Monday, August 18, 2014

Final days

On Saturday we traveled to the Amboseli National Park to go on safari. As we did last year, we stayed in the beautiful Serena Lodge, which is a total contrast to everything else we've been experiencing here. And the best of it is that we got to go on 2 safari drives, as well as spotting wildlife on the way in and on the way out again.

I got a telephoto lens for my iPhone for my birthday just before I left so there are some experimental shots with that. Not great, but at least the animals show up as more than just dots :-)

Amboseli is located in the heart of Masai tribal land, so we saw lots of cows being herded as we headed to the Park.

Ready for a game drive!

 Just in case anyone was thinking of speeding...

We passed by a camp that's no longer used by humans; just baboons. This guy was sitting by the side of the road to greet us. 

 Monkeys are cute but pesky at the lodge.

1st Game Drive. First up, some guinea hens.

 Then we got the word of a cheetah sighting!!

We actually saw 5 cheetahs, lounging around, long and lean. So beautiful. These 2 photos were taken with the telephoto but the cats still seem pretty small in the picture. In the foreground is one lying down and one sitting up.

 Now if I had a telephoto like that guy, you'd be able to see their tonsils!

 One obligingly turned over and showed us his white tummy.

Cheetah viewing traffic jam.

Some friendly faces in the crowd.

 We were hugely fortunate to have a herd of elephants cross right in front of our vehicle. Fabulous!

 Lots and lots of zebras. (Say "ZEH-brah" if you want to sound like a local.)

 Time to start heading back.

From the lawn at the lodge.

Happy to be here!

2nd safari drive starting at 6:15am. The day before we hadn't been able to see Kilimanjaro at all. This morning it started peeking through...

Within another 20 minutes, it had disappeared behind the clouds again.

When I set my camera down at one point, something must have been touching the shutter button because it took about 600 photos in the course of a minute or so, including a few unintended selfies!

Some blurry flamingos with a sort of in-focus bird in the front - with the telephoto.

A final look at the little bit of snow on the peak of Kilimanjaro before it disappears behind the clouds.

 Cape buffalo, with a happy rider and entourage...

Another telephoto. A giraffe a looong way off, drinking water.

Yes, I took this with the telephoto, but he was still pretty close. At first we thought he might be stamping his foot at us, but he was simply kicking the grass at its roots to dig it out of the ground. Then, before eating it, he shook it so most of the dirt would fly off. What a joy to just watch him (her?) We saw just a little of a baby nearby. Also, this elephant was in an area "protected" by fences, probably for a camp, but as we drove out, we saw the place where the fence had been trampled to the ground.

Then we saw hippos - very cool!

Sorta looks like he's ready to chomp on the bird but he's really just going for the grass.

Then there's this guy, or is it a gal, since she/he is obviously enjoying a mud bath.

This was not taken with a telephoto. We were just looking down at it and it occasionally blinked back at us.

At the park entrance/exit, the Masai sell jewelry and other trinkets.

The obligatory kitten photo.

And of course there's Nairobi traffic. A trip that took us about 4 hours going to the park, took us 6 hours coming home; the 2 extra hours were just within Nairobi itself. There's bad traffic all the time but usually not so crazy on Sunday. The word I heard was that there was a marathon and it tied up traffic for miles and miles all around. Add to that the number of big trucks on the road to and from the park and it's crazy!

Our plane leaves late tonight (Monday) and though we'll be traveling about 24 hours, we'll arrive in PDX about 11:30am on Tuesday.  Looking for some Portland sun - it's been lots of gray skies here ;-)

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