Saturday, 13 August 2016

Maasai Mara 1.32° S, 35.19° E 5300 ft

Lioness and her cub

The "spotted" land , a dream for every wild life enthusiast, become a reality thanks to my two friends! The gentle rolling grasslands interrupted by the lone acacia tree, marked by the shadow of the clouds and spots of the scrubs stretches to an area of 37,3000 acres. what a pleasure it was to explore this nirvana.

Budget travellers that we are, we drove into this heaven of a place. But the ride to paradise was hell. For political reason , the budget traveller has to endure an extremely 2 hour bumpy ride. One is most likely to find a mini van or a cruiser stranded with a puncture. But the amazing experience for us Indians was the camaraderie between the drivers irrespective of the tour operator. Help is offered immediately however little possible. Wish it was so across our country.

As one approaches the resort that one will call home for next few hours or days as the case maybe, one can notice something unique to Kenya. Along with the name of the resort, the co-ordinates of the location is prominently displayed. A unique way to announce that one has arrived. We were staying 2 nights at Mara Sarova tented camp. Another luxury resort with all the perks  but so little time. It was unfortunate that we stayed at some of the best luxury resorts across Kenya but we had so little time to enjoy them. Early morning and late afternoon safaris can take its toll if  done for a couple of days. We were left with little energy at the end of the holiday. But Sarova 's hospitality was unparalleled. The amazing food with south African wine, the evening entertainment with the Mara tribe and of course the vips of the Mara regions, its animals made it a wonderful place.

 The spirit of Maasai Mara is the migration. The migration is an adventure not to be missed. It is considered the eighth " New wonder of the world" and is a natural spectacle like no other.For once the 4 legged animals were in more number than the two legged ones. Being surrounded by what seems like an infinite number of wildebeest and zebras grazing or watching wildebeest follow one another in a disciplined line that stretched for a kilometer or more gives nothing but goose bumps

Spot the lone wildebeest!


The Lone Wildebeest and Zebra  separated from herd most likely died in sometime

The elephants of Mara

The Masai Giraffe

Few Zebras among the millions that migrate through Maasai Mara

African Ostrich - male

Cape Buffalo

The lioness, lioness and more lioness with their cubs

The life line of this area is the River Mara. A bustling lively hangout for the residents of Mara. This is were the action takes place. Millions of wildebeest but thousands fall victim to the Nile crocodile. The wildebeest start " building " by river as seen below. But one cannot predict their behaviour. As we patiently waited, hundreds of wildebeest turned around and marched away to another location along the river.We followed them and waited for some more time. At one point our driver rushed towards another location only to miss the crossing by another small group. We could see the last few wildebeest crossing. What a disappointment! The spectacle we were so looking forward too was missed by a whisker of a hair. Maybe some day i will return to this Continent and catch the migration again.

Kenya is not only an destination for the game drives but also some interesting shopping. As we had a local friend with us, we could venture into markets not frequented by the local. Drive a good bargain and your home could soon turn into a jungle themed home.

Kenya turned out to be a wonderful holiday with some amazing company. Here's to many more such lovely holidays that will leave us with everlasting memories.

August 2016
Maasai Mara National Park Kenya
The Travel Connection: Sometimes things don't work out as planned and that is OK

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Lake Naivasha 0.81° S, 36.39° E 6223 ft

Lake Naivasha Sopa Resort! This enchanted resort left us with some amazing memories so much so that it had to be mentioned before its neighboring " wild" residents. Set in 150 acres of grassland with acacia trees and shrubs, the lake side resort was an experience never to be forgotten. But let's look at  the reason we were there.

Lake Naivasha is a fresh water lake, its name derived from the Maasai word Nai'posha meaning " Rough water". Covering an area of 34000 acres and with swamps surrounding the water, the lake is home to many species. But the resort beats it all!

Getting back to the resort, imagine giraffes , Zebras , bush bucks. Not a big deal you say .What if they are residents of the grounds around the resort. Why not wake up in the morning to a  sight of a giraffe grazing outside your room. Is that a exciting enough or is being escorted by armed men more thrilling. Well, at the Sopa resort no one is allowed to venture out without armed escorts between 6.00 pm to 6.00 am.  They don't want the guests to startle any grazing hippos. Did you know that the lazy looking hippo feature in the world's most dangerous animals list. What a fun ride it is to get close to these guys and enjoy their sights on the boat ride on lake Naivasha. And that is what we did!

 A group of Hippos

 A gloomy day at lake Naivasha- Not much happened on the safari!

Giraffe on the island

The big mouth Hippo

Mommy Hippo with few days old baby


The giraffe outside our cottage

The wonderful Sopa lodge!

Walk along with waterbucks and zebras

Black and White colobus

August 2016
Lake Naivasha National Park Kenya
The Travel Connection: Armed escorts
Tip: Stay at Sopa

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Amboseli National Park 2.81° S, 37.50° E 3675 ft

Maybe it was the sight of Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in the continent of Africa,clearing up on the day we arrived after 4 days of hide and seek! It could be the sighting of a mommy and young adult cheetah, a first for me. The parade of tens of African Elephants of all sizes just made it even better or was it the moment when we were greeted by the handsome fella the Gerenuk as we entered the park, what ever the reason, Amboseli is the best! A 97000 acres park, translates to Salty dust in Masai. Wish we had tasted the dust longer!

But first we had to make a long journey of 404 kms from Sweet waters to Amboseli. A stipulated 7 hour journey turned out to be a 9 hour journey without any breaks. It also meant we could not go on the evening game drive which was very disappointing. But then as we approached Amboseli sopa lodge , we were greeted by the sighting of Gerenuks. The slender animal with its doe eyes was a sight to tired eyes. I would move gerenuks high on my list of attractive animals maybe just after the tigers.Loved them!

On arrival at the resort, we were thrilled to checked out the Masai market run by the most friendly local women. An evening well spent browsing through trinkets and conversing with these beautiful women.It was a good finish to a tiring and a long day.

Sopa lodge has rustic looking but luxurious cottages set in  beautiful grounds..The gardens are a perfect place to relax and very inviting to the local fauna . But the first task on my list as I stepped out the cottage early morning was to check out if Kilimanjaro was in sight. I eagerly followed the groundsman who told me it was and took me to the location from where it could be spotted. And there it was , the tallest peak in Africa peeping out behind the clouds. We waited patiently for the clouds to move away and the light to get better. And Voila! we had Kilimanjaro in its full glory. The white cap was missing but it still was a sight that would remain in our memories forever.

Kilimanjaro- Volcanic cone Kibo

Two of three volcanic cones - Mawenzi ( left) and Kibo ( Right)

Masai Ladies at their market

As we started the drive towards the Amboseli national park, we encountered a group of about 10 elephants against the backdrop of Kilimanjaro. This kind of situation is considered to be ideal for a good photograph. Though we were not in the plains of the national park, it did make a good picture. What do you think?  

As we continued into the park, our guide picked up the speed and we knew something amazing was waiting for us. After about a good 10 minutes drive, we saw a bunch of safari vans and jeeps and our heart started beating faster. The guide refused to tell us what it was. We started scouting the vast landscape. My friend finally spotted movement at a distance of about 500 meters and we jumped with joy. We saw a cheetah for the very first time in our lives. We patiently waited and guide figured out its path and took us there. More waiting and then the mom and young adult cheetah got close to our vehicle. Another amazingly beautiful animal , I didn't know if I should admire her or take her photographs. Creations of nature, Cant get enough of the same.

African elephant with a backdrop of Kilimanjaro

African elephants against Mawenzi

African elephants against Mawenzi and Kibo

African Cheetah

As we continued our safari , we had many more encounters with its residents. I just loved Amboseli. Amboseli's most loved residents are its elephants. And we saw elephants after elephants. I was in heaven! Its a feeling like none other. Wish every one could experience Amboseli. Here are some of the fauna we encountered in Amboseli.

African Elephants
East African Cheetah or Tanzanian Cheetah
White bellied go away bird
Common Zebra
Blue wildebeest
Masai Giraffe
African Fish Eagle
Fork tailed or common Drongo
Thomson's gazelle
Common ostrich
Egyptian Goose
Purple heron
Gray crowned crane
Vervet Monkey
Blacksmith Plover
Secretary Bird
Cape Buffalo

I wish i could go back and experience Amboseli all over again


African Elephant

Common Zebra

Masai Giraffe and common zebra

Thomson's gazelle

Common Ostrich

 Common Zebra


African Elephants

August 2016
Amboseli National Park Kenya
The Travel Connection: Love for Elephants
Tip: Stay 2 nights here

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