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The Kuku That Didn’t Kill Us (culinary adventures in Ithumba & other tales)

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Mar 29th, 2012, 08:02 PM
  #21
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They all went back for seconds, didn't they?
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Mar 30th, 2012, 05:40 AM
  #22
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East meets West
The genet came to say goodbye and we left fairly early for the drive to Tsavo West. We were told a river crossing wasn’t possible so returned to Kibwezi over mostly the same road except for a “shortcut” to Ikutha. According to all of the villagers we passed, this road was nzuri sana. We didn’t think it quite as nzuri as they did and I’m not sure it saved us much time. The road came out by the Air View Lodge in Ikutha complete with a plane painted on the side. Was it under the flight path of aircraft going to and from Ithumba airstrip?

From Kibwezi it took about an hour to Mtito Andei gate where we entered Tsavo West. Immediately we noticed the change in landscape and greater abundance of game. We detoured around Ngulia Valley looking for dogs but finding a leopard instead. Zebra, lesser kudu, ostrich, fringe eared oryx, giraffe waterbuck, a monitor lizard and many vultures on a zebra carcass were some of the other game encountered. We arrived at Finch Hattons in the early afternoon and got our favorite tent #7. They initially tried to put us in a refurbished tent but we wanted to be by the hippos.

A very cheeky vervet monkey grabbed my bread roll with lightening fast speed at lunch. The second time he tried I was ready to chase him away. Leely and I went on an afternoon game drive while Mark stayed back at camp. We came across some baboon, black backed jackal, banded mongoose, southern ground hornbill and a few but not too many tsetses. The next morning we say goodbye to Leely as she’s off the to Mara. She wanted to know how she was going to get to the airstrip and we told her it was not too far of a walk and to remember to run up and down the airstrip to clear the zebra off No, we took her and waited with her of course. The plane arrived at 8:30am but 2 passengers from Kilaguni were missing. The pilot declared he was going to wait a few more minutes and shortly after a truck came roaring in with a cloud of dust and the driver gave a big thumbs up when he pulled to a stop.

Our remaining time at Finch Hattons was spent going on a few game drives, walking around camp and some more lazy game viewing from our verandah. It’s hard to tear ourselves away from the springs as there always seems to be something interesting going on. Late afternoons and early mornings were special as the birds came in to roost or were departing for the day. The kiboko alarm goes off here at 4:30am, sometimes they let you sleep til 5:00am so we never missed the morning fly out. The birding was also excellent during the day in camp.

One day it was suggested that we should take a walk with David one of the housekeepers as he was an avid birder to the hinterlands of the camp where they had torn down some of the original tents and there was a clearing with some wetlands beyond. It was a paradisiacal scene and I was able to get some nice (for me) jacana shots. This wasn’t an organized activity or anything we paid for. At the end of our stay we thanked David by leaving him my copy of the Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania.

On one morning game drive, we spotted a pride of 10 lions. They were still some distance from the road when we saw them. We stopped the car and they slowly walked our way crossing the road in front of us. It took them a while to across. Half of them sat down next to the road, rolled around and the cubs growled at us a bit before deciding to finish crossing. We had this to ourselves until they were on the other side before 2 other vehicles arrived. We decided this was way too crowded for us and left them to their viewing.

On our last morning at camp, we were awoken by the hippos again, had coffee with the herons and hammerkops and spotted 2 bushbuck and some Skyes monkeys. We said goodbye to everyone, headed out at 9:00am and exited Mtito gate 2 hours later. I used the restroom here. They were clean! They had paper! The toilets flushed! And they had soap! We headed toward Kibwezi and turned south at the Chyulu Hills NP sign as I had wanted to stop at the Sheldrick Umani Springs camp under construction. This was about a 40 minute detour one way off the highway, 10 minutes of nzuri sana, 30 minutes of African massage. They were surprised to see us but gave us a little tour. The main building and sleeping cottages overlook the swamps where we were told eles and buffalo visit.

We stopped at Hunter’s Lodge for lunch and dined outdoors by the springs. The setting is nice, too bad about the state of the lodge. We saw marabou stork, black headed and purple herons, hadada ibis and vervet monkeys. There was a dead fish on the floor inside the lodge. Not sure when they were planning to serve that. We had some thoroughly cooked but very tough beef instead. Sometime during the drive Mark mentioned he needed a "bush break" (that was the exact term he used). Instead of driving the couple of km or so to the next gas station, Ben immediately pulls over on the side of the Mombasa Hwy. Julius would never do that. It was all I could do to keep myself from falling over laughing. Ben took him quite literally

We had planned on taking our time and arrived at the airport at 6:00pm for our evening flight. We said goodbye to Ben, contemplated our return but have yet to get back.
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Mar 31st, 2012, 04:49 AM
  #23
 
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Great report, nice to read about that trip again. some great highlights.
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Mar 31st, 2012, 07:00 AM
  #24
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Thanks, it was fun reliving it!
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Apr 13th, 2012, 09:53 AM
  #25
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Just FYI, I've recently learned that the couple who owned Eastern & Southern Safaris have separated. The wife, Serah, who was always the driving force behind the company has since joined another company. She can be reached at [email protected] and is hoping to bring many of the guides formerly with ESS on board.
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Apr 13th, 2012, 04:37 PM
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I hope everyone is okay. Something like this can be devastating to many livelihoods/lives in Kenya (and elsewhere).
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Jun 5th, 2012, 04:25 AM
  #27
 
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Oh, I hope everyone is okay, too...

Thanks so much for this. I spent 3 days in Ithumba in April....I will be there for 7 next year.
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Jun 5th, 2012, 11:14 PM
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ElizabethAD, have you done a trip report, I'd love to read it, trying to get as much info on Ithumba for our visit next year?
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Jun 6th, 2012, 07:52 AM
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Yes, yes, report please
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Jun 16th, 2012, 05:37 PM
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Thank you for the update, Patty.
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Aug 28th, 2012, 01:13 PM
  #31
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Just updating the photo links for the Kodakgallery albums that were transferred to Shutterfly:

Nairobi http://share.shutterfly.com/action/w...AZNnDlk5Ytmbzg

Ithumba http://share.shutterfly.com/action/w...AZNnDlk5Ytmbxo

Finch Hattons http://share.shutterfly.com/action/w...AZNnDlk5Ytmb3w
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Sep 15th, 2012, 03:33 PM
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Can anyone give me contact details for Ithumba please? I've tried http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/ but can't see anything about the camp, and can't find it mentioned on agent's websites which makes me wonder if it is still operating. Any news welcome!
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Sep 15th, 2012, 04:13 PM
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You can email Lina at the trust.

emtrust AT africaonline DOT co DOT ke

Using the symbols instead of the words I've capitalized.
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Sep 16th, 2012, 08:22 AM
  #34
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Thanks, Leely (who was just there and can confirm it's still operating, trip report? ).

tockoloshe,
I don't think any of the 3 self catering camps/houses are on the Sheldrick website as they're for foster parents/donors. In addition to Ithumba, there's a camp at Umani Springs in the Kibwezi forest and a private house on the Peregrine conservancy bordering Tsavo East (these two aren't relocation sites though). The trust can send you information by email and you can book directly with them. Ithumba can get booked up fairly early.
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Sep 16th, 2012, 10:25 AM
  #35
 
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Thanks Patty, Leely
If I've understood you booked directly with Ithumba but all transport through Eastern and Southern (with driver Ben)? Would you recommend self-drive if it were just to Ithumba from Nairobi?
Thanks
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Sep 16th, 2012, 02:33 PM
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Yes I booked Ithumba directly and arranged transport with Eastern & Southern. You could self drive and it's a fairly straight forward drive. The worst part is getting out of Nairobi. After that you're on the Mombasa Hwy to Kibwezi, then a series of dirt roads heading northeast that will take approx 2-3 hours depending on conditions.
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Sep 17th, 2012, 04:36 AM
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Thanks, will start investigating options!
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Sep 17th, 2012, 07:40 AM
  #38
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I have another report from our first stay at Ithumba that goes into a little more detail about the camp http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...y-in-kenya.cfm

From what I understand, they no longer allow guests to do the feedings but you can still visit 3x a day.
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Sep 17th, 2012, 10:22 AM
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Thanks, yes, I've read all your reports! Using them to work through some itinerary ideas.

It might be that Ithumba is not suitable for us anyway being just 2 people, but if they allow visits from outside that would be good, even if the interaction is not so 'hands on'.
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Sep 17th, 2012, 10:46 AM
  #40
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I'm not sure if they allow visitors not staying at Ithumba camp. You could ask them about that. The other issue is there are no other accommodations nearby and I'm unsure if there any special campsites in this region. Voi would be easier to visit if you're basing yourself in the southern part of the park. Have fun planning!
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