Wednesday June 18, 2014

It seems at least two weeks ago (not two days ago) that I last reported back. We were in the air at the time (remember?) en route to Nairobi and our long-awaited wildlife safari. Well, we were met at the airport by the guys who were to be our driver/guides in Kenya. They drove us in 4WDs to the Safari Park Hotel outside of Nairobi where we enjoyed a tasty barbecue-under-the-stars (sampling crocodile, camel and goat, amongst other meaty delicacies) … followed by fantastic, energetic performance of modern African song-&-dance.

Then, the next morning (bright and early) we hit the road, motoring south through Nairobi suburbs and other small towns to our first appointment with wildlife.

Framed against the glorious backdrop of snow-capped Mt Kilimanjaro, Amboseli National Park provides the classic movie image of Africa. We couldn’t actually see Kilimanjaro: Africa’s highest peak and the world’s highest free-standing mountain was hidden behind cloud. But, as we got close our luxury home for the next two nights (nestled in the foothills beneath a copse of giant acacia trees) we began spotting this Park’s many magnificent animals!

These rolling grasslands (rather dry at present, thanks to a countrywide drought) support most of the wildlife, large-and-small, that we’d come to see (including 400 species of birds). But elephants are definitely the prime attraction here. Amboseli is the best place in East Africa to see these giant fellows up-close and personal – and, almost everywhere we’ve turned, we’ve witnessed the spectacle of jumbo-sized families on the move, plodding patiently across the dusty plains, and feasting greedily on green salads while standing up to their haunches in muddy swamps.

Our first 24 hours on safari would not have been better, I tell you!

Highlight No.1 happened just 10 minutes into our game-drive. A young female elephant in the herd we were watching must’ve been on heat – because a big mature bull gave chase. She ran, pretending a total lack of interest, but he, thundering along behind, eventually caught up and had his way with her … right before our startled eyes!

Highlight No.2 happened an hour later when one of our drivers spotted a cheetah way off in the distance. By the time we’d all gathered and aimed our cameras and binoculars, that one cheetah turned out to be five – a mother plus her four almost-fully-grown youngsters – and to our great excitement they started moving towards us through the grass and scrub. Suddenly there was an explosion of activity – the cheetahs had disturbed a big hare, which promptly took off with these speed machines in hot pursuit. There was a great commotion – again, right in front of us – plus an even greater cloud of dust … and Mrs Cheetah finally emerged with the hapless hare hanging limply from her jaws, her four offspring following close behind.

Fantastic? That’s the understatement of the year! A rare close-up encounter with these beautiful endangered predators that we still can’t stop talking about.

Anyway, enough with words – I’m gonna let our photos speak for themselves. (See Amboseli Photo Gallery in next post.) Most of these images were captured by Robyn and I, but you’ll see some were snapped by others in our group.




Another much-admired quacky yellow duck has found a new home:

  • Jane M received our ‘Causing An International Incident’ Award … for her embarrassing fauz-pas in one of the many posh shops back at Dubai Airport. Jane had been trying some test-pots of hand-cream when she accidentally dropped one on the floor. The lid burst open, and Jane and her Mad Midlife friend were splashed from head-to-foot in white hand-cream … as was a Muslim woman standing beside them in an elegant, black, head-to-toe burka! Our Kiwi ladies did their best to wipe the poor woman down (she took it graciously) – but they couldn’t wait to get away and collapse laughing …


We’re on the road again – this time to beautiful Lake Manyara in Tanzania, a scenic gem that Ernest Hemingway extolled as “the loveliest I had ever seen in Africa”. So stand by for another riveting chapter …

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

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