Tag Archives: animals

Monkey day

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As it turns out, there is a huge monkey park in the Netherlands, only about an hours drive from where we live, called De Apenheul. The zoo started in 1971 and is completely dedicated to monkeys. They have large groups of gorilla, orang-gutan, chimpanzee and last but not least over 200 squirrel monkeys running freely within the park just to mention a few good reasons to visit. I just knew I had to see this place once I heard of it and made Rob and my friend Marleen tag along even if it was sunday and odds were the park would be really busy.ย  As we entered the park we were asked to put our personal belongings in special monkeyproof bags, to avoid harming the squirrel monkeys – I think the bags looked kind of cool so that was no problem at all ^^

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We kept on going and after just a few meters we saw a squirel monkey with a little baby holding on to her back climbing on eager visitors. I stretched out my arm and just like that she moved on to me ๐Ÿ™‚ I managed to give her to Marleen as well before she jumped on to the next person. This all went very quickly so it was hard for us to get good photos. We were really happy to experience this though and amazed to have done so within 5 minutes of entering the park.

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We moved on to watch the orang-utans that were in a really large area consisting of several islands. I was really impressed with just how large the group of animals was and I got quite a few nice shots of them climbing around.

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There was even a really cute baby ๐Ÿ™‚Image

We moved on to watch the keepers feed the gorillas. Again I was amazed with just how large the family was, not to mention how big the leader of the group, Jambo is: Image

After walking around watching all the different kinds of monkeys in the park, we decided to go back to the start of the trail and see if we could manage to have one of the squirrel monkeys climb on us again. We were in luck, and one of the slightly bigger ones decided to play with us for a while. After trying to steal Marleens earring without sucess (we managed to steal it back just before his friend ran off with it) he tried to get into my monkeyproof bag. This also didn’t work out so he settled for climbing on me for a little while instead ๐Ÿ™‚

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This park is definitely worth a visit, but I do reccomend to try and avoid sundays – it was a bit too crowded when we went there.

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Nairobi National Park

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As our flight back to Amsterdam didn’t leave until the evening – we decided to go on one last game drive our final day in Kenya, in Nairobi National Park. As this park is only 7 km from the city centre, you can see Nairobi’s skyline from several areas within the park and with a little luck you can capture some really cool shots of animals in front of it.

We stayed for about 7 hours looking for animals and saw a few gazelles, lots of giraffes and a few ostriches. Compared to the other parks we went to I have to admit this didn’t feel like much. It was still a good way to kill some time while waiting on our flight back though, and Im sure it is a great getaway for people staying in Nairobi ๐Ÿ™‚

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We left the park when we got tired of looking for animals, and after a short stop at a shoppingmall by the highway we headed to the airport, and eventually back towards Amsterdam.

I am sure I will remember some of the highlights from this trip for the rest of my life, it really was one of the best vacations I have ever been on and I have decided that I really have to go on another African Safari some day! ๐Ÿ™‚

Lake Oloiden – Flamingos at last! :)

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After hoping to see flamingos at both Lake Nakuru and Lake Naivasha with no luck, I eventually asked our guide Filip where we would be able to find these beautiful pink birds. Filip took us to Lake Oloiden, which is a slightly smaller salt water lake close to Lake Naivasha. As we reached the lake we saw more or less right away that we had finally found the flamingos and we were taken out by boat to get a closer look.

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Watching flamingos in the wild really was very diferent from seeing them in a zoo, mainly because we were able to watch them flying and taking off from the water.ย  As flamingos take off they appear to be running on the water, it looks really awesome! You can really see how beautiful the wings are when they are spread as well. We followed the flamingos around for a while, taking pictures and watching them. Weย  ran into insane amounts of hippos in the process of doing this, appearently they really like this lake as well.

IMG_0660IMG_0669As hippos are known to kill humans for fun I actually got a little nervous a few times. Hippos that were really closeby dived into the water and we appeared to be driving right over the place where we had seen the animals only a few minutes before.ย  Another animal that seem to enjoy the lake is the pelikan and we saw quite a few of them sitting in a tree.

IMG_0685I really enjoyed this little safari by boat, and Im very happy that I finally got to see some flamingos. If you ever want to do a boat safari in Kenya this is definietly the place to go! And now some more pictures of the pinkest birds around! ๐Ÿ™‚

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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™‚

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™‚

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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