Monday, May 14, 2012

Lions and tigers and...

Scratch tigers, how about cheetahs instead? Apparently one of the "big five" is leopards, but we never saw a one. I don't think we feel bad about it given how much else we saw!

We heard about these cheetahs up in the hills and when we got there there were four or five other vans surrounding this bush. It was hard to get a good view and all the vans kept circling around trying to get a better position. Poor cheetahs seemed to be used to this sort of thing!

This is the best shot I got. I think the cheetah got up once and others may have gotten better shots. They were pretty well focused on eating whatever animal it was that they had caught.

And finally: lions! This is the first lions we saw and they were pretty well through eating this buffalo. These are all young male lions.

Some of them were on duty, keeping the jackals at bay. There were quite a few jackals out there actually, circling around, waiting impatiently. I think if the lions didn't keep them at bay, they totally would have been in there with the big cats.

Having a sip of water from the mud puddle.

Sometimes they would get up and slink off, getting very close to our vans! A bit nerve racking, because these guys could totally jump up into the van if they wanted. We had our lid read to pull down at a moments notice!

Wet lion crouching in the grass.

Down the road from the buffalo was this wet pair, a male and female I believe.

I'm wet, wet, wet!

And sadly, it looked like his jaw was broken too. Mugweru said it probably happened during the kill, which can be quite violent. It's possible this lion won't be able to hunt anymore with this injury.

Now comes one of my favorite parts. Later in the afternoon we passed these two male lions sleeping on the side of the road. One had its head down and the other was just facing away from the road. There were two other safari tour vehicles there (not from our group at all). The drivers were really obnoxioux, revving their engines and scraping water bottles along the window to make noise - trying to get the cats to turn their way or do something. The lions totally ignored them and after a minute or two, the two vans took off down the road in search of something more interesting.

About five seconds after they left, the cats "woke up." They bathed....

...totally posed for us...


got up...

crossed the road right in front of us...

then played for a moment...

Then they picked themselves up and wandered off into the plains to find their next snack.

Very, very cool - and we didn't need to make obnoxious noises or anything! =)

Well, that's the end of the photos that are good enough to share.  I'm still processing and figuring out what to say about my time at the conference. Some things are filtering out. If I end up coming up with something coherent, I'll post it here!

On the road

Oops. Where does the time go!? There aren't too many pics left, and I want to post them before too much more time goes by. Plus, it's time for me to put the safari aside and do some more processing about the whole point of the trip - which was the conference.
But for now, some pictures from the road. This will give you an idea of some of the topography and the way things looked. (And, it's kind of a catch-all for other types of photos too...)

Why do I put baboons with "on the road"? Because all the baboons we saw were always on the road! Or just off the road. Mugweru said it was because people through trash out their windows so the baboons hang near the road for that reason. This fellow has a food wrapper of some sort.

Baby baboon!

Those were all in Lake Nakuru, and below is a bunch we saw, right next to the road, in the Mara.

Here we are at the border with Kenya and Tanzania! We actually got out of the van and wandered around a little, which seemed plenty dangerous to me. We were in a big muddy clearing with trees and shrubs around. Who know if a lion or some other thing was waiting around?
This marker is apparently 2 meters from the Kenya border and 20 meters from the Tanzania border - so we were technically in a no man's land. But I think we should consider we were in Tanzania anyway. =)

These are the "tents" we had at Flamingo Camp, with actual beds and bathrooms en suite. It was pretty nice setup.

We had a handful of Masai warriors guarding us each night. This is Joshua (in the red) and another Masai. Notice what Joshua is holding in his hand? He does have a short spear of some sort, but also a cell phone! When we first showed up and were meeting these young Masai, who have the ear piercing thing going on, often dressed like Joshua, carrying spears or clubs, wearing recycled tire sandals, talking about how many lions or other beasts they've killed - and they're walking around with cell phones transferring money and probably surfing the 'net! That was kind of crazy. You don't need to be in the concrete jungle of a big city to be technologically connected.

Here I am at Lake Nakuru, at the baboon lookout.

Back to the Masai. I just took this picture out of the van window when we were getting close to our camp. We were relatively close to a Masai village and there were huge herds of cows. I could hear cow bells jangling around our whole camp morning and night.

Views of the Mara plains.

I think this is Lake Elemantaita... something we passed on our journey to the Masai Mara.

Rachel and I with Mugweru, our driver.

I guess there was no room IN the bus and they started sitting on top!

Lots of examples of the one lone tree. I think Mugweru said there were a dozen or more species of acacia tree in Kenya, so that's what most of the trees are that we saw.

Some crappy road conditions... and some large animal prints along the side.

A bridge we crossed over and then I'm sure we were almost in Tanzania, if not in it for sure. There were hippos in this river, those they didn't stay up long enough for a picture.

A lovely sunrise over the Masai Mara on our last game drive.

Here's our bus with all the occupants. Such a fun group!