Itís time to say goodbye to Samburu.Weíre really going to miss the place and especially the people like Ceasar, Samuel, Gabriel, and Josephat and Peter.Weíve taken them to our hearts and I think itís reciprocal.Ah well, onwards and upwards or rather downwards in our case as weíre southbound to the equator.
Our destination is a place called Ol Pejata Conservancy, a former cattle farm once belonging to arms dealer Adnan Kashoggi. It has since been transformed into a chimpanzee sanctuary and is currently rapidly expanding to become home to 73 black rhino and 6 white, to name but a few threatened species now living there.We settle into the beautiful Sweetwaters Tented Camp within the conservancy.Its most scenic waterhole, boasts stunning views of Mount Kenya.
sweetwaters this way please
welcome to our humble abode
what about this for a dining room
After lunch and just look at the dining room, we tootle around the park on our own and see various game.This is much lusher than Samburu and has a completely different feel.
Have you ever seen a whito rhino chasing cattle?Well you have now.
behind you !
white rhino at sweetwaters ol pejeta
come on ! I dont have all day
who you looking at ?, you want some then
Cattle are gradually being phased out but a few herds remain.
We settle down to a slide show before dinner, as Sweetwaters boasts its own resident naturalists.We enjoy a fascinating talk on the area, known as the Laikipia Plains and sandwiched between the Aberdare and Mount Kenya mountain ranges.
Thatís enough education, letís settle down to a nice dinner and an excellent bottle of South African wine.Life is good.
Life got a little too good last night.We went mad and sampled a liqueur coffee and Iím paying the price this morning.Nevermind, weíre off safariing, that should clear away the old cobwebs.This morning weíre on a mission to find:
1) Rhino; 2) Grevyís zebra Ė apparently there are 15 of them in the reserve but hidden by 600 common so that will be the old needle in a haystack jobbie; 3) endangered Jacksonís hartebeest Ė we hadnít realised that the hartebeest here are a different variety and neither the red nor Cokes we saw last year.Off we go Ė Francis our guide is riding shotgun next to Agy so Iím playing tail-end Charlie in the back with the roof open and itís pretty cold, I can tell you.I did come equipped with woolly hat, gloves (I kid you not) and coat.Wonít go into how many layers Iím wearing underneath as youíd think me mad.When anyone tells you that itís always hot in Africa do NOT believe them.
Weíre off to a great start Ė there are a couple of black rhino amongst the zebra Ė zebra, any Grevyís? No.Ok letís press on.
black rhino at sweetwaters, ol pejeta conservancy
Lots of lovely birds again: a hammerkop, and saddle-billed stork for instance, my Iím a lucky girl.
Found our Jacksonís hartebeest, thatís great.
Jacksonís on the left, Cokes on the right Ė see the difference, especially the horn shape and slope of the back?
Can we go home now please because Iím absolutely freezing and need a lie down, never again will I drink ( yeah, right).
Thatís better, quick snooze and a spot of lunch, starting to recover. The sunís out and Iím warm at last!Our next mission is to go and pay Morani a visit.If you read the account of Mercedesí and Javierís visit here in April, you will already have met him.Heís a 33 year-old black rhino and apparently the only tame one in the world. We find Morani enjoying a little snooze in the sunshine.
Morani the black rhino
He was brought here from Amboselli when he was small as his mother had been killed by poachers, a classic sad tale.Heís so used to people that he wouldnít survive on his own so has his own little pad here at Sweetwaters where heís a rhino ambassador.
morani and yours truly
morani and keeper robert
Itís great to see a party of local school children here too.Theyíre the future of Kenya and itís great for them to learn respect for nature now.
We bid farewell to Morani and troop off in search of the chimps.Chimpanzees are not native to Kenya but this sanctuary was originally started in Burundi by Professor Jane Goodall.The aim was to rescue chimps from terrible cruelty in countries like Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Mozambique, etc.Unfortunately, due to the civil war in Burundi in 1994, Jane Goodall was forced to seek sanctuary in another country.The Kenyan government allowed her to settle here at Ol Pajeta and this is where her apes have lived ever since.I must admit that weíd never really given much thought to chimpanzees.However, seeing one of these creatures close up is an entirely different experience.
troop of chimps
chimp at the sanctuary
Itís hard to describe but when you look at them, they look back at you and you feel as though theyíre looking into your soul.Itís rather a moving experience and entirely unexpected.It may be because theyíre our nearest relative, I donít know.
look at me,wanna play
jayne and david,boss of the sanctuary
Before anyone says it, Iím in the picture on the right, next to expert David.
We must leave now but have just been told that there is something of interest along the side of the road.See whether you can guess (not a Grevyís) Ė itís one mammal that we havenít during the whole safari Ė look over there.
Possibly the largest (16 members) and most beautiful pride weíve ever seen.
Voila, we have now seen the big five.
We need to hurry as we have to meet Noel the naturalist for a walk at 5.00.Heís there, with Francis our bodyguard/ranger.Not a bad beginning, a couple of white rhino by the waterhole.
view from the camp
Ok, weíre in open country now and itís so great to be walking in the bush, a feeling of oneness with nature, urgently seeking a tree to hug.We photograph giraffe, zebra (still no Grevyís) and a very nervous-looking eland who keeps running around each time he sees us in a total panic and stirring up the other plains game.
To say heís that largest antelope, heís a complete cissy.We find a hole dug by aardvark in itís search for termites.
buffalo that started to follow us
francis our ranger
francis and jayne
The hole becomes home to many creatures, including warthog and hyena.Therefore, both predator and prey share the same bed although theyíre not aware of it as hyena is nocturnal and warthog diurnal.Mr Warthog is fairly smart, he wonít take any chances when he goes to sleep as he always enters the hole backwards.The theory is that if thereís anything nasty in there he can jump out quickly and the worst injury he will receive is a bite on his backside.I think a few have lost their tails that way but it sure beats the alternative.
Oh, oh, just Francis has seen a herd of buffalo over there and by the looks of things a couple of them have seen us.
Remember how mean some of these buffalo can be? No need to get nervous (yet) but we think itís time to cut short the walk and sneak back to base. What a welcome sight is the camp guard and how good that Tusker tastes (hair of the dog).