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Lake Nakuru, Flamingos, Hippos and Baboons, oh my.

We left Amboseli at 7:30 for an 8 hour drive to Nakuru Lake  National Park. The park is located ½ of a degree south of the equator, so I can definitely claim to be in equatorial Africa. The park and lake are  in the Rift Valley. This valley is over 9000 kilometers long and extends from Mozambique to Israel. It is a valley of legendary big white hunter tales. If you want to know a lot more go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Rift_Valley  I remember it best because  Richard and Mary Leakey have  done significant work in the valley.

Along the way we stopped at a view point and took in quite a bit of it in one vista.

The sign says it all

You are here!

Even overlooking the rift valley, Mary Ann can find a Yankee fan.

We could barely make these out from the overlook, but when we drove past them I was impressed to see them just miles away from where the Leakeys found one of the most ancient humanoids.

You are welcomed to the park by baboons.

The baboons sort of follow you around, like park rangers.

The park itself is very lush and green. It sits on a large salt water lake which provides sanctuary for millions of birds, especially Flamingos. This is not the peak time for the Greater Flamingo migration, but there were still tens of thousands of the lesser flamingos grouped along the shoreline turning it pink. There were thousands of white pelicans as well as guinea fowl and marabous. Time for photos? OK

Not one of the more beautiful birds, but of substantial size.

The trees surrounding lake Nakura were full of large birds

The helmeted guinea fowl is a favorite food of the Masai. Gideon told us you will never enjoy chicken after you have one of these. To catch them they soak corn in liquor and lay it out for the birds to eat. Then they get too drunk to fly or even run away.

The lilac breasted roller is truly fabulously colored in flight, but I missed it.

The flamingos in the background are lesser flamingos. They provide a beautiful pink rim to the lake. However, in July, there are thousands of thousands of greater flamingos that turn the whole lake pink.

We saw impalas, water buffalo, white Rhinos, waterbucks, and troops of baboons. I hope you enjoy these pics.

This was as close as I could get to a herd of white rhinos. The white rhino is not one of the big five. The black Rhino is because they are lot rarer and more elusive.

Baboons were everywhere in the park, just meandering around

Momma and baby baboon

We saw Impalas in every park we went to but I am partial to this shot.

Water buffalo and attendant birds. The birds eat insects dug up by the hooves of the buffalo and peck insects off their skin. Win win

I forget what Gideon said these were, but aint they cute?

We are staying at a place called Lion Hill Lodge. It is  fabulous. We are only here for one night, so I’ll  steal a towel.

We lost an hour of game viewing because an ATM ate Mary Ann’s card. Our tour agency HTT Holidays and Incentives (www.travelhtt.com) did everything short of ripping open the ATM machine with one of the Masai swords. They even lent us cash for the rest of the trip.  It all worked out because of the dedication of the HTT staff and our guide Gideon.

In the morning we head off to Masai Mara National Park. This is the big destination for great white tourists like us. We have already seen 2 of the big five and we look forward to checking off the other three. When we do, I feel like cracking open a bottle of champagne, except I hate champagne.

Maybe we will just have an extra Tusker. Tusker is the beer of Kenya.

Mary Ann enjoying a Tuskers. The brand was first marketed in 1923, shortly after the founder of Kenya Breweries Ltd, George Hurst, was killed by an elephant during a hunting accident. It was in this year that the elephant logo, that is synonymous with Tusker Lager, was incorporated. The slogan "Bia Yangu, Nchi Yangu", means "My Beer, My Country" in Swahili.

The national drink of Kenya is the Dawa. The Dawa reminds me of the Pisco Sour of Chile. It is an acquired taste sort of thing. I’ll certainly have couple more if I see a black rhino and a cheetah, the two most difficult sightings of the big five.

The Dawa African Cocktail is said to be so potent that it will cure whatever ails you. Since Dawa means "medicine" or "magic potion" in Swahili, I’ll believe it! The recipe is based on a famous Brazilian drink that was introduced to Kenya. It is now one of the most widely consumed cocktails in Kenya!

Dr. Dawa will cure your ills!

Asante san (Thank youu very much in Swahili) for reading. Please pass this along to a friend and please make a comment.

Headed for the Bush in a High Tec Sort of Way


First, let me say that if I can get internet access anywhere outside of Nairobi on this trip I will be disappointed. My fantasy for this adventure is that Mary Ann and I have to fight off lions, beware of snakes and wade through streams and rivers to get anywhere. I want baboons swinging at me from the trees and vultures circling overhead waiting to feast on my corpse.

 

OK, OK, it will not be that way. This is 2011, not 1811, or 1911. I am no Marlin Perkins although I am dressed like him for the trip. You should see me. I look ridiculous in my great white hunter outfit. I do not care, I am here for fun. I am here to fulfill a fantasy that developed back when I watched the Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom show with Marlin Perkins on television, in black and white, every Saturday afternoon. He and his sidekick Jim Fowler always had to fight off the big animals to get the exciting footage for an eight year old boy to watch.

 

I was always afraid that the Africa they showed me would be kaput by the time I was old enough to go see it. I thank my spiritual angels that first of all, there is some of it left, and second that I am now married to a woman that is making it possible.

 

As I write this we are about 35,000 feet above the Eastern coast of Africa on a five hour flight to Kenya. Getting on the plane in Sharjah was probably the hardest thing we will have to do for the entire trip. When we get to our destination airport we will be met by a first rate safari operator, and just follow his lead for the next week. I know he will take one look at me and laugh, at least secretly.  Hope he calls me Bwana, I deserve it. And I would not dress like this if I didn’t want him to.

 

I am sitting here in this cookie cutter airplane seat typing away on my reliable wonderful lightweight mini HP laptop. I have my Ipod plugged into my ears listening to everything from The Grateful Dead to Frank Sinatra. I also have my super Coolpix Nikon P7000 on my lap, which what was inspired me to pull out the mini.

 

I am still learning how to use this camera. This is the third or fourth trip I have taken with it. I have probably taken 10,000 photos (maybe 50 are really good) and I am sitting here reading the manual. This manual is longer than the manual for my HP, or for Windows 7. All I have to do is open it to any page and my reaction is “Really? I can do THAT?”

The digital age of photography is as complicated as the future. It is also as full of possibilities. It is also as full of fraught.  While the possibility exists that with the right settings selected, and the proper opportunity presenting itself I could take a photo not only worthy of my readers, but of National Geographic , the possibility also exists that I will take 10,000 pictures and none of them will be worth elephant dung.  I’ll never know unless I just do it. So I better get back to the manual. Or maybe I should just put it on automatic and point’n’clik.

 

My Ipod just shuffled to the Rhythm Devils which for those of you unlucky enough not to know is the fancy title for a Grateful Dead drum solo. I was instantly reminded by a shuffle of my mind of a Dead Head friend of mine who made this trip many years ago. He brought along a Walkman (like I said MANY years ago) and of course some dead tapes and a pair of big old headphones (YEARS AGO!). Anyway, he was watching some Masia warriors dance to the locals drum solo and thought, “sheet man, why not.” He fast forwarded the tape (EONS AGO) to the start of a drum solo and put the headphones on the warrior. He showed me pictures of the warrior jumping like Michael Jordan with a huge smile on his face. THAT’S what I call great international relations!  I am now inspired to do the same thing and capture the moment for you my faithful readers. That is if I can master the Coolpix 7000.

 

We just crossed over the “Horn of Africa”. Mogadishu and all that is below us. We are probably less than two hours out of Nairobi.

Now we are crossing the equator, and Nairobi lies just one degree of latitude south.

Captured from the inflight entertainment on air Arabia

OK we are in Nairobi. Everything went fine at the airport. The oly thing is that this is yet another country that uses a full page of my passport for a simple visa. I do not have that many pages left, damn.

The hotel, a five star hotel, deserves every star. Wonderful service in a beautiful neighborhood.  There are even beautiful birds hanging out by the pool!

This pretty guy is ust scavenging chips by the pool bar. I cannot wait to see the birds in the bush.

AND, the beer is damn good. The brand of choice here is Tuskers.

Good light beer 4.5%, but thebottle is big. Price? About US$2.50

There is also a Malt liquor at 6%

In the morning we head for the bush. My next post may not be for a while. Please tell a friend and click on the share button below.

Next post, I just do not know.

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