Wednesday, June 5, 2013

On safari at Lake Nakuru National Park: Game drive encounters day 1

Lake Nakuru is at a slightly lower elevation than where we'd been staying - though it's still a little more than a mile high. It was here that we found our first mosquitoes. Partly, I suppose, it was because we were near a lake, rather than a river and a drier environment. We'd been advised to bring along mosquito repellant containing DEET, which we did. A spray around the ankles in the evening was all we needed.

We stayed two nights at Flamingo Hill Camp. Again, our tent was large and comfortable with an ensuite bathroom. We were at the end of low season, so there were few other visitors, and the service was excellent.

We especially enjoyed our massages. At home, I get a massage once a week. I am ushered into a room with dimmed light by the therapist. They ask what my concerns are for the day. They leave me for four minutes while I undress and lie down on the table, covering myself with a sheet. They come back in and give me a deep-tissue massage - always my preference for my particular aches and pains of the day. The body parts not being currently worked on are draped.

On this day in Kenya, I climbed a wooden staircase to the massage room. The therapist, Caroline, said, "Take off your clothes and lie on the table." She stood and watched while I complied. Then she covered most of my torso with a small bath towel and went to work in silence. Caroline's massage was like liquid. She didn't ask me what I'd like her to work on. The massage wasn't "deep tissue". But it was wonderfully relaxing and exactly right for me. I may ask my massage therapist at home to give me a "liquid massage" the next time I go.

All our morning game drives started at 6:30. That's usually very early for me, but I was so interested in what we might see at daybreak I got up for every morning drive.

The main road was occupied by a large troop of baboons. We sat for 20 minutes and watched them. It was like a circus - animals up the trees, scampering about, grooming each other, copulating, gesturing. Peter said baboons have sex for pleasure. I thought the males looked like they were having a good time, but I wasn't sure about the females. And there were lots of babies.

Further down the road we encountered a lone male cape buffalo. Peter told us they're the most dangerous of animals, especially when alone. He stopped the vehicle and waited. The buffalo walked toward us. Peter backed the vehicle up and turned off the engine. It must have been three or four minutes until the animal meandered out of the road into the grass and we could continue on our way.

A gray heron.

Soon after, we came upon a dead zebra on the side of the road. Peter said it had most likely died of natural causes, as there was no evidence of a predator. One bird - some sort of eagle - was interested in being part of a zebra feast, but it wasn't able to open the carcass. That would usually be done by the predator, with the birds coming in later.

We looked to the other side of the road. Some distance away, by the lake, two lionesses and four cubs were finishing a meal of what looked to be a buffalo. 

They crossed the field toward the road. Peter repositioned our vehicle so we could see them up close.

The lions passed within a hundred feet of the dead zebra but didn't appear to see it.

Some type of stork.

The tree in this photo is a yellow-bark acacia, which is plentiful in this low-lying, swampy area. It's also called the fever tree. When early explorers set up camp, they contracted yellow fever from the mosquitoes, but they thought the tree was the source of their illness.

A different type of heron.

A "hammerhead something".

On the afternoon game drive we came upon a female zebra and her baby.

Lake Nakuru has been known for its large flamingo population. Recently, though, the water table has risen and the saltiness has diminished - and so have the algae on which flamingos feed. So the flamingo population has diminished at the lake.

A pelican.

A jackal.

On the way back to the camp, Peter spent a few minutes with his binoculars, then said, "There are the male lions." He turned onto a faint road. I asked if he knew they'd be in the area and he said it was likely, since he'd seen them before on previous visits to the national park. I thought about how the lionesses were watching out for their young and thought these males had it pretty easy.


Judy and Emma said...

Fantastic wildlife! I really enjoyed the videos, and that one picture of the baboons in the road is amazing.

Arkansas Patti said...

Wow, you really got to see nature in all its glory and inglory.
The video of the lionesses gave me chills. I once had one stalk my vehicle then jump in the back of my pick up and press her nose against the rear window, inches from my neck. One look into their eyes and you know they mean business.

Perpetua said...

Super posts, Linda. I have so enjoyed them.

Meryl Baer said...

Wonderful pictures and videos. What a fabulous dream trip.

DJan said...

Amazing trip of a lifetime, indeed. Thanks for the great pictures and videos, it made me feel like I was there, too. :-)

Retired English Teacher said...

Oh Linda, these photos just made me so happy to see. You are so fortunate to have been able to do this. The baby zebra kicking up her/his heels was just delightful. Then there were the mother lions with their cubs. What a wonderful array of nature you saw. Thanks for sharing.