Kenya (1) – Tsavo East
We arrived in Nairobi early this morning after an overnight flight from Amsterdam. It was still dark when we arrived, but in the 40 minutes that we were waiting for our stand to come free, the sun rose, revealing a slightly overcast morning. After a short wait for immigration, and a longer wait for the bags, we were met by our driver for the next week and half, Peter. With a long drive ahead to Tsavo East we wasted no time in getting to the van and leaving Nairobi.
The first part of the journey was through industrial and village areas on rough and bumpy roads, reminiscent of my trip to India. Indeed, many of the shacks and market we saw away were very similar in style to those we saw last year, the main difference being that they were manned by a different race of people. After a bumpy start we continued along the main highway to Mombasa, which was fortunately in better condition. It was a long trek, and after a night on the plane I ended up sleeping most of the way. We didn’t reach the park boundary until 1pm, and then we still had about another 45 minutes driving within the park before we got to the camp.
Inside the park, the drive became very interesting. Whilst we were waiting for Peter to organize the tickets we saw a beautiful lizard – electric blue body with an orange head. Unfortunately it scarpered before we could photograph it. Inside the gates, it was only a matter of minutes before we had our first game sighting – a herd of giraffe. The joy on Mum’s face had to be seen to be believed, and it’s a memory I’ll treasure. We stopped to take a few photos of the giraffe, before Peter hurried us on as we were running late for lunch.
After lunch we took our first official game drive. We’re very lucky to have a 7 seater jeep for just the two of us, giving us all the room in the world to photograph from all sides of the vehicle. Photography is done through the open roof, which also gives you a surface to rest the camera on. The only slight difficulty is that being short, the roof is rather high! That’s sorted out well enough by kneeling or standing on the armrests. The rainy session lived up to its name, and we had scattered showers throughout our drive. Thanks to the open roof and the breeze when driving it’s easy to forget how warm it is.
After stopping to photograph a bataleur eagle and some smaller birds, we received a call on the radio and sped away up the road to find our first big cat – a lioness standing up on a termite mound. The jeep ahead of us had seen that she had 4 cubs with her, and whilst they didn’t make an appearance, she gave us a fine display calling to them from the mound, before jumping down, rolling on her back on the ground a little, and then loping off into the bush to them.
Our next sighting was a small group of elephants. Thanks to the local soil colour they’re a rather deep reddish brown and very attractive. Returning back to camp we were lucky to find the same lioness we’d seen earlier, this time with her cubs in view. They were tiny, about one month old apparently. Unfortunately the light was fading fast, so the only photographs I have are fuzzy and grainy, but the quick glimpse we had of the 4 little guys playing together was a real treat.