Friday, November 25, 2011

Safari from Samburu to Sweetwaters (Ol Pejeta) 25/26 Nov 2010 with Carolyn

25 Nov Thursday
A very early walk for me, followed by a very young, very short person
in big boots, a security lad, on a circuit back to the concrete path
– how embarrassing for me in my nightie with a wrap. Early swim,
breakfast and we left at 0900, we did a meander out to Archer’s Post –
had company of a sweet-faced fellow in ranger uniform, heading home to
Meru – he was to hand in his uniform at Archer’s Post. Raphael said ‘
I think that is a good man’.
I picked up a couple of quartz pebbles from the road. Sigh!
Enjoyable drive on great tarseal to Timau where it’s back to potholes.
We saw the mountain as we hit the highest point. Just love those green
acres stretching into the distance. But soon back to shambas and
townships and into Nanyuki; we were anxious to get Kshs for park fees
and to buy water. Raphael went to fill up while we had a latte and I
talked to a man from Lewa Downs, recently made famous as where Prince
William and Kate Middleton just got engaged. He described himself as a
3rd generation Kenyan but sounded South African to my ears. He had not
heard of Rhino River Camp in Meru NP.
Straight after Nanyuki at Equator sign turn west to Ol Pejeta
Conservancy and “Sweetwaters’ which is a Serena lodge. Animals
everywhere, huge plain - warthog, giraffe, buffalo, zebra, antelope,
and rhino. We drove and drove…….. stopped at Morani rhino place for
late picnic lunch with superb starlings and a guide to see Baraka a
blind black rhino. Lovely bones of all the big animals, also horn and
dung examples, and exposee of community interaction. They have cattle
grazing integrated with wildlife, and also support individual youth.
Next stop was the chimp sanctuary – 41 – every one rescued from
captivity – and from all over, eg Sudan, Rwanda, etc. Each story told
individually. Two lots kept separate and contraception practised. We
mixed with a huge mob of gorgeous schoolchildren and a big truck with
American ‘volunteers’. Exhausted arriving at Sweetwaters but thrilled
with its appearance. Lovely open public rooms, lawns smooth, long
semi-circle of permanent tents – ours was no 16. Animals already at
waterhole but - ‘we ain’t seen nuthin’ yet’! Carolyn and I had a beer
and a sit down – it was quite chilly. As we wandered toward the lodge
we saw seats to observe the waterhole and boy was it technicolour
super! Zebra, buffalo, a rhino, waterbuck, and birds catching lit-up
insects. Our own dinner was another spectacular treat – every style
you could think of . We didn’t even get to the choose-your-own-stirfry
queue there was so much else.

26 November Friday.
Carolyn had a game drive on her own with Raphael. They saw cheetah and
hippo. I had a long lie until 0730, met her at breakfast, another
fantastical spread. Altogether we are delighted with Sweetwaters.
Back through Nanyuki – by the way the road into Ol Pejeta is
excruciating; the ditch is sometimes smoother. It’s all farmed, fenced
off into small blocks. Back over the shoulder of the mountain to the
turnoff for Meru. CA bought a batik of antelope. Very picturesque
shamba country, many hills, all green and lush. Busy busy busy,. Some
townships had gatherings of men; Raphael said they were waiting to
sell qat (or khat, = miraa) a leaf chewed particularly by the Somalis.
It rained a bit and became heavy as we entered the park. There were
100s of people heading on foot towards some marquees. President Kibaki
was due to arrive to open an extension of rhino sanctuary + declare
the area free of rinderpest.
Well we got into the park and it was a mudhole! Black cotton soil. We
went sideways straight away but that was the only time..driver only
used 4wd when absolutely necessary, saving fuel. He’s extremely good
and never put a foot wrong. It was a long drive though. We stopped for
a picnic lunch along the very high long fence between the rhino
sanctuary and the outside world. It’s all bushes so we didn’t see
anything much, just the muddy tracks.. We got a bit of a shock to see
our camp, it’s in deep shade by a stream. Tented bandas – lovely but
seemed dark and closed-in. One very large bed which they changed for
two almost double-sized beds. Carolyn was keen to get the nets down!
Andrea Maggi is the owner, he is from Italy and has been many years in
Meru Park – this camp is just a year old. So we had a cuppa and –
blimey – climbed in the truck for a game drive;…. taking Joel the
camp’s guide.- another splendid young chap. Saw ~ 8 rhino incl a pair
spattered with egret dung – ('white rhino' :~)) the animals here are
relatively shy to vehicles. Only other guests, two German ladies one
owns a Nairobi restaurant Rustique, the other her schoolfriend whom
she tracked down on GPS.  Andrea chatted to us over dinner.. Slept
well until 0300.

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