Wednesday, June 5, 2013

On safari on the road: About the drives

[We're back in Nairobi, flying home tonight. This is the first of the rest of the blog posts of our trip of a lifetime.]

Between Sweetwaters at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy and Lake Nakuru, our next destination, we had a six-hour drive.

It wasn't really that far - about 160 miles. But we were driving on Kenyan roads. Some of them are quite good - the main highways north and south out of Nairobi look like good highways in the States, except for the "driving on the wrong side of the road." But most of them are quite bad. Some paved roads are narrow, some have deep potholes. And some dirt roads are adequate but dusty, but most are rocky, potholed and wretched. We slow way, way down.

On the tourist map of Kenya, the different kinds of roads are different colors. I pointed out a shorter route to Peter, our driver/guide. He said, "Yes, that is a paved road. But it is a very bad paved road. The way we are going will take less time."

"The way we were going" descended an escarpment into the Great Rift Valley. This rift is 2,000 miles long, descending from the Middle East to Mozambique. It can be seen from space. Along the rift are a series of lakes, both freshwater and salty. Lake Nakuru is a salty lake renown for its large flamingo population.

Peter, our guide, is more than we ever expected. Very knowledgeable, personable, with a good sense of humor and complete respect for the environment and ecology of his country. We leave on our morning game drives promptly at 6:30 a.m. In the afternoon, game drives usually start at 4:00, but may vary slightly depending on Peter's assessment of the animal activity at that time of day. Peter is also in frequent touch with George, our outfitter. At the end of each day, he lets us know the plans for the next day. We feel completely safe and comfortable.

Peter, our driver/guide extraordinaire.

We're in a four-wheel-drive off-road vehicle, equipped for six passengers. Since it's just Art and me, we have lots of room. When we're on the road the roof is closed up. On game drives, two roof partitions are removed and stowed, and we stand, either on the floor of the vehicle or on my cushion. It depends on where we're looking. Also on the conditions of the road, or the degree of dust.

Art is the photographer. At home, he is a seasonal hunter. Here in Kenya, he is hunting with his camera.

We never know what we'll see on a game drive. Lions hunt in the early morning, cheetahs in midday, leopards later on. So if we head out at one of those times, we may see a predator. At other times, we note the alertness of he herbivores - impalas, gazelles, dik dik, elands, oryx, zebras. They can sense when a predator is nearby. We see elephants at all times of the day, and giraffes, and buffaloes, and rhinos (depending on where we are). Peter knows where to look, and Art has a hunter's eye, so I'm picking up the ability to see something and say, "warthog at 3 o'clock" or "lone elephant at 10:30". One day I thought I saw an animal in the distance, but Peter said, "No, that's a stump." We all laughed.


DJan said...

What a wonderful trip you have had, Linda. I hope to read plenty more about it, with pictures, but I have sure enjoyed what you have already shared. Have a safe trip home! :-)

Ms Sparrow said...

I'm looking forward to all your pictures and posts.

Suzanne said...

Linda, I just read all your posts to catch up on your grand adventure. Beautiful, just beautiful. I especially love the videos.

Arkansas Patti said...

Yes, you have had a trip of a lifetime. You have seen so much and been able to record it. Love the smile on your driver. That is the look of a man doing what he enjoys.

Dee said...

Dear Linda, I've missed all you've shared thus far about your trip to Nairobi, but I hope to catch up in the next few days. I've been away from reading and commenting on blogs for nearly three weeks and you've been on your trip of a lifetime during that time. I went back and looked at the photographs you've posted since the trip began and I'm astounded at all you are seeing and doing.

How wonderful to have Peter for your guide. Peace.

#1Nana said...

What a great adventure you've had. How fortunate that you and Art have been able to do this together and that you both have the physical stamina for adventure travel. I'm looking forward to the rest of the story.

Retired English Teacher said...

I just love the photos of Art. He looks enthralled with the adventure and all of the sights. I also loved the photo of your head poking out of the top of the vehicle. You truly had an amazing trip.

Deb Shucka said...

I've just spent some time enjoying your trip through the last several posts. What a glory of an adventure you're having. I can hardly wait for the rest of the stories - this is like reading a great travel book. Safe travels home.