Monday, May 7
We left Sweetwaters Tented Camp at 8:00 heading to Samburu National Reserve.
The Shaba Game Reserve is made famous by the late Joy Adamson and her lioness Elsa. It's often referred to as "Born Free Country".
We arrived around noon and were graciously greeted with washcloths and fresh squeezed juices.
We all enjoyed Tusker beers around the bar before lunch and then met the friendly staff of "Chicken George", Veronikah and John.
After some free time to nap, swim and enjoy the antics of the local Vervet monkeys, we headed off at 4 in search of the "special 5", consisting of the Grevy's Zebra, the Reticulated Giraffe, Somali Ostrich and Beisa Oryx and the Gerenuk. We spotted all except the ostrich. In addition to the excitement of seeing these unique creatures, we had the opportunity to display our unique Canadian brain and braun. After a failed attempt at making a U-turn, we became "stuck"!! It took 4 women and Mark 45 minutes and much creativity to push our Toyota van out of it's downhill position!
Needless to say, after returning to our lodge, Tuskers (local beer/elephant soup) were enjoyed by all, including RaPHael. The conversation included lots of questions about the Kenyan way of life as well as describing life in Canada!
After dinner, we all skyped with Papa and Krista, including David (the waiter) who was excited to meet our "grandfather" and commented that Nana looked very happy to talk with her husband!
Some of us headed off to bed, but left the 3 bloggers (Sandra, Shelley & Jordyn) typing away in the bar, where the wi-fi was the strongest, apparently! Sandra realized the staff felt committed to stay in the bar while they were there, but eventually convinced them they did not need to.
Lala Salama "sleep well"
Tuesday, May 8
We have now become a party of 6! Sadly, Sandra felt ill and spent the entire day in bed. She was well tended to by the restaurant staff and resident Doctor.
Close call of the day; Hayley encountered a very assertive monkey who was interested in her piece of bread, which she quickly tossed in order to make it to her room.
The rest of us left at 8 for Buffalo Springs, where we saw lots of Oryx, a crocodile, stork, dik-diks ( smallest antelope who traditionally travel in pairs), Gazelles, even a very new baby being cleaned by it's mother and learning to walk.
Akward, but natural moment came, when we witnessed the "physical act of love" between 2 zebras! Poor thing, she never saw it coming, but we did!!!!
Funny quote of the morning; Hayley - "oh my, that's like a 3rd leg". To which Jordyn replied; "but they already have 4!"
After careful navigation of the soft marshland, Raphael managed to take us right amongst a pack of pacoderms (elephants), probably in excess of 20. Of course as always, the babies stole the show! Raphael explained some facts about the elephant; the females live to 60-70 years and continues to be the matriarchs of the herd, while the bulls tend to travel solo. There are no natural predators, only humans who kill these magnificent creatures for their ivory tusks! Also, when one of the herd dies, they grieve like humans, actually producing tears!
We headed along the river to park and be entertained by about 10 elephants who frolicked and rolled in the river. Again, Baby was the star of the show. We even captured some of their trumpeting on the video camera.
After lunch, we all had a quick nap before meeting Raphael (Kinuthia) at 3:30 for our afternoon game drive in Samburu National park where "Nature defies itself". Raphael explained how about 2 years ago a lioness adopted a baby Oryx. On the game drive, even though it was raining, we were still able to spot reticulated giraffes and elephants.
After the game drive we stopped at a local Samburu village, where we were greeted by an elder. The elder explained to us the way in which the village was laid out, each family has their own entrance into the circular formation which is the village. The young Samburu warriors performed a traditional wedding ceremony song and dance, which included very high jumping (to impress the young women). Then everyone was provided with two tribal necklaces and Jordyn, Hayley and Nadine were invited to participate in a dance (which proved they have no rhythm). Eventually all of the women were participating in the dance. We were escorted to see all of the little children sitting under the tree (they sit under the tree so that way the mothers always know where they are). Then some of the men worked very hard to produce fire, where they used a soft wood and wood of the acacia tree on top of donkey dung, this fire is shared by all. We were then led to a house by John, which housed three goats and six people. The walls of the home are built with cow dung (like a concrete), the roofs are formed by acacia branches, these houses are built completely by the women. The Samburu people are nomadic because they need to follow the availability of water. Each home has its own pen for their goats, goats and cows are very valuable and utilized for their milk, blood, meat, hides, and even bones are used to create both jewelry and spears. Then Shelley, Hayley, and Jordyn, did not mind overpaying for their beautiful bracelets in order to support the women who make jewelry to sell and trade. These women make this jewelry in their spare time (Which can't be much as they care for the children, fetch water, and provide physical labor), and one usually takes around 2 days to make.
Lasting impressions of the Samburu people:
Hayley: Visiting the village made me feel very lucky to be a girl in Canada. In Africa, where polygamy is legal, the samburu warriors go into the wilderness to gain both experience and wisdom, before coming back to get married between the age of 28-30. The women they marry are usually aged between 16-30. To see these women both strong and beautiful, it was sad to see that they have very little control over their life. After learning that between two children only one can go to school, while the other takes care of the animals. So many kids in Canada view education as a chore instead of a privilege, leaving this village has made me feel very grateful for all that I have and the opportunites that I am offered.
Nadine: I understand how much work it is to keep house in Canada, but to have to rely on the water source and fire to cook, etc, has made me appreciate our conveniences even more!
Jordyn: Due to my lack of education, I would be out tending to the goat and cows. After being married off to a 30 year old man at the age of 16, I would then run away from the village. It is a very unique way of life and makes me appreciate that I am still unmarried at the age of 20!
Nana: I appreciate being alive, because at my age, if I were at a Samburu village I would have been gone 10-20 years ago.
Shelley: I appreciate the sweet little faces of the little babies and kids and makes me miss the grandchildren!
Mark: I wish I owned more cows, because the more cows, the more wives I would have. I probably would not get many goats for my daughters.
Wednesday, May 9th
We were almost an hour late making our departure 8 o'clock for a 7 hour drive on our way to Lake Nakuru National Park. It was a very long windy, bumpy road. We stopped at a curio shop where Sandra bought a painting, bartering with Nana's help. Hayley was the ill one today, finally taking a gravel to knock her out for most of the ride. Crossing the Equator, we were able to be educated by a local who was excited to show us how water spins different ways in the north and south hemispheres. He also sold us lovely certificates as he explained "and a tip for me" was expected. After more driving.....We stopped at Nyahururu Falls .,(also known as Thompson Falls), but unfortunately, due to the heavy rain we were unable to see it. We arrived at the Sarova Lion HIll lodge, where we ate a late lunch at 4 pm, and quickly left for an afternoon game drive, in search of the Rhinoceros. Despite the rain, we were able to spot the Black Rhino and lots of Cape Buffalo.
We returned for dinner and called it an early night.
Thursday, May 10th
Up and ready for our 8 am departure, much to Raphael's shock.
We drove straight to Lake Navaisha at an elevation of 6270 meters! It is the highest of all the lakes and has many schools of Hippos, which we were able to see from a distance in the marsh, usually 6-7 of them.
Hippos weigh between 1.5 to 2 tons, they can run 45 kph. They mate and give birth in the water where they spend most of the day to avoid sun damage and bugs, then move onto land where they graze and spend the night. Gestation period - 8 months. Babies ride on the backs till about 3 months and when the young males start to mature, they get chased out of the schools.
We saw multiple species of birds, king fishers, cormarons and pelicans.
Luckily we made it back to shore in one piece and were escorted back to the lodge, walking amongst Hippo resting places and Waterbucks. Raphael was surprised to see us, after Nana told him she was the only survivor!!
As we were leaving, Raphael spotted a Colobus Monkey, which are quite rare, but very beautiful with their long fur in black and white.
We stopped for lunch and of course, Jordyn, Shelley & Sandra purchased some more much needed bracelets:P
We travelled along an unbelievably crater-filled road into the Maasai Mara, where we spotted some more zebras and giraffes while heading to the Sarova Mara Lodge.
It is a tented camp, nestled amongst the baboon-filled trees, bordering on the marsh where the salt licks draw the animals throughout the night.