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Published: August 18th 2009
Hippos out of water - in daylight! Very rare, these two were just hanging out.
After some kerfuffle, I finally got the all clear from the doctor that all was okay to travel and thankfully we made it to Africa! We met up with lovely Fiona on Thursday night who picked us up at the Nairobi airport, and then the next morning we were immediately off to one of the Kenyan Wildlife Services Park - Amboseli.
We took the two 4WDs, boys (Paul and James) in one car, the girls in the 'hungry hippo car'. The terrain in Africa is immediately identifiable as we travelled along the road; the thorny acacia trees; massive termite mounds; red soil and Masai tribe villages with thatched rooftops. We stopped off at Namunga and then we hit the shall we say, more 'interesting' roads which involved more of a roller-coaster ride at some points and at others driving on the wrong side of the road or even going off road all together as the roads were so bad. You definitely stayed awake for that trip.
Our first animal spotting was crossing the 'lake' outside Amboseli, which techincally used to be a lake but now is really just sand and you drive across it. The first animal was a
Elephants aka Tembo!
An elephant family hanging out in the brush and eating everything they can lay their eyes on.
giraffe way off in the distance, but still very cool. We did a mini-game drive through the park on the way through to our campsite and managed to see our first zebras and wildebeest - apparently they are buddies and they like to hang out together. They are also the animals that cross the Mara river together that we would be seeing in the last week of our trip.
As we got closer in, the terrain changed from dusty and sparse, to some more brush and a few lakes/swamps. At the swamps we found our first water buffalo who look like they have bad helmet-hair and are slightly dopey and smell a tad icky, and then we saw hippos! They were so cute, they were actually out of water which is apparently really rare as they have really sensitive skin that gets sunburned very easily, so they are always in the water during the day. So, we were lucky as they were out of water and waddling around and we could see their pink creases and large bellies.
We setup camp not long after and as we did, a heard of elephants with some little babies wondered past
He's checking her out before the deed is done, she didn't seem too happy about it...
- so cool! This also meant that they were the second of the 'big five' we had seen so far. For those that don't know, the big five were the animals that were hunted the most as they were deemed to be the most dangerous/impressive kills: Elephants, Buffalo, Rhinoceros, Leopards and Lions. So, we had already seen two of the big five in the space of the afternoon, thus our mission in the morning was clear: find some kitties.
Now, when I signed up for this safari business, I kinda forgot about the whole getting up early thing - animals tend to be out and about the most first thing in the morning and then later in the afternoon as it's too hot for them in the middle of the day and they just tend to sleep for the most part. So, 5.30am start it was (whimper
) and we were off. Not long into our drive we found some lions!! It was a lion and his lioness - she was quite young as she still had spots on her legs which is indicative of her young age as she would lose them as she gets older. They were just
The deed is done
Barely a minute later the act is over and she's doing a runner - apparently not impressed.
lounging about, but then got a tad frisky shall we say, and were not shy about it - though it was very brief and no sign of fourplay! hee hee.
Our 'spotting' skills increased as we spotted various warthog (Pumba! - the lion king has been playing over and over in my head constantly) and some ugly-ar$e hyenas, as well as a bazillion gazelle (Thomson's gazelle mostly which you can tell by the thick black stripe across their flanks), baboons, vervet monkeys or as we like to call them - blue-balled-monkeys due to the extremely bright azure testicles of the males (no photos yet, stoopid modest monkeys), and heaps of birds including vultures and superb starlings.
Prolly one of the coolest things thing we saw was in the afternoon when a lion and lioness were chilling on a plain not far from some zebra and wildebeest, and then a massive heard of elephants came walking through. The leader of the elephants - the matriarch - stopped and so did the whole heard, and then approached the lions by herself and flapped her ears and basically made it clear 'don't mess with me and mine' and then the lions
Giraffe aka Twiga
This giraffe was very obliging and paused for a photo next to the acacia tree for us.
stood up and moved a few metres back as a sign of respect and 'we're not gonna come near you and your babies, its cool' and sat back down. Then the rest of the heard - about 16 in all -started walking again and then proceeded to move on and came right between the cars which were parked nearby. Very cool.
Alas, no cheetahs spotted yet, elusive brats. We'll find them though, oh yes, we'll we will find them!
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