Wednesday 20th July 2011
Up early once more, coffee and then out on our game drive at 6.30 am. This morning’s game drive just added to the tally of wonderful wildlife that we had seen. With out a doubt the highlights of the morning were an African Fish Eagle – one of the largest of the African birds of prey, and an awesome sight when in flight; two Zebra stallions fighting – biting, kicking, head-butting (they weren’t messing around); a male Ostrich trying his best to attract the attention of a female; and a Flamingo – Nicholas reckoned it was lost!
A pride of Lions with several cubs; Hippos, including a calf; and some Pelicans, added to the tally. Amboseli was certainly delivering for us on our last full day before we continued north.
Returning to our room at Ol Tukai after breakfast, we met our room steward, Stephen Sabore, who stopped to say hello and enquired as to how we were enjoying our stay. Stephen told us that he spends 2 months working at the lodge and then returns to his village, some 40 kilometres away for 2 weeks, before returning to the lodge for a further 2 month stint. He also advised us that he was studying part-time with the hope of becoming a tour guide on safaris.
We spent the rest of the day chilling, walking round the lodge grounds, and photographing some of the amazing birds that could be seen there, until the time came for our afternoon game drive.
On leaving the lodge, Nicholas drove us to Observation Hill, where we left the vehicle to walk to the top. The views were superb, looking out over the savannah and the swamps below. We had an excellent view of some Pelicans on an island in the swamp, and a Flamingo flying over.
The view from Observation Hill
Descending the hill, we returned to the vehicle and resumed our game drive. Unfortunately, the pride of Lions we had seen in the morning had changed location. However, a number of groups of Elephants were browsing the grasslands, a Hyena put in an appearance, and a Snake Eagle, before we returned to Ol Tukai as dusk started to fall.
At dinner this evening, we were just finishing our meal when the restaurant lights went out, leaving it lit only by candles on the tables. As we sat wondering what had happened, the staff entered from the kitchen, led by one of their number carrying a blazing torch! All of them were singing, “Jambo! Jambo bwana! Habari gani? Mzuri sana… …” (Hello! Hello, master. What news? Good, thank you… …), as they made their way through the restaurant. To Sandra’s horror, they stopped at our table and placed a decorated cake in front of us with “Happy Silver Wedding Anniversary” iced on the top! A very pleasant and unexpected surprise, not to mention a wonderful end to our stay in Amboseli.
Thursday 21st July 2011
After breakfast we set out from Amboseli en route to Treetops, in the Aberdare National Park. The road through Amboseli was rough, stony and dusty, but we were pleasantly surprised when we reached the main A109 road to Nairobi, at how much it had been improved. It was now a smooth and fairly fast road – well at least to start with!
Sure enough, before too long we hit the roadworks where the road was being improved! En route, Peter’s vehicle suffered a puncture, so we turned round and went back so that Nicholas could help him to change the wheel. Nicholas, being the joker he is, told us we had left something behind in Amboseli and had to go back for it!
Changing the wheel
Wheel changed, we were soon on our way again. En route we made a brief pit-stop at one of the roadside curio shops. Growing outside was a lovely red shrub which had a hand-written sign telling us that it was “Acalipha Hispida (Foxtail Flower)”, or in truth Acalypha hispida or the Chenille plant, native to Malaysia and Borneo!
As usual, just past Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, we hit the Nairobi traffic. Hakuna matata! Nicholas turned off the main road and took us on some interesting diversions through some of then residential areas of the city in order to reach the Southern Sun Mayfair Hotel in Westlands, for lunch at the poolside restaurant.
Lunch over, we set off again, with a short call at the Private Safaris office for Nicholas to deliver some paperwork. Nicholas managed to get us to the Outspan Hotel in Nyeri, before nightfall, where we checked in for Treetops. He then drove us to the Treetops Gate of the Aberdare National Park, where we transferred to the Treetops’ coach. As we walked away from our Land Cruiser, Nicholas called out, “Is no one going to say good-bye to me?” Feeling sorry for him, we went back to say good-bye!
The coach then took us onto Treetops where we found it was full, manly with Chinese. We were allocated Room 12, a couple of doors along the corridor from where we were on our previous visit. Before dinner we went onto the roof for drinks, and another surprise – compared with three years previously, there was an abundance of wildlife at the small waterhole, including three Elephants and a group of warthogs. At dinner, to our surprise the food had improved slightly, although the dining arrangements were still along one single long table.
And so to bed, for a night totally undistrubed by any wildlife turning up at the waterhole!