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KENYA   18/9-2/10 1998 DIARY  1



  Photos                 Diary 1 2 3

In my eternal quest for the perfect country, the trip has reached Kenya. Here, in addition to the fantastic climate, there is a wealth of exciting animals. After checking out the entire travel industry, Africa Horizons special tour with biologist Hanne Lindemann is by far the most interesting. Line has long plagued me; she wants to go out and see the world. Jesper and Morten are completely dismissive - until they have seen the material from Africa Horizon.

Day 1. Fresh and rested after 8 hours of night flight, we go straight into our 3 safari vehicles. Remodelled HiAcer: Most of the roof is raised so everyone can stand up, there are only 6 wide seats, so everyone has window seat.
Our driver is called Komo, and is "birdie" by which he thinks he is birding. He speaks good English, has check on anything besides birds, drive well and has humour.

Our last two fellow tourists in our car is Erik, an old guy who is healthy, talks the fuck off, and is excited about everything he sees and hears. Inge is an art painter, and just like Erik; incredibly excited about everything she experiences. The other cars are filled with gray-haired billionaires, who take the next day's hardships with fantastic walking and energy.

We drive out through a corner of Nairobi and after an hour we reach Rift Valley, which is a 5-6000 kilometre long crack down through Africa. We admire the view from a high-lying terrace while the natives more or less in vain try to pry us stone and wood carvings working on.

Areas are cultivated, but Hanne says that the valley was pure nature, when she saw it 30 years ago. Since then, it has been divided into smaller and smaller plots. Maize is grown regardless of whether the soil is suitable or not.
Suddenly I see a small bunch of zebras, and a little further on, a bunch of Thomson's gazelles pop up. A black kite follows the car, while an Hoopoe flakes frightened away. Large black silhouettes turn out to be vultures. We are in Africa!

The landscape is slowly changing from green cultivated fields to drier grassland with shrubs. Here, like everywhere else we come, there is not the slightest trash in the roadsides. Not some plastic bags, cola boxes, car wrecks and a like, that you see in most other countries in the world. The few small towns we drive through are extremely primitive, without electricity and running water, but despite the fact that the goods in the square are wrapped in plastic, there is no garbage on the eroded earthen streets.

We stop at a large covered booth, far out on the savannah. Here, in addition to a huge selection of wood carvings, there is a toilet and the opportunity to buy drinks. I quickly learn that Kenyan tea tastes significantly better than their coffee.

At 1am we arrive at Lake Nakuru Lodge. Like everywhere else we sleep; extremely luxurious, and with a large flower-filled garden with a sea of ​​singing birds.
After a quick shower, I stand and contemplate the surrounding nature: Awesome views! Warthogs, baboons, buffaloes, gazelles, beautiful birds, and not least; the savannah itself.
The lunch consists of a sumptuous buffet as the following days. Everything the heart desires, beautifully arranged, so that the stomach becomes saturated long before the eye. With the exception of a few fruits and vegetables, there is nothing really new.

The white cow herons flutter around among the buffaloes, a marabou stork stands quite still on one leg, small brightly coloured bee-eaters roam the low bushes, but are startled by one of the countless Defassa waterbucks. Holy ibis swoop down at the edge of a watering hole, where a warthog family roams. The giant big blacksmiths plowers, along with other waders, seek food at the water's edge.

In the bushes, along the edges of the terrace there is a veritable myriad of small birds, of which I can only identify a few: bul-bul, some pigeons, weavers, finches, singers, thrushes and - well, animals with wings.
Well (over-) fed, I stumble out to the cars to start the first Game Drive. We pass a huge hill, which is completely covered by 30 meters high cowboy cactus-like growths. It is the local variant of warts milk: Euphorbia.

At the roadside, we scare a bunch of helmeted guinea fowl, impalas walk and graze among the buffaloes, while the adorable Thomson gazelles go out into the open areas.
We get up in the car as it rumbles out of the holey dirt road. Several waterbirds emerge, a few of the rare black ibis emerge, and far out on the plain a secretary bird walks majestically in its search for snakes.

Some huge silhouettes further out of the way turn out to be intersecting white rhinos. They are huge! Together with the other two cars, we see them continue beyond the savannah.
A large bearded bird looks for insects in a dead tree, just below a resting goose bump. Behind it stands a Roschild giraffe suddenly. It turns out to be one, of a larger flock that "grazes" the tops of the Acacias. These 6 meter tall animals completely ignore our car.

There are birds of prey in many tree tops. Large white-breasted floodgates, glades, vultures and other unknowns.
An élan antelope goes up a slope. It is the largest member of the antelope family, heavier than a cow, but still with the family's elegance. Common waterbucks are hard to distinguish from defassas, but we learn it. Grants gazelles are similar to Thompsons, they are just slightly larger, white above the tail, and the males do not have the black stripe on the side.

Far out on the plain are two bushes: one black and one gray-brown. I guess ostrich, and quite right, two heads pop up.
We arrival at Lake Nakuru, a large freshwater lake that is temporarily home to large oxen of göther- and lesser flamingos, Nile geese, forest storks, large clods, large white pelicans, grouse, shoals and way more.
We drive along the bank for a long time and then turn our nose home. On the way, we see a bunch of waders being startled by a jackal.

Back at the lodge, the watering hole in front of the terrace is lit. Deciduous frogs, common frogs, cicadas and night birds mix their voices with the tiny little bats.
Take a walk with Jesper on the walkway connecting the cabins to the left of the main building. We hear something behind us, and a couple of baboons pass by running, skip the electric fence, and disappear in the dark.

We get a drink on our private terrace, a quick shower, and nicely dressed we take in the sumptuous evening buffet. New drink on the terrace. A kneeling manatee is attracted to the light, small house geckos patrol the walls and a lion lets his deep roar hear from the savannah.

Day 2. Wake 5.40: ""Jambo, this is your wake-up call! Yarn !! A cup of coffee while it is getting light. It's pitch dark 6.05, 6.15 is the sun rising above the horizon, 6.20 is the day.
The mist lies beyond the savannah in front of the lodge. A beautiful swamp of ant hills between the natural stone of the terrace, while a black-breasted snake eagle settles in one of the garden's large trees. Tura's flycatchers find animals in the bushes and on the way out to the cars, we see a column of safari ants, the smallest member of the army ants.

In the following, I will generally refrain from mentioning species of animals already mentioned. The species varied from area to area, but there were also many common ones from area to area, and from nearby areas. This means that game drives, where only a few animals are mentioned, have actually been saturated with expensive observations.

After sneaking down from the 1666 meter high plateau lodge, we are on a bush savannah. Suddenly, a lion couple pops up in a clearing. They seem completely unaffected by our appearance, completely occupied with each other. When the female lion is in heat, she and the pack's male pull away from the others, and mate every half hour for a day or two!

In one of the tall Euphorbias sits a Long-crested eagle; Lophaetus occipitalis. It has a top like a cocktail, just twice as long. A few writing antelopes creep frightfully around the bush, while long-tailed glittering starlings ignore us. At a watering hole, forest deer, wreaths, silver deer, shoal deer, stylers, small patch dives, variegated crows and cormorants are found.

In a small forest we come through, a lone colobus monkey emerges. This beautiful black monkey with its long white robe and bushy tail is rare as the Malays have used them for traditional dance suits.
On the way home, we see a very large bunch of African buffaloes and 7 white rhinos. In the big trees of the lodge sit a couple of beautiful hartlobs turakos. Metallic green, scarlet red under the wings, white face with red pearl embroidery on the eyes and large black helmet.

We eat sumptuous breakfast for an hour and then drive towards Lake Baringo, 125 miles down the Rift Valley. It goes through huge fields of wheat and small plots of corn.
We see the large freshwater lake, with its wide variety of wading and swimming birds. The most fashionable are the great white pelicans. On the way out, and again on the way home, we see lots of mammals and birds.
Lunch 13.30, followed by a walk through the garden, and down to the water's edge. Here I sneak in on a hammerhead heron, then suddenly discover that there is a rather large crocodile right between it and me. It's pretty hard to spot among the lake's introduced sea lettuce. Memo: Mind yourself properly in nature; here are dangerous animals!

There are a veritable myriad of colourful little birds in the garden's many flowering shrubs. Sunbirds completely resemble hummingbirds with their metallic colours. Down at the small pier of the lodge there is one of the area's characteristic termite dwellings, with a 2 meter high "chimney".

Jesper, Morten and Line join my expedition. I want to show them the crocodile, and just as we get down to the water it slides up ashore, right in front of us. We see 4 Nile monitors on the banks, where they are at risk for everything less than themselves. An roadrunner disappears into the dense scrub, in its search for insects and other bird nests.
High up in a tree, Line sees Africa's largest owl: the eagle owl, which is really a big horned owl with pink eyelids. It has nest with young ones in the garden of the lodge.

Down by the shore and in the garden we can see leaf chickens, deer herons, sand geese (wicker), mourning pigeons, magpie starfish, white-gumped buffalo weaves, ox-hops, black-headed weaver, African whip-star, common bul-bul, triangular glossy teal, white-tailed sparrow weaver, green-tailed sparrow weaver kingfisher, paradise flycatcher, black-headed pyrol, watermelon and white-tailed turakos. In the garden itself, a dromedary first appeared and then a giant Galapagos turtle - unless it is from the Seychelles ?

There is a joint tour of the garden, accompanied by Hanne's lecture on garden life. We reach a desiccated river, some will turn around, and when I come to reveal I just saw a adder or snake disappear under the brink, everyone goes home.

The darkness comes quickly and after a much-needed shower, we head up to the lodge's café to drink tea and coffee before dinner. A couple, who came later were persecuted by a hippopotamus and had to seek asylum from it at an Italian couple, who was in the bath. During the night, armed guards walk around the garden. The lake's hippos are quite enthusiastic about the garden's large well-watered lawn, and sneaks among the luxuriously furnished cabins.

After dinner, there is a dance performance. We sneak away unnoticed, and discover a hippo between the bushes of the garden. Gently sneak us towards it, and get some good flash photos. We are going backwards from it, as it seems a little daunted. As we have doubled the distance to it, a guard comes roaring, saying we must flee, it is a very dangerous animal!

Jesper and Morten have been given a room far away, around the kitchen, so we sit and drink on our terrace while we you try to keep the mosquitoes away. At 22, it gets too much and we crawl to bed.
During the night, one of our fellow tourists is filming a hippo right out on their terrace. The next morning the garden furniture stands there. Hippos that say Gori! Another is awakened, he thinks it is the wake-up call, but when he opens the door there is "only" a hippo.
Line has also been awakened by the resounding roar of the hippos and their "rumph-rumph" as they shovel pasture. She scouts out to them through the window while I sleep safely.

Day 3. Up 6.45, breakfast and then in 3 boats. First we have to pass some hippos, then we have to push a plug of hammock out of the harbour. We sail between small islands, see long-necked cormorants, white-headed river eagles, gray herons, lead hens, water lilies, small sultan hen, goliath heron and two fishermen.
Their 1˝ meter long boats are made of 5 centimetres thick air-filled roots ala balsam wood. The catch consists of cichlids and shells. They paddle on with their "table tennis bats".

The lake's fresh water itself is totally impervious gray. When the surrounding fields began to be cultivated, the clay was exposed and now flushed into the river. In 30 years, 3 meters of sediment has been deposited on the bottom. The lake is now 3 meters deep! As mentioned earlier, invasive sea cabbage has been exposed. These floating plants take the last light from the shore. What looked like totally unspoiled nature is rather a disaster.

We get to a small island, which is really just the tip of an extinct volcano. Here lives a fisherman with his family. In the open smoking area are chiliads, shells, moths and lungfish. Before the lake became so muddy, it was a major export commodity that the smoke-dried fish could last a month. While the others look inside the two cabins of the island, I explore the surrounding cliffs. Island lizards, fun trees and very scattered grass stalks on the dry soil. Line and Morten join the safari, which ends abruptly as Line steps up a 4 cm long acacia thorn into a heartbeat. The blood spills out, but stops quickly.

We climb aboard the waiting boats and sail along the steep coast of the island. Some distance away, a dead fish is thrown onto the water. A white-headed river eagle immediately emerges, dives, catches, and settles back into a tree to devour the fish.

On the return trip we can only add gulls to the species list. Lake Barinko Special at the bar and then we are ready for a 4 person city tour. We have heard there is a city nearby, we do not know how big or modern, so it must be investigated. On the way, we see bearded birds and brightly coloured agamas: blue head and upper body, red hindquarters, yellow stripe along the back and black tail. The female hardly so impressive.

The "city" consists of a 150 meter street with very primitive shops: tailors, hairdressers, bars and a single bicycle workshop.
Down by the riverbank is a group of women cleaning fish. The small kids running around us say: "Jambo - give me money!" We trudge back to the lodge and see along the short-tailed ravens, some small agamas and the hippos' markings: shit that gets scattered with the tail.

The lunch is taken with the birds. A red-beaked rhinocerosbird shows up for a short second. Very exciting. Later we curse them far away.
Tea, and then a swim in the pool. Sun dryer, and then it's time to head out to Lake Bagoria. On the way we see the incredibly beautiful European Roller and wart starlings.

Along the banks of the great lake are about 1,000,000 pink flamingos, the largest collection Hanne has seen in 30 years. Words cannot describe it, it must be experienced! We drive along the lake and every time we round a corner, the flamingo intensity seemed to increase.

We also see red-billed ducks, tiny little rockers (gazelle), big kudos (gazelle), dik-dig antelopes that are just adorable. A bunch of hyraxs are seen far up on the hillside. They look like big guinea pigs, but their closest living relatives are the elephants!
In a swamp area, I see a crane, but it disappears before others see it. Papyrus forest and several flamingos. On the way home we pass a bunch of donkeys. They are used for goods transport and as mopeds.
I get a shower and a game of billiards before the diner. Coughing with a lot of laughter and looked upside down.

Day 4. At 6.15, sunrise over the lake, we see the owl couple, and after breakfast we check out, and drive through savannah and farmland. Small ground squirrels cross the miserable road.
We drive up a little in the highlands, and coffee and tea plantations show up. We stop briefly at a coffee plantation, and Hanne talks about cultivation and processing. The local women who pick the coffee in October will receive DKK 2.50 for 16 litres of pure beans. They (the beans) are slightly chopped and the pulp is sorted. Then they ferment for 24 hours and the barriers are washed off. They are dried on nets and ready for export. It is the recipient countries that roast them, each country in its own way.

Into the cars and on through corn, tea, coffee, large green hills interrupted by wooded slopes. We ride the equator, crossing 6 times during the day.
Next stop is Nyahururu Fall (formerly Thompsons), which is an 8 meter wide and 35-40 meter high and violent waterfall. Photos are being made while the natives are trying in vain to stalk us stone and wood work. There are 3 dancers with full body paint, feathers and fur and spears for photography.

We continue on a very bad road. (That's the only thing I can deduce, from the unreadable notes.) In general, the dirt roads are better than the paved ones. The asphalt is only 1-2 centimetres thick and is destroyed after a year. The holes become very deep with sharp edges. The dirt roads also get holes, but they are more "soft". Small holes you drive over, big ones you go around and the really big ones (Kenya's size) you drive around in!

We see black striped snake eagle, blue kite, cow antelope, moose antelope, steppe eagle and 10 giraffes.
15 kilometres drive brings us to the extremely luxurious Sweet Wather Tent Camp. Some tents stand on the ground, others on 2 meter high platforms. The view is almost indescribable. From the tent and restaurant, there are 20-30 meters to the watering hole, where giraffes, Thomson's gazelles, impalas, warthogs, marabas and cranes are drinking, as we arrive.

There is an hour for unpacking, bathing and lunch. Then the game drives start. We are going to a huge enclosure where a large bunch of "cuddly" chimpanzees have been released. We also sail on the river, inside the chimpanzee enclosure. Here I see a muskrat.

We drive back through the national park. I'm just saying, "that's pretty dead", when a bunch of elephants break out of the bush, right in front of us. They are not so much bigger than the Indian ones, but here are also only females and cubs.

We see a couple of Big Bustards, which is the world's largest bird (In October last year I saw the largest: Andean condor, in January I saw the largest: Royal albatross, on Saturday I saw the largest: African ostrich.) weighing up to 18 kilos, is perhaps 1.10 meters high.
In another huge fence a completely tamed black rhino are found. It finds it good-natured to be smacked in the horn and itch behind the ears, just at the same time it can gulp horse pellets into it. As there are no more pills, it lends itself to the bush.

As we pass a narrow clearing, Inge sees a lone lioness. We watch her (the lion) for a long time, as she passes the car on the dirt road, sneezes and walks on. We get very close to a couple of Crown Tranes, they are amazingly beautiful.
Back in the camp, the tea is consumed in the photo tower 15-20 meters from the giraffes.
All the way around the camp there is a V-shaped moat with electric fences at the bottom. In fact, I have a feeling that it is us, that are locked inside. A walk along the enclosure (the exclosure ?) adds a gray-tipped social weaver, flycatcher, red-breasted sunbird and a small bat to the species list.

The darkness comes quickly, and we settle into the fireplace room to enjoy a cup of tea and talk to some of our fellow tourists. Then there's diner, and I'm disappointed once again by the tastelessness of the great dessert cakes. By contrast, the view of the illuminated watering hole is magnificent. Jesper and the undersigned see two lions. Everyone sees giraffes, élan antelopes, geese and other animals ~.

The next morning, Jesper and I can pinpoint the tree stump where the lions were sitting next to.
We are six, who rent a 4WDer for night safari, along with a driver and a searchlight. It is exciting! It may not be as easy to spot the animals, but there is a very special atmosphere. In addition to the powerful searchlight, we have even brought flashlights. They can just light up the reflective retina, and then the spot is on.

White-tailed deer, spotted hyena, African hare, elephants, giraffes, Thomson and Grant gazelles, and not least; a family flock of lions. The male is incredibly handsome with a huge mane. They lie and doze off on all sides of the car.
It is very late (or early) when we return back, but Line and the undersigned will have to sit down for a drink in front of the tent to watch the clear starry sky and listen to the sounds of the night. Jesper and Morten spot two rhinos, sneaking closer. Camp security chief John arrives and asks, if they want to get closer: 3 metres! Suddenly the wind turns and the big animals quickly run away as they sense the whine of human. This is the first time John has seen them so close to the camp.
         The adventure continues in Diary 2




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