Immense skies, huge herds and big cats

on Saturday, 30 October 2010. Posted in Maasai Mara, 2010, Kenya

Immense skies, huge herds and big cats

It was a long, fun drive from Nakuru to the Mara. We moved on from the ‘stroopwafels’ to ‘hagelslag’ and then the interesting Mr Geert Wilders! For those who don’t know him, google him! Anyway, with laughter, a picnic lunch and some beautiful scenery we passed the time. ‘What time would you like to get into camp?’ I asked. What a stupid question, this is the Maasai Mara, you can never get anywhere on time as there is always something that breaks the timetable. This time, our first occasion, it was lion. We had not seen many up until now but within 30 minutes we had out first big black maned males. Two typical old kings who have seen it all. Both had been in the wars over the years and were scarred, battered and bruised with fresh wounds on their faces but certainly handsome in a ‘rough’ sort of way! As the rain started to fall we decided it was time to head into Elephant Pepper Camp for a hot shower, some freshly home made Italian pasta and a nightcap around the campfire under the immense starlit sky.

Lake Nakuru

on Wednesday, 27 October 2010. Posted in Rift Valley, 2010, Kenya

One of the world’s greatest bird spectacles, ‘stroopwafels’ – one of the world’s greatest waffles

Lake Nakuru

‘Andy you have to try stroopwafels (syrup waffle in Dutch), there is nothing quite like them, once you start you are addicted, they are heel lekker!’ Rene and Lidy said. So on the way to Lake Nakuru I got my first taste of one and let me tell you what, 2 thin slices of waffle with home made caramel, they were not wrong. The stroopwafel is truly a culinary delight. But were the Dutch ready for Lake Nakuru and the wildlife equivalent of a stroopwafel?! Having finally got through the Park gate and the mind blowing bureaucracy of Africa behind us we were into the animals immediately. We had to hang back a little and take our time, as the mobile camp was moving with us from Solio in one day, but that was not difficult as we drove along the flamingo lined shores of the Lake. Plenty of buffalo, impala, waterbuck, giraffe, zebra, baboons and a lioness up a tree just around the corner from our beautiful forest lined campsite.

Secluded Solio with rhino galore

on Saturday, 23 October 2010. Posted in Laikipia, 2010, Kenya

Secluded Solio with rhino galore

Peter came to collect us again and we flew to Nanyuki. The short drive to Solio game ranch took us through small villages bursting with activity. Colourful vegetable markets, ‘jua kali’ corrugated iron shops and uniformed school children returning home by foot with mud caked shoes. On arrival at the ranch gate we got wind of a leopard that had been spotted. My spotter, Ngugi, has incredible eyes but this time it was Wim who shouted ecstatically for me to stop. There it was, up a tree. Once a leopard knows it has been seen that is the last you will see of it. It gracefully clambered down the steep acacia trunk and disappeared into the undergrowth. Onto our camp for a hot safari style bucket shower. Around the campfire later on Simone mentioned how far the leopard had seemed away, we realised that she had been looking through the wrong end of her binoculars! We all burst into laughter.

The uniqueness of Laikipia

on Friday, 22 October 2010. Posted in Laikipia, 2010, Kenya

The uniqueness of Laikipia

I picked up Rene, Lidy, Simone and Wim and we flew direct to Loisaba. Peter, our pilot in his Cessna 206, aka the Yellow Peril, gave us an incredible flight several hundred feet over the Aberdare Mountains and across the Laikipia plateau. Before we had even landed we had seen herds of elephant, buffalo, giraffe and zebra. Although Simone and Wim have been on safari with me 2 times already they were gobsmacked by the beauty. Rene and Lidy were just astounded. On the ground the excitement then started immediately as we were charged by an elephant on our way to the lodge. Just an old male strutting his stuff, more bravado than anything so nothing to worry about!

The Mara like I have never seen it

on Saturday, 09 October 2010. Posted in Maasai Mara, 2010, Kenya

The Mara like I have never seen it

A beautiful flight across the Great Rift Valley and Lake Nakuru’s flamingo lined shores took us to the verdant herbivore strewn plains of the magnificent Maasai Mara. Diana, Kevin, Riley and Weston (and me!) couldn’t contain our excitement as we landed in the swarms of wildebeest and zebra for as far as the eye could see. ‘Whoa you don’t see this everyday’ Kevin said. He was right, you don’t. We had picked the perfect time and the perfect place to see the migration. Even before we had arrived at Salas Camp we had seen some lion lounging around in the evening light with zebra grazing only a few metres away – one eye on the ground and one on the lion.

The stars of Loisaba

on Wednesday, 06 October 2010. Posted in Laikipia, 2010

The stars of Loisaba

Considering we only had the short drive to the airstrip to do I assumed that we had ‘maxed’ out our luck on Lewa but would you believe it, 2 Black rhino and our friendly lion cubs on an impala kill. At this point, as a guide, you just have nothing left to say! You need to sit back, take a few photos and enjoy the moment. We then jumped aboard our plane and headed for our next stop, passing over Pride Rock (the real life version from The Lion King) and herds of elephant on the Laikipia plateau we arrived to a warm welcome at Loisaba.

Cats on Lewa

on Tuesday, 28 September 2010. Posted in Laikipia, 2010

It’s not all about the cats but seeing one on every game drive is fantastic

Cats on Lewa

So expectations were high after our first day on Lewa but I had to reiterate that things could slow down a little from here on in, actually they haven’t at all. A horse ride across the plains followed by a surprise bush breakfast under the shade of a stunning Tortilis tree began the morning. ‘How about going to see if we can find some elephant in the swamp’ I said. ‘Yeah that would be good but can we also find some lion?’ Riley responded. Well of course you know what my reply was: ‘It’s getting a little hot now so they are probably hiding in the shade’. Well they were not, they were hunting. Seriously, how wrong can a guide be? Anyway, the 3 young lion from the night before were eyeing up a warthog. Only a year old and having lost their mum prematurely they are probably not as deadly as they should be. They showed themselves and the warthog shot off. Next an impala but again failure so they slumped under an acacia for a siesta. It will be a struggle for the 3 of them but, with time, I hope they learn the ropes and make it into adulthood.

A Manor of giraffe and a Lewa of cats

on Monday, 27 September 2010. Posted in Laikipia, 2010

A Manor of giraffe and a Lewa of cats

Diana, Kevin, Riley and Weston woke early to a tall of giraffe. The look on their faces was priceless as, although expected, they were astounded by the view that met them at breakfast. Giraffes everywhere, small ones and big ones with heads inside windows and heads outside windows, all munching on tasty pre-made pellets fed to them by the hands (and sometimes mouths!) of humans. The unique experience offered by Giraffe Manor in a quiet suburb of a bustling African capital city cannot be equalled.

‘Um, Joseph, I may need your help!’

on Sunday, 04 July 2010. Posted in Maasai Mara, 2010, Kenya

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It's so good to be home again’ whispered Mary as we drove back into our luxury mobile camp. There is nothing like the feeling of having your own private camp, with your own private staff and your own private view across the Mara plains. I could feel everyone was excited about the Mara. Joe, Amanda, Seb and I had all raved about it and now we were there and had to produce the goods! I would love to take the credit for it but actually the Mara itself produced it for us. We had an incredible time with wildlife viewing that can only be described as out of this world.

Loisaba Dik Diks

on Friday, 02 July 2010. Posted in Laikipia, 2010, Kenya

It never happens how you want it to except for Dik Diks galore

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As we landed at Loisaba, the first question I was asked was what animal we were likely to see the most of in the area. Amanda and Seb, who had joined us from Nairobi, smiled wryly as for those of you who know Loisaba, that is not a particularly difficult question to answer, it can only be the Dik Dik. It is tiny, shy, cute and absolutely everywhere. Jake and I decided to call it the ‘scooby snack’ as it can only be classed as peanut size for a predator’s appetite. By the time we had reached the lodge the count was already at 20 and we had only driven for 10 minutes – imagine how many we saw over the next 3 days!

Amboseli – a perfect mix of culture and wildlife

on Wednesday, 30 June 2010. Posted in 2010, Kenya, Amboseli

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After a night spent in Nairobi at the wonderful Ngong House, the Pressman family and myself jumped aboard our private charter to Amboseli National Park. Our first sightings from the plane were some zebra and hartebeest streaming across the open savannah. On landing we met Joe, my co-guide, and our trusty landcruisers and we made the short trip to our private luxury mobile camp. The first thing Emily said to me was are there any giraffe in the region. As if by chance and around the corner was a journey of 9 of these elegant animals passing through the scrub browsing acacia trees on their way.

Splashes, charges and farewells

on Thursday, 27 May 2010. Posted in Lower Zambezi, 2010, Zambia

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Canoeing and boating are such a good way to experience the bush from a different perspective. Drifting calmly down tributaries and channels of the Zambezi are not only relaxing but beautifully peaceful. You can also certainly get up, close and personal with birds, hippos, crocodiles and elephants. On one of boat rides we had 8 elephant actually try and cross the river in front of us. At on one stage a female and her youngster had to turn back as a crocodile on the far bank plunged into the water, evidently worrying the mother as to the safety of her calf. Our canoe trips were so tranquil, except of course when a hippo crashed out of the bushes and dived into the water some 10 yards in front of us! We got a little bit of a fright but he just wanted to get back to his safe haven and cool down.

McDonalds in Lower Zambezi!?

on Wednesday, 26 May 2010. Posted in Lower Zambezi, 2010, Zambia

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So it had been a sad farewell to the River Club but onward we went as we flew via Lusaka to Lower Zambezi National Park. It is a beautiful flight as you cruise low over farmland and forest before reaching the rugged Zambezi escarpment and the wilderness that lies below. I could see the Zambezi River was still very high so they must have opened up the gates at the Kariba dam, about 50 kilometres up stream. This was probably going to limit our game drives a little but on the other hand it was opening up new channels to explore by canoe and boat.

Close encounters of the rhino and elephant kind

on Sunday, 23 May 2010. Posted in 2010, Zambia

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Our last day at the The River Club was going to be more about wildlife, so a visit to the neighbouring Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park was the plan. Our game drive was pretty good considering the Park’s size. It is tiny and does not profess to have any of the big cats but we still saw plenty of beautiful birds as well as impala, warthog, wildebeest, elephant, baboon and vervet monkeys. At one point a huge hippo crossed the road in front of us before plunging into a nearby pond splashing the pied kingfishers resting on the banks.

Mosi-oa-Tunya – the smoke that thunders

on Thursday, 20 May 2010. Posted in Lower Zambezi, 2010, Zambia

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I picked up Deb and Chris from Livingstone airport and you could just see the excitement and glee in their eyes. They were back once more in the place they love! This is their fourth safari to Africa with me, and this time we are in Zambia – a truly spectacular country with plenty to offer. A short drive through the streets of Livingstone town led us to out first stop The River Club, an Edwardian style house set in manicured lawns on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River. Set high up overlooking the swift flowing waters where hippos and crocodiles float, you cannot ask for more. This is what this area is all about, it oozes class, sophistication and boasts timeless history. With uninterrupted vistas of the Zambezi, glorious African sunsets and wildlife right on the doorstep, Deb and Chris are in heaven.

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