Wey-hey! We’re on our way to Kenya, we’re on our way to Kenya, dada da da, dada da da …
Flying on this Brussels Airlines plane to Nairobi and, despite the cloud, we managed to catch a glimpse of Sicily earlier. The landscape of the Sahara desert below us is definitely lunar.
Just reading a very interesting article about how Kenya derives 10% of her energy from a geothermic (rock) source deep in the rift valley.In fact one rose-growing farm obtains all of its heating from this source.It’s another interesting aspect in the debate as to whether produce should be sourced locally or globally.Bear in mind that many East Africans depend upon flower and vegetable exports for their livelihood.If they loose this it’s a one-way ticket back to the poverty line.
Stopping over briefly in Kigali, Rwanda.It’s not that exciting as you basically sit on the tarmac for an hour (not literally) in the dark and then you’re back in the air.
Here we are again – at our beautiful Nairobi home of Safari Park hotel.
Can’t tell you how good it feels to be here.We’re taking it easy today in preparation for a whole new safari adventure tomorrow.Agy’s playing around with his new birthday toy, sorry camera.Gone are the days when men were satisfied with gifts of socks or hankies, alas.The upside is that I’ve inherited his ‘old’ camera (two years if it’s a day) and am now trying to get to grips with it.
Speckled Mouse Bird
Had to be the birds, didn’t it.Of course, when that gorgeous pygmy kingfisher was poaching goldfish earlier we didn’t have a camera did we, what a crime.
Catching up on the news in Kenya.As usual, the elections planned for December of this year dominate the headlines.Parties are jostling for position and the usual infighting is taking place – sound familiar?
The trusty bus is back in action and we’re northward bound towards Mount Kenya.This week-long safari that we’re embarking upon was largely inspired by Mercedes’ and Javier’s trip back in April.We were so impressed that two of the three places we will visit are where they stayed – ok so we’re not very original.
A massive advantage about this part of the country is that the roads are in pretty good shape.Oh, slow down, we’re being flagged by a policeman, how nostalgic.Usual questions: driving licence, logbook, “what have you got for me today” “pardon?” “ok, safe journey”.Reassuring to see they’re still topping the charts.
Not far from destinationMountain lodge but between the GPS and my fantastic map reading, we appear to have gone off course.Let’s ask at this petrol station in Nyeri – ah up there, turn right, left etc and back on the main road.How on earth did we manage to lose our way on a straight road?That’s quite obvious, the map must be wrong.
Hope they’ve saved us some lunch, we’re famished.We’re being greeted by Joshua who proudly reveals that his local MP is none other than Nobel laureate Wangarai Maathai.Lucky guy, what an amazing woman.She and her Green Belt Movement have planted over thirty million trees in recent times and continue to do so.
This place is so cool, beautiful but freezing.Well, it is July.Hope we get a hot water bottle tonight.
Just look at our neighbours at the waterhole below us.It’s a great spot to chill out (yes, still cold) and let nature come to you.
Female bush buck with free-loading red-billed oxpeckers
forest bull elephant having a scratch
buffalo and calf
The grassy patch in the middle is even shaped like Africa, superb. Look, a Defassa Waterbuck is marching over Mauritius, I think.Defassa differ from common Waterbuck as they don’t wear a toilet seat on their behind.
Seems to be teatime as the Sykes’ monkeys are turning up in their droves.They’re so bold, performing room raids and stealing, edible or not.
sykes monkey with a bit of fresh meat
who you looking at ?????
Dinner time for people now and there’s a wonderful cosy atmosphere about the place.It’s lovely chatting to guests from around the world and sharing experiences.
We’re just being asked whether we’d like to be awoken for anything exciting during the night – I think they mean animals.Why not.Oh no, think the wine’s just kicked in with Agy, he’s threatening to disturb everyone with cries of “there’s a tiger in the pond”, nutter.
Tired out now and my bed is calling me – oh bliss, hot water bottles.Lala salama.
Good morning.No calls in the night. It must have been quiet on the animal front, not a tiger in sight.Never mind, we have a forest walk to be getting on with.
Our guide Ben, accompanied by an armed policeman, are here to greet us so off we go.
Now, why do we need a man with a gun? I hear you ask, especially my mum.This equatorial forest is home to around 1000 elephant and many herds of buffalo. You may think that the gun is to protect us from the elephant but in this case it is more to guard us against lone elder buffalo who have been unceremoniously kicked out of their herd.This makes them so mad that they’ll have a go at anything; trees, bushes, us.Ben tells us that earlier this year he was out with a party when just such a thing happened.Having fired a warning shot that old bull continued to advance so the ranger had to aim.Let’s just say that he must have had quite a headache.
Ben explains to us that this forest in Mount KenyaNational Park is a mountain rain forest and very lush.It is home to indigenous species of flora, many of which have healing properties.There are some pretty formidable-looking stinging nettles including one beauty called an onion nettle.If you had a sting from one of these, you’d know all about it but it can also relieve many complaints from stomach ulcers to rheumatism.
Agy and I have two agendas – mine, as you may have guessed, is to spot as many birdies a possible, especially the montane white eye that Mercedes and Javier saw when they were.Agy’s is quite simple, a red duiker – that is going to be a tough one as they’re really shy, like him (I wish).
Off we go and I’m in paradise as straight away we see bird after bird, like a paradise flycatcher or a hartlaub’s turaco.Sorry, they move so quickly that it’s impossible to catch them on camera.
Now this little chap, the dusky flycatcher, is definitely not camera shy, everywhere we turn, there he is.
Ben’s calling us over and chanting something, it sounds like “joker, joker” – oh he’s saying “duiker, duiker”.We inch forward and just glimpse this timid antelope but, you’ve guessed, the second Agy reaches for his camera, it melts away.Cheer up babes, at least we saw it.
What was that blur?Oh, a Colobus monkey.Apparently so named by a the Greeks, meaning “deformed” as they only have four fingers on their hands, unlike other monkeys.Does that sound a bit fingerist to you?
And Ben’s spotted a bird difficult to find in these parts, a narina trogon.
We are doing well – he’s also heard the call of a montane white eye, yes there’s one in the tree.It’s gorgeous but once again just can’t get a decent picture.
Montane White Eye
We come to a clearing and tea and coffee has been organised, so civilised. They even slip in a nip of brandy.This is definitely the life.
And Agy, from the state of your eyes, I’d say it’s more brandy than coffee.
Avoiding the deadly safari ants, of which there are many, we weave our way back to the lodge.
We spend a relaxing afternoon at the waterhole.Another chance for Agy to play with his new toy - sorry, camera.
Male and Female Bushbuck
Lovely Ag, nice toy but why did you have to pinch my washing-up glove as a hood?Did you run out of cash or something?
We’re having a great evening, dining with a lovely couple from the Cotswolds in England.They’re people after our own heart with a passion for travel and interest in development.They’re both retired head teachers so I think we’ll be pestering them in future to pick their brains on ideas for education in Africa.Thanks for your company, very special.
We round off the evening with a slide show from Ben.Here are a couple of facts to wow your friends with:
–Mount Kenya was originally named “Kirinyaga” by the Kikuyu people, meaning Mount of Ostrich, not because there are ostrich there but the white of the snow against the black of the mountain resembled these birds to them.The word Kenya comes from Kirinyaga incidentally,
–A group of hyena are known as a clan,
–The civet cat is not a cat at all but a member of the mongoose family.
After all of these facts my brain hurts so it’s time for bed – sweet dreams.