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Samburu and the last hurrah….for this year

Posted in Uncategorized by Lynn Ouellette on 02/10/2020
Giraffe under an Acacia tree in Samburu

I am blogging from home now, feeling like there is still so much to say, so much to share, and selfishly trying to keep the trip alive for myself as I get pulled into the day to day demands of home life. It’s always hard to leave Nyumbani Village, but knowing that we will wind down the trip with a day and a half of being on safari tends to make that a little easier. The experience of being on safari, riding around a beautiful park on the lookout for animals to me is like child’s play. It’s part treasure hunt, part incredible excitement and for a photographer, it’s a dream. Even the drive to Samburu National Park, about 5 hours north of Nairobi was a beautiful drive once we were out of the city and could see the mountains and beautiful fields and gardens with so many different shades of green.

We arrived at the park just in time for a short evening game drive that night and were able to go out 3 times the next day. Usually you do a morning and an evening drive, right after sunrise and right before sunset. But we were all feeling inspired and chose to do a middle of the day drive as well. I have been to several reserves and parks before, but I would say that I found Samburu to be the one that is the most beautiful. I would have found driving around and taking taking landscape photos amongst the mountains to be wonderful all by itself, even without the animals.

Sunrise in Samburu

But of course, there were the animals, and the once’s which we encountered the most were the elephants, and there were so many…

A family of elephants

When elephants eat, the fragrance of the vegetation smells so nice, like the faint smell of passion fruit.

Two sparring elephants

Different sized young ones

Suckling baby

Look how tiny the baby is compared to the adult legs.

This is a napping baby.

The baby elephant in the series below is taking a mud bath.

One of the places where we frequently saw many animals was the river that runs through the park. Because of all the rain before we came and because it rained really hard the night while we were there, by the time we left, the river looked like rapids of melted chocolate.

For the first game drive we saw mostly elephants, but as the day went on we began to see more animals. Deb, Karen, and Justus were working hard on identifying new birds. And though of interest to me too, I was absolutely taken by the scenery. So when they stopped to identify a bird I was often taking advantage of the Jeep no longer rattling and the opportunity to have a steady hand so that I could take more photos of the beautiful scenery.

In between scenery and birds there began to be giraffes in groups, singly, and popping up in all kinds of places.

A large group of giraffes walking together.

We saw gazelles , and a lot of dik diks, a warthog, but no zebras and this park is famous for the unusual Grevy zebras…..and no big cats.

After this came the absolute determination by Justus to find us a leopard. We thought we might actually end up leaving the park without seeing one, but at our last game drive for the day as we were getting close to having to go back to the camp it happened. Once spotted, it was a wild and rapid ride in the Jeep, but so worth all the bumps, rattling and even a couple of bruises. And the leopard, a regal, beautiful creature was just lounging in a tree with a little sun on its face as the sun was going down. It was a very exciting end to the last game drive of the day to be able to take in such a majestic creature.

As we got up the next morning to leave with the idea of doing a quick game drive through the park on our way out, Deb and I, who shared a tent were surprised to find these little mother and baby pairs of Vervet monkeys on the porch at the front of our tent. We had been warned to be sure to keep our tents zipped and secure because there were a lot of monkeys, but we didn’t expect to be greeted in the morning by these who seemed to be not at all afraid of us. I found them adorable, but apparently when they sneak into tents and try to steal people’s biscuits and catch them by surprise not everyone finds them as cute as I do.

The final drive through the park in the morning was not full of animals, but we did see an ostrich unlike any we had seen before. And it was still so beautiful with the mountains, the lush landscape and the fair weather clouds that frequently make up the beautiful Kenyan skies and make photographers like me happy.

This was the last hurrah before leaving this beautiful country, a wonderful way to wind down this trip with taking in its beauty and natural landscape, enjoying its animals and most of all enjoying each other’s company before most of us began our long journey home.

I will still have more to write since I want to say something about the generosity of my donors and what we were able to accomplish with the donations. I have also decided that I can’t stay away from Kenya again. I left with a full heart and telling everyone that I would see them next year. I couldn’t bear to say goodbye and I also know that staying away for three years is not something I can do again. I realized as I was leaving, really during the whole time I was there, how much Kenya is a part of me now, how a piece of the experience there is always with me, how much I carry in my heart, how much it has impacted me. So I will be back next year to the country and the people I have grown to love.

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