Tuesday 31 October 2006
It was so windy last night that we almost thought the tent would blow away! We had the front open with only the mesh to protect us but had to close it up properly because the wind was too noisy to sleep. At 5.30 the maasai came with hot water for us and tea and coffee.
We set off on our morning game drive just after 6.00 and saw lots of zebra and some wildebeest not far from the camp. One of the zebra was limping on its hind leg; no doubt the hyena will come for him! We also saw impala and Thomson’s gazelle and helmeted guineafowl.
We arrived at the gate at 6.30 and soon saw the usual impala, zebra, wildebeest and Thomson’s gazelle. We went looking for the lions we saw yesterday but didn’t see them.
We saw vultures in the sky and followed them to a young wildebeest kill fresh from earlier this morning. They were all squabbling and fighting for the meat – hooded vultures (which often follow lions), Rüppells Griffon vultures and African white backed vultures. They were so noisy! You could really hear them tearing into the meat and several of them had blood-soaked faces! And then the Lappet faced vultures showed them who was boss and got the meat all to themselves – they are the largest of the vultures.
We also a saw a long-crested eagle, vervet monkeys, black-backed jackals, giraffe, elephants and we saw a lone cheetah – we saw her sat tall in the distant grass. We were able to drive closer and watched her play with some elephant dung then when she crossed the road in front of us all the nearby Thomson’s gazelle ran out of the way as she moved to the shade of a tree and lay down. We could no longer see her so moved on and saw topis, a red-billed hornbill and lots of warthogs.
We stopped for breakfast at a dry riverbed and watched a grey hornbill and warthogs in the distance. As we set off again we saw lots of warthog families, some with three babies, some with four and even one with five which is the most we’ve seen so far – their breeding time is Sept-Dec which is why some of them are so tiny.
We saw lots of buffalo, some reedbuck, waterbuck and a breeding herd of impala. We saw a pair of Dik Dik; they are the smallest of the antelope and a pair will mate for life. With antelopes only the males have horns but for gazelles the females also have horns although they are much smaller than the males.
We saw a nursery of giraffe with four young ones – while the mothers go out to graze, young giraffes are left with a ‘babysitter’. We also saw a pride of lions lazing under some trees close by the road – a large male with four females. Soon after leaving them we had to stop and change a tyre because of a slow puncture – probably because we were driving through the thorns yesterday afternoon!
IMG: Changing the tyre…. 200-300 metres away from some lions!!!!!
On the way to camp from the park gate I commented on a goat that had climbed up a bush to reach the top leaves and Protty said goat meat is very nice. Because we haven’t had it before he offered us a “nyama choma” – African Barbecue – in Karatu when we are on the way to Gibb’s Farm. We can have ng’ombe (beef), mbuzi(goat) or kuku(chicken) – sounds very good!
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After lunch and a snooze we left for our afternoon game drive; we went on the other side of the hills to Olakira camp where there was a riverbed lined with trees (lots of green foliage). On the way we saw baboons, a very dark coloured giraffe and wildebeest. We later saw lots of tree hyraxes – they live in the holes of trees, normally fig trees.
We also saw a hammerkop nest which was huge. It takes six months to build and weighs about 50kg! The male makes it look nice to attract the female. The nest is only used for breeding, afterwards they leave the nest and other birds take it over – such as the verreaux’s eagle owl (also known as the giant eagle owl – it is 66cm in height).
We also saw our first bushbuck; we saw both male and female. They are normally solitary and feed at night. They are nocturnal and don’t see very well during the day. You normally find baboons close by because the bushbuck eats the fruit that is dropped from the trees. We also saw a lot of waterbuck and of course zebra and wildebeest. Once again the leopard eluded us!
Back at Olakira we showered and sat by the fire for drinks before dinner. The sky is really clear so you can see lots of stars including the tail of Scorpio (the rest was behind the horizon) and Sagittarius. We looked for shooting stars but didn’t see any. I had a dark rum (Captain Morgan) and coke at the fire – I haven’t had that since I was in South Africa so it brought back some memories of times around the campfire! For dinner we had a barbeque, the food was delicious as always. There was mint sauce too; I haven’t had mint sauce for a very long time! We said goodbye and lala salama to “de bikkels” since tonight is our last night and we won’t see them tomorrow, and then headed off to our tent. Tomorrow we have a lie-in and will get up at 7.00 and have a hot breakfast before leaving at 8.00. Sad to leave but excited for the things to come!