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Animals Landscape Transportation Travel

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.

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Animals Landscape Travel

Thursday August 26, 2010

SINGITA GRUMETI RESERVES, TANZANIA – We made a short trip by air to another spot on the Mara River (in Tanzania) known for its crossings. The wildebeest didn’t cooperate so there was little drama in the excursion. We did see a lot of hippos – managed to capture some of my best hippo images.

Hippos

We visited Singita Sasakwa Lodge for lunch and a ride on trail bikes. Singiti Sasakwa is the lodge built by Paul Tudor Jones that I mentioned in an earlier post. Here’s a link: Sasakwa Lodge.

Here’s an image of a burned out area from our bicycle ride:

Controlled burn

Finally, a sunset back at our tented camp – our last in the bush as we return to Nairobi tomorrow.

Sunset
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Animals Landscape Travel

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
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Animals Landscape

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
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Animals Landscape Travel

Monday August 23, 2010 Part I

MAASAI MARA, KENYA – Part I is our morning game drive.

Giraffe at sunrise

The Maasai who guard our camp at night (from from animals) walking 12 miles back to their village.

Maasai walking

Wildebeest:

Wildebeest

Setting up for breakfast in the bush:

Setting up for breakfast in the bush
Relaxing after breakfast

Lion up close:

Lion up close

Cape buffalo. These large, tough animals are considered dangerous if you’re on foot.

Cape buffalo

Here’s a Thomson gazelle with a group of impala. The guides refer to Thompson gazelles as “cheetah snacks”.

Impala and Thompson Gazelle
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Landscape Travel

Sunday August 22, 2010 Part II

MAASAI MARA, KENYA – On our two-hour drive back from our balloon landing site we again encountered plentiful game. Here’s a cheetah, the worlds fasted land animal. This specimen in injured – see the red spot on its thigh – probably a spotted hyena bite. Here’s info on the cheetah: Cheetah.

Cheetah
Cheetah

Here’s a giraffe confronting a spotted hyena. The hyena is the nastiest predator in the bush. It jumps on its prey, clings to it with it claws and simply starts eating it, crunching flesh and bone with its powerful jaws. It’s no match for a healthy adult giraffe though, so the hyena in this picture is making a respectful circle around the giraffe. Here’s a link to the Wikipedia entry on hyenas: Hyenas.

Giraffe confronts a spotted hyena

Crocodile. Rivers and streams are infested with them. Some look like they are about the size of nuclear submarines.

Crocodile

Vultures on a termite mound:

Vultures on a termite mound

Male ostrich looking for a date. The males have black bodies; the females are gray. The red neck and legs are a courtship display.

Ostrich
Categories
Animals Landscape Transportation Travel

Sunday August 22, 2010 Part I

MAASAI MARA, KENYA – Another huge game day, so I’m dividing the day into multiple parts. We started at 4:00 am, driving to a hot air balloon launch site and making an hour-long balloon trip across the bush. Zebras from on high.

Zebras from the air

Ditto impalas:

Impalas

Here we are, eye-to-eye with the giraffes:

Giraffes at eye level

Bush:

Bush

Dry watering hole:

Dry watering hole

Hot air balloon landing:

Hot air balloon landing