Stakerk Trip Report, Kenya, August 2006

Old Sep 20th, 2006, 02:02 PM
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Hi all,

Different Teri here, but I happen to agree with her. I'm just starting to plan my trip in 2008 and particularly appreciate your more personal experiences. No detail is too mundane for me....
Secondly, after reading this trip report (and viewing the photos and videos) I've come way with one main impression...what am amazing thing Kevin has done by giving his kids the opportunity to experience a different culture and become better "citizens of the world".
Just a newbie's impression...
teri714 is offline  
Old Sep 20th, 2006, 04:35 PM
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Kevin, do continue sharing your impressions. To me you and Teri did come across as very stupid and spoilt Fodorites (as I sometimes do myself in posts about conditioner etc), but now Leely has explained that you experienced “shock that seems like envy”, and I can almost understand what that is. As I’d already heard that people can laugh while leading poor, difficult lives I have not had that kind of experience in Kenya. And, I’ve met so many more unhappy and desperate people in Kenya than I have in any other place where I’ve only stayed for a short time, that my experience must be very different from what most Fodorites seem to experience. Anyway, Africa has only made me more desperate to “amass wealth”.
Leely, I got the impression you’ve seen some envy in my comments and yes there is a lot of it, the "condo thing" was really too much and being possessed by such a dwelling would at a certain time have made my life take a radically more positive turn. Though, as I was born in the right place to have all opportunities, not having houses, retirement funds or future safaris is completely due to my personal ineptitude. I will ask for some (Africa related) business advice – if I dare.

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Old Sep 20th, 2006, 05:26 PM
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Like what everyone said, please keep sharing your personal thoughts. As great as animals and monuments are, your personal feelings and emotions are what MAKE a trip.

You are going through the feelings most Westerners go through the first time going to a "developing nation".

You see Poor People(tm) and you want to race out and help and save everyone. You feel guilty for complaining that the pool guy isn't doing a good enough job getting out the leaves... OK, most Americans don't even have a pool... but even the tiny things we take for granted, clean water, decent healthcare, microwave oven in our kitchen, are seen as luxuries by a great part of the world's population.

So yes, after my trip to Cambodia and seeing land mine victims begging for food, kids who have clearly neven seen a dentist in their lives and ramshackle housing. I came home a deeper and more profound person. I then went out and blew a bunch of my AOL stock options on a gas guzzling SUV I didn't need.

Then I went to India & the poverty was worse.

After going to Africa last year. I was a little more calloused to it all. My wife was wringing her hands over the poor women & children of Rwanda.

Many of my friends say "I could never go to a country like that and see all those poor people". Of course they drive right over the poor and disadvantaged here in this country.

After several trips through various nations I have a mixture of feelings. I certainly don't ascribe any special happiness to the poor. They certainly would rather have our possesions and more importantly the CHOICES that come with them. Let's face it, my house & things don't truly 'own' me. Any time I want I can CHOOSE to walk away.

(OK, I am rambling and not sure what my point is...) but I also differentiate between 'poor' that I saw in the mountains of Cuzco. They had simple brick homes with no electricity. But they there was plenty of food that could be grown. They didn't have much, but had what they needed. This is very different from a family living in a flithy shantytown in Delhi or Nairobi.

Not sure what I ended up saying here... except keep going Kevin.

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Old Sep 20th, 2006, 08:53 PM
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Game Walk

At Larsen’s there is no game drive after breakfast, wanting to maximize our experience we signed up for a game walk. The cost was an amazingly low $10 per person. At 10 am, Mari, Sean and I met two rangers armed with automatic weapons and dressed in camoflauge fatigues. (Marisa stayed behind nursing an ankle injury.) We were still pretty stoked from seeing the leopard (how is that for a California surfer term from the 60's).

It was pretty wild to walk out through the gates into the wilds of Africa. I thought I hope these guys know what they are doing. Just these two fellows separate us from getting trampled by an elephant or eaten by a lion. (I figured the odds were pretty low but still we were out in the wild.)

They spoke English okay (really thick accents though). Very nice gentlemen. At first they were pretty fixated on stopping at every pile of animal droppings and having us try to deduce (really guess) the type of animal. I got the first three right but guessing average after that was pretty low. I can tell you one thing, the tiny dik dik sure poop a lot to mark the corner of their territory.

It was getting a bit warm but a wind kicked up that kept us from getting uncomfortable. We walked over to the river just east of camp. Nothing remarkable other than WE ARE WALKING IN THE WILD IN AFRICA. We talked about how amazing it was to think we were in Los Angeles just a few days before. (The 405 freeway is probably far more dangerous than our little walk.)

The river goes along and then turns to the left (the north) and so we cut inland to walk across the plain to the river on the other side.

We came upon a herd of Grant’s gazelle they moved a bit, we wary, but not too concerned with us. On the other hand, when an oryx and and a couple of warthog spotted us from a very long distance, at least 400 meters away, if not more, they ran like heck from our view.

As we walked along, we could just barely see some giraffes in the distance, over near the river beyond, peering at us over the occasional bush. They had obviously seen us long before we could even see them at all. They were looking at us like, “what in the heck are you humans doing outside of your vehicles.” Very wary, but also very curious.

Five circled to our left as we approached. One got separated from the others to our right.

The five then stopped along our left. They then started walking towards us. They looked quite puzzled with us but very interested. Remember Mari loves giraffes. I thought she was going to break down sobbing with tears of joy. They got so close I, I am sure in my ignorance, started to get concerned. Maybe they were going to come running up and kick me in the head or something. I asked the guards when how close they would come until they shot off their guns to scare them off. They very kindly surpressed their amusement with me. This was cool, very cool to have them so close.

We then walked on. We could see the giraffes circle behind us and go towards the river over near the camp. The one on our right went to join them.

We came upon the upper skull and attached horns of an impala. The rangers has us each grab and hold for a picture.

We arrived at the river where it has curved to our left. Just beautiful and idyllic. However in my typical paranoia I did not get too close to the water for fear of crocodilles. We did see a few along the way, but pretty small (compared to the monsters we saw in the Mara.)

We then cut back inland across the bend in the river towards where the giraffes had gone. When we got somewhat near we stopped and could see two of the giraffes peering at us over the trees (I not talkin’ bushes but trees) between us and the river. Amazing!

They then took off to our left. We then walked towards the river to try to find the others. As we approached the rangers exclaimed, “they have crossed the river! Oh look there is one still crossing.” We hurried to the riverbank to see three on the other side of the river and one about half way across. Simply awesome to watch him make his way across, at times having to strongly pull his hooves out of the mud.

The rangers said they had never seen a giraffe cross the river. They believed because of the crocodilles. I felt a bit bad we had scared them across. But they seemed okay, and on reflection now I imagine that the giraffes may cross at times (the rangers may have been overdramatizing)

We then started to walk back on the river to camp. We started to walk a bit inland so we could return to the gate and who was there to greet us. Those other two giraffes! The last we had seen them they were hightailing the opposite direction. They had circled once again around us! I guess they were pretty curious about us. When we approached (they were between us and the gate) they took off again.

In sum, the game walk at Larsen’s was very very enjoyable. Quite an adventure for us. Would highly recommend it.

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Old Sep 21st, 2006, 10:58 AM
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Great account of the walk, Kevin.
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Old Sep 21st, 2006, 11:14 AM
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I agree with Patty. I think that, like Mari, I would have been near tears with joy. Such lovely animals.
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Old Sep 21st, 2006, 11:59 AM
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Love the account of your walk.
I would certainly take a walk in the wilds of Africa over the 405 any day.
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Old Sep 21st, 2006, 12:38 PM
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You had an action packed walk. Giraffes crossing the river, wow!
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Old Sep 21st, 2006, 10:09 PM
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Trip report continued

That afternoon at first we drove along the river because the sun had come out (the prior two days had been overcast and pleasantly cool) and it was a bit hot. We finally saw a kudu, a mother and child, that had come down from the nearby hills to drink at the river. We saw lots of other game. When it cooled down we drove into the foothills. We happened upon 15 giraffe feeding in a group on just a couple of trees. Mari, of course, was in heaven.

Apparently an Abercrombie and Kent group had arrived. I understand they pay a lot of money for their trip. The folk did seem pretty well to do. Seems their only advantage was a nature talk around the campfire before dinner. However, ate the same food and stayed in same tents as us lesser folk.

Day 4 in Kenya, Friday, Aug. 11th

Finally, a good night’s sleep. Had breakfast at an early 7:30 a.m. and got packed. So no game drive (we thought). Our flight to the Mara was at 10 a.m. Only takes 30 minutes at most to drive to airstrip. Francis was anxious to leave as soon as possible. We got delayed a bit with last minute shopping by the girls. Note, they had an OK gift shop at Larsen’s. Had some essentials like film for camera, toiletries. I did not know but Francis had told everyone else in family there might be something to see.

We bid farewell to Florence the great manager on duty when we were there and Henry our very nice waiter (so kind and patient).

We hightailed it along the road. We came around one corner and found out why Francis was in a hurry. There just off the road between us and the river was a pair of lions mating. WOW! DOUBLE WOW! We got to see our lions all right (I had not been worried about seeing some because I assumed we would see plenty in the Mara.) The male was huge. Very loud. Lots of roaring. Not very romantic though. However, simply magnificent creatures. Amazing to be so close to such a dangerous animal with no glass or bars between us. Wonderful, absolutely wonderful. (Interesting also how in the Mara it became, “oh nice, there’s another lion.”)

We gave some gifts to Francis. We had gotten the word wrong from the camp. We had bought stuff for two daughters, ends up the oldest is a son, age 13. Hence, instead of giving to the camp staff as we intended, we gave him for his son an official World Cup soccer ball. Francis was a pretty low key dude but his eyes gave away his pleasure for his son. [Sorry, forgot to say before when we visited the Samburu village we gave the guide (a teacher) lots of pens, markers, stickers, and math and vocabulary flash cards. My family was pleased each time we got rid of a set of flash cards, pretty heavy to lug around.)

This time a big plane arrived (40+ capacity). Mari a bit relieved. This time the plane was pretty full. We bid goodbye to Francis. Interesting to see him greet the next group of guests arriving. A constant flow, hope we don’t bore the guides. We will certainly remember him, for eternity most likely, our first African guide.

We then took off for the Masai Mara.

stakerk is offline  
Old Sep 22nd, 2006, 01:35 PM
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I must admit it gives me a perverse thrill to know that the Abercrombie & Kent people are have a lot of the same accomodations as everyone else

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Old Sep 22nd, 2006, 06:20 PM
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Mating lions, nice find.

Wayne, I have the same thoughts about A&K.
Kind of like Na-na-na-nana. How immature and petty of me.

Kevin, you could probably have even eaves dropped on the nature talk.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2006, 12:43 PM
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Hi! I am stakerk's (kevin's) daughter. Here is a something to add to his trip report that he didn't know.

It was me who was buying something in the gift shop as Francis, our guide, waited impatiently at the vehicle. Once we were done I headed to the game vehicle.

As I got there Francis whispered to me "You can't keep the lions waiting." My eyes got really big and then I knew what he was so antsy about. The treasured lion we had not seen, and my dad had been harrassing Francis about finding, was here.

So we hopped in the game vehicle and sped off.

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Old Sep 23rd, 2006, 01:20 PM
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Hi Marisa:
Nice addition to your Dad's story. Francis sounds very nice.
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Old Sep 24th, 2006, 09:15 PM
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We flew south and the rather arid landscape turned quite green, especially over what I assume are the Aberdares Mountains. Hopefully the terrible drought has ended.

We had heard the plane might make a few stops until we arrived at the Musiara airstrip in the Mara. Had not anticipated having to get off the plane at the first stop, Siana Springs. We were informed another plane, one coming from Nairobi, would take us to our destination. Made sure our bags got off with us. (This time a baggage guy was on the plane.)

Sure enough after about 15 minutes in came another big plane. A few folk got off and we got on. I had the pleasure of sitting in the front across from a very nice gentleman. He told us about the London airplane terrorist plot. We had just missed the chaos at Heathrow by a few days. Phew!

It ends up his name is Ruby (spelling?) and he said he is a member of the family that owns the Sarova hotel chain. He lives in Dubai and has auto parts plants in Dubai and Kenya. Ruby said there were so many tourists in the Mara that he and his aunt (who was going on her first safari) could not find a place to stay to the Sarova Mara Camp and so had to stay at our camp, Little Governors. Very nice gentleman, wish I had had more time to get to know him.

We stopped at one airstrip along the way. Sort of weird for such a big turboprop plane to fly just a few minutes and then land again.

We finally arrived at the Musiara airstrip. We expected to be greeted by Simon. (I had again asked before arrival for assignment of a guide and word of his family situation so we could bring some appropriate gifts.) Instead, we were greeted warmly by Joshua, who informed us he would be our guide for the day. That Simon had the day off. No problem.

We drove to Little Governor’s Camp across the flat plains of the Mara. It looked just like the pictures and Eben’s video of the drive. We were in an open vehicle again. A beautiful day. Sun out with some poofy clouds.

Now we did not actually drive to Little Governor’s. Instead we drove to a dirt roundabout across the river from the camp. The airstrip and most of the game driving is on the east side of the Mara River, the camp is on the westside. This then made for the fun experience (I knew of this from Eben’s video on his website, ) of walking down to the river, getting in a small boat, that is then pulled across the river by a staff member using a rope strung across the river. Takes a bit of agility to safely get in the boat. You fall in the river and I assume something is nearby to gobble you up. Pretty cool. On the other bank, you walk up some stairs to the camp level.

We found Little Governor’s to be a delightful camp. Everything we had hoped it would be. The tents, food, and service were a slight notch below the excellence of Larsen’s in the Samburu. However, the great draw is that it is on a marsh. Because of the threat from animals, a ranger accompanied us every time we came up from or went down to the river.

Now I must admit I has initially disappointed because there was not a herd of elephants there to greet us. However, the next day that was to change.

They have a nice outdoor brunch for lunch. Please note, before I forget, every place we stayed had a delightful cream soup as the first course of lunch and dinner. A great start to each meal.

At lunch, LG usually had something barbecued (pork, turkey, lamb, etc.), some good salads (we began to get pretty brave and started eating fresh vegetables, we had been pretty spooked about staying away from uncooked vegetables. Marisa did miss an afternoon game drive most likely because of our boldness.) However, the best part was their desserts. Always excellent, especially each day they had a fruit mousse that had to be some of the best stuff we had ever eaten in our lives. Light and very delicious.

We got settled in. No electricity in the tents but hey at least we had hot and cold running water. (Again, I had my wife prepared for ordering hot water.) We were conveniently in the two tents closest to the reception area and so charging batteries was not a problem.

That afternoon we had a great game drive with Joshua. (Remember, we had to go take the little boat across the river to get to the vehicle. Felt a bit more confident getting the boat)

We saw the first of many topi and hartebeest. We thought the male topi standing on the termite mounds to show they rule a territory was rather amusing. They seemed to be pretty close together at times and not ruling much of a territory.

We also saw the first wildebeest. The first of MANY wildebeest. However, Joshua said only about a quarter of them had arrived. If I understood him correctly, they had come from the East from the Loita Area and the wildebeest from the south in Tanzania had not yet arrived. (By the way I guess for the first time in my life I heard Tanzania I assume pronounced correctly with the accent on the second syllable, not the second to the last, “Tawn - ZAWN - nee-a.; I was rather surprised).

We drove south at first roughly parallel to the Mara River. It then turned to the East and into our path. We went to the Paradise Crossing. We could see what looked like large tree on the hill to the southeast. Suspiciously large. Joshua said it was the mobile phone antenna tower next to the Mara Serena lodge! Looked like a tree to me. Good camouflaging! (We certainly now had good mobile phone service!)

We got our first look at some HUGE crocodiles. These were massive just like we had remembered. Saw one on our side that had lost the end of its upper jaw. Joshua thought it had been sliced off by the hoof of a zebra.

No crossing action, not a wildebeest in sight. We then went to the West about a kilometer as the crow (vulture) flies to another crossing whose name I cannot find on a map. (Paradise West?) There we found hundreds of wildebeest milling about on our side near the river. We pulled up to find a lone wildebeest on the other side. We spent quite a while watching it run back and forth, to and fro making quite a bit of noise. We did not know if he had been stranded on the other side and was trying to get the courage to cross or had bravely crossed alone and was trying to get his buddies to come join him. From how stupid we came to learn the wildebeest are, I would guess the former. Pretty entertaining though.

We then back towards camp but on a road more to the East. Joshua knew where he was going because we came upon a cape buffalo carcass. Not too exciting in itself except THERE WERE A WHOLE BUNCH OF LIONS! The mating pair in the Samburu was great but this was pretty awesome also. The grass was pretty high and so we would discover, “oh here’s one over here,” and then “here’s another over there.” Must have been about eight or nine. Very cool to see a couple of them gnawing on the carcass. Others were lollygagging in the grass. A couple of what appeared to be adolescents were wrestling with each other. We sure weren’t in Los Angeles any more.

Joshua said these were the Musiara pride of BBC TV Big Cat Diary fame. The size and apparent power to sense live in the flesh was amazing. One got up walked straight towards us and looked Marisa in the eyes. Pretty scary, really a chilling feeling. Like, “if you weren’t in this vehicle that I have learned does not taste too good, you would make a nice appetizer.” A basic, primordial fear.

On the other hand, was also amazing to see how much they moved and acted like Tsuko, our house cat. Especially just sleeping, walking along or batting at each other. I thought, we certainly are getting our money’s worth (about $380 pppn I guess). Just like I had dreamed.

There were several other vehicles. In our stay it was rare for others to be a bother. Actually a few times they were advantageous. Would not have seen some animals from a distance but could see several vehicles around and so there must have been something worthwhile going to go join and see.

It was getting late so we had to leave. On the way back we came upon some elephants. There was a three week old baby still with black hair on it. Very cute! (I’m not one for cute, but this was pretty special.)

We really had taken a liking to our guide Joshua. Very nice, very skilled. We was asked if we could keep him as our guide. The camp complied. (Hope we did not offend Simon but he had had his chance.)

LG is not fenced and so as I had heard an armed guard was stationed at what appeared to be every tent. All I know is each time I went to or from our tent to charge batteries or go to dinner a Masai with a spear or rifle would practically leap from place near a tree between our tent and the marsh and start walking alongside me. WAY COOL.

MORE TO COME "Why are the wildebeest swimming upriver?"
stakerk is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2006, 05:19 PM
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Great account of your arrival at Little Gov's. Lots of action.

The Sarova owner could not get a spot at his own camp? That's the definition of completely booked.

That brought back a memory--the owners of Serena were at LG when I was there and they said they liked the camp so much they paid to stay there by choice.
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Old Sep 26th, 2006, 10:32 PM
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First Full Day in the Mara (Saturday, August 12th)

Our waiter brought us hot milk for our hot chocolate! Especially good when I added some hot chocolate mix with their hot choc. mix. Very gingery cookies.

We met Joshua at 6:30 a.m. (thought of how Sandi does not like to do the early morning drive). Joshua had wisely suggested we bring a bush breakfast with us so we would not have to return back to the camp and then go right back out again.

One note on Joshua: our guide in the Samburu said he works several weeks and then goes back down to Nairobi to visit with his wife and children. A drive of a few hours. Joshua, however, has his family in Tsavo, about 700 miles from the Mara. He said he typically takes two and a half days to get there. He works 7 days a week for several months and then goes home for a month. It was very hard when he returned last time because his two year old did not know who he was. We marveled to hear how he is proudly building a home, hiring a truck, driving a couple of hours away to the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro to cut down trees (he said being a Masai he can easily go back and forth across the border to Tanzania), haul them back and then cut them into boards to make the home. WOW! Talk about different from our pampered lives. Justifiably proud of his accomplishment. Gave his old house to his parents I believe. Very humble lives. Pointed out he is a Christian and so only has one wife.

Near where we had seen the baby elephant the night before we came upon what appeared to be a lone lioness. Joshua said it was out hunting. Got up on a mound and sure looked to be peering around for prey. Again, felt lucky it does not like to eat humans in game vehicles.

We came upon the male of the Musiara pride mating with a female. Just like in the Samburu, loud and brief. Amazing how they disappeared in the tall grass when they laid down. We then checked out the rest of the pride back at the carcass.

We then went down to the Paradise Crossing. No wildebeest there. We went downriver a bit and had a great bush breakfast on the riverbank. Hard boiled eggs, toast with jam, ham, fruit, and hot chocolate never tasted so good! Especially fun with the accompaniment of the snorting and grunting hippos below in the river. (Joshua assured us we were safe, no hippo runs nearby, I in my paranoia thought, “of course, there’s always a first time.”) Really pretty surreal at the time. “We are eating breakfast next to a river in Africa. Those are hippos just right down there.” A bit more realistic than the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland.

We then started to go to the other crossing just upriver where we had seen the lone wildebeest on the other side the day before. (Anyone know the name?) Joshua began to drive faster and faster. We even passed a couple of other vehicles. Ho Boy somethin’ must be up! We started to drive parallel to a line of wildebeest heading for the river. Sure enough, we arrived and there were hordes of them milling about near the river. Within about a half of hour the vanguard started down to the riverside. Within just a couple of minutes they started across the river.

Now we then saw for ourselves they are pretty dumb. They swam pretty much straight across the river. The problem was there was a steep bluff directly on the other side. They began to climb up the bluff. But it was so steep there was no way they could get up and out. Now to show even more how dumb they were those who were on the bluff just happened to be facing upriver, they then began to jump into the river and swim UPRIVER. This was pretty dumb because a much easier exit just maybe 12 meters downriver. They then swam upriver. (I was pretty disappointed because no crocs showed up to eat any. You could see them basking in the sun up and down the river but none attacked. Rats!)

They came to a draw in the riverbank. Even there almost all picked a very difficult exit spot. So difficult we saw at least four of them slip and appear to break a leg and quickly die in the river. Imagine most of the beasts following the leaders straight across, up the side a bit, then jump back into the river, swam upstream quite a ways, and then struggle out at the most difficult spot. Hundreds and hundreds. An awesome sight of Mother Nature. (One lady claimed there were four thousand who crossed. I would agree it was at least two thousand.) Quite a sight. Joshua said it was the biggest crossing he had seen so far this year.

Note in the middle of this four zebras came splashing into the water. They then calmly took a drink and stood around. Either very confident the crocs had already eaten their fill for days or very dumb.

Also note there were many game vehicles. We actually ended up having to look over the vehicle and through the people sitting on top.

Also, as I had heard it was a bit chilling driving along in the vehicle early in the morning. But it warmed up by breakfast. By the time of the crossing there was one girl (appeared American) in just a tank top and short shorts with part of her rear hanging out. (Sights like this help one understand the problem Osama bin Laden and his buddies have with us. Note, we had followed the Fodorite advice and were dutifully dressed in long sleeve natural colored shirts with khaki pants so as not to offend the locals. Hopefully we at least looked like proper safari guests.) We then returned by noon so Joshua could drive a couple of hours north to a bridge over the Mara and then meet us on the west side of the camp (and the river) to try and find a rhino. (Amazing how these guys try to please the guests. We needed a rhino to complete our Big Five.)

At lunch the elephants I had hoped would come to the marsh had arrived. Very cool. Even more cool was as we started lunch there came closer and closer eating to the outdoor dining area. They ate most of the time just right outside of Marisa and Sean’s tent in the marsh. We had to move our table from outside to under the dining tent because they eventually marched their way into camp at the same spot as our table had been. COOL. One smaller elephant decided he wanted to walk through the dining tent. Only a guard brandishing a stick dissuaded him. VERY COOL. (I wondered how the elephant knew the stick would hurt. I guessed he must thwack them at times).

The elephants then proceeded to walk among the tents on the west side of camp. When we left for our game drive at 3:30 they were still milling about.

We met Joshua behind the reception building, at the balloon launching grounds. We drove out the west gate and saw on first local giraffes up close. Less colorful than the reticulated in the Samburu but still nice.

Joshua then drove up to couple of bushes near the Kichwe Tembo airstrip. There we found a mother cheetah with FOUR (count ‘em four) cubs! WOW! DOUBLE WOW! They were lounging in the shade. The cubs were very cute. (I am gushing like a teenaged girl aren’t I? Oh well. Pretty amazing experience.) Three months old. Had been five. One appeared to be the runt, smaller than the others.

We then went out of the park to a Masai Village along the road north of Kichwe Tembo and Bateleur Camp. I liked our camp location better. (The marsh and the river. Closer to the crossing points and the whole rest of the Mara.).

The village visit was OK. Did not ACT as enthusiastic and glad to see up as appeared in the Samburu. Joshua said was not the usual village they went to. Something about a dispute between the two tribal jurisdictions in the Mara. One charging guests from other to have to pay again just to visit. All Greek to me. Admission same as Samburu, $20 per person.

Had a exciting sight on the way. Saw a baboon sprint out of a grove of trees and take down a goat. The shepard was on a bicycle far away, no where in sight at first. Joshua said the Kenya wildlife service would compensate the shepard.

The jewelry was all right. The spears were overpriced. The Masai blankets the same, bought from the same manufacturer, as at the LG gift shop (I saw one of the plastic bags, so much for authenticity. I later bought the one at the camp for $18 US) We spent about $240. (We overpaid about $40 but I viewed as a donation to these humble, nice people.)

Getting dark so we started back to camp. We came upon Mama cheetah out hunting. Cool to see her cubs stay behind until she called them. Joshua said she had to eat once per day or would start to lose milk and cubs would begin to starve.

Joshua expertly spotted a bunch of Thompson’s gazelle in the direction of her gaze. We drove so we were beside them at the proper distance. Was amazing to see the Mama cheetah sneak up and then make an amazingly fast run at them. Unfortunately for her and her cubs (fortunately for the tommies) she missed (I hope we had no influence.) WOW! Just as fast as we had imagined from wildlife films. The tommies were pretty agile and quick themselves.

We then moved to a spot between her and her cubs. Very cool to see her call them and walk around us.

Said goodbye that evening to Ruby (of the Sarova group). He was leaving that next morning. I had wished I had taken the time to get to know him better. Very nice man. His wife had just had a baby. Told him when the child gets older to bring his family to the American West and we can show him some of our spectacular sights (Grand Canyon, Zions and Bryce Canyon National Parks).

Pretty wild just before dinner to call back to the office in California and have them ask what all the racket was (the insects in the marsh.)

One note: if you are a light sleeper you might want to avoid LG. Being on the marsh there was quite a bit of noise from the insects and other critters in the middle of the night. That night there was an animal right outside of our tent most of the night making loud grunting noises. The guard confirmed my guess the next morning that it was a couple of hippos grazing on the grass of the camp. (Joshua had told us they are nocturnal and eat grass on the land, I had thought in the river.) Pretty wild. The guard said the hippos are pretty safe to be around when they are grazing. However are absolutely deadly if you get between them and the marsh and they get scared. WOW!

MORE TO COME “No, I had not heard it is Marisa’s birthday. I wish they had told me. Let me see what I can do”
stakerk is offline  
Old Sep 27th, 2006, 05:20 AM
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I'm enjoying your enthusiastic trip report. My safari withdrawal is hitting me hard this week. I feel like orphan Oliver asking the headmaster "may I please have more?"
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Old Sep 27th, 2006, 05:42 AM
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Kevin, I'm really enjoying your report - especially the wildebeest crossing. Governor's Camp reported that on 15th and 19th Septemeber, they had their most spectacular river crossings this year. On each occasion, 500,000 animals crossed!!! The crossing points were Paradise and Kichwa Tembo which you came across during your gamedrives.
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Old Sep 27th, 2006, 07:31 AM
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I'm still enjoying your report also. You sure did see some great stuff - the cheetah and her babies, the river crossing, the ellies up close, the hippos outside your tent - how lucky are you!
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Old Sep 27th, 2006, 08:31 AM
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Where is the Kichwa Tembo crossing? North on the Mara from Little Governor's?

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