Elephant Orphanage and Giraffe Kisses

In the morning we went to the elephant and rhino orphanage. The baby elephants are super cute, we even got to touch them! Most of their mothers were killed by poachers. One of the elephants was attacked by two lions and was wounded. After we got to see a black rhino, I really enjoyed it. Then we went to the Giraffe Centre. We actually fed a giraffe there! They used their tongue to grab the food from our hands, but their tongues are really slimy and gross! Alexandra was super brave and put the giraffe food in her mouth and had the giraffe slobber all over her face!! After that we took a tour around a bead factory. It gives single mothers a chance to get a job. All the beads are made from clay and once you fire it and let it dry you can decorate them. When we went into the shop I was blown away by how beautiful everything was. – Isaac

I was surprised by the amount of poaching that happens in the parks. At the orphanage we also saw one of the highly endangered mysterious Black Rhinos. It could not survive in the wild because it was born blind. After, we fed giraffes and I kissed Abraham, one of the babies. I love them because they are such gentle giants. – Alexandra

 

A lady that runs conservation programs in the Mara was visiting at the centre with her grandson, and told us that poaching is getting worse. She said just the week before, her group had caught poachers with AK47’s in the Masai Mara. They were taken to court and were out the next day with a slap on the wrist.

 

The keepers bring the babies from the national park back to the nursery to feed them. The keepers stay with them always, just like a mommy elephant.

 

They are fed formula made from vegetable oils, coconut and oatmeal. If they are fed cow’s milk they will die very quickly.

 

 

 

 

 

This baby was teething and being a fussy feeder as a result
The keeper told us that some of the elephants are born naughty, like this one, and are kept in check by the most senior female of the group.

 

The keepers sleep with the elephants. It is a huge commitment

 

 

At the time we did not realize how lucky we were to see 50 Rothschild Giraffes at Lake Nakuru. There are only 300 in the world, so this centre exists to help breed them before releasing them back into the wild.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This giant press makes big sheets of clay

 

They measure the clay into balls of specific sizes

 

This is one of the two original employees of Kazuri

 

They dry in the sun before they are painted

 

 

After they have been painted they go in the kilns on special racks

 

Special designs are added afterwards

 

Then they are strung

 

 

Searching for green beads for Kim

 

Making Kim’s bracelet

 

The original home of Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen) is just around the corner from Kazuri. They used a different house when filming Out of Africa.

 

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Goodbye Kamadi and Karanja

I was surprised by how fast our safari went by because this was our last day already. I was sort of sad to say goodbye to our cook and guide, but I might come back some day and do another safari. – Isaac

Our camp

 

 

 

Baruch got a haircut from Janice, from Connecticut, who was on safari with her sister

 

Julius in the camp kitchen. Alexandra liked to help him cook.

 

 

We drove into, and back out of, The Great Rift Valley (also known as the Cradle of Civilization) on our 10 day safari.

 

 

 

With Kamadi (Julius) our cook, and Karanja (Walter) our guide

 

Masai Mara Day 2 – Cat Mania!!

Our last day on safari. It had gone so fast. Today we went for an all day drive and we saw so much. At first we were going to the Mara River but decided to check where the lions had been last night. What surprised and amazed me was 12!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! lions feasting on a water buffalo, faces covered in blood, ripping meat off! The power of them showed in their kill, but many were injured from the fight the buffalo put up. Most of the lionesses had cuts all over. One had a hole through her lip and another had a massive painful and tender looking torn open hind leg. At that time Walter was told of 2 cheetahs close by and we decided to see them. They are delicate creatures with speed and cunning! When we came back to the kill site we saw the head lion so stuffed lying under a tree, with an “I am Boss” look to him with his giant mane. We watched the carcass getting licked to the bone. Slowly the lions left, stumbling so full, as the jackals and vultures circled, waiting. Finally, when the pride had left an older male came and took over the kill. After watching for a few hours we made the trip to the Mara River. At the top of a hill, it opened to a stunning landscape of plains and the river behind. It was breathtaking. In the plains under a tree we stopped for lunch. At the river we saw hippos swimming, disguised like rocks, a turtle quietly moving through the grass, and a crocodile! Laying there on the bank, silent but deadly! Before leaving the park, we stopped by the kill site again to find a mother and her cub laying there. The cub was adorable, playing with its mom while she licked him clean. Also, we saw the lion king return and race in and drive the others off, roaring and standing over the carcass. SO COOL! Leaving we found the 2 cheetahs again, poised and ready to chase an impala. But alas, the tourists scared the prey, and the cats may have had to go hungry because of humans. – Alexandra

 

The same pride of lions we saw yesterday eating a water buffalo, just as we predicted!…I think one of the jackals was impatient, because he stole a chunk of meat from the only lion that was left. The lion tried to catch it, but she was too stuffed with food and slow. Man was that ever amazing or what?! – Isaac

 

WARNING**** Graphic Nat Geo Wild photos ahead

 

The vultures and the jackals waiting for their opportunity……
OK any squeamish vegetarian types might want to not look anymore….

 

We found this guy under the tree. The females do the hunting and then the big male comes and chases them away from the kill until he’s done eating. Only then do they get to partake.
This male may have eaten upwards of 40kg of meat

 

He would open his eyes and look at us for a brief moment but we could never catch it

 

Our guide Walter told us it would have been a big fight to take down a water buffalo, and many of the females showed it in their wounds

 

This girl seemed especially sore from the way she was walking and breathing

 

Yes we were that close. Thank goodness they were full!

 

 

 

 

 

 

This one was panting with exhaustion while she was eating and had to keep stopping and taking breaks. She had the large wound on her back left leg

 

 

 

 

 

 

The jackal makes his move
We watched this old guy sit on the hill in the distance, and when all the pride had left he finally came to the kill. We watched him for a while. He didn’t eat, just sat over it. He looked old. You could see his ribs and vertebrae, and his eyes looked like they had cataracts (do cats get cataracts?). We were not sure whether he was an outcast from the same pride or from a different pride.

 

All the lions went down to the tree by the river to sleep off their water buffalo hangovers.

 

 

Rain over the Serengeti (the Serengeti is the Tanzanian side, the Masai Mara is the Kenyan side of the same region)
The Tawny Eagle

 

At the viewpoint with the Mara River behind us

 

 

This is the famous Mara River, where millions of wildebeest cross every summer, and where the crocodiles lie waiting for them. Can you see the hippo?

 

Does this help?

 

 

You’ll have to take our word for it, but the thing that looks like a piece of driftwood in the middle of the far bank is a croc

 

The Mara is teeming with wildlife, everywhere you turn. Here there are zebras, topi, impala and warthogs.
When we went back to the kill site, the old guy we’d left a couple hours before was eating. Right behind this action Walter drew our attention to something we hadn’t even noticed…

 

 

 

 

 

By our count this little one was the 17th lion we’d seen today

 

The king eventually decided he was ready for more and came trotting back across the plains, chasing the old male and everyone else away. See video footage below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Masai Mara

We went to the Masai Mara. There we got to stay at a luxury campsite with beds in the tents and everything. After we went on a game drive, and a very successful one too. The Mara is beautiful, with rolling hills and grassy plains. It is what I imagined a safari would be like. Within 20 minutes we saw a leopard roaming the plains, with it’s long periscope-like tail high in the air. After we saw a pride of ***9*** lions watching water buffalo on the hill. They looked very proud studying the buffalo, ready to hunt. – Alexandra

We saw a whole pride of lions and right in front of them was a herd of water buffalo that they were eyeing. We thought that they were going to maybe try and take one down. I got 1m away from one of them. That really left an impression on me. – Isaac

 

 

 

The Sausage Tree – yes that’s its real name

 

One by one the lions came up out of the creeekbed and settled on the knoll, looking up towards the water buffalo herd in the distance. It looked like something was going to go down, but we couldn’t stay to watch because the park closes before sunset to allow the animals to hunt in peace.

 

 

Lake Nakuru

Nakuru is beautiful and full of life, and even though the flamingoes were mostly gone we saw a flock standing bright pink on the lake. Something that surprised me was the size of the pelicans. They stand 1.5m tall at least! Since we got up early and were driving when it was still cool outside we saw 3 lions 2m away from the van. I didn’t realize how large they were until I was so close. The grace and cunning they have really makes them king. After, we visited the Giraffic Plains. I named it that because we counted more than 50 there. We saw a baby with its mommy. They were so cute together with their spotted outlines in the fields against the trees. All day we searched for the mysterious Black Rhino. We didn’t find it but we did find a White Rhino and 12 more. They are cute with their big horn and innocent smiley looking face. And last but not least we saw a huge male lion in a tree after the rain looking almost cuddly, but powerful, with large deadly claws! – Alexandra

We started off the day by seeing a White Rhino, we saw them from 1 m away. That was a highlight of the day to me!! Another thing we saw that day that blew us all away was three lions from 2m away. I thought that if our flight wasn’t delayed we wouldn’t have seen all of that. – Isaac

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our exotic birds

 

 

 

 

 

These are the Rothschild Giraffe, the most uncommon, and very beautiful

 

 

 

 

Baby zebras study their mother’s backside to identify her

 

 

 

A sleepy king

 

Our lodge tucked away into the hill at the edge of the park

 

Baby zebra

 

Warthogs are so cute!

 

Rock Hyrax are related to the elephant

 

 

 

 

Equator

Today we stopped at the equator. A man showed us with a jug of water and a match that if you put the match into the jug on the north side of the equator, the match will spin clockwise. On the south side, the match will spin anti-clockwise, and if you put it right on the equator, the water will stay still. I thought that was really interesting and informative! -Isaac

 

 

 

 

Samburu Day 2

Today we saw new birds, including the Martial Eagle. It is Africa’s biggest eagle. We also saw the smallest bird of prey, the Pygmy Falcon. The rest of the day we helped Kamadi (Julius) cook, since he had 12 to cook for. It is amazing what a camp stove and some knowledge can do! – Alexandra

Today we saw about a zillion different types of birds. Out of all the species of birds we saw, I think the Rollers are the prettiest. We saw the smallest bird of prey in Africa, which doesn’t even look like a bird of prey, it is so small!! The thing we saw that stood out the most was a type of parrot with an orange chest. – Isaac

Sunrise over Samburu

 

 

Gerenuks (or giraffe gazelles) stretch on their hind legs to reach branches

 

The Grevy Zebra has very different stripes from the Common Zebra

 

 

The Dikdik mates for life. If one partner dies, the other one dies of starvation because all it does is look for its lost partner

 

Note the baboon slingshot