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KENYA 18/9-2/10 1998   DIARY  3



Photos                 Diary 1 2 3

From Diary 2, the story continues.
Day 9. It lights up behind the lake, Mount Kenya stands in pink, covered with a slight haze. The first of my travel compagnions appear, real sleepy. There is a mist above the lake's surface. The sun appears over the horizon 6.28 and 6.30 it is all the way up.

The Xylophone sounds, and we eat breakfast, and hurry out to the waiting bus, so we get off before the others. On the way out through the park, we see some tropical weavers, crowned hornbilled and a small herd of beautiful colobus monkeys.

Hanne mentions for fun, that it is possible to fly over Serengeti in hot air balloon for about US$ 300. We look at each other and ask: When?
We are busy; we need to reach a plane. Komo, our fantastic native driver, says he is impressed with the durability and reliability of the cars. 5 minutes after, the car loses traction. We change the capacitor, check all the connections, change the gasoline filter, try to change the mixing ratio, but it does not help.

The front car is driven, the other one is filled up and shipped in advance, and will then return after us. Since we have to open the back door, to get our luggage, it is blocked. Good cars ?!
Jesper and Inge get a lift with some English birdies stopping for all small birds. We get picked up and with the hazzard light on, it goes with max. speeding across, in and through the many holes of the miserable road. I load our luggage myself. Had we arrived 30 seconds later, we would not have arrived in the literal sense!

We fly with an 18 person plane, not the quietest plane to cross three mountain ranges in. Hanne spends most of the flight with her head in my lap; she is very little excited about flying.
We fly over mountains, wheat fields, the ark, villages and lots of savannah. After an hour, we land in Masai Mara, the largest and most expensive national park.

Runways are also a gravel strip here, just inferior to the previous one. We are several times getting stuck on the dirt road from the runway. In one of the waterholes, a swamp turtle appears terrified, as we sail through.
Here are lots of "new" animals: Togi gazelles, found only in Masai Mare, Wilderbeasts, which are all over the place, personal flies, Nubian vultures, Cook's atibist and Masai giraffes.

After two hours of game drive, we arrive at Masai River Camp. The outdoor lunch is interrupted by active hippos on the other side of the river.
During lunch, heavy clouds cover the sky, and thunder rolls between the mountains. This afternoon's game drive will be replaced by Hanne's lecture on nature conservation theories, full of fun and drinks at the bar.
As the rain stops, I take a walk in the garden. Swamp moths, Rana frogs, birds and lots of hippos.
The rain returns, and as Morten says: There is nothing else to do but put on a sweater and raincoat - and go to bed. OK, the tents are actually waterproof, and hot tubs have been put in the beds.

Day 10. Up at sunrise 6.30. Haven't slept too well, the hippos and Line have been snoring as a battle. Seeds have been thrown on feeding boards and a myriad of birds take care of the dishes. Speckled mouse bird, hildobandas glittering starlings, blue fliecatchers, and others.

We stand watching the hippos in the river as one suddenly jumps all the way out of the water, like a fish.
The roads in the park are still softened by the rain of the last days, so we rent a 4WDer to pull off. We see, among other things: ear-, ruble- and white-backed vultures, guguin francolins, maasais, silver-backed jackal with cubs, ant drossel, moose antelope, leaf frogs, brooding ostrich, zebra mongoose, spotted hyena, and an incredible amount of wildebeest and zebras.

Several people I speak with, who have come here through several human ages, say that it is the largest total wilderbeest migration, that has ever been. Weather factors such as El Nino have a decisive impact, and this year has been very special.

We interrupt our hunt for a leopard to drive down to the river. As far as the eye reach, from horizon to horizon, all around us, there are closely packed with wildebeest. Some are scattered on the plains, others go into dense columns, most reminiscent of army ants on march.

Last year, Hanne and some photographers had been sitting for three weeks, waiting for the wildebeest to cross the river. This year, some photographers have waited two months. They start right as we arrive: Throw then selves down the cliff, leap into the water, and fight up the other side. Some do not reach; giant crocodiles get their annual meal and the vultures take care of the many drowned animals.

The trees along the river are filled with vultures and they sit and tear in the stranded bodies. We eat our packed lunches on the shore, 50 meters from the vultures.
We return to the camp at 17, as some very black clouds begin to emerge. I have a sore throat, nausea, fever and dizziness; all the signs of malaria, which I am the only one who does not take pills for. Tilt directly to bed as we return home. The others learn a little about the Maasais.

Day 11. Up 5.45 to sing gold wedding songs, accompanied by hippos. We stand with candles in hand, a waiter ready with morning coffee for the couple. The only thing missing was just one that could sing.
We first start the game driven 8.30. On the vast Serengeti Plain, we see some elephant s,herds of 500,000 zebras, a multitude of small birds, ear-dogs, 1,500,000 wildebeest, élans +, thomson gazelles, tusks, warthogs, vultures, and a myriad of other animals.

We get to the other side of the valley and book into Mara Sarina Lodge at 12.30.
From the terrace there is a fantastic view of the nearby water holes, the river, the plain and the surrounding hills that end up in the mountains.
Oll over the lodge's beautiful garden, it is teeming with rocky badgers. I find out, they do not have claws, on the other hand, their feet are almost sneakers. They climb the trees, out on the very thin twigs to eat foliage, with their non-gripping feet.

Since we traditionally have to touch one, we find out they can be kick-started. We also learn that Lines T-shirt is a sun-top. Jesper suggests; the tip of the iceberg, and get a new blue marking.
A bunch of mouse birds show up, and Morten asks if they are some kind of finch. I say it's probably a tit (mejser in Danish), and Jesper says: Of course it's mouse! By the way, it is most of all parrots, but not much.

We have lunch and enjoy the view of the legendary Serengeti plain. There come abdin storks, common storks, paradise flycatchers, hunters' golden birds, South African flycatcher and I catch a beetle of 4-5 centimetres, which raises quite a bit of attention.

At 15, there is game drive, we drive down to the river. Here lies one group of hippos after another. Many lie and sunbathe up on the shore, others in the river. In total, we see about 50-70 of these ungraceful but fast animals. Morten sees two sprinters at one of the camps, which according to Hanne reaches 40 Km / h.

We see one of the giant crocodiles, which is totally stuffed on the riverbank. Here are numerous wildebeest. They are everywhere, some walking peacefully on the savannah, others in long columns. At some point, we stop and look at one. It comes from one horizon and continues into the other. There are about 100 animals passing per minute, and that just continues. Again, most of them are reminiscent of overgrown army ants, there are just more!

At some point, we get on the push safari; we are stuck in the mud in the middle of the dirt road. Elsewhere we find a lion mother with her two young cubs, eating a wildebeest. We stop for a long time and see the cubs' attempts to get the tongue, among other things. The dead wildebeest refuses to open its mouth, so it looks like it is being kissed by the lion cub.

After the meal, they play with each other and the cubs sneak in on a grazing zebra flock, until their mother calls them back and then picks them up.
You can also watch the side-show we are part of. 15 cars hold in a semicircle, 5-10 meters from the lions. Photography devices and tourists hang out of the open windows. The lions do not notes it. We could be rocks or bushes.

During the diner, the staff comes out singing with cake to the gold bridal couple and the rest of us.
The watering hole and part of the savannah are lit in front of the hotel and waterbucks and hippos appear.

Day 12. Jesper and Morten get up early; they have to fly in balloon. There were only two seats available, and otherwise it exceeded my limit of 2000 kroner - and I don't stand hearing them talking about it, if only one did the tour. The balloons are filled with air in the plain below the hotel. Two are for 12 passengers, the third largest in the world, which can have 18.

They fly for an hour and then get a champagne breakfast in the middle of the savannah. For a long time, they fly at 2 meters altitude, Jesper asks how high it can go and they rush up to 1000 meters. He is fare from keen on hights, and hate him selves for it. On the way home, they see a lot of animals.

I have slept badly: Line has started snoring and, when I turn to her, she talks in her sleep! We are all worn down by now. When me meet all the white-headed fellow travellers in the airport, I feared how we would have to take care of the older one. Now, I start to fear I can't keep up!

The rest of us go to the game drive, and Hanne offers a breakfast, including champagne in between. We see a wildebeest I can recognize; it is the one the lions gnawed in, yesterday. There is nothing left, but the skin and the backbone. The hyenas have been here. They also eat the bones, they can gnaw a femur, eat it all to get the marrow, and the only thing that happens is that their stools are literally white. The 60 kg animals can run 40 Km / h - 6 hours in a row.Stomach contents are also left. Here, a group of scarab beetles are rolling balls.

The vultures are gathered down by the river, where there is the very large take-self table. White-headed, ear, monk, ruble, and white-backed vulture. A single gray tower falcon does not appear much between 100 vultures.
After lunch, Line finds out she forgot her swimsuit. Almost all of our gray-haired travel companions have lost something; Photo apparatus, passport, purse, sweaters. I can't remember anything I forgot.

We head out on another game drive in the afternoon, but in addition to the usual 1½ million squirrels and many other known animals, the only news is a snake eagle. A giant lone elephant bull roams the green hills.
Many areas are gradually wildebeest-free. The mood is actually reminiscent of the day after the Roskilde Festival: trampled grass, the feeling that something big has just happened and shit all over.

An uncommonly beautiful sunset to one side, while the lightning lights illuminate the otherwise black sky to the other. We sit on the terrace listening to the leafy frogs before diner. The rain stops, and Jesper and the undersigned go on night-safari - in the lodge's garden. Big centipedes, big slugs, big scarab, other beetles and beautiful crystals. There is not as much creep as in the Far East. Out of the savannah, there is a deep roar from a male lion, from the pond come the song of frogs, crickets and toads.

Day 13. As we drink morning coffee, a small group of elephants suddenly appear in the bush just outside the terrace. Later I see 5 giraffes down on the savannah.
We leave the lodge and drive the game drive out through the park. Stops once at a cadaver where 45 vultures, two hyenas and a lone marabou stork burst into it, though not without quarrelling. We see a bunch of lions, run into the grass, and are surrounded by 7 lionesses. A little further on, we see a bunch of 6.

We pass two Large Bustard and a few secretary birds. Gazelles, zebras, wildebeests, giraffes, birds of prey, tobies; it is teeming with life, wherever you look. We reach the edge of the park and continue towards Nairobi. Along the way we make a stop at some woodcuts where the last souvenirs are bought.

On the outskirts of Nairobi, we visit a famous restaurant where I indulge in zebra, ostrich and cow gazelle. Book into the hotel and enter the nearby mall. Some things are really cheap, others near Danish prices. The rest of the city does not tempt, which is pretty messy and lost of smog.
In the evening we improvise some goodbye drinks in the hotel garden. Lots of laughter and the exchange of addresses. Late in bed, we can sleep in the plane tomorrow.

Day 14. Line is suffering from the flu, so she is very quiet as we drive into the airport. The aircraft delayed 2 hours. And then right away, we have to go anyway. Jesper sponsors a taxi from the airport and a somewhat worn Line returns home to a sold house.

An unusually exciting holiday is over. After three days, we four agreed that now we had got the currency for our 19,000 kroner, which had cost the ticket itself. Everything else we came to experience, was a bonus  - and it turned out to be a huge one!

Diary 1 2 3     Photos