Sunday, February 24, 2019

Kenya Day 4 - Porini Amboseli

Today was our last full day at Porini Amboseli and Karen was raring to go after her rest day yesterday.  That was a good thing because we ended up having 4 activities today.

First off was a morning game drive from 6:30AM to 9AM.  Right off the bat, we crossed off one of the animals that Karen missed yesterday: Bat-eared Foxes.

Bat-eared Fox

Then, we got some quality giraffe time in:
Giraffe and Youngster

Next up, were some Dwarf Mongoose.  Karen was quickly crossing off her missed animals.

Dwarf Mongoose

I didn't end up taking too many scenery pictures of the Selenkay Conservancy because to be honest it is not that picturesque.  That's probably because there was just so much bush and not a lot of heavily treed or open areas.  The airstrip was the most open section we saw so getting a good scenery shot was tough.  But, here's some anyway.

Selenkay Conservancy

Selenkay Tree

And some more Dwarf Mongoose.  This is the same group as earlier but in better light.

Dwarf Mongoose Family

Until this drive, the Lesser Kudu were playing hard to get photo wise, but this big male stood proudly out in the open for us:
Male Lesser Kudu

We arrived back in camp and chowed down on a nice breakfast with eggs to order, bacon, crepes, sausage, cereal and more.  The food was really good at this camp and they catered to some dietary restrictions wonderfully.

Since Karen hung out at the camp all day yesterday, she learned a lot about how all the logistics worked.  For example, she learned that most of the Porini camps served the same type of meat on the same day (chicken, fish, beef, etc). I guess they purchase food in bulk and distribute it to the camps at the same time.  That's kind of interesting.

She also watched another group leave on their bush walk the day before and told us that they were accompanied by 2 guards with big machine guns. So, we expected the same for our after breakfast bush walk today. But, when we met up at the dining tent for the walk, instead of two guards with big machine guns we were escorted by two young Masai with short sticks.

I guess they figured that Tim and I were intimidating enough so guns weren't needed. We actually didn't have an issue with this because if something happened and an animal was shot just because we wanted to walk around a bit we all would have been devastated.

Anyway, the plan was to walk out to the watering hole but there were elephants around so we had to adjust our plans to a shorter walk.  There really wasn't much to see on the walk and it got pretty hot in the sun as well.  So, it was good that the walk was only a little over an hour.  It did feel good to stretch my long legs though after a full day of sitting yesterday.

During the mid-day break, I wandered around the camp some more to see what critters might be out.  Right outside the dining tent was a hub of activity likely because there is a small bird bath in the ground there.  I had pictures of most of the birds already but there were a couple of new species.

Green Wood Hoopoes:
Green Wood Hoopoe

Little Sparrowhawk:
Little Sparrowhawk

At 4:15 PM we mounted up in the old trusty Land Rover and went out for our afternoon game drive.  It was still pretty hot at this point but hopefully the animals would be out.

One thing that was out (sort of) was Kilimanjaro:

But, besides a few so-so bird shots that's all I have from the afternoon.  Part of that is because our guides found some lion tracks and we all decided to follow them.  We wound around and through bushes as they looked down and tracked them.  Then they said that the tracks doubled back.  Their theory was that the lions made a kill and then left it to get some water and went back to it.  If we were lucky, they would still be there.

So, we kept weaving in and out and over bushes until we came to a fresh skeleton.  So, the guides were right, but the lions were all done and had left.   It was still a very interesting experience but there are no pictures to share.

On the way back, we encountered a feisty elephant that didn't like us being around it.  It flared its ears and gave us some other warning signs before doing a mock charge.  Our guides seemed to know it was a mock charge since they didn't panic but we didn't stick around very long since the elephant was obviously a bit irritated.

Later, just as it was getting dark, we became surrounded by giraffes.  They were everywhere and Karen decided to start counting them.  It was at that exact moment that a Scrub Hare runs through our headlights and I exclaim "Hare...hare....hare" tracking it with my finger the whole time as it hopped on by.  Yet, somehow Karen missed it because she was busy counting giraffes and paid no attention to me.  That's the way it is at home too by the way...

One thing that we were not used to is the late dinners.  For people that usually eat around 6PM it's tough to wait until 8 or 8:30PM but that is dinner time at this camp.  It was especially tough to wait tonight because we knew we had an after dinner night drive planned and we were hoping to get to bed at a reasonable hour afterwards.  Luckily, the food was consistently worth the wait.

We left at 9:45 PM for an hour night drive.

Right off the bat we had our very first chameleon in a tree outside the camp.  It was playing hard to get though.  If anyone knows the species, please let me know:

First Wild Chameleon

Then we didn't get much farther before this Verreaux's Eagle Owl was blocking the road:
Verreaux's Eagle Owl

Next we had a brief encounter with some frisky lions.  This was the closest we had been to lions and having it at night made it extra cool.

Lions at Night

So, this picture is incredibly grainy but I am including it because it's of an African Wild Cat and we were sooooo excited to see it.

African Wildcat

Then, we had another Scrub Hare encounter which was good for Karen since we were still teasing her about the whole giraffe counting thing from earlier.

Scrub Hare

Last, but not least, we had our first Black-backed Jackal as well as a few more later in the drive:
Black-backed Jackal

All the pictures are unsatisfactorily grainy but with flash not allowed, this was the best I could do.  We did see a White-tailed Mongoose and the tail of a Genet but I couldn't get pictures of either.  We didn't even get a good enough view of the Genet to officially count it. Oh well, there will be more night drives.

At about 11 PM we hit the sack.  Even though we were so tired it was tough to fall asleep quickly with all the exciting memories from the day running through our brains.

Since we were moving on to another camp tomorrow, I wanted to share our thoughts on Porini Amboseli.  All of the staff was great.  Edwin was the manager while we were there and he was super friendly and accommodating.  The chef went out of his way to accommodate special dietary requirements which was very nice.  Plus, they had cold beer and filtered water.  What more could you want?

We only had a few very tiny tiny gripes. It would have been nice to have a comfortable chair to sit on inside the tent since the Vervet Monkeys tended to soil the chairs outside the tent.  Since the weather was hot we certainly didn't need hot water bottles in our bed.  They also liked to gather all the guests around the camp fire before dinner.  We found this hot and smokey and we had to insist that we move to the dining tent instead before they let us do that.

But, the good FAR outweighed these small gripes.  The elephants, gerenuk, Amboseli NP, the amazing bird life and the chance of seeing Kilimanjaro are all great reasons to stay here not to mention all the other wildlife you are likely to see.  It was definitely a great fit for us and a great camp to start our safari.

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