Lions and Cheetas and Rinos (oh my)

Fri, 11 Jan 2002 05:00:54 +0800

I'm back in Nairobbery today but only for a day. Tomorrow I will again leave the smog on unpleasantness behind and go see the gorillas.

The safari just completed went to Lake Baringo, Lake Nakuru, and 4 days at the Masa Mara (Kenya's piece of the Serengeti)

Lake Baringo wasn't a lot for visuals, relatively speaking. We had a tour of the lake where we saw hippos sticking their noses out, a few small crocodiles, and a couple of fish eagles. The guide, after many attempts managed to convince one of the eagles to come down and fetch a fish. The highlight was probably the noises. At night, the hippos came ashore not far from our camp site. So we at an orchestra of hippo snorts all night long.

The next day was Lake Nakuru. Huge, huge, congregation of flamingos. Interesting, but I've seen flamingos before. The animals in the park were kind of spooky. A pair of white rhinos were so close that a telephoto lense was just a waste. I ended up taking closeups of the birds on the rhino's back.

The highlights of the Mara leg had to be the lions on day 3 and the cheetah on day 4. On our last evening game drive, we say a group of lionesses spread out and very alert. It wasn't clear what they were looking at.

We continued to one of the "nurseries" to check up on some lion cubs we had seen on previous days. All were pretty relaxed, at least for a while. Then, the adults perked up. After a few tense minutes they all trotted past the tour vehicles, one at a time, but in rapid succession. As they zipped past, they came within 15 feet of my window. They went behind the trucks and disappeared into the brush near the stream. I didn't see it, but apparently, there was a hyena in the brush.

On the last day, we didn't have much time. We started late and a couple members of the tour had to catch a plane. But we did go out to investigate a cheetah that had been sighted. We had seen a couple of cheetahs on day 1 so that wasn't extraordinary. When we got there, the cheetah was a little more alert than normal. She (?) was looking toward the brush at the bottom of the hill. It soon became apparent what she was looking at.

An impala had given birth on the edge of the brush. The cat trotted passed us toward the bottom of the hill. Trot became a slow (for a cheetah) gallop. Impala met cheetah just behind a small rise and out of site. If they came out, I have 2 or 3 good frames of the attack. I burned almost a full roll on the chase and it's aftermath. It's too bad we had to leave. We all would have loved to stay and wait for the vultures, jackles, and hyenas to come.

Oh well. I must dash. I need to retrieve my prints and head back to the hostel.