Sunday, September 30, 2012

Africa: Day 11

When we were driving to the Samburu camp, we drove through a little town that was crowded with people.  It was too dark to get any pictures, but as we left today I was able to get some pictures.  It was still pretty low light, but at least I was able to document some of the character.

It seemed like every building on this block was a bar, but I was in hysterics when I saw this hotel and butcher shop.  Unfortunately we did not stop and see what the accommodations were like.  :  )

The final place that we visited was the Massai Mara.  This is another tribe of the Massai, they were doing their laundry each day as we drove out to do game drives.

I love this tree, I think the trees that we saw were some of the most beautiful trees ever.

This is a young Zebra, you can tell by it's light brown fur.  I love how these young Zebras look like little fuz balls.

Today was the first day that we saw an active male lion.  He was awake and walking around.

This lion walked right past our van.  It was one of a a hand full of moments where I was really afraid.

I was also lucky enough to catch the lion mid yawn, no he was not roaring, it was a sight to see.

Finally, here is the African moon.

Love Always,


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Africa: Day 10

Baby Elephants on parade!!!

I love elephants, but I especially love when elephants frolic in the stream.

We watched a lioness charge after some impala, it did not make a kill, but it was pretty amazing.

The samburu game reserve has the most spectacular zebras.  They are called thin-striped grey's zebra.

Love Always,


Friday, September 28, 2012

Africa: Day 9

I guess this was the point in the trip when I started waking up before sunrise each day.

This is grey-headed king fisher.  I love the bit of teal on it's back feathers.

Superb Starling, I love it's fierce white eyes.

More giraffes, I love the print of these kenyan giraffe's, they are far more vivid than the girraffes we saw in tanzania.  Our guide described the pattern of the giraffes in tanzania as leaf prints.  The giraffes in tanzania were lighter and less defined.  Here in Samburu the prints are more defined and look more delibrate.

Lilac breasted roller, my absolute favorite bird.

The moon in Africa, it was sooo beautiful.

I took a lot of pictures of birds on these game drives, this was because we didn't see very many animals most days.  It was hotter then Hades, and the animals must take long siestas during the day.

Love Always,


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Africa: Day 8

This is a Dik Dik, which is the smalled of the antelope family.  I like to refer to it as the kewpie doll of the antelope family.  It is the cutest animal I have ever seen, except for Mr Winks of course.

Dik diks are monogamous, they mate for life.  When you see them, it it often in pairs, but sometimes you will see them with a baby.  They reproduce like rabbits.  I think they can get pregnant as soon as ten days after giving birth!!!  I guess this is because they are prey for almost everyone, but all I could think of was poor Dik Dik.  They are pregnant for 6 months, the baby lives with them for six months, and then a week later they could give birth to a new baby.  Oh my word.

Day 8 was a day of travel, but I was glad that I got a few pictures that I wanted to keep.

Love Always,


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Africa: Day 7

We left at oh dark hundred this morning and made our way to the central Serengeti, the thing to see in the Serengeti is the Leopard, and since we didn't see one where we were staying....we drove five hours to find a leopard.  FIVE HOURS!!!  This buffalo was awake to see us off.

I avoid driving in the snow and ice at all costs.  Other then going to work, nothing can get me out of the house in in climate weather.  That being said, it had rained yesterday, and the roads were awful on our way to see the leopards.  We almost did a three-sixty while hydroplaning on mud.  It was crazy.

On the drive we saw a pride of lions...and we got sooo close to them that we could hear them breathing.  It was one of the most exhilarating moments of my life.  You could see their golden eyes looking at you.

These cubs were soooo cute!!!!

There were at least 12 different lions in this pride, sleeping and basking in the sun.

They would occasionally stand up, look at us, and then lay down again.  The adult lions were ambivalent towards us, they understood that we were not a threat.  The little cubs would look right at us, trying to figure out what we were.

Umm, so we drove over five hours and waited over an hour and fifteen minutes in line to see this sight...can you guess what it is?  After three minutes of staring at it, my father still could not figure out what it was. 

We drove up to a huge line of cars, maybe fifteen cars deep and our guide says, "we are about to see a leopard." I got really excited, expecting it to be pouncing about, doing tricks (I'm being sarcastic).  Well I'm not sure what I expected to see, but when we got there, I saw what looked to be a swatch of two dimensional leopard print fabric.  We spent a few minutes gawking at the lump and drove away.  

The guide looked at my father and said, "did you see it?"  And my father said, "no."  So our guide had the driver turn around the car.  My dad was protesting, "You don't have to do this for me.  I'm fine."  Our guide looked at my father like he was a moron.  "Peter, we drove five hours to see this leopard.  We are not leaving until you see it."  Well ok then.  :  )

As we waited for another half hour, I prayed that we would see some sign of life.  Thank goodness that the second we pulled up to see the leopard it started to lick it's fur.  We officially saw a leopard!!!!

Many people make the trek to Africa and leave without seeing a leopard.  We were lucky enough to see two in one day.  There is a Leopard in this acacia tree, can't see it?  Thats ok, neither could I.

Well here it is.  We got extremely lucky twice in one day.  After a few minutes of looking at the tree, the leopard stood up and moved to a lower branch on the tree.  What a sight to see.

Finally we made our way home after a long day of driving.  On our way home we saw our family of cheetahs again.

Aren't these the cutest things you have ever seen in your life?  I loved these cheetahs.

Love Always,


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Africa: Day 6

On day six we drove like crazy through the Serengeti and tried to see a Leopard.  Apparently Leopards are really difficult to of the many things I did not research before I traveled to Africa...kind of like Kenya's close proximity to Somalia and the Sudan.  :  )  

The guide called this a calcon cat, it was a very rare thing to see, and I was really excited to catch it on film.  It was hiding in the tree because a hyena was at the base of the tree.

The giraffes were waiting to great us every morning as we left the camp and every evening as we returned.  This was a little baby giraffe.  People tend to call giraffes the worst mothers of all time...they just walk away and leave the babies alone for long stretches of time.  Some may call it bad parenting, but one other explanation is that you can only tell a baby giraffe from an adult giraffe if they are standing right next to each other.  From a distance, a baby giraffe standing alone looks like a proportional adult giraffe.

Ummmm, this falls under the "I really think that monkeys are cute, but only from a safe distance" category.  This monkey was sitting right outside of our lodges.

Here are a few Buffalo eating outside of our camp.  People kept saying, "Hey look, there's a Buffalo," and I would look around trying to see a Buffalo....and my only point of reference has been an American Buffalo.  Imagine my surprise when I found out they were talking about these cattle.  Don't they look like bulls or crazy looking cows?

Love Always,


Monday, September 24, 2012

Africa: day 5

On day five we flew to Kusini, in the southern Serengeti, and it was my favorite part of the entire trip.  We got out of the plane and went straight on a drive through the Serengeti.  Within a half an hour we saw a cheetah, then within forty minutes we got to see that cheetah make a kill.  It chased a huge pack of impala and Thompson gazelle, and it caught a huge impala.  We then watched, wide eyed, as the cheetah suffocated the impala. OMG.

The actual kill was really quick, the only shot I got was of the impala running away.  I'm not sure anyone truly saw the cheetah catch the impala.  We all did watch as the cheetah suffocated the impala. It took at least three to five minutes for the cheetah to finish it off.

Then the cheetah tried to drag it's kill to some tall grass or anywhere to hide from the scavengers.  Withing ten minutes vultures were already circling, and when they start to land...the hyenas won't be far away.  Hyenas will come and scavenge dead animals, and they travel in groups.  A group of hyenas can over take a cheetah, so the cheetahs will get out of there before the hyenas get there.  We sat staring at this struggle as the cheetah could not drag the impala fast enough and had to retreat.

Then we went back to the lodge for lunch and a short rest.  We kept saying, "we could see nothing else for the rest of the day and still be happy."  Little did we know that we were going to see a second cheetah kill!!!

A mother cheetah caught a baby impala and then allowed her babies to hunt it.  We were tooo far away to get a good picture of the kill, but it was an amazing sight to see.

Here is the mother after she had been feeding on the impala baby, I love the red blood on her chin.

Here is one of the babies looking right at us, I love these big cats, they are sooo striking.

Here are the babies pawing at the little impala.  I am conflicted about putting any of the really gory pictures online, I may do an update on this post eventually.

Here is one of my favorite pictures, it is one of the babies chewing on a leg.  This was one of the craziest experiences of my life, I still can't believe I witnessed this moment.

Love Always,


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Africa: Day 4

On our fourth day we drove into the Ngotongoro Crater.  We spent an entire day driving from one end to the other, stopping only for lunch and to take pictures.  We saw a ton of animals, but to be honest, there were also a ton of other sight seeing vehicles as well.  It felt more to me like a zoo, then the wild.  That being said it was an amazing experience.

I love ostriches, we saw a ton throughout out trip but this was the first male ostrich that we saw.

This male lion was hurt, he had hurt his leg in a fight.  But I love the way these birds are flying around him.  He looks soooo pensive.

Everyone loves baby animals, I love this picture of the baby impala looking back at me while it's mother is looking off into the distance.  This was often the case.  The adult animals were not phased by people at all, but the babies would often look at us...curious about what was going on.

We saw wildebeest toooo  :  )

We saw a lot of zebra, they were all over the crater.  We started joking around after the first hour, "oh there's another zebra, {exaggerated sigh}."  Hahahah.  But I must say that zebras are one of my favorite animals.  Seeing them up close, really gave me a great view of their stripes.  The stripes always look like someone just pained them on.  Sooo cute.

The golden eyed jackal.

This elephant walked right past our vehicle.  It was a huge distance away from us, and we had a choice-

1) go see if we can find a black rhino which had been spotted some distance away.
2) wait to see if the elephant will walk closer to us.

In the crater you can not off road.  With the amount of traffic we saw, the area would be ruined if there weren't specific paths for cars.  We got lucky and the elephant walked right past us.  It was a thrilling forty minutes as it came closer and closer, until it was maybe 15-20 feet from our vehicle.  You could see the wrinkles on his face.  I have a ton of pictures from this day, but this one really speaks to me with the zebras in the back ground.

We saw a black rhino, which is apparently really rare.  Our guide told us that there were only 24 black rhinos in the entire crater, and on this day we saw three.  That almost never happens.

I was lucky to catch this superb starling in mid-flight.  These birds were all over the place, so I took a few more pictures later in the trip.  My father also got some amazing pictures of this bird, I'll be sure to post them after we start to edit his pictures as well.

I have to admit, I have a healthy fear of monkeys and baboons.  I am positive that they could really do some damage to me if they flipped out.  But this baboon looked pretty calm to me, so I stopped and took a quick picture.  His eyes look so soulful to me.

The Massai people live in the crater, and they have their cattle roaming around with the wild life.  

One thing that really struck us was the amount of people in the crater.  Now truthfully it is hard to be critical when we were there visiting too, but in the future they are going to have to limit the amount of people that can drive through.   As of now there is no limit to the number of people admitted, only the hours that people can be in the crater.  We would drive past tens of vehicles striving to get a glimpse of some of the animals.  This was the most tourist populated part of the whole trip and to this day I wonder how long the crater will be here if things continue in this way.

That being said, today was a great day.

Love Always,