The Kudu and Meru National Park
As soon as we jumped out of the plane in Meru Peter, Helga and I glanced over at each other wryly; you could feel the heat. The ground was cracked open, the grass was almost non-existent and the trees were foliageless! Wow what a difference from the Mara. There was moisture in the air though. There couldn’t be rain around, not in Meru of all places surely?! Even our pilot confidently said ‘I’ll bet you a crate of beer it does not rain over the next four days’. Well, you would not believe but it rained and not just lightly. Meru needed it so badly that we could not complain, well to be honest we had no reason to complain as not one of our game drives was affected and the wildlife viewing was incredible – the best I have ever seen it.
Helga took a day off from game drives not feeling 100 percent and relaxed in her room. Well how can you not, perched on top of Elsas Kopje with beautiful expansive views over one of the last true wildernesses of Kenya. Peter and I though got out there as much as we could. The muddy roads were not going to stop us or my landcruiser! Just within our first two game drives we had seen almost 20 different species of mammal and countless birds. Peter’s favourite bird is a Kingfisher. You can imagine his delight when we literally saw them around every corner. We even had one land almost at the tyre of my car and pick up a flying ant (yes Kiingfishers eat more than just fish!). Peter got a beauty of a photo, I was too slow!
The birdlife in Meru is always phenomenal but what really impressed me (as well as Peter and Helga) was how many mammals there were around. Since our last visits to Meru the change was amazing. Cats were always tough to find in previous years. We spotted both cheetah and lion, all looking in great condition. Two cheetah brothers were fat and lazy having fed one morning on a Grant’s gazelle. One lioness was so heavily pregnant I was amazed she could move. We saw countless tracks of lion in the muddy roads and also heard leopard ‘sawing’ and lion roaring every night from the Kopje. The felines of Meru appear to be thriving and in healthy numbers.
As for bigger species such as elephant, buffalo, eland and giraffe. We encountered many breeding herds as well as huge solitary bulls. Sometimes mud bathing in the softened red soil. We were even lucky enough to come across one very large White Rhino. Medium sized antelopes were everywhere; waterbuck, bushbuck, impala and Grants gazelle. I do not think though that I have seen so many Lesser Kudu in my life. We literally could not go half an hour without seeing one, whether it was a male or a female. They truly are stunning creatures. There were also the smaller antelopes like the dik-dik, gerenuk and duiker.
Many of the animals we saw had young, they had predicted the rain evidently and Peter and Helga (and myself) look forward to our next visit to Meru hopefully not in the too distant future to see them when they have grown up and are producing offspring of their own. Amboseli looms for our next stop. There is now way it can there either, can it?