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Postcards from Kenya


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evocative writing and beautiful photos once again. Thank you for sharing your Kenya safari, I am so enjoying your report.







Edited by Treepol
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You've left us with a cliffhanger... an African time cliffhanger no less, so we may not know what happened for a while. :)


Great stuff - nice writing. "Fanwell isn't coming." Love it! Really brings back memories too, although it seems so long ago now.


My office computer probably degrades your pics more than any compression ever can, but they still look good to me. You got a male lion up a tree- that's a bit of an collector's item.

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Lovely, lovely! Just keep it coming.






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Thanks Pol, I appreciate your comments and remember a report of yours from a while ago which I really enjoyed (on Fodors).

Paul, you must know that in Africa there are sometimes no answers to our questions no matter how long we wait. Suffice to say, I'm back here in Oz and not still sitting on that verandah!! :)


Thanks Jan, I'm enjoying the writing more than sorting the photos.

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Most enjoyable so far. Great stories and photos. Looking forward to more.

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What else could go wrong? Looking at the photos so far, not much! Not only do you get a tree climbing lion, but a roaring one! Even your city shots are great. Just where was that favorite bird of mine the African Hoopoe?


It appears this "war" broke out just in time for your arrival. How unfortunate.


Even when all parties are at peace and cooperating, I found wait times and registration and bureaucracy with KWS to take up to 30 minutes.


At least your "postcards" have arrived to share your wonderful trip. The ones I sent are still on the mailba safari circuit--or something.


But it's all so worth it once you advance past the wrought iron rhino! So let's advance!

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Lynn, I saw 3 hoopoes in Nakuru which was fantastic, they are great birds. Not the best photo opportunities but that wasn't important.


You are so right about the postcards which is why I don't mail them anymore.


I don't know why it takes so long to process park entry, another Kenyan mystery.

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Welcome back Twaffle, been wondering how you got on.

Happy New Year


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Not a postcard but the story continues:


The four of us, having explored our new home as thoroughly as locked doors would let us, sat and watched the light fade over Mt Kenya. We could hear distant voices coming up through the thick forest and the appeared to be getting closer. Having poachers and bandits on our minds (our Aussie minds, surely not the Kenyan ones) I was prepared for a quick getaway if necessary when out of the bushes came a man and a woman carrying supplies. With great apologies they introduced themselves as the caretaker and his wife and explained their absence.


Apparently, one of the KWS vehicles was supposed to bring them back to camp with their supplies but it didn't turn up so in desperation they walked up the hill, through the dense undergrowth. I mentioned that I thought they were very brave, but they appeared to think nothing of it.


Happily, Amos was allowed into his kitchen and began fussing around his pots and pans before preparing the most fantastic 3 course meal. How do they do that!


Later on, headlights of a vehicle rolled down the small track towards us. Out jumped a ranger who came with many apologies for the mix up. He and all the other rangers had been called out on an anti-poaching mission at the other end of the park and was unable to provide transport for our caretakers. How could we be upset? And how nice of him to make the effort to call in to apologise.


All was well and we went to bed feeling that all was right with the world.

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I didn’t expect to love The Aberdares as much as I did. The solitude, the quietness of shy forest animals, the variety of the birds and the beauty of the scenery were complimented by clear blue skies of such a brilliance it made you catch your breath.


At night, the forest is shrouded in silence, only the occasional whoop, whoop of a lone hyaena breaks the quiet. The duikers, bush buck and reedbuck go about their business, moving like ghosts through the forest. The mystic melanistic leopard, though rarely seen, undoubtedly watches their every move. Even the elephants make no noise, their footfalls through the narrow paths deadened by the leaf litter.








We move through the Salient, into the bamboo forests where the mountain bongo has its last stronghold and break out into the expanses of the alpine meadows. Small lakes dot the landscape, the thatching grasses sway in a gentle breeze. In the distance we see the grey back of an elephant moving through the bushes and we wait patiently until he breaks out into a clearing.











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A small wooden bridge signals the carpark where we can stop and walk to the Chania Falls and these prove to be breathtaking. The climb down the steep stairs is helped by a rope strung loosely between posts. I grab the rope and the post moves, loosened long ago by the weight of many an unstable tourist swinging on it. We are dazzled by the flowing water which glimmers and shines like a thousand dancing diamonds. The sounds of birds are drowned out by the crashing water and a soft mist enshrouds us. The climb out is punctuated by a pause to photograph tiny lichens; a small fern unfurls its feathery fronds as it struggles for space and magnificent giant lobelias loom over us, perched on the edge of the cliff as if daring gravity to pull them down.







The vastness of the ranges is surprising and given that only a couple of roads traverse the park, the feeling that the animals who call this beautiful place home are untroubled by human presence is strong. Undoubtedly the fence around the park, built with great care and community spirit, provides a measure of security, however the reality of the threat of poachers is very real.






Our drive down to camp is charmed by the sight of a troop of colobus monkeys which are surely one of the most spectacular of the primates. Their magnificent white mantles shimmer in the rays of light which penetrate the tree they are sitting in. A small face peers back at me, inquiring and inquisitive. One smaller monkey backs up to the large male asking for a groom. The social networking continues until they slowly move out of sight, the heavy undergrowth closing behind them until nothing remains.





Fleeting sights of 4 giant forest hogs crossing the road along with the many bush buck, defy our attempts at photography, but we have been rewarded richly by the beautiful forest of The Aberdares.





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Just when you think everything is running smoothly again, we are reminded that we are in a land where small things can and do go wrong and they have the ability to throw your whole schedule out the window.


We had spent our full day in the park using the vehicles charging points to top all our batteries up. Unfortunately we forgot to turn off the inverter and the next morning the battery was totally drained. The caretaker, his wife, Amos, Ken and I tried valiantly to push the 4x4 up the slope so that we could get enough of a run up to start it. We moved it perhaps 1ft, they are very heavy! :o


Needless to say, not enough of a long slope to start.


Fortunately the caretaker happened to have a battery in his banda and we were able to start the Nissan after some time by disconnecting our battery and attaching the camp's.


You would think we would have learnt our lesson wouldn't you? By no means......




As ever, Mt Kenya watched over us.



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Thanks for that brief transport back to Aberdare, no battery needed!

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Thanks Twaffle for an absolutely lovely report! What a fantastic storyteller you are! I am very glad to get to see some more from the more "unknown" parks in Kenya.


keep it coming!



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Thanks Dot, Lynn and Tom.


I will come back to this, I've just finished cataloguing the photos and hopefully will have time to chose some from the next stage of my journey to illustrate the writing.


I may be back in Australia but as you will tell …


I'm still on African time!!!!!!!! :huh:

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...., just for you:

Lake Nakuru - 2 nights Lake Nakuru Lodge

The Aberdares - 2 nights Tusk Bandas

Meru National Park - 3 nights Kinna Bandas (wish it had been longer … I'll know for next time)

Lewa Wildlife Conservancy - 3 nights Wilderness Trails

Masai Mara - 3 nights Nkorombo Mobile Camp in the Reserve

Masai Mara - 4 nights Serian Camp - Mara North Conservancy

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Great report Twaffle! I look forward to the next installment!

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A heat haze shimmers around the Murera Gate entrance to Meru National Park. An agama lizard lifts its feet from the searing road, head bobbing up and down in seeming agitation. The KWS officer processes our ticket purchases with the slow motion of someone who is used to working in the heat. After the coolness of The Aberdares and the Meru highlands, this parched ground is confronting. At last we move through the gates, which are unadorned by any metallic animal as if this park, once the star of the Kenyan parks, no longer warrants special attention.



Hot and hungry we head to the Murera Banda’s picnic grounds. Walking down to the river we move under palms and other moisture loving plants and it feels as if we have moved into another world. A large baboon coughs the terrible cough of the doomed and we all wonder about his ill health. He hobbles past, not even eyeing off our lunch, intent only on keeping up with his troop. The blessed relief of the cool shadows washes over us all and we sit around a sunken bar area, enjoying the respite.


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The interlude is short lived and we continue our journey along dusty red roads. There is a vastness here, not just because of the size of the park but also because of the isolation and lack of visitors.



The reticulated giraffe peers down at us, the fine net of white drifting over it with definition and style. The long, dark tongue grasps at the acacia, striping the feathery leaves from between the thorns. In the background, other giraffe tend to their trees with just as much attention, paying us no heed at all.




Skittish eland move to a safer distance as we pass and Grant’s Gazelle give only a fleeting glance at us before leaping to safety.



Our arrival at the bandas is unheralded and in the afternoon heat, the dusty, rocky site lacks any attraction. A small swimming pool offers a chance of relief for those who enjoy such things (or who have brought bathers). The caretaker tells us that “no, there are no cooking utensils” and despite the office checking up on this we find ourselves without the means to cook. Also, there are no beds available for Ken and Amos, despite the bandas having no other guests. On a positive side, towels are supplied although I had already purchased some prior to our arrival because when Atravelynn visited towels weren’t supplied. I am in no mood for this heat, and the lack of expected facitilities makes me act in a distinctly unreasonable manner. Marching up to Ken I tell him firmly that I’m not happy that he and Amos have nowhere to sleep and how on earth is Amos going to cook without any utensils. Lets pack up and head to Samburu and stay in any lodge there, don’t care which one. Ken, having children of his own, calms me down with lots of “it will all work out” and “we will be fine”. And so it was, and we were. Haimba lent us some basic utensils which Amos used to cook amazing meals. In return we fed Haimba. I helped Ken put up the tents he had thrown in at the last minute and after a cooling shower, all became calm.




Eating dinner under the verandah in the African night, we marvel at the clarity and vibrance of the stars, undimmed as they are by any manmade lights. The vervets and baboons are safely settled in their trees and a cooler breeze improves our comfort.

As I write by the light of my headlamp, a tiny flying insect lands on my paper. It has a body barely 2mm long with airy wings reaching out like an old jet fighter. Most extraordinary is the tail which is like a fine hair and is 3 times the length of the insect’s body. I gently blow on it, so my moving hand doesn’t squash it and it hangs on tenaciously. Finally it moves away and I wonder what it is.

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We are not blessed by brilliant skies whilst at Meru NP but some gentle colour does light the morning sky as we head out to explore this vast area.


If MNP isn’t large enough, you can continue to Bisanadi NR and to Kora NP. As wilderness areas go, you don’t get much wilder, desolate and awe inspiring than this land.

We meander through damp swamps, doum palms lining our way.



Massive baobabs reach their leafless branches to the sky and the ubiquitous thorn trees are dotted throughout.



Common waterbuck are everywhere although buffalo appear to stay near the many rivers.



Burchell’s zebra are easily seen and we enjoy the foals and yearlings at play.




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At a small stream we sit and watch a hamerkop. Suddenly it hesitates, one leg raised, before looking intently at the long grass. Moving towards it is a monitor lizard, glistening from the water it has just swum through. The stand off continues for 10 to 15 minutes before we leave them to move down the stream, on opposites side but keeping a close eye on each other.



A magnificent Great Egret occupies itself in the marshes, the plues of its tail feathers like a bridal veil down its back.



Lesser kudu are abundant, but shy and hard to photograph.



The gerenuk are also easily seen and we wait patiently for them to stand on their hindlegs and stretch their necks to reach the highest branches. Such elegant, beautiful antelope are easy on the eye and we find it hard to continue our journey, leaving them behind.



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Back in camp we are visited by a magnificent bull elephant. He meanders from banda to banda slowly making his way past the swimming pool.



We follow at a respectful distance on foot and he seems to achnowledge our presence but without anxiety. Melding into the trees he appears to disappear from view until, like an apparition he is there again.



All afternoon he wanders through the camp and we revel in his company.



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A long drive through the commiphora forest is harder work but we make it to the Tana River and Adamson’s Falls without incident. This is wild and free country, far, far from the madding crowds. We cross the bridge over the Tana River stopping in mid stream to take photos and ignoring the signs which ask you not to stop.





On the other side we need to enter into Kora NP to turn around and strangely enough we have to go through the formalities of signing in, then out before we can travel back across the river. You feel like you could easily get lost in this wilderness and there are no easy words to describe the ‘aloneness’ I feel.





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As we drive back I try to wrap myself in the sounds, smells and sensations of the park. The heat from the sun; the breeze through the window; the smell of the bushes as kudu brush through; the way the spider webs reflect light and shimmer through the trees and on the ground; the elusive scent of animals which drift past you, teasing you with the hint of their passing. All this I attempt to trap in the blanket of my memories, to open and re-discover in another time.









The light in the kerosene lamp is dying down. Soon our time here will be over. The skies over Meru will shine again, but not on us. The animals will multiply in renewed safety, but remain unseen by us. The cool evening breezes will embrace other visitors, but not us. Our African time here has gone all too quickly and we leave the wilderness to other intrepid visitors with gratitude.





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