A Memorable Safari to Kenya and Tanzania

August.  The time of the great wildebeest migration from the Serengeti in Tanzania north through the Masai Mara in Kenya in their annual quest for new grass.  This brings out the predators in droves as this mobile "buffet" passes through their ranges.

We traveled with a small group, under Aaron Shaha's care, of course.  Joy and I were the only ones who had been to Kenya before, so this was an especially exciting trip.  And was it ever!  Without trying, we saw the "big five" (lion, rhino, leopard, cape buffalo, and elephant) in the first three days!  Many people will spend a week or two without seeing this classic collection of wildlife.  Add to that cheetah sightings, tens upon tens of thousands of wildebeest along with thousands of zebra who were migrating, crocodiles, and countless hippos, and more.

Let's go on the safari:

Amboseli National Park

Amboseli is a park in transition, from treed plain to savannah.  It has long been popular because of its large elephant herds and fantastic view of Mt. Kilimanjaro.  The plain and dry lakebed are punctuated with many large marshes where the elephants hang out, along with hippos and lots of birds.


A trip to Amboseli wouldn't be complete without a visit to a Maasai village, one of several located near the lodge.  Although Joy and i have been several times, we accompanied our friends as unofficial guides (to give Aaron a break).

Village elders greet us

Maasai come out from the village to greet us

Colorfully dressed men and women

Diana and Katie join the dance

Jumping is often part of Maasai dances

Young Jordan is coaxed to join in

Although only 14, Jordan towers over even the tall Maasai

Everyone is enjoying themselves

The ladies are ready for their own greeting

The women's dance of welcome

Patrick mixes in

Who is taking pictures of who?

Diana borrows a Maasai necklace and mugs for the camera

Traditional Maasai huts

A village elder explains the village functions

Making a fire the old way

See? It works!

The visitors learn about the houses

Hmmm. A tight squeeze for some of us.


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Lake Nakuru National Park

When you think Lake Nakuru, think pink.  Hundreds of thousands of flamingos impart their distinctive color to this shallow lake.  The habitat was in serious peril only a few months ago primarily due to drought, when the flocks were severely limited.  But plentiful rains in the spring has given this area rebirth, and the flamingos are back.  The small park at the end of the lake is also home to rhino, cape buffalo, giraffes, gazelles, impalas, and even leopards.  Last year we even saw an African wild dog (a beautiful creature), but we didn't see it this time.

The roads are getting pretty good

Greeting committee at the park entrance

We travel through some dense forest

A colobus monkey in the trees

A helmeted guinea fowl

Olive babboon gives us the once-over

Aha! A white rhino poses

Lots of cape buffalo, rainstorm in the distance

Free ride

Mom and baby zebra

The ever-lovely little Thompson's gazelle

A classic lone acacia

Oops! We hit water!

Aha! This SUV has the power to solve the situation

Pink over blue - what a sight!

Pelican looking for a landing spot

Flamingos and their pelican friends

Kitty in a tree

The elusive and reclusive leopard

Evening falls on Lake Nakuru

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Hells Gate National Park

This remarkable park is near Lake Naivasha.  It is a long, narrow valley between vertical escarpments, where water once flowed thousands of years before.  Because of a large number of local hikers, most of the animal residents had taken refuge in inaccessible areas.  So we headed straight for njorowa gorge, a narrow gorge that follows a stream down a canyon alongside of hot springs.  The trail is winding, and takes a bit of effort to negotiate.  But the scenery and the experience is worth it.  On the way, David was made an honorary Maasai by our fearless and humorous guide.  A little ochre on the face does it nicely.  We love to take this hike every time we are in the area.

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Masai Mara - The Wildebeest Migration

This is the whole point of the trip.  We came to see the fabulous migration.  'Nuff said.  Take a look

Entering the Masai Mara

Sunrise on the Masai Mara

Grazing buddies

Jackal out for a morning stroll

So gang, what's on the menu? Wildebeest again?

A very pretty cat

Laying down. It's what us kitties do best.

The wildebeest storm the river

Panic! Swim! Dang! Anybody see crocs?

Crowd in the beach, then push on

No! You go first! I insist!

Mom! Junior keeps pushing me!

Even zebras make the trip

They always cross with splashing and bleating

Finally! On the other side

This crossing is done. The crowd turns back

One cheetah is common, but six? Very rare

The younsters pose for us

Cheetahs - one of our true favorites

The colorful male agama

A view of the Mara river

This gray heron looking for calmer waters

OK, THIS is the reason the wildebeest panic

Elephant herd coming to the river for a drink

The little guys are sooo cute!

Getting a snootful

Ah! The pause that refreshes

Joy, Katie, and Dean catch the elephants' actions

That's enough water. Back on our way

Ears forward, this little guy pretends to threaten us

Lizard close-up - next to the arm of my chair

Smoke from a human-set fire on the neighboring Serengeti

A lion lesson in love - first a snoozing foreplay

She seems to indicate "something"

C'mon, baby, let's get frisky

Children, cover your eyes

Ta-dah! Six seconds (Patrick timed it) and over

He's gotta be exhausted!

Ever-beautiful giraffes

Morning, and mom's tuckered out

Sure, y'all can take pictures. I just don't get up.

A pair of Maasai giraffe

What a creature!

Wildebeest, everywhere you look

Pretty, they aint. Plentiful, they are

Impalas in the morning sun

Majestic topi

A Masai Mara sunset


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Tanzania:  Ngorongoro Crater, the Serengeti

Our last few days were spent in Tanzania.  Here we were under the care of a different safari company, one who had contracted with Tropical Woods Tours.  Although we enjoyed ourselves, we came to discover just how good Aaron is.  Part of the experience was maybe our fault, as we'd seen so much already, there wasn't a lot more for us to discover, at least in terms of wildlife.  But you really have to experience places like the Ngorongoro (named for the sound of cow bells) where the animals share the floor of an extinct volcanic crater.  And the huge Serengeti - short grass area, tall grass area, and woodland.  A wonderful stop for David was Oldupai (misnamed Olduvai by the media) gorge where the Leakey's discovered what is currently the oldest human relative, nicknamed "Lucy".  Enjoy the trip with us...

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