People talk about the “Big 5” of Africa – 5 animals that are on the must see list. These are lion, elephant, cape buffalo, rhino & leopard. Actually it dates from the days of big game hunting, when these 5 animals were considered the most difficult to kill, but these days it is shooting of a different kind. We have seen all of these, but didn’t get a photo of the brief leopard sighting, so I’m not counting it. We have one more game drive, tomorrow morning before breakfast, so haven’t quite given up hope! But leopards are nocturnal, and very well camouflaged, so the odds are not in our favour.
This morning we woke even earlier than usual – but not intentionally. As this camp runs on a generator, the power is turned off at 11pm, and comes back on at 5am. We went to sleep after 11pm, and everything was dark, so guess who didn’t think to turn the lights off & got woken at 5am. Oh well, at least we weren’t late for the morning cuppa before heading out at 6. We ate breakfast in the car and were out driving until 12, and then again from 3.30 till about 7pm. It is getting harder to spot new species since we have seen so much already, but we are always on the quest for the perfect photograph of course. We were entertained for some time by some very young animals – we saw a family of elephants with 3 youngsters of different ages, the youngest being only about 2 months old. We also watched some very young vervet monkeys playing – one was so tiny he was still bald, and looked rather Gollum-like, but was still very cute. Actually it was a day for cute animals – the dik-dik and the gerenuk are both extremely cute – everyone wants to take one home for a pet.
The driving around is all about spotting animals, but we are enjoying the landscape too. It is very dry & sandy, but there is lots of vegetation, and the park is surrounded by a ring of low volcanic hills which are very attractive. Also we enjoy chatting with our driver/guides and learning about the local wildlife but also about life in Kenya. And actually we enjoy seeing the species we have already snapped, and just watching them without the pressure of taking the perfect photo.
In the hot middle of the day we rested at Elephant Bedroom Camp. It is very shady here, and with plenty of comfortable chairs, and animals to look at, it seemed the perfect place to while away an hour or two. We ate lunch during that time, sitting by the banks of the river. The meals here are amazing, really modern cuisine, attractively presented. Very plentiful but not over the top. In fact there is pretty much nothing to complain about here. When we arrived yesterday we were greeted (as we have been at everywhere we stayed) with a wet cloth & a cool glass of juice. So welcome after the dusty bumpy roads. I think this is a custom we really should introduce at home! Here we got not only the towel & juice, but also fruit kebabs & some BBQ beef on sticks as well. Feeling very pampered!
While we were at lunch we watched as an elephant wandered up from the river bank and headed for our tent. He stopped just outside it to munch on some leaves. That’s not something you see every day. As I write I am listening to the sounds of baboons playing & doing whatever baboons do. There is a semi-tame Oryx (called Maria!!) who wanders in and out of the campsite. What a place!
Today was also Keith’s birthday, a fact which did not escape the rest of the group. He was greeted (at 6am) by lots of “happy birthday”s, which was nice, but the highlight came at dinner when the entire kitchen staff danced around the table “playing” on various kitchen implements and singing in Swahili. They brought him a birthday cake which said Happy Birthday in Samburu (the local dialect), and then led us in a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday. A very exotic birthday indeed – it will be hard to top that in the near future!