Saturday, December 31, 2011

Oh So Tall

This is the second type of giraffe we saw and we found it in the Kigio Wildlife Conservancy.  They are nearly endangered and we didn't see a large number of them.  Their pattern and coloration are different than the Reticulated giraffe that I showed earlier.  These patches are separated by broader  lines and they have no spotting below the knees.  They can also have up to five horns instead of the usual two or three.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Rothchild

This is the second species of giraffe that we saw and this one is nearly endangered.  The coloring and pattern on the Rothchild giraffe is different from the Reticulated that I posted earlier.  There are also some differences in the horns.  

Thursday, December 29, 2011

As Different As Fingerprints

This is the second type of zebra that we saw.  Grevy's zebra has wider stripes with some coming forward from the tail.  Although the stripes are similar, no two zebras have exactly the same pattern.  The Grevy's are plentiful and we saw all sizes and even some slight differences in the color of the stripes.  The striping serves as sunscreen and camouflage.  

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


One last look at our accommodations in Kigio -- this is the open air dining area.  The deck to the back overlooks the river and there were many birds flying around on the other side of the river.  The deck was a pleasant place to have our first cup of coffee/tea in the morning.  And certainly the closer part of the dining room was very comfortable for all our meals.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Kanga Interior

All of the cabins at Kigio were named after birds.  The Kanga is rather a large bird and we saw one both mornings before breakfast.  S/he came to the river's edge is search of breakfast.

And check out the interior of our cabin - it was HUGE!  To the back is the bathroom with sinks in the middle, shower on the left and toilet on the right.  It was very comfortable accommodations.  My favorite part of the cabin?  The hot water bottle that was placed in our bed each night.  That was a bit of heaven since it was rather chilly outside.

Monday, December 26, 2011


There was a bathtub on our deck but we never used it because 1) it seemed wasteful to use so much hot water and 2) we had a shower inside.  But I thought it was a novel idea.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The River

This was the view of the river from the deck behind Kanga cabin.  I thought we might see wildlife along the edge of the river but we never did.

Sure was a pretty spot!

Have a merry Christmas!  

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Great View

This is the view from the front door of the Kanga cabin.  The night we came back after the game drive, we shined flashlights into the area and saw many pair of eyes reflected.  Our guide told us it was waterbucks going from the river which is to the right.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Kanga Cabin

We left Samburu National Park and are now in the Kigio Conservancy.  All their power comes from a small set of solar panels and the water is heated with wood.

This was a very large cabin on the bank of a river and a deck around two sides gave us some wonderful views - not that we had a lot of time to spend just looking.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Samburu Landscape

We'll be leaving Samburu National Park tomorrow but first I wanted to show you a fairly typical landscape.   Our guide told us that most visitors see this as brown land due to lack of moisture.  But there were unseasonal rains when we visited and everything looked green.

Tomorrow I'll show you photos from the Kigio Wildlife Conservancy where we spent the third and fourth nights of our trip.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Comfort Outside

This is the deck in front of our tent which provided a great view of the river.  A lantern on the far railing even provided light after dark.

One thing they cautioned was to tie a knot in the cords attached to the zipper on the door.  The monkeys can open a zipper but they haven't yet figured out how to undo a knot.  I was more than happy to take one extra step to keep monkeys away.  Their being in the surrounding trees was close enough for me.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


This photo shows the interior of our tent.  There were large screened windows and the front was also screened.  To the back is the bathroom, complete with hot shower. While we were at dinner, our bed was turned down, the mosquito net released and lights turned on.  Each morning we were brought hot tea or coffee and cookies before we went to breakfast.

On the left of the photo you can just barely see a "living room" that we shared with another couple who were housed in a tent at the other end.  It looked very comfortable but we never had an opportunity to spend any time there.

This was better accommodation than I've had in some motels!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Open Air

All of the dining areas were open air which was great in the moderate climate.  Even though it was rainy, neither of us received any bug bites.

At this lodge, breakfast and lunch were buffet style with many food choices.  The evening meal was served in five courses - soup, a simple green salad, main dish with meat, potato and veggie and a choice of desserts.

I sat on the end by the railing and one evening as we were eating I looked down and there sat this janiscat (member of the mongoose family).  He was so quiet I didn't hear him come and I have no idea how he got there.  He was content to stay and allow his picture to be taken but eventually he moved on.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Lovely Accommodations

The Samburu Lodge was nestled in the trees next to a big river.  It was peaceful and quiet, though we had someone escort us to our tent after dark in case a wild animal was lurking.  I didn't think it likely because the camp was fenced and had a locked gate.  But monkeys were all over the place.  Pretty, huh?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I'm Seeing Stripes

These plains zebras were some of the first animals we saw.  Note the rather thin stripes that are close together.  Later in the trip I'll show you another type of zebra.  These were the most active of all the zebra we saw.

One of the native men told us that we should say zebra to rhyme with Debra.  Never quite got used to that.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Going Down

Then we watched him go down the tree and head toward some gazelles that were a short distance away.  The van driver tried to follow him but the leopard was out of sight in a ravine and the gazelles ran safely away.

Hunt or no hunt, it was a thrill to see him and especially in action.  Beautiful creature.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Many visitors to Africa don't see a leopard but we were fortunate to see two.  We watched this one go up the tree and he spent a fair amount of time scoping the area.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


I'm showing more baboons for two reasons.  1) The male shown on the left was sitting right by the side of the road.  He grunted at us a couple of times but made no move to leave or otherwise be protective of the other baboons.      2) To show this baby baboon.  S/he was clinging on for dear life but did drop off into the tall grass at one point.

Think we're related?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Now back to the animals in Samburu National Park.  This is the gerenuk (another member of the antelope family) with reticulated giraffes.  It's not unusual to see a number of different species peacefully co-existing.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Art For Sale

Before we left the Samburu village we had an opportunity to view and purchase some of the art created by those in the village.  Common were various types of wooden carvings and beaded items.  All nice.    But to get the best price, one had to negotiate.  I wasn't fond of that procedure but did get the hang of it and stood my ground pretty well while still trying to be fair.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


This is one of the young girls (maybe ten years old) who was tending to a baby (sibling I presume).  They were able to participate in the festivities.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Medicine Man Tree

In the Samburu village, the medicine man had this area to perform his duties.  We didn't get any information on exactly what he did or what he treated.  We did learn that the postion is one that is inherited.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Typical Village House

This is a typical house, built by the women.  It's twig construction with various materials on top for a covering.    

These young children recited the alphabet in English and also counted to 20.  (I'm still not able to recite the Swahili alphabet nor count to even five).  The school is a cinder block building nearby.  Most of the schools are open air, having no windows.  The climate is quite pleasant and doen't change too much during the year.     The schools appeared to be one room.  

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fire Building

Inside the village we had a demonstration on fire building.  It started with just two sticks that were rubbed together until flames started.

Dry twigs were added . . . .

and then there was flames!  Very efficient with little use of resources.

I was impressed.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Mothers Keep Babies Close

We never figured out exactly how the babies are wrapped in the fabric and tied to the mother but it surely works well.  Sometimes the baby is in the front, sometimes at the side, and sometimes in back.

And sometimes it is a child who carries the baby, usually in the same type of sling.

Great idea for keeping Mom's hands free.  She has a lot of tasks to complete on a daily basis.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Young Warrior

It wasn't unusual to see quite young boys out tending the herds of cattle, sheep and/or goats - and quite a ways from the village or any sign of civilation.  They often ran towards the road to wave to us as we passed by.

The children rotate for education; i.e. some tend to the animals while others are in school and then they switch positions.

The young boys sometimes have a short sword that they share.  At an older age they are sent off alone to survive in the wild.  After a period of time they return to the village and are declared to be warriors.  There are young warriors, warriors and elders.

This young warrior wore more beading that was usual but I'm not sure what that signifies.  He surely looks handsome!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Welcome Song

Women of all ages sang a welcome song before we were allowed inside the village.  They all wore these colorful beaded necklaces.  Judging from the people we saw as we traveled along the various roads, this colorful clothing and the beaded necklaces are only for special occasions.

I know they celebrate a marriage and the birth of a baby but we didn't hear of other celebrations.  Perhaps there are some religion based celebrations.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

And The Young Ladies Respoind

The eligible young women sing their song in response to the men and have a little dance they do.  It involves those big beaded necklaces and they dance in such a way that the necklaces bounce up and down.

On the third song the men and women come together in a dance with singing.  The woman has the right to say no if she doesn't wish to marry a particular young warrior but if she says yes, the marriage lasts their lifetime.  There is no divorce in their culture.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Let the Singing Begin

We were introduced to the "engagement" ceremony.  It starts with the young, eligible warriors (about age 28) singing to attract the eligible females (age 14 or so).  Part of the singing includes jumping by the men to show their fitness.  It's quite entertaining.  

Friday, December 2, 2011

Samburu Village

I would be remiss in not showing you some of the African people.  The people I'll be showing in the coming days are all residents of the village of Samburu, part of the Masai tribe.  They are a little shy but certainly put on a nice show for the tourists.

We had an introduction to the culture and people when a couple of young warriors made a presentation at the lodge where we were housed.  One of the things that has stuck with me was his comment that though they seem to have very little, they are a happy people.  That certainly seemed to be true.

This is the chief, welcoming us to the village.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Big Responsibilities

The lioness which seemed so carefree yesterday actually had two cubs to care for.  They were kind enough to come out of hiding so we could see them.  Too cute.

One of the amazing thing about the animals was their lack of fear of our vehicle (or in some cases several vehicles).  They went about their business and weren't at all concerned for their safety.  Kenya has done a  very fine job of preserving many large areas filled with marvelous birds and animals.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


This is the first lioness we saw.  We actually saw her the evening before when it was overcast and stormy but the sunshine shows her off a little better.  There didn't appear to be any other lions or lioness in the area.  She seems to not have a care in the world - but wait. . .

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Standing Tall

This is the Reticulated Giraffe which we saw in Samburu National Park along with all the other animals and birds I've shown so far.  Later you'll see two other types of giraffe, each of which lives in a different area of Kenya.

This big boy has 11 vertebra in his neck and is most vulnerable when he has to drop his head to drink water.  That's a lot of weight and it isn't easy to lift it in a hurry.  That's when the hyenas strike.  We saw and held one of the femur bones in Nairobi and it is big and heavy which makes for a pretty good weapon.

It feeds 16-20 hours a day so that's pretty much a full-time activity.  We saw some at night and they were munching away.

Later we'll see a Rothchild and Masai giraffe.  They all have distinctive markings and some variations in their horns.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Safety In Numbers

The baboons were always in groups of at least twelve with all ages/sizes represented.  The photo above shows the sentinel who is on guard and spreads the word if danger is sensed.  We saw him fall out of the tree when he misjudged the strength of a branch onto which he jumped.  Our guide said that happens a lot. He didn't seem to be injured in any way but looked a little sheepish as he picked himself up and walked away.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Beautiful Blue

This is the Vulturine Guineafowl which is about 24" in length.  They have a beautiful iridescent blue on their chest and neck that this photo doesn't capture but all those spots on their back certainly make for good camoflauge.  These birds stay on the ground during the day but roost in the trees at night.  We saw them in all three parks that we visited.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


The sleek and majestic cheetah can run up to 70 miles an hour, faster than any other animal.  But they can't maintain that speed for very long or they overheat.  This one was taking his time, ambling along but wary.  We found him later at the river's edge.  It's amazing how almost perfectly round his spots are.

Friday, November 25, 2011

And who doesn't love . . . .

. . . the elephants.  We saw lots of them - single, doubles, groups, mama with baby.  Their ears flap and their trunks seem to be constantly moving.  And did I mention that they are HUGE?!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

And lots of unique birds

This is the Kori Bustard.  He's rather large and seemed to travel alone.  Seems likek all those feathers on his neck would get in the way but I imagine he's rather proud of them.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Too Cute!

The cubs came out of hiding and allowed their photo to be taken.  Aren't they cute?!  These photos were actually taken the day after the photo I showed yesterday.  It was such a good hiding place for the cubs that Mama wasn't about to go anywhere else.  These were the youngest/smallest cubs we saw.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Her Magesty

This is the first lioness we saw and we found her in the evening on our first safari.  Tomorrow I'll show you photos of her two cubs but right now they are hiding in the bushes.

It's amazing how unconcerned the animals are regarding the vans, people and clicking cameras.  Most  are not at all frightened and continue with what they are doing.  And I was surprised at how close to the road they stay.  Binoculars really  aren't needed.

Monday, November 21, 2011


There are many species of antelope in Kenya and this is one of the impalas.  Looks like those horns could do some damage.  But he's a handsome guy.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Getting Around

This was our mode of transportation while we were in Kenya and that's our driver/tour guide.  Marcos was excellent - knowledgeable with a sense of humor.  He told us not only about the animals but also about the countryside through which we passed, local customs, etc.  His English was excellent and he kept the van immaculate.  There are rather rigorous requirements for the guides which include a college degree.

As you can see, the top popped up so we could stand inside to take photos.  The only time we were out of the van was at the curio shops, having a picnic lunch or in the camps.

Marcos told us that the vans last for three years and this one was in its first year.  They do take quite a beating on the rough roads.

We were forewarned by previous visitors to Africa that the dust was terrible.  However, we experienced a bit of rain and had almost no dust.  Yea!