Aberdare National Park

 Posted by Elizabeth at 7:20 pm
Jul 292011
 

Aberdare National ParkWe were undecided whether to head to Lake Nakuru (knowing it would cost us at least $210) and was quite a drive from Samburu, or head towards Lake Naivasha, knowing we needed to be back in Nairobi by midday Saturday.  In the end we changed our mind completely and ended up at Aberdare National Park for the night and then headed to Lake Naivasha the next day.Eastern black-and-white colobus, Aberdare National Park

Aberdare National Park is a stark contrast to the parks we have been in recently. It is quite mountainous and covered in thick, lush vegetation, making animal spotting pretty difficult. In fact, the only way you really see any of them is if they run out on the road in front of you seeing as open areas are few and far between. Whilst we didn’t see too many animals, it was a pleasant change and we still managed to see buffalo, heaps of warthogs, bushbuck, defassa waterbuck, baboons, giant forest hog, elephants and black-and-white faced colobus monkeys. The elephants are pretty amazing as they climb the steep mountainsides eating the whole time. I’m not sure how they manage to keep their balance.

We headed across through the park and down to Lake Naivasha where we spent the afternoon relaxing.

Buffalo, Aberdare National ParkBushbuck, Aberdare National ParkGiant Forest Hog, Aberdare National Park

Our car has decided to become very sick. It is struggling to make it up even the smallest hill and will not rev past 2000 revs no matter how hard you try, making the hills on the way to Samburu and through Aberdare quite a slow, tedious journey. It is blowing white smoke when climbing the hills and has no power whatsoever, not that it had a lot in the beginning. It is again booked in at Toyota in Nairobi for some TLC and hopefully a full recovery!

Samburu National Park

 Posted by Elizabeth at 6:33 pm
Jul 272011
 

Samburu National ParkAfter spending yet another couple of nights at Jungle Junction in Nairobi, and meeting up again with Jean and Malcolm who were still there awaiting their departure north, we decided to head north to Samburu National Park. The park is definitely worth the visit due to the different animals you will see there, but the entry fees are ridiculous. It cost us $US70 per person, yet if we were a non resident on an organised tour then it would only be $US40 – how does that logic work?? We tried to get them to only charge us the tour rate but needless to say we weren’t successful. At least this time the car was only 300Ksh ($3).

We had not decided if we would camp or not, and seeing as it was our wedding anniversary we decided to check out a couple of the lodges. The first wanted $US560 for a tent in the dirt and wouldn’t budge. We then tried Samburu Lodge who originally wanted $US440 but we ended up paying $US286 after pleading poor and telling them it was our anniversary. We had a lovely large banda with a fantastic hot shower with full water pressure, the food was plentiful and quite nice and the lodge itself was pleasant – they even feed the crocodiles right next to the bar each night. Our park fees only allowed us to stay until 5pm so mid afternoon we thought we had better check out where we were going to stay as it was too far to drive anywhere else. We negotiated at the park gate to let us go out and check out a community camp a couple of kilometres away and then either come back in and stay until 6.30pm, or, if we stayed in the park again, to only charge us $70 rather than the full rate as we needed to leave first thing in the morning to get to our next destination. The community camp was OK, but I didn’t feel quite comfortable enough as we were about as far north in Kenya as you can go and still be “safe” and the camp was pretty much in the village. We decided to head back to Samburu Lodge and see what deal we could strike. They offered the same rate as the previous night so we took it. Long story, but we ended up with a smaller, although still nice room, we had no water in the shower either at night or again in the morning (they did try to fix it and the whole camp had an issue) and then in the morning when we tried to collect our lunch boxes we were told they would be 40 minutes but we had to be out of the park by 9am and did not have time to wait. Not happy! The manager was quite understanding though and tried to appease us. In the end we paid less than the local rate – $US150 which was pretty good.

Beisa Oryx, Samburu National ParkSamburu National ParkReticulated giraffes, Samburu National Park

Leopard, Samburu National ParkSamburu had some new animals for us, namely the Gerenuk, Grevy’s Zebra, Reticulated Giraffe and the Beisa Oryx which made it worth the trip. We also saw elephants, lions, dik-diks, impala, buffalo, baboons, vervet monkeys, hare, crocodiles, black-backed jackal, mongooses, waterbucks, warthogs, grant’s gazelles, squirrels and a leopard tortoise. The highlight though was finding a leopard sitting on a fallen tree trunk about 10 metres from the road, elevated just above the bushes with no branches or leaves obstructing him AND we had him all to ourselves for about 10 minutes. A tour van then turned up, sent out the call on the radio and within minutes every vehicle in the park was crowded around him stuck in a traffic jam on a track that was only wide enough for one vehicle at a time. Needless to say we moved off shortly after they arrived and had the rest of the park to ourselves.

Leopard, Samburu National ParkReticulated giraffes, Samburu National ParkSamburu National ParkGerenuk, Samburu National Park

Grevy's zebra, Samburu National ParkVulturine guineafowl, Samburu National ParkSamburu National Park

Amboseli National Park

 Posted by Elizabeth at 12:36 pm
Jul 242011
 

Amboseli National ParkWe left Nairobi and headed for Amboseli National Park. Once again, the road from the main tar road to the park was horrible and full of corrugations. Most of the time we spent on the tracks that have been made on either side of the road rather than on the road itself. At least this time though it was only about 30km,

The park itself is quite small and at this time of year the animals are all around the swamp areas which means you travel over the same few roads during your game drives. The park is mostly a plain and dry, except in the swamp area. Whilst we saw lots of elephants and the highlight was seeing a cheetah with 4 very small cubs, which we had all to ourselves for ages, we were in general disappointed with the park. I think we have seen so many animals and parks now that we want to see the unusual rather than the regular, along with some varied scenery. If it was one of the first parks you visited then it would be fantastic as you are guaranteed to see heaps of animals.

Ostrich, Amboseli National ParkCheetah, Amboseli National ParkCheetah, Amboseli National ParkAmboseli National ParkAmboseli National ParkAmboseli National ParkAmboseli National ParkWaterbuck, Amboseli National ParkAmboseli National Park

Whilst we were in Amboseli we decided we would treat ourselves and spend the 2 nights in a lodge. The first night we stayed at Ol Tukai which is right in the middle of the park with views out to to the swamp from your room where we could see elephants, zebra, wildebeest and buffalo as well as hear the hippos. It was great to have a really hot, long shower for a change and the food was great. The second night we stayed at Kilima lodge, just outside the southern park gate. This time we were in a “tent”, well at least the walls and roof were made of canvas, but that is about as close to a tent it got. Again the food was great and we even got a free 30 minute massage each. Both places were expensive but we negotiated them down on the price quite a bit, at Kilima we got just over 30% off. Both of us have to say though that we sleep better in our tent!

Kilima Lodge, Amboseli National ParkKilima Lodge, Amboseli National ParkKilima Lodge, Amboseli National Park

Mt Kilimanjaro, Amboseli National ParkWe did though finally manage to see Mt Kilimanjaro. It wasn’t completely clear, but we could see the bottom and the top, which has very little snow on it, with a band of clouds in the middle. Most of the day though it is hidden behind cloud and mist and you can’t see any of it at all.

Nairobi

 Posted by Elizabeth at 4:07 pm
Jul 212011
 

Even though we asked the rangers and various other people which was the best road out of the Masai Mara to Nairobi in an attempt to prevent further damage to our car, the road out was worse than the road we took in! The road consisted of huge lumps of gravel deposited in some dirt as well as corrugations and dips. It was a most unpleasant drive until we finally reached the smooth tar – something we hadn’t seen in quite some time.

We spent 4 nights at Jungle Junction whilst we attended to our list of things to do. First on the list was to clean and reorganise our car. After having had milk spill in the carpet a week or so ago we had not really put things back the way they should be. It took us all day to wash our clothes (which were absolutely putrid), reorganise and clean the ten ton of dust out of our car.

The next day we had our trip to Toyota – what fun. We arrived at our appointment time, explained that we needed at least 1, if not 2, front shocks and a new battery, and told them we needed it back the same day. As usual this was a drama and had to be confirmed with the supervisor etc This took probably an hour before the car was booked in and we went to sit in the lounge. 3 hours later we tried to check on the status of the car and they were only just replacing the shocks! After 5 hours we were told that they didn’t have any batteries, oh and both of them need replacing! I’ve been pretty patient with Africa time, but this time I was NOT impressed! I politely told them that it would have been nice to have been told that several hours ago as then we would have had time to organise a battery ourselves from the heap of spare parts shops literally across the road, especially as the batteries run our fridge which we need to be working! They then decided that we could go with them to their battery supplier 500m down the road and they would fit the new batteries there, thank goodness! So after wasting our entire day at Toyota we left with 2 new shocks, 2 new batteries, the second battery compartment welded so the battery isn’t falling through the engine bay anymore and a clean car.

David Sheldrick Centre, NairobiOn our third day we decided to visit the David Sheldrick Trust and the Giraffe Centre. The David Sheldrick centre cares primarily for baby elephants that have been orphaned either through poaching or human\animal conflict. Some of the elephants that arrive at the centre are only a few weeks old whilst others are maybe 2 years old. They are raised at the centre until they are able to be moved to Tsavo National Park where they are continued to be looked after until they are ready to go off into the wild. They also have 2 orphaned rhinos that they care for. You can only visit the trust between 11-12 and it is a worthwhile quick stop if you are spending time in Nairobi. At the Giraffe Centre you are able to hand feed the giraffes and obviously see them extremely closely. They are HUGE animals up close! At the time of our visit there was a baby giraffe only a few weeks old which was very cute.

Giraffe Centre, NairobiGiraffe Centre, NairobiGiraffe Centre, Nairobi

Whilst at Jungle Junction we met another Aussie couple, Jean and Malcolm who shipped their vehicle over from Aus. They arrived here a few weeks before us, however they are heading up to London and then who knows from there. We spent quite a lot of time chatting to them, sharing route info and talking about the joys of overlanding (such as showers) that other people just don’t get. We also had dinner with them at a local Chinese restaurant, which was quite nice, cheap and a pleasant change. They are hanging around here whilst they wait and see if they can join a convey to Ethiopia.

We are off to Amboseli for a few days and then will return to Nairobi before we head off again.

Stats Updated

 Posted by Elizabeth at 12:57 pm
Jul 202011
 

I finally remembered to update our stats page if anyone is interested in checking it out.

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