Kicking it all off in Kenya: Samburu National Reserve


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Africa » Kenya » Rift Valley Province » Samburu NR
October 6th 2019
Published: November 12th 2019
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And here it is, the number one all-time trip I have wanted to take, and after much planning and research it was finally going to happen! Africa, a continent that has always held an exotic mystique for me, and specifically the two countries of Kenya and Tanzania we were set to explore: the animals, the Masai, the parks/reserves, Kilimanjaro, Serengeti, Zanzibar, and on and on...so away we go!

Being a milestone birthday year for myself I floated the idea of doing some safaris in Kenya/Tanzania and ending with some beach time on Zanzibar to the Lovely K, and while safaris were not big on her list of things to do she suggested we add a Kilimanjaro climb to round out the adventure, perfect! This was to be a mostly guided tour, for some crazy reason they frown on letting one wander around on one's own among the animals in the parks, and of course we were to discover it takes a lot of folks to drag a dozen travelers up to the summit of Kilimanjaro, so after much research we decided to go with G Adventures for the bulk of the trip, taking care of the final leg of Zanzibar on our own (we had both traveled with G previously and knew what to expect comfort/travel style-wise from them, and have always had positive experiences as well).

So once dates were locked down and vacation requests fortunately approved the plan shaped up to be thus: one week in Kenya on safari, followed by a week in Tanzania on safari, a week to do the Kili climb, finishing with some R&R on a beach in Zanzibar and a small hang in Stonetown...more on all of this in future entries, but for now we begin in Kenya...

Arrived on a rainy Sunday in Nairobi, and after navigating the apparently notorious traffic of this city (of which we were told was "not bad" that day it being Sunday???) we made it to the hotel where we were to meet up with our guide and fellow travelers that evening...not much to report for Day 1 other than a quick nap to shake off some of the 24 hours of travel to get there, welcome meeting and dinner with the gang to start to get to know each other...

Adventure began the following morning as we split ourselves between two vans and
Hanging out...Hanging out...Hanging out...

...this was a highlight of the trip...
headed out for our first destination: Samburu National Reserve...took a bit of time to get out of the city as it was now the Monday morning rush, and after a few hours on the road we were to spot a couple of giraffes and some elephants, first game sightings! That certainly charged every one up, and we were all now excited to get into the park and start exploring...

First stop however was a visit to a Samburu tribe and village, our first glimpse into local tribal life and culture...we were greeted with traditional songs and coaxed to join in, including the jumping in place to prove ones manliness and appeal to the ladies (fortunately my only dance-move being the pogo served me well-ish...no marriage offers but think I represented my fellow travelers well...haha...). We were shown their houses, livestock pens and finally their "school" in session, a collection of youngsters under a tree who became hilariously unruly at our approach, much to the chagrin of the teacher...very cute...

We said our thank-yous and goodbyes and after a short drive crossed through the gates into the Samburu National Reserve, time to check out some animals! The safaris were the major reason I wanted to visit East Africa, and we certainly didn't have to go far before we came upon all sorts of animals: Dik-Diks, zebras, gazelles, elephants, absolutely awesome...I wasn't really sure as to what to expect animal-wise, both in variety and quantity, but if the first few hours were any indication it would be plentiful on both fronts...

It was getting later in the afternoon and dusk was approaching, we were starting to make our way to camp when our driver got a tip from another driver about something so a detouring we went...only to discover a leopard hanging out in a tree! Couldn't believe it, I knew these cats can be pretty elusive so what a treat to see one on our first day...chilled out watching it in the tree as it was doing some recon for prey, he finally jumped down and we followed him to the river where he was poking around for a bit and then turned and walked right by our vehicle, no more than a couple of yards, stunning...you could really get a good look at the features, and he was certainly not bothered by us, another good sign of
OryxOryxOryx

Beautiful...
things to come...

A long first day but awesome, pretty quiet evening after we had sorted our tents and eaten dinner, again some more time to chat with the folks on the tour to get to know everyone a bit better...

Following day would consist of a morning and afternoon safari, so after breakfast it was back into our vehicles and away we went in search of more animals...again did not have to wait long before we spied our first giraffe of the day, majestic beasts to say the least...this was followed by one of our first birds of the safari, guinea fowl (blue hooded? Kinda lost track of some of the names), more zebras and some impalas, our first hyenas and then we crossed paths with a whole pride of lions, unbelievable! One large male, some large females and a couple of cubs, out for their morning constitutional I'm guessing...or more likely breakfast as they slowly made their way towards a herd of gazelles, and although they were out of sight the alarm was raised and everything started running, not sure if the lions got one or not but it was bedlam for a few moments...
Pogo!Pogo!Pogo!

Showing us how it's done...

Rest of the morning passed pleasantly with more elephant sightings, impalas, gerenuks, monkeys, baboons, zebras, crocodiles, and our first sighting of warthogs, funny little beasts...saw a croc stealthily approach a couple of zebras sipping water along a riverbank, giving them both quite a start when they finally saw him...I was still amazed at the sheer number of animals we were seeing, and of all shapes and sizes...

It was late morning now so we headed back to camp to relax and have some lunch, we had some downtime until the late afternoon safari so decided to wander over to a lodge close by to have a swim and a pint (and charge our devices, no power at the camp), it was perfect...while getting ready to head over I had what was to be my first close encounter with a baboon: I was taking some pictures of the camp and was approaching our tent when this huge guy came out from behind our tent, maybe ten feet away...cheeky little b*stard, paid me no mind, was more interested in the bag of fruit the Lovely K had just put down on a table in front of our tent, which promptly disappeared with him before any of us could react...we also had to be escorted to and from the lodge as the baboons are not afraid of foreigners or local women, only the local men...fortunately no encounters...

Another nice safari later that afternoon, some more giraffes and a herd of elephants slowly making their way across a river to get to the spot where they spend their evenings...a cute baby elephant was having fun splashing about in the river as it was slowly being nudged forward my mom...

The next morning we were off to our second destination of Lake Nakuru but able to squeeze in a quick final safari in Samburu, which was great because we came across our first cheetah! She was lounging by a shrub and apparently there were cubs but they were fairly well hidden, no matter though, a cheetah was one of my most hoped-for animal sightings, was thrilled to see one so early in the adventure, fingers crossed for more...

All in all an amazing start to this trip; again not sure in hindsight what my expectations were for animal sightings but it seemed everywhere you turned there was something to see, looking forward to the next stop!

(Some photos copyright of Karen C., denoted by (KC)...used with kind permission)


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Giving it my best...Giving it my best...
Giving it my best...

...the Samburu folks are definitely not concerned...
Hijinx on the BusHijinx on the Bus
Hijinx on the Bus

Lol, Kim being silly... (KC)


13th November 2019
River Crossing

Wow, wow wow!
A trip like this is on the list for my big birthday, so I loved reading this post. The leopard and cheetah sightings must have been amazing! But this photo made my heart melt :)
13th November 2019
River Crossing

Wee elephant...
Thanks for the kind words, and I highly recommend the place! Will have some more posts coming soon...and we were lucky to actually see a bunch of babies, loved the elephants flopping around in the rivers and learning to use their trunks...the baby warthogs may have been the funniest, those may have been in the Serengeti so stay tuned...slowly going through your Morocco blogs, one of my favourite destinations..
17th November 2019
Giraffes

I love giraffes
Lovely photo.
28th November 2019
Giraffes

Thanks guys..
...always appreciate your comments..

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