Lake Naivasha

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After doing traditional game drives by car for a good 5 days it was time for something new. We headed for a boat safari on Lake Naivasha. I had really high hopes for this trip, which is probably why I got pretty let down by it once we were there. We agreed with our guide that we would do both a game drive by boat, and a walk on the so called “crescent island” where we were told we could walk with animals like giraffes, zebras and gazelles. In my own stupidity I somehow though that maybe on this lake we would see some flamingos at last, but then I learned that flamingos live in salt water lakes, and Lake Naivasha is a fresh water lake. We did see a lot of Hippos though, and pelicans.

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The biggest let down for me was the crescent island. When we got out of the boat, we were shown two giraffes behind a fence, that were pretty far away – and that wasn’t the worst part, our guide offered to have somebody make them come closer using a stick.. obviously we didn’t want that. Just as when we went to Lake Nakuru, we were told that most of the animals left due to higher water levels – they even blamed having put up fences on this. We were talked into paying extra for this stop that turned out to be nothing but sad, and were left with a feeling that we got ripped off. Back on the water the boat guide tried to make a bird come closer using some food – he failed pretty miserably though, as he dropped the food in the water. I honestly have to say that our visit to Lake Naivasha wasnt worth the trouble. Sure, the lake is beautiful, but the way we were tricked into thinking crescent island was something it clearly wasn’t kind of ruined the experience for me.

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If you ever decide to go on a boat safari in Kenya I would recomend going to Lake Oloidien instead. While it is a smaller and less known lake, it is easily just as beautiful as Lake Naivasha and there are more animals living there – I will do a seperate post about it later on ๐Ÿ™‚

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By the Waterhole (Kilaguni Serena Lodge)

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Our hotel in Tsavo West National Park, Kilaguni Serena Lodge, takes the whole staying inside of a national park thing to a whole new level – they have built two waterholes right next to the hotel.

This was the hotel I had looked forward to visiting the most, and I was very excited as we arrived. I was hoping to see some animals from the hotel restaurant, that I knew was overlooking both waterholes. When the staff was showing us our room I soon realized that I didn’t have to wait until dinner though, we could see one of the waterholes from right outside our window, where there was a small balcony. As they opened the curtains we saw a large group of elephants passing by! ๐Ÿ™‚ I really felt like we were living right in the middle of the wildlife, hehe.

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(sorry about the poor quality of the picture – I had to take it with my phone as my camera was out of power at the time)

We headed for dinner pretty much right away (after charging my camera), as we arrived pretty late. During dinner we saw a few hyenas by the waterholes, however I didn’t get any good photos, as there was another table blocking our view ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

After an awesome three course dinner we decided to stay and watch from a viewing platform for a while, hoping to spot some more animals. After a little while a huge group of elephants approached. I think there must have been at least 25 of them in total, and it was really awesome to see them play with each other and drink. I got a few photos as well, allthough they turned out pretty dark:

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It really was quite an experience. After the first group left, a second almost as large group came to drink as well, and I also saw a few buffalos and zebras. I stayed for about 2-3 hours just watching the animals.

As we just had one night in Tsavo West, we had to say goodbye to the amazing view already the next morning – I dragged Rob out of bed half an hour early so that we could have a long breakfast and after a pretty silly discussion with the waiter, (that said all the tables closest to the waterhole were taken allthough we were the only people there this early at all) I managed to get us a good table, closest to the view:Image

I really enjoyed the food, the view and our room at this hotel ๐Ÿ™‚ I was a little annoyed with the waiters though – I guess they didn’t realize how important it was to us getting to see the animals. Or maybe they just tried to be nice to some other guests, I don’t know. The rest of the experience definitely made up for this though – if Im ever in Kenya again I am going back, and Im staying longer than just one night!

Mzima Springs

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The Mzima Springs is a series of natural springs located in Tsavo West. With a little luck it is possible to spot both hippos and crocodiles in the springs, so obviously Rob and I had to go have a look. As we arrived, we were met by a park ranger holding a pretty big gun. He was also wearing army clothes, so we felt a little bit intimidated.

The ranger turned out to be a really nice guy though, and he reassured us that the gun was notย  for us – it was a security measure because of the wild animals living in the area. He took us to the first pool which seemed pretty empty, but still quite beautiful:

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We walked over to the little hut, that turned out to be partialy under water. We went inside and were able to see a lot of fish living in the spring – not quite hippos or crocodiles, but still pretty nice. The water really is very clear, so it is easy to see the animals.

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As I got out of the hut I managed to grab a photo of the ranger as well, hehe ๐Ÿ™‚

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We moved on to the next spring, where we found a couple of crocodiles – unlike the ones I have seen at various zoos growing up, these were actually moving around (at least every now and then) and I got a couple of cool pictures of them:

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I really enjoyed my visit to Mzima Springs, and I was very happy to see some crocodiles as we didn’t find them in any of the other parks ๐Ÿ™‚

Carnivore – A Beast of a Feast!

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If you like meat, the Carnivore is a must visit in Nairobi. Rob and I did a lunch stop here on our way from Lake Nakuru to Amboseli, and had an awesome time. As we were seated our waiter explained the “rules” of the place to us.All of the tables have a flag and as long as the flag is up the waiters will keep coming over with different types of meat for you to try. When you are too full you need to take the flag down and they will leave you alone.

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In order to build up the appetite needed for all of the meat, Carnivore serve their own special cocktail called Dawa. It is made of vodka, lime and herbs. Dawa means medicine in swahili by the way, and they call the guy serving it the doctor ๐Ÿ˜›

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We started out with pretty standard meat: lamb, beef, turkey etc etc. Then after a while the waiters started offering us slightly more special things. Ostrich tasted pretty good, but Ox Balls not so much – not sure why I even tried it I think I just wanted to show Rob that I dared to. They didn’t taste much but felt really strange when chewing on them. We got pretty full after a few more rounds of beef, but decided to ask wether we could try crocodile as well since we knew they had it at Carnivore and never tried before.

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In my opinion, crocodile tastes like a mix between chicken and fish. Pretty cool to have tried, but not something I really have to have again. We decided to give up after finishing the crocodile and put out flag down – the waiter came over asking if it was broken or if we really were giving up.. I guess we didn’t eat as much as we thought?

Even after you give up on the meat there’s more food though, desert is also included in the menu. Luckily I have a special stomach designated for desert only though, so that’s ok ๐Ÿ™‚ This was easily the largest lunch we had on our whole trip to Kenya, and probably the largest lunch I’ve had all year.

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Amboseli

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The national park I looked forward to seeing the most on my trip to Kenya was Amboseli, because of it’s location at the foot of Kilimanjaro and the large herds of elephants living there. As you can see on the picture we sadly didn’t get the greatest view of Kilimanjaro, but at least we saw the silhouette as we entered the park. The day after the mountain was completely hidden in the mist – I have to admit I was very disappointed after seeing pictures of how great the view can be on a clear day online. There is no way to control the weather though, so the best we could do was to make the best out of our time there with our without the view.
Every morning all of the elephants living in the park make it a habit to walk to the water, this makes it quite easy for tourists like us to get to see them all up close as they cross the road.

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I was really impressed by just how big these animals can get. That guy with just half a tooth left was a giant – much larger than our safari van! After seeing the elephants cross the road, we found two lions a male and a female. At first glance it looked as if they were just relaxing in the sun, but after a little while it became pretty clear that was not what they were doing at all..

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Apparently, lions mate for a whole week. During this time they don’t hunt or eat – they simply sleep and mate with eachother over and over again. We decied to give the lions at least a little bit of privacy (allthough several vans arrived after our guide explained the situation over his radio) and drove to a hill overlooking the park. Here we could get out of the van for a bit, stretch our legs and get a good view of the elephants once more, as they were closing in on the water.

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On this gamedrive we also saw a confused hippo on land, hyenas and zebras among other things – In conclusion: the park is worth a visit in it’s own right even when you can’t see Kilimanjaro ๐Ÿ™‚

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Lake Nakuru

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Lake Nakuru is famous worldwide for the hundreds of thousands of flamingos living there. We were really looking forward to seeing this bird spectacle for ourselves, but as it turns out the birds migrated to other lakes 3 years ago due to too high water levels (according to our guide in Kenya). I guess we should have looked into this more closely before deciding to spend a night in the park, but we didn’t see any reason to doubt our safari company that also advertised this on their website. This being said, the park is definitely still worth a visit. There are several other animals still living there including lions, leopards, buffalos and of course the white and the black rhino.

Rob and I only did two short gamedrives in Lake Nakuru, but we had a few really awesome moments. The highlight for me was when we ran into the rare black rhino – this one even had a baby as well!

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The Black Rhino is really really shy – we noticed first hand when we got a little bit closer, they ran into the woods as quickly as they could.

We also saw a really big family of baboons – the youngest only a few weeks old

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We found some lions as well, but they were very tired (look at her stretch haha)999405_515443742828_1707550068_n And here is the white rhino as well ๐Ÿ™‚ 1010641_515444127058_9699183_n

A Game Drive in Masai Mara

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It is 7.15 in the morning, the sun is about to come out and Rob and I are finishing our breakfast at our lodge in Masai Mara National Game Reserve.

“So what do you think we’re gonna see?”

“I don’t know, animals I guess? Nature?”

“time to meet our guide –ย  wash down that coffe and let’s go”

As we exit our lodge and pull out onto the main road, we see a huge herd of buffalos. We stand up in the car immediately and start taking pictures. Our guide smiles and tells us most people don’t get exited unless there are lions involved. We like all animals, we answer and take some more photos.

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After a little while our guide tells us he has gotten a call on the radio about a rhino a few minutes drive away. We rush over to check it out, and indeed see a beautiful black Rhino standing under a tree not too far from the road.Unlike the peaceful and social White Rhino, the Black one is both shy and very aggressive – it is also the most endangered out of the two types.

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Happy that we got to see this very rare animal, we keep on going, looking for more animals. After a little while we see a rather large group of Elephants. Having been to the shelter in Nairobi, the fully grown Elephants seem incredibly large, and we feel an overwhelming sense of respect for them. (some of them really are larger than the safari van we are in)

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as we move on, we drive around for a while without spotting any animals at all, but the park is beautiful in its own right and we enjoy the scenery. We decide to make a stop at the Mara River, to look for hippos and crocodiles. As we exit the van and get closer to the river, we hear sounds coming from the water. We quickly realize that these sounds are hippos blowing water out of their noses as they stick their heads up from the river. The group of hippos is rather big and there are even quite a few baby hippos in the mix!

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As I try to get closer in order to get better photos, I am told by our guide to keep my distance – as hippos are known to kill humans for fun. It is hard to belive that these adorable animals are cold-blooded killers, but looking at their size I realize that they are probably more than capable of hurting me if they decide that they want to do so. Some other tourists tell us that they saw crocodiles further down the river, so Rob and I decide to go look as well. Sadly we can’t see anything and decide to go back to the van.

Our guide tells us somebody spotted a group of lions, but that they are pretty far away. We begin our drive to the other end of the park, enjoying the hills, the yellow grass and the occasional group of zebras, gazelles or buffalos. As we get closer to where the lions have been spotted, our guide stops the car all of a sudden, telling us to look ahead. After a few minutes we see it too – there is a lioness walking straight towards us. She crosses the road and keeps on walking right past the van. We keep on driving, and finally reach the rest of the lions – a group of lionesses and cubs resting under a tree.

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For me this is, easily, the highlight of the whole day. I love all of the big cats, and seeing so many small cubs just melt my heart. After we have taken at least a hundred photos, we finally let the guide drive away from the lions. It is time for lunch, and as we wanted more time out looking for animals, we have agreed to eat out in the park. Our guide finds us a quiet spot, where we have a picnic out in the bush – awesome ๐Ÿ™‚

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The rest of the day is, sadly, rather quitet in terms of animals. The truth is, you do generally spend a lot of time just searching while on game drives. It is, after all, not a trip to the zoo but a visit to the animals own habitat – and you can’t control nature. After a few hours of not finding much we head back to the lodge. We really enjoyed seeing so many animals in their natural environment, and the park itself is beautiful as well. I am pretty sure I will remember some of these moments for the rest of my life! ๐Ÿ™‚