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Toulouse – London

London - Nairobi

Nairobi - Samburu

Samburu - Maasai Mara

Maasai Mara - Nairobi – Mombasa

Mombasa – Nairobi – Heathrow



It all started out the day before I left France. Out local riding school put their Apaloosa horses out to graze in a field next to our house. Early in the morning, which dawned bright and quite warm I went into the garden to check that everything was in order before my departure later that afternoon and as I looked over the field I saw white birds sitting on the backs of the horses. It was a strange phenomenon because never before had I seen Cattle Egrets in France, but there they were doing what they do in Africa, good omen? Well it had to be. Unfortunately cameras etc were all packed so no proof but I can assure you that they were there.

So that afternoon I left Toulouse for London.


I always fly a day early in case of delays in France, and so I stayed this year at the Holiday Inn at Heathrow which was good enough for a night, apart from the inflated bar and restaurant prices but hey that is London.




The next afternoon I caught the Hoppa bus to Terminal 4. The age of chivalry is well dead believe me as there was not one soul who offered to help me on and off with my case, but Samburumags is “white maasai” and strong as an ox, so I managed it into the terminal building. I found, all through this trip, that if animals fail you people dont. People watching is fascinating. Dress, behaviour and how much people can eat in a sitting never fails to amaze. Why is it that I am always the one who rings the bells at security? I suppose it is a good way to get a free massage if you are in to butch security guards! Anyway the flight went well, the airline food was good and we arrived on time at Nairobi.


Now Nairobi airport is the NOT the place to be delayed. After a 9 hour flight there are the trials and tribulations of clearing passport and immigration. Those passengers who had not pre-bought visas were the lucky ones. They queued up, filled in their forms, paid their money and were out of the airport. Those of us who already had visas formed a long orderly line and waited and waited until we got to the desk, fingerprints, passport checks, more fingerprints and eventually after about an hour we got out to our waiting cars. It was about 07.30 and quite warm and the air was african, the smells were african it was AFRICA.


I was driven to the tour operators lounge in Nairobi (Somak, sorry but it is still my favoured operator). A shower and breakfast with wonderful coffee and I met with some old friends (driver/guides) whom I have known now for many years, it was just like coming home. After about 2 hours I was driven to Wilson airport for my flight to Samburu.



Met the pilot of our Safarilink Cessna Caravan who offered me the jump seat and off we went, Samburumags bound for Samburu.




I was met at the airstrip by my driver/guide Molu, we waited for another couple to join us and off we went to camp. There is something about the scenery of Samburu which is totally magical. Sharp almost pyramid shaped peaks which look blue against the plains and wonderful sights on the way to camp of what I have to call deery things because I do get my Impala, Grants etc mixed up, there are so many of them, but beautiful pastoral scenes interspersed with the occasional skull lying on the ground where some defenseless animal has met its fate.




The Ashnil Samburu Camp is set in the most beautiful surroundings and the tents are close to the Ewaso Ng’iro river. I was welcomed with the customary cold towel and fruit drink and shown to my tent where I ordered my very first TUSKER. I was a little tired, well very tired actually,and thought I would drink my Tusker and have a little read of Tony’s “Safari” and then maybe have a snooze before lunch.




However I was distracted from both Tusker and Tony by a huge Tusker of the 4 legged type who meandered down the path only about 4 metres from my balcony. Sorry Tony you were put on hold.







Dragged myself to lunch where I was warmly welcomed by the Manager who had obviously been “warned” that Mama Simba (the name they gave me at the Mara last year) was in the building. I also met some members of the Mara staff who were on rotation to Samburu and remembered me from last year. Lunch was Beetroot and egg salad, followed by seared pork with fresh veg and saute potatoes. I never eat pud! And a glass of South African Chardonnay. Temperature around 35C with a nice breeze. Here is a view from the dining area.







After lunch I died, so again sorry Tony and “Safari”, not opened it yet!!!!


Felt better after an afternoon’s sleep and ready for the drive at 4pm. Refreshing tea and a quick smoke then off in the land rover into my Samburu,

Saw Elephants, Giraffe, Warthogs, baboons, vervet monkeys,Gerenuk, and out of range for my camera several beautiful birds.


Then there was a Cheetah which I must admit worried me. How fat do cheetah’s get when they are pregnant? This one seemed too fat to me and could hardly stand up. My guide also seemed unsure. So I asked him to get the rangers to check her out, after all she could be suffering from some sickness like feline infuenza which would decimate the population in Samburu but maybe I was over reacting. I am still not sure and no news has been forthcoming about whether she has given birth or not. Maybe this photo will give those of you who are more knowledgable than me an idea





Back to camp for sundowner a chilled glass of wine and a few nuts. When I returned to my tent there was a lovely bottle of South African red wine waiting on the table. “After dinner on the terrace with Tony” I thought and showered for dinner. Dinner was excellent and I bought a bottle of white wine, to be kept in the restaurant, which I hoped would last me for my three day stay. Spicey vegetable soup, followed by lamb chops with mixed veg, cheese and biscuits.

Was I tired YES so escorted back to the tent where the hot water bottle was waiting and a glass of the SA red – sorry Tony too dark and too tired but sat outside for about an hour just listening to the sounds of the night and supping the glorious (free) red.


I have to say at this point that on downloading and reviewing my photos I am quite disappointed. Maybe I was trying too hard, maybe it was the age old problem of fellow passengers rocking the land rover. A note here for all first time safari goers please Please try not to move about or jump up and down when others are taking photos it just results in blurry images. Another note for first timers – do not buy expensive “big white hunter style”safari hats because they just blow off – buy a peak from your local golf club, and my last hint, and I am the last one to give people photographic hints but it is pointless trying to photograph anything which is out of range of your camera, there must have been lots of people who got home with little spots on the horizon instead of good close ups. No off roading is absolutely right but very frustrating for those of us with little Brownies!!!


More anon, watch this space

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Excellent start Mags. Welcome home, I look forward to reading and seeing more!

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Very nice read. The cheetah does look abnormally big, but I have no idea how big a pregnant cheetah gets. Pregnant zebras can get eye-poppingly wide, but you would think cheetahs would have to stay relativel slim as lone hunters. Having said that they do have large litters, so this may just be a six-cub litter? Another theory.... the only cheetahs I have seen with stomachs that big were the three brothers in the Mara in 2008 after they had taken down and gorged on a faitly large wildebeest calf. They slso seemed unsteady on their feet and in some discomfort. (Edit: i.e. Not a clue!).


Poor Tony! Stood up, taken out and then either put down, discarded or ignored. But what a gentlemen, he just patiently waits for his chance.


Other people rocking the vehicle is indeed not helpful to photography.... but it often seems to be other people getting into position to take photographs that are doing the rocking. Your pictures posted look fine, although I guess you are referring to the ones not posted. :) How do you keep your camera steady? ("I hold it in my hands" is not what I mean).


Caps and similar are good if your hair is long enough to cover your neck and ears. Otherwise us fair-skinned ones may regret, especially if you're out for 12 hours. I can't argue that people don't wear some funny and rather unnecessary hats, though.

Edited by pault
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Excellent start. I can feel the warm breeze on my skin now.

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Second Day Samburu


My alarm went off, I jumped out of bed refreshed and ready for adventure, washed, dressed and wondered why the lights in the tent would not work. It is not easy dressing and sorting out cameras etc in the pitch dark. The power was turned off twice a day from 4pm to 6pm and from midnight to 5am. I checked my watch it was 3am! Back to bed fully clothed after re-setting the alarm.


Morning tea and biscuits were most welcome at 6am and then off on my Simba hunt. Lots of tracks of a big male but no sight of him. Plenty of giraffe, Grants gazelles, Impala and an enormous soaring Marshall eagle which was a breathtaking sight.




Then we watched a herd of around 20 elephants making their way to the river.






The birds were too numerous to mention but we did spot one of my favorites, the Lilac Breasted Roller. I took a photo but had to use my zoom and without a tripod it was impossible to get a clear image.


Back to camp for breakfast of bacon, eggs, sausage, beans and coffee. Breakfast is something I never eat at home but out there in the bush it is probably the best meal of the day. It was exceedingly hot by 9am so strolled to the pool with The Book which was constantly interrupted by vervet monkeys at play and two huge Tuskers (with 4 legs ) walking past the camp.







There are tremendous views of the Samburu from the camp grounds with the hills, lush areas and scrub. All perfect hunting grounds for lion and leopard and further out flat areas ideal for Cheetah. (Note for TP by now I have read quite a few chapters and Safari is an unputdownable but I must be strong!)




Time for lunch a cold Tusker, hungarian goulash with fresh veg and Thai rice, followed by fresh fruit... Watched some new arrivals and listened to their conversations “too hot” “too dry” “where’s my room, what do you mean its a tent?”


Shared the land rover in the afternoon with two English people who were quite deaf so I was given the job of shouting the information given by our guide to them at the back of the vehicle which doesnt make for a quiet safari. Really nice couple though and very keen to learn all about everything.


Spotted more elephants, Gerenuk, Dik Dik, all the deery things, cattle egrets, Oryx, Zebra, Ostrich, Crested Cranes and finally 6 majestic lionesses now that really made my day. We sat with them for almost an hour, I think the other two were getting bored but I could have sat there all night.











Back to camp around 6.30pm for a glass of white wine and into the “naughty corner” for a cigarette. Chatted to a group of Australians who had been to Rwanda and sat with the gorillas and were going on to Botswana and SA later in their trip. Dinner consisted of salad, mushroom soup, lamb curry and fruit. Then back to the tent for Tony Park and a glass of red accompanied by the evening birdsong and a madrigal of insects – heaven.

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Mags, what a very well written report with some pretty funny lines(and great pictures too). We've not been to Samburu (yet!) and I am really enjoying this! It seems that you've been there a couple of times, have you ever seen leopards? Also, I appreciated your comment that you could have stayed with the lions all night - we had a simmilar cheetah sighting in the Mara where we just enjoyed the peacefull environment and enjoyed just sitting with them as other animals came and went about their business.


Cheers from Boston,



Edited by PT123
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Great report Samburumags and terrific photos, thanks for sharing.

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Day 3 Samburu


I must mention at this point how good it is to meet such a variety of people, from all parts of the globe, all interested in the same thing. Some on their first trips, some who have been many times and a few doing the “round the world” trip like the Aussies who I mentioned earlier.


My last day at Samburu and after tea and biscuits we took off for what turned out to be one of those quiet drives where not a lot happens and you see very little this did not deter from my enjoyment as I have seen all there is to see in Samburu on other visits, leopards were hiding from me this time but other vehicles in other parts were lucky enough to see one or two. We did however spot a Battaleur eagle and Brown Snake eagle, elephants, deery things, Dik Dik, Oryx, Gerenuk, Water Buck and Sacred Ibis. I have included a photo of the Gerenuk which I took from a short video, but because I was on full zoom it was not successful, still I think the "snap" is acceptable, particularly for those who may not have seen a Gerenuk before.







Breakfast. Yes you’ve guessed it.

Pool with the vervets and The Book what a relaxing way to spend a morning after experiencing the famous Kenyan Massage.

Lunch of soup, fillet of pork with fresh vegetables and saute potatoes, coffee.

More reading in the afternoon and then, sadly, another uneventful drive. We did however go to an elevated area complete with elephant skull where we were able to see for miles across the Samburu.




Another interesting feature at the camp was a display of skulls in the entrance hall, I thought the following photos would be of interest, but if not feel free to skip this bit!










Time for a sundowner and a look back at my three days in the Samburu. It was so good to be back and I only wished I had booked a longer stay, that thought would be foremost in my mind later on in my trip.






Dinner was Salad, boef bourguignon, and fresh fruit.


Then deja vu - some of you may remember this from last year in the Mara



There was a crash, bang, scream and shout and out of the kitchen came the Samburu orchestra and choir with a beautiful coffee cake and all for me!




I tend to be too emotional and must remember to pack more tissues next time.

I was told that Mama Simba Poa, Mama Simba is cool! And not to bother bringing my passport next time, they will issue me with an ID card. Not bad for an old timer.


Memories of Samburu are magical ones.


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Just spent 2hrs working on and as I thought uploading the Mara part 1 and it has gone into the ozone!!!Must speak to GW

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Early the next morning we drove to the airstrip and I left my Samburu for the flight to the Maasai Mara. The airstrip there resembles a Little Heathrow, with flights coming and going all day.


Samburu Warrior




Terminal 1 Samburu



Executive Lounge





I was met in the Mara by Francis my driver/guide from last year. We drove to the camp meeting giraffe, elephant and Thomson’s Gazelles on the way. On arrival I was met by the Manager who personally escorted me to my tent. The attention I was getting was now proving to be quite embarassing as other travellers were beginning to ask “who is this woman?” As an example, the couple who were picked up with me from the airstrip and another four who arrived at the camp were given cold orange juice as a welcome drink, I was given a gin and orange cocktail with cherries and orange surrounding the glass! I still do not really understand why they treat me like this but I decided not to be embarassed and just to enjoy it.

After settling in to my tent, where I found another welcome bottle of SA red, I had lunch of Vegetable soup, chicken and fresh fruit, accompanied by the essential Tusker.

There are no stunning views from the tents in the Mara but the sounds of the birds and hippos during the day and the lions and hyenas in the night make up for the lack of view.


Our first drive commenced with sightings of Eland, Topi with lots of young,, Elephant, Warthogs, Black Breasted Buzzards, Jackal and Water Buck.







Then an horrendous occurrance which I have heard others on ST describe but have never witnessed myself. We had a mobile phone message and arrived to see in excess of 20 vehicles chasing a most beautiful leopard intent upon catching an Impala. The occupants of these vehicles were shouting and laughing and brandishing their big lenses through windows, and roofs. The animal was clearly distressed but that didnt stop these idiots from harrassing it. I was shocked beyond belief and insisted that we leave the scene. Francis told me that many of the vehicles were occupied by “day trippers” and only the odd one was from other lodges. Needless to say I have no stunning photographs of this Leopard, only a couple of stills which I took out of a short video. I include that video here and apologise for my bad language.



Francis promised to report the incident and I told him he could use my pictures of the vehicles to show the rangers.


That was enough for one day and a large glass of white wine was called for in order to compose myself and curb my anger.


Dinner consisted of yummy broccoli and cheese soup, braised beef, followed by fruit. After dinner back to the tent and on to the terrace with Tony Park , a glass of red and sounds of hippos, lion, zebra and all the other eerie sounds of the African night.

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Great birthday picture. Happy days. Samburu Heathrow? Funny.


The leopard video is very good. Lovely how those people just cut right in front of you and stop. Charming! I don't have sound at the moment, but I hope the "bad language was aimed at them. Looks like it is "Olive" or her son - they always have a lot of followers, and I think that is the same area we had trouble before, with vehicles chasing each other and the leopard around the bushes. The Landcruiser is the new white minibus - who would have thought it? ;)

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What a wonderful birthday celebration. Loving your wit and writing style!



2 Kenya trip reports- I wonder if this is a sign.....

Tanya it was not a birthday, they, for some strange reason, just like me! Writing skills, gosh I wish I had some, but thank you for your kind remarks

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Second Day – Maasai Mara


We decided yesterday to have a long drive with breakfast and a visit to a Maasai village. I had visited the villages before and would have been happy to miss out but my companions had never been and were really keen to go so that was that.






We saw Topi, Wildebeest, Hyena, Jackal, Vultures, Cheetah, Elephant, Giraffe, Warthog and Lion on this trip.





I liked my picture of a laughing cheetah




We had breakfast surrounded by Gnu on a flat plain with far reaching views. Breakfast was coffee, sausages, bacon, boiled eggs, fruit and yoghurt. On this drive we had a charming young couple with us on their honeymoon. The bride asked Francis how he could tell the difference between a male cheetah and a female cheetah – well they had only been married 5 days!


The village visit was interesting as always and not to be missed if you have never been before.



On the way back from the village the land rover stopped – never to go again it seemed. The heavens opened and we had great difficulty in finding a signal for picked up by another vehicle. By this time we were very very late for lunch but we came across a Lioness showing a battle scar on her face and sat with her for quite some time.




Fortunately the camp had kept lunch hot, a tasty curry was just what we needed.

After about an hour and a half we were on the road again.


Down to the river and because of the dull conditions the hippos were out early.





We also spotted Topi, Hartebeest, Tommies, Grants, Giraffe, Zebras, Crested Cranes, Eagrets and the good old Secretary Bird, sadly out of range. Then we saw Cheetah with a Tommie kill. We must have just missed the action but we watched her demolish her dinner in less than ¾ hour.




We returned to the sundowner fire and the customary liquid refreshment.




Dinner that evening was, Fish soup, Noisettes of lamb and fresh veg. And bed, totally shattered after almost 12hours on the “road”.

Now this is where age got the better of me and I decided that I would have the luxury of a lie-in in the morning, the very first time I have ever missed a game drive.

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Mags, I also have photos of the lioness with the scarred face. Glad to see that she is alive.

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Day 3 Maasai Mara


Gosh did I sleep well! Off to breakfast at 8am just as the drives were returning. I was relieved to discover that they had seen nothing different during the morning, so I had missed nothing. Just had fruit for breakfast on this occasion and a large pot of coffee then down to the pool for a read and to listen to the birds. I took some recordings but unfortunately have no idea how to transfer them to ST.


Lunch of cauliflower cheese, fish with green beans and saute potatoes and coffee.


The afternoon drive was scenic but quiet but I did have some extremely good news. Francis told me that the offending drivers chasing the leopard had all been fined £100 not enough in my opinion but better than nothing.


We came upon a large family of elephants and stayed with them for a considerable time. One reason being that we were surrounded and there was no way out! There were young bulls, babies, and several large tuskers. It was wonderful just to sit there and watch their behaviour. There was a line of trees to our left and they just disappeared and appeared from the trees like magic.


We also met a superb male lion who also taught us how to disappear




Back to camp for sundowners and dinner of braised beef, plantain (delicious, wish I had the recipe) and green beans, followed by coffee and yes once again back to the tent for the red wine and noises off Nearly finished "Safari" a really exciting read.



Last Day in the Mara dawned bitterley cold, I had to wear a sweater and jacket all morning. Spent a good hour watching a lioness with two cubs (thank heaven only saw one other vehicle).



We then saw a group of around 20 Ostrich what is the collective noun for Ostrich?. More Masai Giraffe, Fly Catchers, Maribu Storks, a myriad of birds and no elephants today.




During our drive we passed several small pockets of water which were illuminated by beautiful water lilies, not something you expect to see in the middle of the Mara



Lunch consisted of Swahili Beef on skewers with creamed spinach which I love and onion fried rice. You see I am not thin but I DO NOT eat puds.


In the river below the dining area we watched 3 hippos being carefully watched by Canada Geese who were being carefully watched by a young croc. The young croc made his move and the geese left the scene like greased lightening.





Sitting outside my tent I was lucky enough to see a Marshall eagle hovering above me for quite some time, what a wonderful sight, I thought then Oh if only I had one those lenses that the ST folk have got!


After tea and biscuits at 4pm we took of for our last drive. This time I was alone with Francis. What a difference it is to have a guide all to yourself. I was luckier last year because the camp was new and quiet but this year I had to share, which is fine, it is lovely to meet new people, but they tend to talk and move around which is not conducive to a quiet and shake free vehicle.


We spotted a (collective noun again) group of giraffe and crossed the border, briefly, into the Serengeti, drove to a high point with a fantastic panorama of the Mara and found two male lions, asleep of course, gnu, and a black backed jackal.





It sounds a short drive I know, but we lingered over the lions as Simba are my thing and arrived back quite late for sundowners, which I wont bore you with because by now you know me!


A footnote here for all my brilliant photographer friends in the forum. Someone suggested I should try a sunset on an underwater setting, well I had a go and I love it, the colours are very close to the real thing.



Dinner was Salad, grilled King fish with vegetables with fruit to follow and being my last night a glass of wine.


Its really silly I know but as I write this, tears are filling up and the computer is a total blur. They did it again What is it about Samburumags? Or Mama Simba as they call me now. Overture and beginners please - the big Jambo began again with a little speach from the Manager and a beautiful cake from the kitchen. Flaming torches, hooting horns, banging pots, it was fantastic, good job I know the words to Jambo Bwana, so I led the chorus round the dining room and I think everybody enjoyed the occasion. I forgot to mention that the Aussies from Samburu followed me to the Mara so they got cake at both locations!




Big farewell in the morning and off to Mombasa bad idea, why you ask...............

Edited by samburumags
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The behaviour of those vehicles is shocking, yet at the same time not a surprise. We witnessed a lot of bad behaviour, and not all of it from day trippers, some from the vehicles of the big name lodges.


I'm surprised that any wardens/ authorities would have been able to act on the information Francis provided fast enough to identify the offenders, let alone apply fines within less than 24 hours though! Do you think they did, or just fobbed Francis/ you off with the promise they had done so?


And lovely that the staff were so happy to see you back again! Probably because you treated them with respect and friendship on previous visit!

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The behaviour of those vehicles is shocking, yet at the same time not a surprise. We witnessed a lot of bad behaviour, and not all of it from day trippers, some from the vehicles of the big name lodges.


I'm surprised that any wardens/ authorities would have been able to act on the information Francis provided fast enough to identify the offenders, let alone apply fines within less than 24 hours though! Do you think they did, or just fobbed Francis/ you off with the promise they had done so?


And lovely that the staff were so happy to see you back again! Probably because you treated them with respect and friendship on previous visit!

Kavey I do know of 2 drivers who were definately fined but cannot say about the rest, one vehicle was from Intrepids.

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Kavey I do know of 2 drivers who were definately fined but cannot say about the rest, one vehicle was from Intrepids.

Am SO glad to hear it.


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I will make this short. I wanted to go back to the Mombasa Serena for old times sake because David and I have spent several weeks over the years there and I just thought it would be a lovely relaxing 6 days. The six days can be summed up in a short video and then I will say no more about it apart from the fact that I wish I had never left Samburu and the Mara!




On reaching home, after being delayed in London because of fog!, the brain engaged into planning for 2013. It was difficult coming to terms with the fact that Safari, the book and Safari the experience were over and I was back to the hum drum existence of an aging housewife. Then things improved – the new wine arrived in the shops and African Dawn arrived in the post.




Kwaheri Kenya until we meet again.

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Gosh, Mombasa really saved the all the waters of the sky for your visit, didn't it?

I admit, I cannot imagine sacrificing safari time for beach or pool...

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Gosh, Mombasa really saved the all the waters of the sky for your visit, didn't it?

I admit, I cannot imagine sacrificing safari time for beach or pool...

You are so right Kavey, it was just a case of deja vu, but never again and in 2013 when husband wants to go back we will pick places where there is a pool for him and lots of cats for me!!! I must admit though that after a good old drive, if the weather is good a pool, a drink and a book go down very well in the afternoons :rolleyes:

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I can cope with a pool in a safari camp, I guess, though I've not made use of such... and as long as it's not at the expense of the environment i.e. a pool provided in an area where water is at a shortage, such that the water to fill it is trucked in... but to be honest, during that hot middle-of-the-day break, I take my shower, sit out on my private verandah to dry in the way nature intended :P and catch up with my diary, read or take a nap. Swimming doesn't come into it...



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I keep telling myself that I should go back to some of the places I've loved, but never do. Next time when I'm dithering, I'll read your reports and Jan's reports and Hari's reports, Mags. Very heartwarming.


What is it about Samburu that makes it so special in your eyes? I have never been, so would love to read your thoughts about the park, the wildlife and the people. Does it draw you to it more than the Mara?

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Thanks for the TR and the wonderful photos - such a shame about the rain in Mombasa.






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