Lake Mburo to Jinja 26 July 2012

Along with the gorilla and golden monkey treks, this morning’s walking safari was a special experience.

Godson our armed ranger   P1100641 DY © for jtdytravels

Godson was our armed guide who told us all about the many things we saw, not just the animals, but also about signs left behind by passing animals etc.

Walking with Wild Animals      p1250820 DY © for jtdytravels

It is really very special to be walking in a game reserve where there is a chance of coming across a lion or two, although Godson said that there were only a few in the park and they pretty much kept to themselves.  They had only just returned to the park after having been absent for many years.

Inquisitive Waterbuck   p1250801 DY © DY for jtdytravels

We saw reed and waterbuck, wart hog, zebra, topi, antelope and gazelle.

Prickly African Acacia p1250831 © DY for jtdytravels

Africa, like Australia, has many endemic Acacia species.

Self portrait – holding up a tree p1250839 © DY for jtdytravels

After a bit over two hours of walking through the park it was time to say goodbye to Godson, rejoin the truck and head for Kampala, the capital of Uganda.  We crossed the equator, where we set up our tables and chairs outside some souvenir shops.

It was also where I bought a book on Rwanda for 150,000 Ugandan shillings which is about USD64.  I waited ten minutes to get $5 change, I was owed another one, but rather than wait standing around looking useless, I suggested the girl put the dollar in the tips basket.  The shop was actually a charity place so it possibly went to a good cause.

It rained heavily as we drove into and through Kampala.  We arrived at Jinja at 17h45.

We were met by the very efficient camp manager, Ruth, who told us we were about to experience the hottest showers 24/7 to be found in Uganda and to top that off, the coldest beers in Uganda.  She won all our hearts in one sentence.  She also said that the music in the bar would be turned off at midnight, however there was still plenty of noise emanating from around the camp at 02h30!  Give me a bush camp with long drop toilets, animal noises, the stars and a camp fire any day.  I think I would be happy to give up the hottest shower and coldest beer for the privilege of a bush camp.  But, then… the shower followed by the beer was good!

Silver Backed Mountain Gorillas, Rwanda, 23 July 2012

“G” day, gorilla day: experiencing a silver back gorilla up close and personal – that was the one thing that brought most of us to Rwanda.

It was an early start from the Central Pastoral Notre Dame De Fatima Lodgings we were staying in.  We didn’t put up tents here; there were dorms with triple decker bunks but some of us upgraded to a room.  The promise of hot and cold running water was too much for me so I opted for a room.  My room was on the third floor, and you guessed it, the water failed to get to the lofty heights.  I was brought a 20 litre plastic container of cold water and told everything would be OK in the morning.  You guessed it again, no such nicety happened so you make do with what you have and splash cold water around or pad down stairs to a communal bathroom where copious quantities of hot water flowed freely.

After an early breakfast we piled into Landrovers or Landcruisers for the around 40 minute drive to the park headquarters.  Here we were placed into groups of six, sometimes with somebody from another tour group, sometimes not.  Whilst all this was going on we were entertained by a singing and dancing cultural group.  All very African and very energetic with many drums and stamping feet beating out the rhythm.  Apart from getting organised into our groups this gave the trackers time to locate the gorilla groups we were to visit.


Dancing while rangers located the gorillas and guides processed the trekkers     (P1090753  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

There are an estimated 480 mountain gorillas in Rwanda with some 300 in Uganda.  In Rwanda there are 18 groups that have been habituated a process that takes about two years.  Ten of these groups are visited each day by just one group.  A maximum of one hour is spent in contact with the groups.  The remaining groups are solely visited for research purposes.

We were allotted the Ntambara group which has three silver backs as family members.  The alpha male can be expected to live for between 40 and 45 years and is at present 27 years old.  These males can be expected to eat 30kg of food each day and get most of their water from this foliage.

Once the group had been located we piled back into our vehicles for the drive to the road-head where we began our trek.


We begin our climb     (P1090879  ©  DY of jtdytravels)


The long haul ever upwards     (P1090855  ©  DY of jtdytravels)


Mother and child     (P1090875  © DY of jtdytravels)

This was at an elevation of 2600 metres.  It was a bush bashing trek to get to the 3200 level to get to the spot where the gorillas were resting after their early morning feed.


The rangers and armed guard      (P1090996  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

Eugene was our guide and we were accompanied by two rangers and an armed guard. They came along as there are buffalo in the area and they don’t want to be disturbed at all.  The gun is not to harm or injure the beasts just to scare them away should we stumble across them.  We didn’t see any.


Patrick, my helper!       (P1090912  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

Our first contact was with a sleeping male who was a bit difficult to get to so we bypassed him and left him rest in peace.


Our first encounter – How good can it get?     (P1100010  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

Within metres we came across the rest of the family group who were a little more active, but still resting.


Who is looking at whom with more wonderment?    (P1100063  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

The rangers cut some brush away from around the animals to give us all a better view.  One last cut was too much for our dozing mate who sprang up and charged towards the ranger grabbing him and appearing to bite his side.  The rangers know what to do so he took a totally submissive posture, lying on the ground in the foetal position.  The gorilla was happy, he was still boss so returned to his snoozing position.  Now the excitement for me was that I didn’t expect this reaction – I guess the rangers have encounted this before.  And, where did I happen to be, but standing right next to the ranger.  This silver back was only a foot away from me, but took no notice of me, much to my relief.  I wasn’t overly perturbed as the other rangers didn’t interfere and certainly the gun was not fired!  That would have provoked a nasty situation.  Once everything settled down the females and a baby went about their playing and resting.  One of the females pounded her chest a number of times as she went from place to place.  The ground shook when she performed.  It was awe inspiring.


This is how close we actually got!     (P1100076  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

Our hour with these magnificent animals was up all too quickly but we knew we had to leave them in peace and quiet to go about the daily business unbothered by us.  The gorillas will be visited by another group of tourists tomorrow – I hope they have a wonderful time – just like us.

Walking back down to the drop-off point     (P1090822 ©  DY of jtdytravels)

The trek back down the mountain was so much quicker than the hard slog up. We wanted to meet up with the other groups and tell them our stories. Of course, they had stories much like ours and we all agreed that it was worth the USD500 the permit had cost us.  In fact, I reckon I’d happily pay twice as much, climb twice as high and expend twice or more effort for the experience!  Words like, unique, surreal, emotional and spiritual were heard being bandied around.

From our drop-off point we had walked through some fields which we hardly gave a glance at as we were all marching upwards to our goal for the day.  On the way back down more time was allowed to survey the scenery.  A white daisy was being cultivated and everything fell into place when we came across a long building with racks in it.

Pyrethrum daisy – the source of an organic herbicide     (P1090819 © DY of jtdytravels)


Small plots produce the pyrethrum flowers      (P1090785   ©  DY of jtdytravels)


Lady drying pyrethrum flowers      (P1090890   ©  DY of jtdytravels)


USAID sponsored drying shed      (P1090842  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

The sign on the building proclaimed it was a USAID initiative to grow pyrethrum daisies for the production of organic herbicides.  The flowers were picked and dried on the racks before being sent away for further processing.  A nice little good news story – a project that actually gives the villagers another source of income to augment their normal subsistence farming.

The striking green & purple foliage of a forest plant      (P1090899   ©  DY of jtdytravels)

I did have time to find a couple more interesting plants and flowers while trekking.

Small unidentified flower      (P1090902   ©  DY of jtdytravels)

On the drive back to our accommodation we stopped off to collect a certificate to proclaim our achievement.

What a day!

And one that made all the rough dusty roads, cold showers (if there was water at all) and difficulty of the whole trip well worthwhile.

Can anything beat this?  D

Kampala to Kibale 18 July 2012

We got away to a fairly early start but got caught up in a traffic jam as were turned out of the camp site’s front gate.  A truck had broken down somewhere in the vicinity and this had caused the problem.  It took us an hour to travel only a few kilometres to a supermarket where the cook had to buy our provisions for the next few days.  This stop also provided most of us with an opportunity to cash in our useful currencies for Kenyan shillings.  There was also a good coffee shop in the complex that provided us with what was to be our last good coffee so far, not that we knew that at the time!

It was interesting to note that there was little roadside rubbish, we even spotted a few street sweepers.  Kampala is generally a clean city.


A busy street-side market  P1090205  DY of jtdytravels


Clean streets and green traffic roundabouts  P1090210  DY of jtdytravels

Eldoret to Kampala 17 July 2012

The day started well until a loud explosive air hiss came from below our feet in our new truck.  Most thought that a tyre had blown out.  We came to a slower stop than I would have expected for such an event. The driver wriggled under the vehicle amidships and attempted to fix a high pressure air supply line.


How can I fix this with a screwdriver?  P1090171  DY of jtdytravels

Being a new truck that had not been properly fitted out for our trip there was only a screwdriver available to fix the problem.  A call was put out to anyone who had any tape.  This, of course, made little impact on the problem due to the high pressure involved.  We deduced that the air line had something to do with the breaks.  Eventually the driver somewhat admitted defeat when he went across the road to a service station and came back with a bicycle inner tube.  This, along with some more tape, actually did the job.  We were off after a one and three quarter hour stop.

Whilst all this was happening most of the younger guys and one of the girls kicked a soccer ball around on a large grassy field beside where we had stopped.


The kids came out to play  P1090174  DY of jtdytravels

Great fun was had by all until it was time to leave.  The biggest boy in the group grabbed the ball and made off with it on his bicycle.  We had naively hoped that the ball could have been shared a little more equally by those involved in the game – how silly of us!

The Ugandan border was not all that far away.  We passed many, many trucks all lined up waiting their turn to be processed.  I counted over 100 on our way back.  The drivers can expect to wait from three to seven days to get through the paperwork and inspections.


Tourist buses get priority – thankfully  P1090165  DY of jtdytravels

Once we arrived at the border, foreigners in buses are given priority, we lined up at the appropriate windows to be processed without trouble.  That was until it was my turn!  I handed my passport through the window to the Immigration officer on the other side.  He looked at it hard and long and then motioned me to come into his office through a nearby door.  He said my visa had expired, as indeed, on my inspection, it had!

I had been given a Transit Visa on arrival at Nairobi airport by the lady Immigration officer.  This was valid for a 72 hour stop.  She asked me how long I was staying, to which I said I was leaving on the 17th and, did she want to see my itinerary?  She said she didn’t and gave me the visa.  I guess I was partly to blame as I should have known that I was to be in Kenya for four days not three, but after X hundreds of hours on the go, through various time zones etc. the error did not compute with me either.

So, now back to leaving Kenya.  The Immigration officer quizzed me on why I had a Transit Visa if I was to be in Kenya for four days.  I explained that his colleague in Nairobi had made the decision to issue me a Transit Visa.  He said I hadn’t paid enough.  I said that I was not trying to avoid paying whatever I should have and could I pay the extra now.  He ignored me while he attended to other people who passed their ‘all-in-order’ passports through his window.  I wondered what was going to happen.  He eventually returned to my passport and asked if I was coming back to Kenya?  Yes, was my answer.  How long will you be staying?  Overnight, I ventured as an answer.  He picked up his visa stamp and slammed it down on my Transit Visa and said, this is an official warning, and handed me back my passport.  Somewhat relieved, I meekly left his presence saying ‘asanti sana’, thank you very much.  We ALL continued on our way to our camping place at the Red Chilli in Kampala, crossing the Nile River at Jinja on the way.  We were to return to Jinja for a two night stop on our way back to Nairobi.


The Nile River  P1090183  DY of jtdytravels

Along the way we passed black and blue cloth traps.  These were about 750mm x 750mm x 750mm and were seen swinging in trees.  Ingwe explained that they were traps for tse-tse fly, in other words, the insect that causes sleeping sickness.

Lake Nakuru 16 July 2012

Contrary to common expectation, there were no rampaging wild animals through the campsite to cause havoc or mayhem during the night. We had all slept, after a fashion! It takes a while to get used to lying on the ground with only thin soft foam mattress. But that’s camping in the wild.

Dawn rising! (P1090031 © DY of jtdytravels)

We were all up early at 05.45, well before day break for a quick cup of tea or coffee, some cereal and a banana before heading off on our first game drive of the day.

Baboons – mother is awake but not baby. (P1090050 © DY of jtdytravels)

Not far from the campsite we came across a troupe of baboons waking to the new day – their hair a halo in the early morning light. They were on fallen tree branches just a couple of feet off the track.  We spent some five or so minutes watching their antics before moving on.

A leopard – the most ellisive of the Big Five   ( P1090056   ©  DY of jtdytravels)

A very short distance further along the track we stopped quickly as a leopard crossed the track.  There is no forward vision from the truck so nobody other than the two in the cabin saw the big cat.  The driver did stop though.  The monkeys in the surrounding trees were putting up a loud song and dance emitting their alarm calls.  We waited.  And, sure enough, we spotted some movement in the bushes and a fleeting glimpse of the cat.  Then nothing for awhile, but then, a better look at the magnificent beast as it slowly walked away, this time completely disappearing into the undergrowth. What a treat, particularly for those on board who were on their first trip to Africa.  It took until my fourth trip to the continent to see a leopard and Ingwe said he would do 20-30 drives between spottings!

On our four hour circumnavigation of the lake we saw waterbuck, antelope, buffalo, giraffe, black and white rhino, jackal, hippo at a distance, and colobos monkeys, and they were a first for me.

A Black and White Colobus – difficult to spot in the trees. (P1090148 © DY of jtdytravels)

Colobus, with their distinct black and white colouring and long bushy tipped tail do stand out clearly in the trees …but only once they have moved so you can spot them. Those lovely long tails were almost their undoing. They were once highly prized by tribespeople as ‘fly whisks’! And their pelts were highly prized too as part of traditional costumes, as well as for rugs and mats.

A bull Buffalo gives us the eye. (P10900661 © DY of jtdytravels)

Buffalo are not animals to be messed about with!  They weigh-in at anywhere between 500 and 800 kgs and are reputed to have a temper that should not be aroused. When males ‘face-off’ in the rutting season, they interlock those massive horns and push each other in a trial of strength to find out just who is boss. The record length for a set of horns is more than 1.5m.

Cattle egret with grazing buffalo (P1090067 © Dy of jtdytravels)

Buffalo graze in the early morning, in the late afternoon and at night, so these were more interested in food than us. After feeding, they love to wallow in mud and there’s plenty by the lake for that. In the heat of the day, they sensibly lie in long grass or under trees to chew their cud.

The white bird beside several of the cows are cattle egrets. They get an easy feed by picking up insects disturbed by the movement of the buffaloes.  Another bird that’s often seen travelling with buffalo is the oxpecker or tick bird. They feed on ticks and biting flies and help to clean up wounds.  The buffalo put up with their presence even when these little birds try to get a feed inside the buffalo’s ear.

A rhino takes no notice  (P1090112   ©  DY of jtdytravels)

Another big animal grazing in the early morning was this rhinoceros. Both black and white (or wide) Rhinoceros are endangered because of the market for just one part of their body – their horns. When poachers kill a rhino, they take the horns and run – or fly off in helicopters. It’s a lucrative business with rhino horn deemed to have almost supernatural powers in medicine in Asia and the far East – and horn being carved into the handles for daggers in places like Yemen where such daggers have been prized symbols of manhood. Armed guards monitor most of the rhinoceros ranges, at least in parks and reserves such as this one at Lake Nakuru.

Giraffe reaching up for tastiest shoots (P10900951 © DY of jtdytravels)

Giraffes are the tallest animals in the world today with males growing up to 5.5m (that’s 18ft) . That’s fairly common knowledge. But what is less widely known is that the giraffe’s improbably long neck has only seven neck vertebrae – the same as we humans have! And those necks can come in for a tough time when male giraffe’s try to establish dominance in the herd by ‘necking’ . Now, this is not to be confused with another human connotation of the word ‘necking’.  This is a ritualised form of fighting in which the opposing giraffes fight standing side by side and swing their long necks at each other’s bodies, often entwining necks.  That only happens when there’s a lady giraffe involved, of course. At other times that neck is used to reach up for the tenderest shoots and they can be 5 – 6 ms off the ground.

Rothschild’s Giraffe (P1090100 © DY of jtdytravels)

The giraffes we saw at Lake Nakuru were Rothschild’s Giraffes. They are paler, and have a less jagged pattern on their coats than the common Masai Giraffe and they usually have no patterning on their lower legs. There is a third type of giraffe, the Reticulated Giraffe, that’s found in northern Kenya. It has a deep reddish coat with irregular brick- like patterns seemingly ‘drawn’ onto them with narrow white lines.

Thomson’s Gazelle  (P1090064   ©  DY of jtdytravels)

The beautiful Thomson’s Gazelle is the most water dependent of the African antelopes and so can usually be found in places like this by a lake or good water source.  Antelopes like these are the easy, fast food option, the ‘Macdonalds’ of the wildlife world in Africa. They are the prey of a whole lot of predators including lions. leopards, cheetahs, hunting dogs, crocodiles. The young may be taken by baboons, jackals, eagles and even python snakes.

An Impala (P1090060 © Dy of jtdytravels)

It is a hard world out there in the wild.  It’s not easy to think of beautiful animals like this Impala and the gentle gazelles as possible dinner for so many different types of predators. But it’s a fact of life in the wild.

A Black-backed Jackal   (P10901041 © DY of jtdytravels)

The black-backed Jackal, with its fox-like face and silvery black back, is the commonest of the three species of Jackal in East Africa. Although Jackal’s do kill smaller animals and the young of larger ones, they are very much opportunistic omnivores. Like hyenas, they are great carrion scavengers, but they also feed on birds, reptiles, insects, fruits, eggs and berries.

Apart from all of these animals, there were many birds sighted including pelican, marabou and yellow-billed storks, spoonbills, a buzzard, hamerkop and ostrich.  It was a very satisfying drive.

A Hamerkop   (P1090154   ©  DY of jtdytravels)

The name Hamerkop comes from an Africaans word meaning ‘hammer head’ – an apt description. It looks a bit like a stork or a heron but it is not related to either of those. Many Africans are superstitious about this bird believing that, if harmed in any way, it will bring bad luck. And that’s probably been a bit of good luck for the Hamerkop. That way, it doesn’t end up on someone’s BBQ or in a hot pot!

Ostrich fluff their feathers   (P1090136   ©  DY of jtdytravels)

Ostrich, on the other hand, are farmed in Africa for their meat, their eggs and their feathers.  But these two birds are safe in the National Park at Lake Nakuru. The male is the one with black feathers. He usually sits on the eggs at night. The female has feathers more the colour of dried grass to act as camouflage when it’s her turn to sit on the eggs in the day time. Although more than one female is likely to mate with the male and lay eggs in HIS nest, the ‘senior’ female helps with the hatching process.

Raptor in an African acacia   (P1090122   ©  DY of jtdytravels)

This magnificent eagle, resting in an African Acacia, may be a Steppe Eagle.

Acacia Trees ‘blooming’ with birds. (P1090108 © Dy of jtdytravels)

The view across the grasslands to the cliffs beyond the lake. The photo includes a couple of African Acacias that seem to be ‘blooming’ with white birds.

Yellow-billed Storks in Acacia trees (P1090105 © Dy of jtdytravels)

Thanks to my good Panasonic DMC-TZ 20 camera with its decent tele lens, I could see that the birds adorning the Acacia tree were the very gregarious, long legged, Yellow-billed Storks. These birds are easy to identify with their white bodies finished off with black wings and tails and their bare red faces sporting long yellow bills.

Marabou Storks, Pelicans and Gulls (P10900751 © DY of jtdytravels)

And down by the lake again there were yet more storks, the Marabou sharing the waters edge with some Pelicans and Gulls.  These Marabou should put their name in the ring for the prize of ugliest bird. Vultures could give them a run for their money, but these birds push ‘ugly’ to the limit!

Marabou Stork (P1090078 © DY of jtdytravels)

Here’s a Marabou up close – with a face only a mother could love. And it doesn’t even have the rather grotesque pendulous throat sac sported by some adults!  And another thing that is really quite off-putting about Marabous: that white colour on their legs is actually, dare I say it, ‘pooh’. Yes, to help keep themselves cool when it is hot, they defecate down their legs. Cool, eh?

Marabou Storks might be ugly, but they do perform an important function in the wild by cleaning up carrion and waste in the environment. However, marabous have increasingly become dependent on human garbage and these huge birds can be found around African rubbish dumps.

Now let us turn our minds from ugly storks to some of the finer things in life – flowering plants. Even on a long day out on safari drives, there is usually some opportunity to look for flowers.

A ‘stretch the legs’ stop! (P1090159 © DY of jtdytravels)

There comes a time when  legs must be stretched – a time when ladies disappear off to the left and men to the right!  And that gave me the perfect opportunity to hunt around for a flowering plant or two. I’m not sure what these are called but here they are.

Yellow roadside flower (P1090157 © DY of jtdytravels)


Purple roadside flower (P1090161 © DY of jtdytravels)

And there you have it – a day out on safari at Lake Nakuru National Park. If you have never had the opportunity to do such a safari drive, I hope you have enjoyed the experience with me. And if you have, I hope this has brought back many happy memories of being with wildlife.  D

Nairobi to Lake Nakuru 15 July 2012

Our first day on the road – Lake Nakuru was our destination with a stop at the Rift Valley view point and a visit to the Saidia Orphanage in Gilgil along the way.

Everyone was keen to get going on this African adventure.  We were only 15 minutes late leaving Nairobi and that was partly due to the fact that we were travelling in a brand new truck.  The major problem was that the lockers on board were not as big as we had expected from reading the tour brochure.  The crew were somewhat dismayed. Things were different from what they expected, as well. Many things had to be rearranged and repacked.  Eventually everything was in and off we went. Our first stop was at a local supermarket where last minute personal items could be bought and the crew could complete the outfit of the truck to meet their impending requirements.

The Rift Valley    (P1080891  ©   DY of jtdytravels)

We climbed up and out of Nairobi making a stop at a viewpoint overlooking the Rift Valley.  This was at an elevation of around 8000 feet.

The small plots are intensively cultivated    (P1080892  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

Down in the valley there were many small farms most of which were growing vegetables or corn. It was all very green.

Curio shops and our truck/bus       (P1080898   ©  DY of jtdytravels)

At this viewpoint stop, there were a host of curio shops all selling ethnic things and the stop was also the first introduction for some of the group to the hassles of being pestered by people trying to earn a meagre living out of encouraging people to buy things they never intended, nor wanted, to buy.  Just what do you do with all these things that just do not fit into our homes when we get home?  Of course they get put in the bottom draw, or worse still, get given to family and friends who have even less interest in them!  A great learning experience for future, similar encounters, of which there will be many if my previous experiences are anything to go by.We climbed a little further up into some low mist and fog which obscured the view of Lake Naivasha, an area which grows many cut flowers, including roses, for the European market.

The Saidia Orphanage in Gilgil, Kenya   (P1080938   ©  DY of jtdytravels)

Our lunch stop was in Gilgil and, while Juma prepared our lunch, we visited the Saidia Orphanage. This institution was established by three grandmothers Jill Simpson MBE, Teresa Wahito and Jane Kinuthia. They saw the need to help the many abandoned babies in the area.  Jill sadly passed away in October 2009, but Jane and Teresa continue the work today.

They have 57 kids at the moment in this programme, some of them having come to the orphanage only hours old.   As well, now there are three other programmes that are run in association with the original orphanage: first, badly behaved kids; secondly, mistreated kids; and lastly, kids born to HIV infected mums who neither want nor are capable of looking after their babies. You can find out more about the work these women are doing to give these kids a better life on their web site:

Jane Kinuthia, one of the remarkable women who run Saidia Orphanage.  (P1080915  © DY  of  jtdytravels)


Some of the children sang for us.   (P1080900  ©  DY of jtdytravels)


Kids will be kids when it comes to playing to a camera  (P1080914   ©  DY for jtdytravels)


One of the little ones.  (P1080913   ©  DY for jtdytravels)


Older kids enjoy soccer  (P1080931  ©  DY for jydytravels)

Soccer is the sport of choice of these boys and a new ball is a great gift.

And in a place like this, there’s always a lot of washing!

My new friend, John    (P1080935   ©   DY of jtdytravels)

The orphanage is very well set up.  Each child selected one of us to take on a tour of the buildings. I was selected by 9 year old John, a young lad with bright eyes and a delightful grin.

One of the all important water tanks.   (P1080917  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

John proudly showed me the children’s paintings that decorate parts of the buildings. This colourful elephant adorns one of the water tanks. The name NDOVU is the local word for elephant. Other paintings were of a lion, a giraffe and a bat.

One of the children, happy to have the chance to live at Saidia.   (P1080936   DY ©  of jtdytravels)

This visit to Saidia Orphanage left us all with plenty to think about. We had great admiration for these visionary, hardworking ‘grandmothers’ who are giving at least some children the chance of a better life. As they had explained to us:There is no social security net in Kenya.  The extended family is still very strong and orphaned children would normally be taken in by an aunt or grannie. But kids with no family are on their own, and today many families have lost the entire parent generation to AIDS.” And that, in itself, is food for thought.

The idylic camp site at Lake Nakuru    (P1080939  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

In the afternoon, we drove on to Lake Nakuru National Park, arriving mid afternoon. The first task was to put up our tents for the very first time, a bit of a trial for some. Thankfully, I had one of these small tents to myself.

After this exciting activity we went on our first game drive.  Lake Nakuru has considerably more water in it than when Jennie and I were there last in 2004.  This meant we could not get as close to the shore as we did the last time but it also meant that there were many more birds to see.

An Ibis wades in the shallows   (P1080980   ©  DY of jtdytravels)


These pelicans kept their feet dry on an island    (P1080990  ©  DY of jtdytravels)


These pelicans didn’t seem to mind having wet feet    (P1080993   ©  DY of jtdytravels)


Baboons grooming   (P1080949  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

We also saw lots of baboons, a couple of white rhinos, a hippo in the distance, gazelle, eland, antelopes, zebra, buffalo, water buck, and a venerable old tortoise  – and an obscured lion sleeping on a rock. We went back to camp very happy, but tired, after a long day.  I was looking forward to a sleep – if sleep could be had sleeping on a thin mattress on the ground. And I was looking forward to finding even more animals on our next drive.   I was really glad I’d the opportunity to come back to Lake Nakuru.

The best camping – under African acacias. (P1090039 © DY of jtdytravels)

We drove through a heavy thunderstorm on our way back to camp.  It missed our tents, thankfully. Our camping location within the park was unfenced so it was no real surprise when a buffalo strolled through between our tents during our after dinner briefing.  This caused some consternation amongst the group.  Signs of strain were evident on many faces as nocturnal meanderings to the loo were erased from the mind. We’ll see what the night brings!  D

Nairobi 14 July 2012

[Finally, I’m in Nairobi,   Latitude:  -1.292,  Longitude:  36.822,  Elevation:  1663.2m (5456.8ft), is the capital of Kenya.  The population of Kenya is:  37,954,000 (est. 7/08) and it has an area of 582,650sq km.]

This is my catch up day.  I decided to arrive a day earlier than the group for that very reason.  This tour is described by Intrepid Travel as ‘Basix’.  That translates to a tour that has none of the inclusions that many travellers don’t want and accommodation at a 1-2 star rating – no fancy inclusion there either!  There is plenty of free time built in, optional activities and the freedom to choose meals to suit your budget – not that that is an option on this tour as there are no alternative places to get food other than from our own camp kitchen at most of our destinations.  All this has not turned out to be a surprise as I realised what I was in for – it was the itinerary that mattered most.  (It will be a tad different on the Denmark, Iceland, Greenland, Orkney, Shetland and Faroe Island part of my time away.  I’m glad the tours are in the order they are as it is so much better to go up a peg than stepping down a couple.)

This, in part, is no doubt the reason why there was no butter at breakfast this morning!  Maybe I should have asked for margarine?  Nonetheless there was plenty to eat if only two cereals (corn flakes or Vita Brits), a couple of hot dishes (I never have a cooked breakfast), two kinds of fruit juice (mango or orange), slices of watermelon, honey dew and rock melon, brown and white bread and a couple of ‘Danish pastries’, to choose from.  Who needs more!

I’ve had time and the inclination to look around the grounds with a little better realisation of what I’m seeing this morning.  There are a number of tall eucalypts, casuarinas and Silky oaks along with palms, Bauhinia and Bougainvillea, Monstera, Hibiscus and some other tropical plants I recognise but don’t remember their names.  There is a decent sized swimming pool but as the temperature is only expected to get to 17 degrees today, I’ll give that volume of cold water a wide berth.

Kivi Milimani Hotel, Nairobi, Gardens and pool
P1080886 DY of jtdytravels

Apart from the Maribou storks I saw yesterday, there are quite a number of other birds around this leafy part of Nairobi.  Most frequent are the grey/buff chested crows/ravens.  They caw just like their relatives all over the world.  There are whistling kites, some ducks and numerous small birds that quickly flit through the foliage, that fast it is impossible to know what they even resemble.

There is a TV in my room but I haven’t bothered turning it on.  Of course, there is no mini bar, toiletries, except a small cake of soap, no extra blankets or tea making facilities.

I’ve done my washing and half sorted and repacked my bags.  It is not far off lunchtime.

There’s not a lot to doP1080887    ©  DY of jtdytravels

As in many African countries, there is a lot of just sitting around. So why don’t I join them? D