Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Kenya Day 8 - Porini Mara

Today, our morning game drive started off with a really pretty sky:


But, it then got serious fast.  We encountered a group of fighting hyenas and this wasn't play fighting.  There was some serious biting going on:
Hyena Fight

Vicious Fighting

It was really loud but didn't last long:
Fight's over

Whoever didn't belong had been driven away:
Spotted Hyena

The remaining hyenas did some bonding:
Time to Make Up

As usual, we saw more giraffes on the morning drive:
Golden Giraffe

We also ventured to an area that I don't believe we had been to before.   There were huge herds of wildebeest and zebra here:
Zebras and Wildebeest Gathering

Mini Migration

Waiting for the Hidden Signal

George said that there was a river nearby and they may be getting ready to cross.  So, we took this opportunity to stake out a good spot to view a crossing if it happened.  As if led by some invisible sign, a queue started to form and pretty soon a crossing happened:
The Queue

Crossing Time!

Still Crossing

Just like good NFL referees, the "zebras" were officiating the whole thing:
The Zebras are Officiating

Since we did not come to Kenya during the actual migration it was nice to have this mini migration and crossing to get an idea of what the big one's like.

We did just miss a baby wildebeest being born by waiting for the crossing though:
Newborn Wildebeest

While the wildebeest were fun to see, since they were everywhere we got a bit tired of seeing them all the time.  At one point, Tim half jokingly said that the "Wildebeest purpose in life is to be food for more interesting animals".  That was really funny and was kind of true...

A bit later in the morning we had a close encounter with a few lions.  And by close, I mean CLOSE.

Here's the first one really checking us out:
Lion Stare

Then this one came up to the vehicle and walked right beside it:
Lion Approaching Vehicle

At the same time, another one walked right alongside the vehicle on the other side.
That's a close one!

We could have literally reached out and touched either one.  When they are that close, and they look right at you, and there's nothing between you and them but an open side of a vehicle, your heart starts to be beat a little faster...

It was a good time for a bush breakfast break since most of us needed to "Check the tires" at this point.  Today there were some pancakes with raisins in them which were very good.  George mentioned that they didn't have bananas but he brought in some personal ones for Karen.  That was really thoughtful.

After breakfast, our guides drove us to a pond that was filled with Hippos:

There was even a Nile Crocodile close by:
Nile Crocodile

This Rock Hyrax was checking us out as we passed:
Rock Hyrax

My Arizona reptile radar got a hit again this morning.  I spotted something and yelled "stop".  Turns out it was a beautiful Flap-necked Chameleon:
Flap-necked Chameleon

It was walking across a rock and swaying to and fro as it went.  It was literally taking two steps forward and one step back.  It was great fun to watch.

Next, we came upon a good sized herd of elephants.  There were a few big ones and a few little ones:
Two Big

Mama and Baby

Small, Medium, and Large

Just like the lions earlier, the elephants strolled right past our vehicle.

Elephant Stroll-by

When they were really close, one of them let out a loud trumpet and I swear I could hear a startled gasp come from the general direction of Andrea.

I am not sure what this one was doing.  Maybe trying to audition for Broadway?
Auditioning for Broadway

It did appear they were practicing a rendition of A Chorus Line:
A Chorus Line... Maybe?

That pretty much wrapped up the morning drive.  Once again, we spent the mid-day time period eating, resting, and doing laundry.

At about 4PM we met in our tent common area to head out for the afternoon drive.  I bent over to unzip the tent so we could leave but it wouldn't open.  I pulled up, down, left, right...I tried everything before saying "It seems to be caught on something".  Well, it took me hearing that out loud to realize that our anti-monkey device (the plastic ties) were still attached on the outside of the tent.  Everyone got a good laugh out of that at my expense.

Soon after the start of the drive Tipa said something to George and pointed.  "Cheetah" George said.  "What?...where?" we said.  "Under that tree way out there".  So, we all looked and could see the tree but certainly could not see anything under the tree from that distance.  But, as soon as Tipa got us closer we could indeed see that there was a cheetah under the tree.  Then, a second head peaked up.  It was the two brothers again.  I have no idea how Tipa and George saw them from so far away, but we are glad they did:

Not Enough Shade

They had obviously been eating recently:
Still Hungry?

But, only one of them cared to bathe:
Bathing Away Lunch

Someone else needs to bathe

Since they were full and very sleepy, we moved on.

The always strange looking Hartebeest:

As it turns out, the mammals aren't the only thing that likes the shade of trees.  We found a large committee of vultures having some sort of meeting:
A Committee of Vultures

Lilac-breasted Roller:
Lilac-breasted Roller

Long-crested Eagle:
Long-crested Eagle

The drive ended with another lion spot by Karen.  At first it was just a male but then she also spotted the rest of the pride.

If Tim was our "rhino whisperer", Karen had become our "lion whisperer".  Too bad Tim hadn't whispered a rhino in a while.  Of course, the fact that rhinos are not in any of the conservancies we were in might have had something to do with that.

Anyway, when we got close to the pride we could see a lot of lions including these two that seemed to be courting:
Yeah, I'm checking you out

Ah a lion doing the Flehmen response:
Dad's Not Happy

But the real show was a lioness nursing three cubs:

Of course we had to spend time watching the cubs.

Keeping the youngsters clean

"Oh, a stick!"
Oh, a stick!

"Do you like my plant?"
Cub Stare

"Yeah, I like your plant."
Hey, I like your plant

"Give it to me!"
Give it to me!

I'll just TAKE it...

That fight didn't last long:
Tuckered Out

When anything will do as a pillow:
Wood Pillow

Eventually they woke up:

This pride was close to the stinky eland carcass we saw before and they all walked that way while mom stayed behind:
Determining if we are food

But, another female was watching the cubs.  I hope that's not hunger in her eyes:
Hope she's not hungry

A couple of the cubs did try some not so fresh eland but they quickly moved off to relax:
Cubs with Big Brother

This cub thought this tree was looking at it funny like:
I see you...stick.

So, it attacked:

To the victor go the spoils:
The tree didn't stand a chance

Its siblings were having a little battle themselves that went something like this...

Holyfield and Tyson are eyeing each other up before the big fight:
Holyfield and Tyson eyeing each other

Holyfield lands a left, then a right:
And Holyfield lands a left

Tyson gets him in a clench:

Tyson is biting his ear!
Tyson is biting his ear!

At least, that is how I imagined it went...

If you can't tell, it was really entertaining watching these cubs.  Luckily, they weren't done yet.  If you don't like cub pictures, look away now...

Look at those big paws

Afraid of Water

Mom called out to the cubs to get them to come back to her but they totally ignored her.
Calling her cubs


Double Trouble:
Double Trouble

Triple Trouble:
Triple Trouble

That last shot was taken at 6:51PM so it was time we headed back to camp.  It was really a fantastic encounter with these lions, especially the cubs.  It was so good that we skipped our sundowner entirely!  And, if you know me then you know that was a big sacrifice.

On the way home, we did have one last encounter.  A baby wildebeest started following our vehicle.   So, Tipa gunned the engine hoping that it would give up and go back to its mom.  However, it matched our speed and called out incessantly.  Well, that wasn't going to work.

Next,  George and Tipa talked over a strategy.  First, we found the closest group of wildebeest and drove through them then gunned the engine to hopefully leave the little one in their safe hands...ah...hooves.  But, the little guy just ignored its own species and continued to run right alongside our back tires crying out the whole time.  We were all starting to get a little sad and tense.

So, Tipa stopped the vehicle to discuss a new strategy.  It was at this point that Tim said jokingly "Maybe we should just look for a pack of Hyenas".  Well, that caused all of us to bust out laughing.  Even George and Tipa really enjoyed that one and it broke the tension nicely.

George decided to get out of the vehicle and the baby immediately came to him and followed him.  He led it into some bushes where it got a little stuck on all the undergrowth.  He then sprinted to the truck and Tipa took off at warp speed.  Since we were now on a regular track and not off-road we could go much faster.  Well, I didn't look back and I don't think anyone else did.  Soon, we couldn't hear the little wildebeest crying anymore so it was now on its own.  Hopefully, it would find its mother.  Apparently, this isn't the first time a baby wildebeest has imprinted on a vehicle.

After we got back to camp and showered, we met others around the campfire to chat.  We heard lions calling and Jimmy said they were really close.  So, it was good that they called us up to dinner right about then.

We will be leaving Porini Mara tomorrow and we were sad to go.  We had an absolutely fantastic time.  Everything was great from the food, to the staff, to the monkey tent ransacking. Luckily, we had one more game drive in the morning to look forward to.

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