Correction

October 08, 2017


Pat’s website address is: www.aworipat.me



Kwaheri to Kenya

September 26, 2017


As the sun sets on our adventure we find it impossible to believe that everything we've experienced could fit into 10 days. Each successive trip outdoes the last - it has been true of all six of my visits to three different African countries. The reason for this is my friend and our "guide extraordinaire", Pat Awori, who handles EVERYTHING with grace and expertise from the minute you set foot on Kenyan soil until your final flight takes off. You will see her standing there waving as you hurtle down the runway. The friends who accompanied me said that the trip exceeded their expectations by a factor of ten, and that they felt so well-taken-of from the minute they arrived at Jomo Kenyatta airport. Pat is MUCH more than a safari planner, and wears many other hats, too numerous to list here. You should take a look at her website www.aworipats.me to learn more about her. If you have been at all tempted to sample the African continent after reading this blog I encourage you to contact her!

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One more...

September 26, 2017


Yoga on the Veranda

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Last Day!

September 26, 2017


We left at the usual early hour for our final game drive of the trip. This morning we were treated to many hippo, female lions, giraffes, elephants and, of course, wildebeest, zebra, gazelles and antelope as far as the eye could see. After breakfast it was time to catch our flight back to Nairobi and "civilization". Sadly we said goodbye to all of the staff who went above and beyond to make our visit extraordinary. For them it's just average everyday Kenyan hospitality. After landing in the city we had enough time for lunch and shopping at Junction Mall to pick up some last-minute gifts before heading to the airport. A day room at the lovely Lazizi hotel was provided for showers and dinner. As nice as it is, it doesn't compare to my tent on the river at Mara Intrepids. Then we stepped onto the plane for the flight home.

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And Another...

September 26, 2017


Bush Dinner

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More Photos...

September 26, 2017


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It Just Keeps Getting Better!

September 26, 2017


We met up with the 5 cheetah brothers again this morning and watched them hunt and take down a wildebeest. It went from a stealthy stalking to a wild commotion of dust and legs flying and it happened so fast that the next thing we knew the 5 cheetahs were feasting on their breakfast. Our next stop was a local village where the Maasai people welcomed us and educated us about their life. The women sang, we danced with them and then the men performed their jumping competition to see who could soar the highest. After lunch we had another yoga practice. Then it was off to our final evening game drive which produced a herd of giraffe, a lion with a hippo kill, and a pride of lions with 5 adorable cubs. Upon our return to camp Pat had arranged a surprise bush dinner for us! It was the perfect ending to an amazing day.

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Up... Part 3

September 25, 2017


The afternoon game drive was spent watching a band of five cheetahs, brothers who have been together for all of the approximately eight years of their lives. This is very unusual - they are being followed and filmed by National Geographic Live. One of the five has a radio collar for the purposes of studying the most endangered of the big cat species. We stayed with them for over an hour, watching as they failed at hunting a gazelle, and then walked to the river and leapt across. After such an exhilarating day we were ready for an early dinner and then to fall into bed!

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Up... Part 2

September 25, 2017


Then it was on to the Mara river, where a group of zebras and wildebeest were gathering, in hopes of seeing something I have wanted to see since I first visited 10 years ago - a crossing. The herds generally pace back and forth along the river bank, heading down to the waters edge and then retreating, deciding whether or not to take the plunge. Finally one leaps in and they all follow the leader! This is the time when the submerged crocodiles come to life in hope of a meal. As we watch the swimming herd, one of the zebras seems to be falling behind - then we catch a glimpse of the jaws gripping his rear leg. It was difficult to watch as the zebra tried in vain to break free, slowly being pulled under until just his snout was visible. Eventually the crocodile prevailed and the circle of life goes on. After that spectacle we headed back to camp, finding another leopard in a tree along the way.

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Up, up and away!

September 25, 2017


Today was a day of firsts; it began with a hot air balloon flight. Driving out of camp before 5am we were able to see the Southern Cross constellation - the Southern Hemisphere's version of our North Star - and were up in the balloon as the sun rose. Silently floating over the migration herds was magical - dropping low enough to seemingly reach out and touch the wildebeests, then rising again to enjoy the vistas across the Kenyan plains and on into Tanzania just a few kilometers away. Tradition upon landing is to be served a champagne breakfast. This practice originated in France, where ballooning began, as a way to mollify the irate farmers in whose fields the balloonists would set down - when presented with a bottle of champagne they became much more friendly.

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Lions etc. Part 2

September 24, 2017


Buffet breakfasts followed by 4-course meals at lunch and dinner are making my pants feel a bit snug so I decided to skip lunch. Later in the afternoon we had another yoga session on the veranda - this time the audience consisted of mongoose and a bushbuck. Feeling refreshed and optimistic we climbed back into the jeep for our evening sojourn. Not 15 minutes later we noticed a movement in the bushes and there was our leopard! A large 8-month old male cub. We watched as he emerged and climbed a nearby tree. Then from another direction came his mother. When they disappeared into the bush we moved on. It was certainly a day for seeing spots, as a leopard tortoise was there by the road. On the way back to camp were two more male lions, napping by the river. We topped it all off with a beautiful sunset.

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Lions and Leopards and Cubs - Oh My!

September 24, 2017


We left at sunrise for our morning game drive. Number one on my list of animals to photograph is the leopard - they also happen to be the most elusive and quite difficult to spot. Driver guide Raphael didn't want to get our hopes up about the possibility of seeing one. After passing hippos, wildebeest herds, antelope and zebra we came upon vultures finishing off a kill. Our next encounter was with a pride of lions - a large group of females with all age ranges of cubs, including these adorable two-month-olds. A bit farther on were more lions, this time with a male among them, and a family of jackals. Then more male lions, a buffalo, elephants and the two cheetah siblings we had watched the night before. Quite a fruitful couple of hours!

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Tsavo East to Maasai Mara

September 23, 2017


Five takeoffs and landings brought us from Tsavo to the Mara via Nairobi. We were able to just see Kili (Mt. Kilimanjaro) through the haze as we flew near the Tanzanian border. Lunch was served by Francis, the friendliest Kenyan I think I have ever met (and that is saying a lot!) He greeted us each by name and knew all of our dietary preferences. Afterwards we were free to relax before our evening game drive. My tent here at Mara Intrepids is perched above the Talek river; quite a peaceful setting. As the sun sank lower in the sky we boarded the jeep and, to my surprise, were greeted by Raphael, the same driver guide I'd had 10 years ago when I first stayed in the Mara! Just a short distance from our camp we encountered buffalo, ostrich, topi, baboons, elephants, numerous gazelles, impalas and, of course, wildebeest and zebras. A bit farther on we came across two lions who had just mated. The female tried to entice the male again but he was not interested so she moved off in search of a more willing partner, passing within a few feet of our vehicle. Around the next corner were two cheetahs resting with full bellies. They only moved off when a pack of hyenas began to close in. We stayed to watch the stunning sunset and then headed home for showers, dinner and bed. The soothing sounds of flowing water lulled me to sleep.

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Internet connection restored - apologies for duplicate posts!

September 22, 2017


A quiet night in the bush so I slept extremely well - only the soft grunting of the hippos in the waterhole. Thankfully the askaris (the night patrol of local tribesmen) act as a defacto fence and keep the baboons, vervets, and other unnamed menaces away from our tents. Our morning game drive was fruitful with sightings of jackals, eagles, elephants, all forms of antelope (including gerenuks and another rare hirola!) elephants and an eagle owl. We lunched with Richard Moller, founder and CEO of Tsavo Trust, the outfit we toured with yesterday. He is doing such important work here in the park, not just for elephants but for all species. They also employ the local people and provide them with access to clean water. Poachers are being caught and sentenced, and more importantly, the middlemen are also being brought to justice. US Fish and Wildlife provides funding in addition to Kenya Wildlife Service, Tusk Trust in the U.K. (Prince William is a patron) and others, but they are always in need of funds. If you would like to help please visit his website: www.tsavotrust.org Later we enjoyed a "spa afternoon" with a walk and massages - then sunset yoga on the veranda while the impala, baboons and guinea fowl looked on.

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Lions by Night/Elephants by Day

September 22, 2017


I was awakened at 2:30 this morning by a roaring pride of lions - they had killed a baby elephant earlier in the evening just outside our camp (circle of life!) and had come back to finish the leftovers. An hour later there was a snuffling sound coming from just outside my tent - the jury is still out as to whether or not it was a leopard. All this before we even left on our game drive! Today we met up with Tembo 2, the research arm of the Tsavo Trust. They are working to identify the "big tuskers" - older male elephants with tusks so long they reach the ground - in an effort to aid in conservation by preventing poaching and human wildlife conflict, two of the three main reasons elephants die (starvation being the third). We did see quite a few larger males - those they call "emerging tuskers". On the way to and from our meeting we also saw, in no particular order, giraffes, zebras, lions, buffalo, waterbucks, hartebeest, impala, gazelles, and a very rare type of antelope called a hirola. There are only 1000 left on the planet and most of them can be found in Kenya.

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Lions by Night/Elephants by Day

September 21, 2017


I was awakened at 2:30 this morning by a roaring pride of lions - they had killed a baby elephant earlier in the evening just outside our camp (circle of life!) and had come back to finish the leftovers. An hour later there was a snuffling sound coming from just outside my tent - the jury is still out as to whether or not it was a leopard. All this before we even left on our game drive! Today we met up with Tembo 2, the research arm of the Tsavo Trust. They are working to identify the "big tuskers" - older male elephants with tusks so long they reach the ground - in Tsavo park in an effort to aid in conservation by preventing poaching and human wildlife conflict, two of the three main reasons elephants die (starvation being the third). We did see quite a few larger males - those they call "emerging tuskers". On the way to and from our meeting we also saw, in no particular order, giraffes, zebras, lions, buffalo, waterbucks, hartebeest, impala, gazelles, and a very rare type of antelope called a hirola. There are only 1000 left on the planet and most of them can be found in Kenya.

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Lions in the Night/Elephants in the Day

September 21, 2017


I was awakened at 2:30 this morning by a roaring pride of lions - they had killed a baby elephant earlier in the evening just outside our camp (circle of life!) and had come back to finish the leftovers. An hour later there was a snuffling sound coming from just outside my tent - the jury is still out as to whether or not it was a leopard. All this before we even left on our game drive! Today we met up with Tembo 2, the research arm of the Tsavo Trust. They are working to identify the "big tuskers" - older male elephants with tusks so long they reach the ground - in Tsavo park in an effort to aid in conservation by preventing poaching and human wildlife conflict, two of the three main reasons elephants die (starvation being the third). We did see quite a few larger males - those they call "emerging tuskers". On the way to and from our meeting we also saw, in no particular order, giraffes, zebras, lions, buffalo, waterbucks, hartebeest, impala, gazelles, and a very rare type of antelope called a hirola. There are only 1000 left on the planet and most of them can be found right here inTsavo East.

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Day 2, Part 2

September 20, 2017


Then, not 5 minutes later, it began to pour! We are now revered as the goddesses who bring the rain. Our lodging, Satao camp, is built around a water hole, so for the rest of the afternoon we watched as herd after herd of elephants came running to drink their fill.

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Nairobi toTsavo East

September 20, 2017


Tsavo has been experiencing a horrible drought. It hasn't rained there since April. Elephants were dropping dead and Sheldrick's was rescuing one PER DAY for the past month and a half. The locals have been praying for rain. With this in mind we boarded our private charter Cessna (with masseuse and massage table on board!) for the 70-minute flight south of Nairobi. As we were enjoying our welcome cup of tea at the lodge, an adorable (or so we thought) vervet monkey ran right up and grabbed the sugar bowl off our table - no amount of shooing or screaming or clapping would deter him.

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Day 1, Part 2

September 18, 2017


After a break for lunch and shopping we headed to our private viewing at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, another organization helping those in need - orphaned elephants. Babies whose mothers have been lost to poaching, disease or drought will not survive on their own. The keepers at Sheldrick's spend 24 hours a day with their young charges, sleeping in the stockades with them, feeding them bottles of milk every 3 hours. After several years of care they are ready to be released and be adopted by a wild herd. They'll return every so often just to say hello to their foster parents, to ask for help, or to proudly display a newborn of their own.

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"...we live like sisters, help each other and love each other..."

September 18, 2017


Our first 24 hours were busy! We spent the day in Nairobi - first stop: Heshima Kenya Education Center, where refugee girls arriving from countries surrounding Kenya are fed, sheltered, educated and taught a skill. After suffering unspeakable trauma they still have an optimistic outlook on what lies ahead for them. Each one spoke of how much they value what Heshima has contributed to their lives and how they consider it their home. Then we had a dance party!

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Wheels Up on Saturday

September 13, 2017


People complain about long flights but I am always amazed that one can walk on board, take a seat and be transported anywhere on the planet. It's a time travel machine and truly a miracle! For the past year I've been collecting totebags (plastic bags are banned in Kenya), bras (hard for women to find large sizes) and items for the children of the refugee girls we'll be visiting. I'm traveling with two friends and can't wait to introduce them to one of my favorite places on earth!

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