff at Ol Donyo Lodge is all Masai except of course for Amy and Shaun.

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I'll be going to Sarara Camp tomorrow. Kathy and Jeremy have been kind enough to honor my reservation since they had space available in March. I did have to pay for another new road transfer and a flight. I'll also be taking a helicopter trip which I had to pay a penalty for. Well nobody can win them all when it comes to getting refunds. I'll finish my trip report when I return.

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Sorry to hear about your medical conditions, but a good thing all turned out well. Enjoy your safari!

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@@optig Oh no. such a horrible incident to spoil your trip but glad you are all well and recovered now to go to sarara tomorrow. very kind of them to extend the validity of your booking.

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These are a view of the Chuyulu Hills, as you can see the drought is quite evident. As you see a lilac breasted roller, an ostrich and what I believe is a martial eagle. I will do my best to identify the other species of birds later, however, as I'm the first to admit although I always check off every new species of bird which I see in one of my birding guides my knowledge of birds is simply lousy. I depend on @Bushdog and other Safari talkers to inform me.


I'm still waiting to go to Sarara, I'll explain why later.









I even got to view the Mt. Kilimanjaro in the distance.


Spotted a cheetah too.


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@optic A martial eagle is definitely on my wish list! I already told my guide Sean Hinde about that as in 3 months time we will go to Lower Zambezi N. P. , followed by Matusadona and Mana.

First time for us to go as early as that- the advantage is that we "only" had to wait 9 months for our return to Mana

Have a good and healthy time and enjoy your stay!

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I just loved the sheer emptiness and isolation of Chyulu Hills National Park, it's just a wonderful feeling to go on every game drive and never see another vehicle. One appreciated the true vastness and wilderness appeal of the Park. Most of us would agree that this is far more important than having masses of wildlife which we have to share with so many other vehicles. In case you are curious I've lost most of my belly since February :D.












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The first four of these photos are from Chyulu Hills National Park. The second two come from Nairobi National park. I stayed at Emakoko Lodge where I was hosted by Anton. The food, lodging and service were all excellent. I have to say that I was most pleasantly surprised by Nairobi National Park even if I only made one game drive. I saw plenty of wildlife including seven black rhino including a calf. I also saw white rhino, coke's hartebeest, eland, giraffe, zebra, hippo, buffalo and even a serval for only the second time. I've never seen a serval before in the daytime. I highly recommend Nairobi for everyone and it doesn't matter if your'e a first time safari goer or you've already been there over 20 times.


The last photo came from Ol Malo Lodge. I decided to go there due to the superb range of activities. I went to the Samburu Village which I found far more authentic than visiting a Masai Village, and not as hard to take as visiting the Samburu Village when I stayed at Sarara Camp in February of last year. I enjoyed walking, horseback riding, and riding on a camel twice. I had never ridden on a camel before so it was great fun. It was also like horseback riding a superb way to see the African bush. I also went swimming. Due of course to the drought I didn't see a huge amount of wildlife. I did see plenty of Grant's and Thompson's gazelles, as well as reticulated giraffe.


I must say that I felt literally like I was part of the Francombe Family at Ol Malo Camp. I spent time in front of the fireplace with Colin Francombe a third generation Kenyan who shares ownership of Ol Malo with his wife Rocky who is a fifth generation Kenyan. I also met their daughter Chyulu and one of their grandchildren. They were keeping an abandoned young female kudu as a pet who was just adorable. I just loved my bush breakfasts with Colin and we spoke on a wide range of topics. Colin and Rocky have kept a wide variety of orphaned wild animals as pets and said that the best ones were a female greater kudu, a giraffe and a cheetah who had to have it's dewclaws removed. They stressed of course that all of these animals had been orphaned.


I was guided by Hussein who I really liked. I will make it to Sarara because they will have decided to honor my stay. I will even get to take the helicopter trip.

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I am so sorry to read of the suspension of your travels, and so glad to hear you are doing better and once again out in the bush! Wishing you healthy and happy travels for the rest of your trip.

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The first 13 photos are from Ol Donyo Lodge. The birds in the first photo are fiscal shrikes. Could someone please help me identify the other birds in the photos?






Beautiful background scenery of the Mt. Kilimanjaro with the jumbos.



I have never seen so many elands at one place before.










These next photos are more of the Nairobi National Park. I did manage to see hippos and a cute monkey which I didn't manage to identify.









From here is the Ol Malo lodge. Please note that there was a wildlife dearth due to the drought, as you can see from the scenery photos even dry rivers. I only saw giraffes, gazelles, jackles and of course birds and that was just really it, the wildlife was really poor.








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@@optig - I suspect the cheetah you saw at ODL is a different one ........ next time you are there, please ask Jeremiah to track down the two brothers!

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@optic The birds on the 4th pictures are namaqua doves-the males are easily identified by their black face, throat and foreneck.

I'm not sure whether the bird on the 3rd picture might be a tropical boubou...?

I couldn't see the last 2 pics, the monkey and Ol Malo lodge.

Have a good time!


(I would really like to know how you lost weight I am your age and find it hard to loose anything now. It seems people are loosing weight and I always manage to find it)

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I put in 2 smileys in the text, but they were gone when I posted...

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  • 2 weeks later...

@@AfricanQueen I tend to lose weight on safari because I'm subject to much more stress and I'm more active than normal. I'm currently avoiding cheese,yogurt and of course sweets. Thank you for identifying those birds for me.@@madaboutcheetah he did try to find the cheetah brothers but without success.

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I arrived on the 29th of April at Sarara Camp for a stay of 4 nights. I was supposed to stay for 5 nights but unfortunately due to the mistake of someone who will remain nameless my stay was limited to 4 nights. Nonetheless, it was a fabulous stay. I saw Jeremy Bastard and Kathie Rowe again and had the most fabulous time with the orphaned gerenuk, reticulated giraffe, as well as the male greater kudu. Kathie and Jeremy have already opened the second elephant orphanage in Kenya. In contrast to the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage they are trying to relocate the orphans and reunite them with their original extended families. They now have 12 orphaned elephants as well as a baby rhino, interestingly enough only 2 of these elephants lost their mothers due to poaching. This orphanage is part of the Northern Range Trust's greater conservation efforts. There are already 20 Samburu working at the orphanage.








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The Northern Rangeland Trust is also going to build a house next to the orphanage so that donors will have somewhere to stay when they come to visit. What is just awesome is that they are also in the process of constructing a whole new lodge in the Namunyak Conservancy. The cabins will all be built in the trees and linked by walkways. There will also be two swimming pools which will be connected by a waterfall. There will be a point where there will be views in 360. It will offer it's visitors an outstanding combination of experiencing the forest as well as the plains at the same time. I was fortunate enough to meet Andrew Meiesi the designer of the new lodge. He has designed many properties along the coast and was the original designer of Sarara. One can see his work on Facebook at Sala Terrane Ltd. I predict that this new lodge will be chosen by none other than Conde Nast as one of the finest new properties in Africa for 2018. It will tick off all the boxes: it is ecologically friendly, will offer excellent comfort, have a terrific bush vibe, and have excellent game viewing. It will also offer the same wide range of activities that Sarara does including helicopter trips of any duration, walking, night drives,fly camping. horse back riding, visits to the Singing Wells, and of course to the Samburu Village. The opening of the orphanage will only lead to more visitors to the Sarara as well as other properties which it could easily be combined with.


I'm predicting that this new lodge will prove to be an enormous boost to Andy Melesi's career as a builder. He already had 200 employees and is engaged in 4 construction projects on the coast. This new design is so awesome that he will undoubtedly be asked to design more ecologically friendly yet luxurious lodges throughout Africa. The direction may be for more luxurious lodges but at the end of the day even first time safari goers want to be able to feel that they are truly in the bush, and can feel that they are part of it.


A great advantage to staying at Sarara is the feeling of having this enormous concession all to yourself. This is something that all of us value immensely, and the wilderness appeal of the Namunyak Concession won't be at all be downgraded by having another lodge built there. It will remain natural and unspoiled.










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As everyone can see the scenery in the Namunyak Conservancy is simply awe inspiring. Even now during the current drought it's far greener than Samburu National park. I did take the helicopter trip with Andrew Francombe and have to say that it was literally the most exciting and exhilirating hour of my life, and I'm not exaggerating. I did see two reticulated giraffes as well as a colobus monkey. It was also fabulous watching the Samburu herding their livestock from the air. This was the first helicopter trip of my life and it won't be the last because I know that there are some other fabulous helicopter trips available in Kenya as well as in Ethiopia and the DRC. I would love to fly over Lake Turkana as well as north of Lamu. Andrew has flown @@Safaridude  various times before and had only the kindest things to say about all of them.


Unfortunately, I was visiting Sarara when wildlife viewing is supposed to be the worst of the year. That said i was quite happy with what I saw. There were elephants everywhere,lots of reticulated giraffes, parliaments of baboons, lots of Kirk's dik-dik, desert warthogs,and some klipspringer, genenuk and greater kudu. I was fortunate enough to see a leopard on night drive, as well as a hyena on another. I also saw African hare, white tailed mongoose, and slender mongoose. As one would expect I did silver back jackal,dwarf mongoose, and vervet monkey. The birding was excellent.












There were flocks of vulturine guinea fowl everywhere. I feel that they are a not only a beautiful bird but one that is quite underrated. I wish that

I could easily identify the other species of birds in my photos.

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