Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Literally In The Middle of A Lions Pride

This was probably the highlight of our safari.  We were in the middle of a lions pride of around 30 animals of various ages.  We first saw the male walking along with this female and we were surprised that our guide didn't stop for photos.  But he knew what he was doing and we turned the corner to be smack dab in the center of the pride where the lion was headed.  I'll be showing a series of photos from within the pride.  We were no more than 30 feet from most of the lions and they were totally unconcerned that we were there.  I don't know why but there was only our van and one other that had this unique experience.  Our guide said it is very rare.  It was totally awesome and something I'll never forget.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Yet Another Antelope

Perhaps I shouldn't have included this photo because I don't know what species of antelope it is.  Yet it is pretty and unique so I'm showing it anyway.  Although our guide knew the name of everything we saw, there wasn't always time to snap a photo, watch the animals and then make a note of what they were.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Doesn't Look Very Black

This is a Blackbuck, another member of the antelope family.  The male of this species turns a darker color, from dark brown to black.  We didn't see one of those.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

An Eagle's Eye

This is a Steppe Eagle, similar to what we have in the US and yet distinct.  Africa seemed to have a lot of really big birds.

Friday, January 27, 2012

This Big Boy Was Sleepy

This was about as much of a hippo as we saw.  There were several in the river but they only came up for a short period of time and then were back under the water.  They are nocturnal but we didn't see one on the nighttime game drive we had at Kigio so we had to be content with quick glances.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Must Have A Good View

This is the third type of giraffe we saw and it is the Masai Giraffe.  There were just a couple of them and a youngster.  The little guy just wanted to run and he was going in big circles having fun.

This photo also shows a couple other kinds of animals in the background.  It wasn't at all unusual to see several species happily sharing the same spot.  And you can see that the ground was mostly flat with very few trees.  Didn't seem like there was much for this giraffe and family to eat but they should have been able to see any predators coming!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


This fellow is rather unique looking - in a good way.  He's one of the medium-sized members of the antelope family, weighing in at 200-300 pounds.  Although we only saw one, they are said to be gregarious and often in herds of hundreds.  They only eat grass.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Not The Most Handsome

Hyenas are not, in my opinion, the best looking animal but they serve a purpose in the total scheme of things.  The one on the right was a youngster and hidden quite well near the mud (even though he was in plain sight).  Guess they get less cute as they age cause he is pretty good lookin'.

Monday, January 23, 2012

In His Habitat

I sometimes tried to get a photo of the area in which we saw a particular animal.  Did well with this tree holding the leopard.  He was pretty sleepy and we didn't get much out of him but he did wake up long enough to take note of our presence.  We didn't pose any danger I guess because he went right back to sleep.

Some come home from Kenya without having seen a leopard but we were fortunate to see two!

Sunday, January 22, 2012


It was tricky to get a decent photo of these guys because they are little and were a distance away.  They are rather handsome and I like them because they kill snakes.  Since I'm not a snake lover, I figure that's a good thing.  How many snakes did I see in Kenya.  Exactly one - so these guys are doing a great job.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


There can't be too many photos of lions, can there?  This big fellow was obviously at peace and probably had a full tummy.  What a life.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Peek A Boo!

Okay, this lioness isn't really playing peek-a-boo nor is she shy.  She's just cleaning herself up so she's presentable for visitors.  It's another indication of how annoyed she was with our watching her.  She didn't mind one little bit!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Unusual Animal

The wildebeest we saw were non-migrating and stayed permanently in Masai Mara Reserve.  Why is that?  Our guide said that it seems one of them decides to run and they all run and when they do, they form a long column.   They are part of the antelope family.  Both male and female have horns that are close together at the base but curve outward, inward and slightly back.  They require water and eat mostly short grasses.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Camp Dwellers

The bush buck are allowed to stay inside the camp and they reportedly don't mind when people approach them.  But I thought they weren't that secure and tended to run away.  Of course they are much safer from predators inside the grounds but they are free to leave if they wish.

The buck is shown above and the doe to the right.

They have patches or spots of white on the chest, tail, legs and neck plus the band of white at the base of the neck.  They are 25-35 inches at the shoulder, not overly big.  Their most important requirement is good cover to provide shelter and food.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Black And White

 One of the animals that are allowed to live inside the camp is the Colobus Monkey.  I immediately thought "skunk" and I bet you did, too.  I included the first photo so you could see that very looonnnggg tail.  And I included the second photo so you could see that "old man" face.

They stay mostly in the trees, using the branches as trampolines to jump up to 50 feet.  Their groups can number 25 individuals.  Unlike other monkeys, this do not have a thumb.  Their diet consists of leaves and insects.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Connection With Colorado

This handsome young man named "JJ" came to camp the day we arrived to tell us a bit about the Masai culture and life in the village.

He lived in Durango, CO in May a couple of years ago but had to leave because it was too cold.  His English was very good and he was very personable, a great representative for the villagers.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Yikes! It Could Have Been Bad!

I don't recall what type of tree this is, but our guide told us it was a "bad tree" because it has a shallow root system and when it rains a lot, it falls over.  That isn't exactly what happened in this case - "just" a couple of branches snapped off.  It happened in the evening hours, just before dinner was due to be served.  You can see the food set up outside which was unusual.  And see those tree trunks on the right?  Some of our group were sitting on those listening to a musician play a guitar and sing.  Fortunately we weren't among them, but although one man was caught under the branches, he wasn't hurt.  Other scrambled out of the way.  It sounded like fire-works when it fell and my first thought was "Why didn't they tell us there was going to be fireworks?!"

The branches didn't interfere with the food, nor did it catch on fire from the fire pit that was to the right.  And no one was hurt.  It could have been much worse.

The second photo shows the branches from a different angle the next morning.  The camp manager apologized repeatedly and assured us that a chain saw would be used to remove the entire tree as soon as our group left camp.

There was adventure everywhere!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Green Grounds

Like other camps, the dining room was open air.  This one was large with tables on the right side and the serving area to the left.  He is a little difficult to see, but one of the chefs was standingn outside to the left.  They were dress very professionally in a chef's hat and coat and the food was excellent.  You can see the big trees around the building and the area of grass in front.  Near the center is an outdoor fire pit which (as far as I could tell) was just for ambiance.  Our tent was just to the left, near all the action.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Green and Beautiful

This is the open area of the camp.  It was beautiful and offered a lot of shade.  The tents were placed around the open space in a big circle.  All of the camps were fenced, with locked gates which have guards posted.  We never felt insecure.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Siana Springs Camp

This cooling path led into our last camp, Siana Springs.  It is located near the Masai Mara National Reserve.  The path was created by making the branches overlap at the top.  White rocks defined the edge.  It was a unique welcome to the camp.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ugly and not even in a cute way

This is the warthog.  It seems like when the animals were made, all the spare parts were given to the warthog and placed on the head.  They are found in most parts of Africa, including those areas that go without water for long periods of time.  They live in family groups of a female and her young, with other females sometimes joining the group.  There are primarily grazers but they also dig for bulbs and roots.  They have poor vision so their senses of smell and hearing are enhanced.  The average weight is 120-250 pounds.  I wouldn't want an encounter with one, even if it was small.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mode of Transportation

The Kenya roads were narrow and often is disrepair.  But they were shared by all kinds of vehicles from trucks to cars to vans to Mopeds and bikes and sometimes animals.  There were lots of people walking and, judging by where they were, they walked long distances.  Footwear was everything from dress shoes to sneakers to waterproof boots.  We often came to road blocks where the police checked the local vehicles for safety compliance, though we never had to stop for them.  At each side of the towns there were major speed bumps to slow things down.

To see the vehicles loaded down was not uncommon and the people carried all kinds of different merchandise.  Sometimes the ladies carried big piles on their heads.

I thought that Americans could take a clue from the Kenyans and do more walking.  I haven't acted on it but still think it's a good idea . . .

Monday, January 9, 2012

For Sale

As we traveled the main roads, it was common to see sights such as this.  The bags are full of salt and are for sale.  We saw bundles of sugar cane, buckets of carrots and potatoes, bundles of branches and sometimes building materials.  It was also fairly common to see a small garden right by the side of the road.  They seemed to be tended mostly by women, though sometimes men could be spotted doing some of the labor, too.  The women bent straight from the waist to do the work and I said "ouch."  Despite the work and the mud, most women were in dresses or skirts and the clothing seemed to be immaculate.  Even the whites appeared bright and spotless.  I could would like to know their secret.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


The beaders waited at the side while we tourists looked over their beautiful beading, made our selections and negotiated a price.  I thought this older woman was interesting but there were various ages represented.

What do you think?  Do they get together and roll their beds while they discuss children and village life?   Or is it a project they do by themselves?  I'm betting on the former.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Busy Hands

At the small village near Kigio Conservancy, a group of ladies used the discarded brochures, magazines and other paper from the Conservancy to create these beads.  They are rolled strips of paper dipped in varnish and they are quite colorful.  There were various sizes and shapes of beads and certainly a variety of colors.  There were both long strings for necklaces and shorter strands for bracelets.  They strung a few seed beads between each paper bead for contrast and color.  The beads are sold only at the village.  The ladies also braid sisal baskets.

What a nice conservation project.  

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Big Boy

I liked the contrast of the big, dark water buffalo with the delicate, light-colored flamingos.  (And, no, that flamingo isn't standing on the buffalo's head.)

The buffalo is a member of the so-called "Big Five" group of African animals.  They have a reputation for being unpredictable and dangerous, but they are quite placid if left alone.  They vary greatly in size, color and the shape of their horns.  Males don't reach their full weight until about age 10.  Grass is their primary diet and they depend on water so aren't found in dry areas.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


There weren't nearly as many cormorants as there was flamingos but they were striking and got our attention just the same.

After lunch a number of them were swimming in the lake, surrounded by hundreds of small bubbles.  The bubbles were from fish that had surfaced and the birds were feeding on the fish.  Fortunately for the fish, there was no way the birds could eat all of them.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Birds of A Feather

Many flamingos congregate on the shores of Lake Nakuru.  These aren't the colorful pink flamingos as they have already migrated to the south.  But they were still pretty.

There's a pelican thrown in there, too.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

From The Small to the Enormous

We saw this big white rhino with a mate.  They are ill-tempered and can be aggressive, though these were content to munch the plants surrounding them.  Their eyesight is poor but their sense of smell and hearing are very good.  For their size they are quite agile.

Speaking of aggressive, none of the animals we viewed were at all bothered by our presence and we never feared for our safety or well-being.

Monday, January 2, 2012

On The Small Size

Now we are in the Nakuru Lake National Park.  We spotted this jackal resting under some fallen branches.  S/he had a friend nearby.  Later we saw them walking across an open field.  They are one of a few mammals that mate for life and are cunning and resourceful.  Sometimes the offspring stay with the parents to help raise the younger pups.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


The gazelle is another member of the antelope family.  It stands 2-3.5 feet at the shoulder and their horns are often curved.    They are reported to run quite swiftly.

Happy New Year!