Friday, April 20, 2012

Letters from Africa, Part II

Letter two from Jorrit and pictures:

Boy, it just keeps getting better.  Many more lions.  We’ve now seen at least three prides.  Last night we had our sundowner sitting next to 12 lions who were also feasting on some sort of animal.  It’s amazing that we can literally be 10 feet away from these animals – much closer than any zoo – with nothing between us other than an open-air car.  When the big cats stare us down it definitely makes you think…

I mentioned we were looking for a leopard in my last mail.  We found her today.  See the photos.  Just an amazing animal.  It was very warm today.  Probably close to 25 (80 or so degrees). Most of us got burned as you’d expect.

Nico remains our primary spotter.  We go out each day with Nella (who organized the safari) and our guide, Mathew (I don’t think that’s his real name as he’s from a small tribe in northern Kenya) in our 3 level open-air Land Rover.  The car can literally get across any river, up any hill, over any rock.  Mathew and Nella know every animal and bird and spot almost as well as Nico.  we take a morning drive which, for us, lasts until about 1 or 2, come back to camp for lunch, nap and then leave again for an evening drive from 4:30 until about 7.  Quick shower, then drinks by the camp fire and a wonderful meal in the central lodge.  After dusk, we are escorted anywhere we walk in camp by local tribesmen armed with spear, stick and super powered flashlight.  It feels safe. 

So, since the last writing, lots of lion, a sole wildebeest, leopard, a tower (look it up) of 25 giraffe, a herd of 10 elephant, lots of different birds, more hippos.  Oh yes, how could I forget.  When we were looking for leopards yesterday we came upon a small stream where, randomly, a hippo was hiding.  It was an accidental meeting and we got a little closer than we intended. Mathew guessed he may have fought another hippo in the river and lost and retreated.  As we were trying to turn the car, he jumped at us (he was 20 feet or so away and would have needed to climb a bank, but let me tell you…his mouth was huge, his teeth bigger, and he had much quicker movement that you’d like or expect.  All's well.  He just sent a message and we got it.

Tomorrow we leave again and fly 90 minutes north to the plains where we will do a lot more walking than driving.  It should be equally majestic and, I’m told we’ll have wifi.  So, until then!

More than any animal other than the mongoose, 
the zebra would see us and then they'd run.

Another lurking hyena.

Our number one spotter, Nico.

The angry hippo, before she showed us his big scary teeth.

Another king, another kill.

His entourage, feeling full, staying cool.

The vultures wait their turn.

And the tourists have their sundowners and a last visit to the pride.

The lion pride as the sun sets.

The next morning on the 6:30 a.m. drive, our first sighting.

The tower of giraffe were especially shy but not as shy as the zebra.

The leopard spent the day here in the cool of the brush.

The wildebeest waiting for the July migration.

Hunting in the heat.

Funny warthog family, tails up and running.

The very beautiful impala

Still there wondering why we are back and staring.

The False Butler.

Two stork friends.

Lunchtime at the lodge.

The Mara, vast and animal-filled.

Time for a sundowner.

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