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Kenya February 2018


ELIL
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I have been reading ST trip reports for quite a while, but signed up just recently. I always enjoyed reading through the reports, viewing pictures and extracting useful informations for my own travels. Although I did not plan to write a trip report at the time of our travel and did not take any notes, I hope this report will be useful for some members of the ST community or at least fills a  gap until your next safari.

 

Trip Planning

 

The trip was our first safari to Kenya, having been to Tanzania, Botswana and South Africa before. For sure, we wanted to go to the Mara. Since I had read many positive reviews about the Ol Pejeta conservancy, it had to be included as well. We usually try to combine a safari with some days at the beach afterwards. Instead of the more popular sites around Mombasa, we planned to go further north to Malindi/Watamu. This would enable us to visit Arabuko Sokoke forest and the Gede ruins as well.

 

I contacted some tour operators in Kenya and we eventually ended up with an offer from Chameleon Tours. We were happy with there service prior and during our travel. Our itinerary for February 2018:

 

1 night The Boma Hotel - Nairobi

3 nights Kicheche Laikipia - Ol Pejeta Conservancy

3 nights Kicheche Valley - Naboisho Conservancy

2 nights Rekero Camp - Masai Mara National Park

4 nights Lonno Lodge - Watamu

 

 

Edited by ELIL
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Nairobi

 

We landed around 8 pm in Nairobi. Having in mind that JKI is not only an important hub for many safari tourists but the entry point for some international institutions, like the UN, we were quite surprised about the arrival hall which looked quite outdated. Although we already had our evisas, the immigration process took around 30-40 minutes. Most of the arriving passengers were in the evisa lines, the visa on arrival line was almost empty and passengers in that line got through immigration quite quickly. At least on our arrival day it looked like getting an evisa in advance does not necessarily help you to pass immigration faster.

 

The Boma hotel was just a 15-20 min drive away from the airport. We went directly to our room after check-in since we had wake up early the following morning for our transfer to Wilson airport. The buffet style breakfast on the next morning was ok, but nothing special. We had the impression that some of the items from the buffet (fruits, bread) were the not the freshest ones. However, the hotel had a nice garden and during a short walk in the morning we found our first birds in Kenya.

 

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White browed sparrow weaver

 

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Baglafecht weaver

 

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Olive Thrush

 

 

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African Pied Wagtail

 

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Tawny Eagle (?) across the street

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@ELIL, welcome to ST, it may seem daunting when writing your first report, however it gets easier every time you add to it. The wife and l do enjoy reading reports, and when somebody is writing about a location that we have been to it brings back memorys. So looking forward to your next instalment.

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Kicheche Laikipia

 

After a short flight (40 min) we arrived at the airport of Nanyuki where our guide from the camp was already waiting. And we saw our first rhino family.IMG_1167.jpg.ae353e1652c72e18a8e87c4027a41170.jpg

 

 

On our way to Ol Pejeta conservancy we went through Nanyuki and some villages. It was Sunday mid morning and almost every 100 meters we passed a church building where we heard people singing and praying.  For people like us, who are living the secular lifestyle of a middle European city, this was quite interesting and definitely an impression we did not expect.

 

The drive to the lodge was already a first small game drive.

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We hoped to see some Grevy's Zebras in Ol Pejeta, but learned that you find them only in a separated fenced in area in the conservancy. Anyway, Zebras are always nice.

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Kicheche Laikipia has just 6 tents. When we arrived only half of them were occupied. They have a small lake in front of the lodge where there is a continuous turn around of game. Lunch was always served under the trees close to the water which was really nice. During our stay we saw nearly all the animals we would see on game drives there including rhinos and lions. And if you follow them on social, they are regularly posting some nice sightings at the lodge.

IMG_0572.jpg.55499966ef2813909ae24008caa1f436.jpg

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Like the one horned buffalo, did you notice the difference in temperature when you crossed the equator?

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Our first game drive in the afternoon suffered from the poor weather. It started raining and the wind was blowing heavily across the open plains which made it quite unpleasant. We returned early to the lodge. There wasn’t much to see, most of the animals disappeared into the thicker bush to escape the rain and the wind. When we arrived at the lodge, we found the other guests already sitting around the open fireplace in the lodge. They returned even earlier then we did. At least this was the opportunity for an additional pre-dinner drink.

 

If February is indeed one of the warmest months, I don’t need to be there in the colder season. During our previous safaris we always made some fun about the hot water bottles that you find in your bed after dinner. But this time, they were really appreciated.

 

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Waterbuck

 

 

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Fighting Thompsons's Gazelles

 

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Yellow-necked Spurfowl

 

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Caspian Plover

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The next day started with a sunrise over Mount Kenya

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First we went back to the open plains where we met these young hyenas. They were part of a hyena pack that are living in an abandoned wild dog den. But more about this later.

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Further ahead we came across this displaying Kori Bustard.

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It was the first time for us watching this behavior.His mating call is quite strange, sounds more like a knocking sound. If our guide did not told us that this sound is actually coming from the guy above, we would never have known. These displaying Kori Bustards and their calls were always present during all our morning drives.

 

Then we went searching for the lions. Lionesses with cubs were seen at the water next to our lodge the day before and they should be around somewhere. It took not much time until we found them behind some bushes.

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The male was watching the scene from a few meters away.

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Peter, our guide, told us that two other males wanted to take over the lionesses, but this young male defended his family quite well. But with some heavy injuries.

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We also learnt that lionesses with young cubs move to a new location every 3-4 days. This is part of their strategy to protect the cubs from possible enemies. And now it was time to  move on.

 

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One cub after another got a lift to his new home.

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Carefully checking the new neighborhood.

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The young one still a little bit careful

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But seems not too bad here

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And the father followed as well.

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The manager of our lodge mentioned during a dinner that he is quite sure that this young male is not the father of the cubs. 1) he is too young and 2) the mother apparently mated with several different males during the previous months.  Looking into the face of this young male, we really got sorry for him.

 

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Lovely fluffy little hyenas.

 

And that lion is quite impressive; if he successfully defended his pride, he certainly worked hard to do so.

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Has to be pleasing to see lion cubs that young. 

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Very pleased to see Kicheche Laikipia looking so good - we really enjoyed our visit there.

A great start to your report - wonderful to see the lion carrying the tiny cubs.

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The Rhinos 

Ol Pejeta conservancy prouds itself for the rhinos. They have quite a number of black and southern white rhinos which are roaming around freely. The conservancy employs armed rangers for the protection of the rhinos. Poaching is still an imminent threat and our guide told us about an incident that had happened just a few weeks ago and ended with two dead poachers. 

We spotted rhinos during each of our game drives and some came to the water hole at the lodge in the evening as well . Although there are more black rhinos than southern white rhinos in the conservancy, we encountered more of the white ones. The black rhinos are browsers and prefer the thicker bush which makes it more difficult to spot them.

 

1057637540_SouthernWhiteRhinoceros(Ceratotheriumsimumsimum)20180212_Kenya_0552.jpg.93120683703b2d1ae4b569839f3c3cc7.jpg

Southern white rhino

 

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Southern white Rhino family, the one in the middle with a very long horn

 

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Black Rhino

 

Ol Pejeta is home for the last remaining northern white rhinos as well. They are kept in a separated area within the conservancy. At the time of our visit in February 2018, Sudan, the last remaining male was already separated from the two females due to his bad health condition. He died a few weeks later and only his daughter and granddaughter are left now. Some southern white rhinos are living together with the two northern ones in the separated area. One item for differentiation between the northern and southern species is the hairy ear of the northern white. We got a look on them from outside the fence. The photos below were shot from quite a distance, so the details are not really visible.

 

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The last two remaining northern white rhinos

 

There is also a cemetery for the killed rhinos in the conservancy. When I read about it prior to our travel, I thought this may go a little over the top. However, when you did see some of these big and beautiful animals just a few minutes ago and then this place remembers you that they got killed – and still get killed- just because of some stupid superstition or ignorance, it makes you both sad and angry.

 

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Rhino cemetery (from my wife's iPhone)

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A pack of wild dogs was living in the conservancy until a few years ago. Then the whole pack was killed by a disease, only one female survived. The female is not a permanent resident of the conservancy but roams through a wider area. When she comes back to the conservancy, she always returns to the den where she was born. The den has been occupied by hyenas now, but this doesn’t bother her. The hyenas “adopted” the wild dog and it was quite interesting to watch the interaction between hyenas and wild dog. We felt quite lucky to spot the wild dog at all and then watch the greeting and playing with the hyenas as a bonus.

 

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Nice to see the rhino again in Ol Pejeta. Never seen a wild dog and hyena together, not even on TV. Well done. 

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What a fascinating story and great images of this unusual relationship. 

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@ELIL That's a fascinating study of the wild dog and hyena interaction and it reminds me a lot of a similar story from Botswana with a single wild dog and jackals. You can read more about it and compare your experiences here.

 

Matt

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3 hours ago, Game Warden said:

@ELIL That's a fascinating study of the wild dog and hyena interaction and it reminds me a lot of a similar story from Botswana with a single wild dog and jackals. You can read more about it and compare your experiences here.

 

Matt

@Game Warden Thanks for sharing the link. Safaritalk is really a great source for such fascinating stories.

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Ol Pejeta is home for reticulated giraffes which we have not seen before. They were not as abundant as we had hoped, but at least we saw some of them. Giraffes have always something majestic for us, at the same time they seem to live quite a frugal life.

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Grevy’s zebras can only be found in a designated, fenced-in area next to the last remaining northern white rhinos. We saw them only from far away. There are also some hybrids of Grevy and Burchill’s zebra between the herds of Burchill’s s zebras in the plains. Our guide identified some of them for us during the game drives, but I forgot about the details and can’t identify them on my photos.  I should have taken some notes then.

 

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We are used to always see Zebras together with Wildebeests, but you cant find them in Ol Pejeta. But we were lucky to spot one of the few Beisa Oryx. 

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Except the small pride of lions with the heroic male, we did not come across other cats. Peter, our guide, mentioned that they haven’t seen leopards for some months,  cheetahs seem to very rare as well. But antelopes are plentiful. 

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Jackson's Hartebeest

 

 

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Grant's Gazelle

 

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Impala

 

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Thomson's Gazelle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by ELIL
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And some birds from Ol Pejeta

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Common Bulbul

 

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Back-Winged Lapwing

 

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Common Ostrich

 

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Tawny Eagle

 

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Common Rock Thrush

 

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Kori Bustard displaying

 

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Three-banded Plover - looks really tiny compared to the Egyption Goose in the background

 

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European Bee-eater

 

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Red-Capped Lark

 

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European Roller

 

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Lilac-breasted Roller

 

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Martial Eagle

 

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Red-winged Lark

 

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Secretary Bird

 

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Steppe Eagle

 

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Striped Kingfisher

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On 9/1/2018 at 10:57 PM, ELIL said:

The trip was our first safari to Kenya, having been to Tanzania, Botswana and South Africa before. For sure, we wanted to go to the Mara

 

This is exactly me!! I have been to Tanzania, Botswana and South Africa in the past, and now will be going to Kenya in February. I can only hope that my trip will be as fruitful as yours obviously was. Those lion cubs are my dream, you are so so so so lucky!! Your photos are gorgeous by the way.

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After Ol Pejeta, we continued to the Kicheche Valley camp in the Naboisho conservancy. Like its sister camp in Laikipia, it has 6 tents only. 

 

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We liked our stay at Kicheche Valley much more than in Laikipia. This was not only because of the more modern style but the whole atmosphere in the camp was much more relaxed. Don't get me wrong, we had nothing to complain at Kicheche Laikipia. We had a great time there, but Kicheche Valley topped it in every aspect, e.g. atmosphere, food, service, guiding. Additionally, the landscape of Naboisho was much more pleasing to us than the wide empty plains of Ol Pejeta.

 

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Very impressed with the wild dog/hyena interactions. Did you happen to take any video, by chance?

Great job with the birds, too.

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4 minutes ago, Marks said:

Very impressed with the wild dog/hyena interactions. Did you happen to take any video, by chance?

Great job with the birds, too.

Unfortunately, not. I don't use the video function of my camera very often and I mostly forget to switch in such cases. Sometimes if I am lucky, my wife had made some with her iPhone, but not in this case.:(

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