Accra Ghana Temple

Accra Ghana Temple
Accra Ghana Temple

Friday, September 14, 2012

Amboseli - Elephant Heaven

We loved our visit to Amboseli. It is truly an elephant heaven.  There are lots of other animals there too, but the elephants were my favorite.  And if you are really lucky, you can see  Mt. Kilamanjaro in the background.  It is a massive snow covered mountain.  Clouds move in and hang over it much of the time.

It is amazing to have elephants walk right past the van and see them at such close range.  Some bulls are loners, but some travel around with their familiy.  Our driver stopped the van so we could watch a group of elephants cross the road.  This familly included mothers, babies and a great big bull.  Some crossed the road in front of or behind the van.  Apparently the preferred route for this bull was right where we were parked.  As he approached us he stopped with his ears flapping.   Our driver read the body language and quickly moved our van 6 feet forward, at which point the bull crossed the road immediately behind us.  We asked the driver what might have happened if he hadn't moved the van and he said, "he would probably have walked right over us!"

There is a big swamp fed by natural springs in Amboseli.  The elephants love this swamp.  Their idea of wonderful is spending the day in the swamp up to their bellies.  The little ones are too small to stay in the swamp, but take the plunge only to be rescued by their mothers and lifted up on the grass.  They eat and enjoy the grass and water all day long.  

Elephants love to stop and roll in the dirt and are sure to throw some dirt and dry grass up on their backs.    

We saw some playful calves.  A little head butting anyone?  One day these guys will need to be able to push over a tree for food.  

This little one would dart away from his mother, quickly turn around and run back.  You can tell a newborn, because they can walk underneath their mother.

Honestly, there is nothing cuter than a baby elephant! 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Samburu Game Reserve in Kenya

We began our long awaited Safari in Kenya's Samburu Game Reserve.  Samburu was action packed; one National Geographic moment after the other.  

Right out of the shoot we came upon a pride of 8 lions with a giraffe kill.  It is not that common for lions to take down a giraffe so we are left to wonder if this giraffe was old or injured.  In this particular pride, the alpha male ate first.  When he was willing, the alpha female got to eat.  This male lion lay next to the kill and only allowed one lion to eat at a time.  If anyone stepped out of line, there was a loud roar which quickly restored order.  He was a little more tolerant of the younger ones jumping in than I expected.  Up in the top of the trees we saw a dozen very hopeful vultures and on the ground several optomistic jackals sit patiently awaiting their chance.  Don't hold your breath guys; that might not happen for days!

Our next amazing experience was an elephant encounter.  Parked on the opposite bank, we watched this group of 25 elephants come to the river to drink. Is there anything cuter than a baby elephant? 

Here is a lioness and her 3 cubs on their way to the river to drink.  The animals have become accustomed to the tour vehicles.  Five lions and these 3 cubs walked right next to our van.  The adult lions crossed the road first.  For a moment, the cubs lost sight of their mother and began to whimper, appearing to be afraid.  She came back to rescue them as they crossed the road.  

Three things that we saw ONLY in Samburu are worth a mention.  One is the Grevy Zebra, which has very narrow stripes.  Very fancy duds!

The other is the Gerenuk, an antelope that feeds standing on its back two legs.  We are pretty sure the leaves up a little higher must taste better. 

The last is the reticulated giraffe.   Notice the big brown tiles with wide white caulking.  I thought all giraffes looked just like this.  Stay tuned to find out what I learned.  This guy stays tick-free with a little help from his friends (the birds).