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Kenya Discovered. A Safari Talk Inspired Safari Part 2


penolva
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Here goes with Part 2 covering our time with Petra at Sandai Farm thanks to the recommendation from @michael-ibk. Whilst there we visited Solio, Aberdare's, Ol Pajeta and Aberdare Country Club. We also took a side trip with Petra's driver Paul to Samburu. Later during our time in Kenya we also visited Amboseli NP. As I mentioned before our time with the DSWT elephants will be covered in Part 3.

 

We flew back to Nairobi from the Masai Mara and stayed in the Purdy Arms for two nights. Its a lovely place to stay, if a bit rustic! and is very popular with locals and families at the weekend celebrating birthdays etc. There are lovely gardens to explore.

 

 

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We took the opportunity to visit the Giraffe Centre and Nairobi NP. The Giraffe Centre is a bit touristy but it was lovely to see the Rothchild Giraffe that live there. They have a successful breeding programme and there are many babies to be seen. The gardens are beautiful. We were glad we took time out to visit. 

 

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Our visit to Nairobi NP was less successful. We hoped to get some photographs of the animals with the sky line behind. We achieved this but the park was incredibly dry and full of rubbish. There seemed to be a plastic bag for every bush. During our time there Kenya banned the use of plastic bags completely and we were very impressed. Other countries should follow their example and we are sure over time the national park will benefit.

 

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The following morning Petra's friend Brigitta came to collect us with Peter Petra's trusty taxi driver. After a visit to Kazuri beads and the Sheldrik Orphanage we set off for Nyeri and Sandai Farm.

 

 

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I was just dreaming about Sandai last night! Looking forward to more.

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That shot of the rhinos with the city is really great.

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Looking forward to following along this next installment @penolva.

 

The photo of the patio at Purdy Arms makes me yearn to return!

 

 

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@offshorebirder it is a lovely place to stay. Next instalment Sandai Farm and the fantastic Solio ?

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On 04/03/2018 at 3:28 PM, Patty said:

I was just dreaming about Sandai last night! Looking forward to more.

@Patty Petra is such a lovely lady. We had a great time!

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On 04/03/2018 at 8:45 PM, Marks said:

That shot of the rhinos with the city is really great.

@Marks thanks we were lucky to see them so close but for rhino just wait for Solio! Pen

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It took less than three hours to get to Sandai Farm and we received a warm welcome from Petra, her family, staff, geese and cats and dogs. We checked into our little cottage and had some lunch. The farm is surrounded by beautiful countryside and is green and lush. We were amazed at the variety of fruit and vegetables on offer at the road side stalls. Passion fruit, a favourite of mine, were only £1 for a bag of 20 yet they are 65p each at home. The area does receive a lot of rain which explains it but we thought it a perfect place to live.

 

Most of her guests were German but they were very kind and spoke to us in English. Meals are around a big table family style either on the terrace or inside if its cold. You can walk around the farm, horse ride or just sit and relax. 

 

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Our cottage

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Our first day trip was to Solio ranch. Its just a short drive from the farm and the landscape is very beautiful. We saw at least 50 white rhino with babies. We had never seen so many before and we could get really close to them. All the animals seemed so healthy and happy. The water buck in particular were huge. 1X1A2930.thumb.jpg.58089d608785bb003a3d9c06834985d9.jpg_DSC7974.thumb.jpg.3577fa86d20bea2d6931aae0903197e4.jpg1X1A2886.thumb.jpg.a179b1132dbbf960277d47ebba3ceb4a.jpg 

 

A little further on we saw our first rhino. These two seemed to mirror each others movements.

 

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I really wanted to see some babies and as we climbed higher there were babies with their mothers. Some running, some feeding and some just being cute.

 

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The mother of this one had the most astonishing horn. No poacher would like to be on the end of that!

 

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A true crash of rhino!

 

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We had a lovely lunch in the sunshine. We loved Solio and later in the trip wished we had come back. As well as more rhino we saw reticulated giraffe, lions and some nice birds during the afternoon. We returned to Sandai for dinner and everyone rushed outside when Mount Kenya briefly came into view.

 

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I like the white toes on the dog!

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Wow, I never appreciated what a stunner Mt Kenya is.

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18 hours ago, Marks said:

Wow, I never appreciated what a stunner Mt Kenya is.

@Marks it certainly is if you get to see it! ?

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We were up early the following morning for our day out in the Aberdare's. It was very clear and Petra pointed out that you could see the Aberdare's spread out on the horizon. She said that was most unusual as there is usually a lot of cloud up there.

 

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After a short drive we entered through the Treetops gate and drove up to the Salient. Paul pointed out some colobus monkeys in the distant trees. We spotted a Great Hornbill and I managed to get a photograph but it was quite far away. The trees and vegetation come right down to the edge both sides on most of the road so its quite difficult to spot animals. There are elephants around but difficult to spot. There are some lovely meadows where the scenery opens out a bit. It is so lush and green. It was easy to forget we were in Africa.

 

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As we climbed higher we could see the moss on the trees. The views were beautiful and no other vehicles at all.

 

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We stopped for lunch near Karuru waterfall and Paul and my DH walked to it.  I decided to stay at the picnic spot and was quickly joined by a spur fowl or similar bird. Very tame. They came back with some nice photographs of the waterfall.

 

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It had been very quiet during the morning and we thought we were going to miss out on animal sightings. It began to rain and also the radiator was over heating so we decided to make our way slowly down. This was a good plan as very soon the animals began to show themselves. First we spotted some Sykes monkeys and then some Colobus nearer although they still hid in the trees. I was thrilled to see the Sykes as they have such cute faces and we had not seen one before. The last time we saw Colobus was in Tanzania on our first trip to Africa in 2011.

 

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Paul pointed up to the hills and said there were elephants there. We did manage to spot them but they were mostly hidden in the vegitation.

 

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A buffalo crossed the road and then we saw two looking down at us from the bank above the road. They reminded me of the buffalo that did exactly the same when @michael-ibk did the drive with Paul. Perhaps the buffalo are always on the look out for Safari Talk members!

 

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A little further on we saw a very relaxed hyena trying to keep a low profile. Within half a mile we saw 5 hyena very close. We wondered if the rain had brought them out from the bushes.

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As we almost reached the gate we spotted two forest hogs. Another new animal for us and a great way to end our day out in the Aberdare's. Its a very beautiful area and we saw signs to the cabins you can stay in if you want to spend more time exploring. 

 

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Back at Sandai Farm we had another family dinner and later were able to take some night sky photographs. It was almost a full moon. It was lovely to see the Milky Way above the roof of our cottage.

 

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Edited by penolva
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Such wonderful green scenery up there in the Abardares. So the hanging stuff on the trees is moss? I saw some of that in our State Park visit here in Florida and thought it was lichen.

And you were able to spot a few new animals as well, great place it seems and I will be putting it on my list of must-see places in Kenya. I love the shit of the new moneky, the fuzzy waterfall, the ellies in the green mountains and of course your DH’s famous Milky Way shot. 

Thanks for posting!

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13 hours ago, KaliCA said:

Such wonderful green scenery up there in the Abardares. So the hanging stuff on the trees is moss? I saw some of that in our State Park visit here in Florida and thought it was lichen.

And you were able to spot a few new animals as well, great place it seems and I will be putting it on my list of must-see places in Kenya. I love the shit of the new moneky, the fuzzy waterfall, the ellies in the green mountains and of course your DH’s famous Milky Way shot. 

Thanks for posting!

 @KaliCA it could be lichen. It reminds me of the southern USA and the film ‘Gone with the Wind’. Thanks  for reading! 

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Great landscapes, especially the shot of the distant waterfall.

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8 hours ago, Marks said:

Great landscapes, especially the shot of the distant waterfall.

@Marks thanks I will let my DH know you liked it ?

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Is it called Old Man's beard? Great shots of the forest hogs.

 

Matt

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On 12/03/2018 at 10:32 AM, Game Warden said:

Is it called Old Man's beard? Great shots of the forest hogs.

 

Matt

@Game Warden I remember old mans beard from my childhood. It was a small native plant gone to seeds like white hair. The mystery deepens ?

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The next day we had lunch at Aberdare Country Club. It was a lovely relaxing afternoon and Petra collected us herself as Paul was preparing the safari vehicle for our trip to Samburu the next day. The country club has lovely views and you can walk with the Reticulated giraffe and other animals. 

 

The roof of Sandai Farm from the country club

 

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There are peacocks around the restaurant area and it all feels very Kenyan/British. A lovely place. We returned home and packed for our three nights at Samburu. We were really looking forward to exploring another part of Kenya.

 

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Thanks for this Trip Report @penolva

 

I am enjoying following along and revisiting favorite places plus learning about new ones.

 

I will have to check out Solio Ranch on my next trip to Kenya - it would make a nice side trip while staying in the Mt. Kenya area or on the way to/from Samburu + Buffalo Springs.

 

 

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4 hours ago, offshorebirder said:

Thanks for this Trip Report @penolva

 

I am enjoying following along and revisiting favorite places plus learning about new ones.

 

I will have to check out Solio Ranch on my next trip to Kenya - it would make a nice side trip while staying in the Mt. Kenya area or on the way to/from Samburu + Buffalo Springs.

 

 

@offshorebirder thanks for following along. Solio is well worth a detour. Pen

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We set off for Samburu after breakfast and arrived at the Sopa Lodge for lunch. The Sopa is located away from the Ewaso Nyiro River that runs through the park and costs a lot less than lodges that are located along the river. We were quite happy with the Sopa as although it was fairly basic it was clean and comfortable. The drive from the lodge to the river each morning and evening took us through very dry land and the colour of the sand reminded of us of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in South Africa. This made us feel right at home as we love the KTP.

 

Samburu is known for its unusual animals and birds. Somali ostritch, Grevy's zebra, Beisa oryx, reticulated giraffe and Vulterine guinea fowel but the most unusual is the gerenuk a gazelle that thinks its a giraffe! Unlike the Kgalagadi Samburu has elephants! The river is a life line to the animals and its miraculous how it winds its way through such an arid landscape. You pass vegetation and trees adapted for an arid environment and then this gradually changes to palm trees and lush vegetation by the river.

 

There had been some warnings of possible trouble in the area caused by local farmers bringing animals into the park for water and grazing. We only experienced this on our last evening drive although they caused us no problem. We noticed that there were very few vehicles around and the Sopa was very quiet.

 

We had lunch and were joined by some birds in the open air restaurant. The finches are some of my favourites and came closer than ever before!

 

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We checked into our room and there was a dik dik just outside our terrace. We discovered it lived there most of the time and slept under a bush. It seemed very happy to share its space with us during our stay.

 

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We drove towards the river that first evening to explore. Once we left the lodge we found some ostrich but they were young ones so did not have the colourful legs of the adults. None the less they made a lovely scene with the hills beyond.

 

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Down near the river some giraffe were feeding and allowed us quite close to see their beautiful markings. All the animals seemed very relaxed and not bothered by our presence at all. 

 

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Next on the list of 'must see' were the guinea fowl. Such beautiful birds and they do look rather like they have vultures heads. They are very busy birds running around in groups pecking the ground.  They  eventually went down to the river for their evening drink. The river is very beautiful and the sand and green vegetation made for far too many photographs.

 

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As we turned back towards the Sopa we spotted two gerenuk feeding on some bushes. We were thrilled as they were very close and doing their 'giraffe' thing perfectly. The male looked like a muscle builder. Such an impressive animal. We spent half an hour with them but then it was time to return to the Sopa for dinner. We said to Paul he had shown us nearly all the famous Samburu animals in one drive so he could slow down a bit tomorrow!

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Edited by penolva
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