Monday July 25, 2011

LEMARTI’S CAMP, KENYA – Maria caught up with us in time to board a bush plane to the Northern Kenyan foothills where we’re spending three days at Lemarti’s Camp. This is a “tented camp” far north of the beaten path, owned by our friends Anna Trzebinski and her husband Loyapan Lamarti. Lemarti is a Samburu Maasai; Anna is a Kenyan of European descent. We’re here to see Anna and Lemarti and to soak up some Maasai culture. We weren’t planning any game drives (we did that last year), but ran into a herd of elephants in our long drive from the dirt landing strip to the camp.

This is a remarkable site, which (like a lot of Kenya) gets under your skin. We arrived in time for tea, dinner and a sunset. Images captured with my Alpa TC, Phase One IQ 180 and a Schneider 35mm Digitar.

Lamarti's Camp
Lamarti's Camp
Lemarti's Camp
Lemarti's Camp

On this day one year ago: Barking Dog Cafe.

The Barking Dog Cafe

Sunday July 24, 2011

KAREN, KENYA – Here we are in this suburb of Nairobi which either is or isn’t named after Karen Blixen (aka Isak Dinesen), depending on who you talk to. Karen was the site of Blixen’s coffee plantation which forms the backdrop of Out of Africa. Back in the day this was the bush, now it’s a suburb.

We’re staying at a relatively new hotel, Hogmead, in Karen for one night to catch our breath from travel and to wait for Maria. Hogmead is in a large, beautifully restored, colonial house. I wonder how they get away with the Harry Potter name? They’ll probably be getting a nastygram from Harry’s legal team. Here it is captured with my Alpa TC, Phase One IQ 180 back and 35mm Schneider Digitar lens.

Hogmead
Hogmead

On this day last year: Jim.

Jim

Sunday August 29, 2010

NAIROBI, KENYA – Here we are – out last day in Kenya. We went on a “food safari” in local markets with Hubert des Marais (an American from the Carolinas), a prominent chef who has become Fairmont’s executive chef in Kenya (or maybe East Africa). Our first stop was a large covered farmers’ market where local residents bring vegetables grown on plots in Nairobi.

Food Market

Cell phones are the primary means of communications; many residents lack electric power so business that offer the charge cell phones, like this one in the market, are common.

A cell phone charging service in the market

There’s a food court in the food market where it possible to buy lunch. The word “hotel” on the sign means “restaurant” in this context.

The largest foreign food influence is Indian. The Indians were brought in by the English to build the railroad from Mombasa to Lake Victoria. Indians also came to the region as traders, merchants and professionals. Here we see an Indian pastry shop.

An indian pastry shop

This is a former aircraft hanger, from the era when the airstrip was in the middle of Nairobi, converted to a mall for small merchants.

Shops

Hubert des Marais at lunch at Chowpaty, a terrific Indian dive. In terms of Indian regional cuisines, what we appeared to see was everything pretty much mixed together.

Hubert des Marais

Finally before packing for our flight back to New York we managed a few hours in the Nairobi National Museum. It focuses on primarily on natural history, ethnography and geology, geared roughly to a high school student. Here is a group of high school students lined up for admission:

Nairobi National Museum

Friday August 27, 2010

NAIROBI, KENYA – Sadly, here we are loading our bush plane to return to Nairobi where we have planned a busy day

Bush plane

In Nairobi we visited the David Sheldrick Animal Orphanage, one of the two remarkable charities on our itinerary. Founded by Dame Daphnne Sheldrick the orphanage rescues orphan elephants (the most come cause of the mothers’ death is ivory poachers). The animals are cared for intensively for five years, and then reintroduced into the wild. You can walk among them at their feeding time.

Elephants

Our constant companion on the trip, Patrick, playing soccer with an elephant.

Monday August 23, 2010 Part III

MAASAI MARA, KENYA – Ride back from the crossing and late afternoon bush walk. Here’s a heard of Maasai cattle. As noted in an earlier post the Maasai are semi-nomadic cattle herders. They prefer large horn cattle in white with small black markings. The Maasai believe that all the cattle in the world belong to Maasai, leading to behavior that is considered cattle theft by others. Historically their diet consisted primarily of milk mixed with cow’s blood drawn from an artery – they patch up the wound after drawing the blood. They supplement it with sheep and goats. Cows are to valuable as a measure of wealth to slaughter for food.

Maasai cattle

This gives some idea of just how ugly the spotted hyena is:

Spotted hyenas

We took a late afternoon bush walk. This is Maria with our Maasai guide, Ping, inspecting a termite hill. Ping is an amazing story teller; he’s the fellow who spent six month’s in Orlando advising on the safari ride.

Bush walk
Maasai Mara sunset

Monday August 23, 2010 Part II

MAASAI MARA, KENYA – We have been extraordinarily lucky to witness a major crossing of the Mara River by the wildebeest migration. The crossing is popular with both animals and photographers. The guides refer to it at the “BBC crossing” – its where BBC send a camera crew if they need shots of wildlife crossing a river.

Crossing Mara River
River crossing

A four shot sequence of a croc killing a zebra:

Zebra kill
Zebra kill
Zebra kill
Zebra kill
Zebra audience

Wildebeest and Zebras massed at the crossing.

Crossing the Mara River

Wildebeest diving competition:

Wildebeest diving