Highlights of a Family Safari

It’s a fun tradition to share highlights around the dinner table on the last night of a safari. I thought I’d share with you, some of the highlights of a 5 day safari to Tarangire, Ngorongoro Crater, and Serengeti. (Photos by Tom Kenny and Claire Mills)

General highlights.

The excitement of looking for animals and spotting.

Standing in the jeep and the wind in the hair.

Watching dynamics happening between animals after we’d just been told about them.

The sky at sunrise, sunset, and night.

Tarangire National Park

Sitting with the elephants in Tarangire for a long time and watching their dynamics.

Lions roaring close to the tents.

The lion cubs posing on the termite mound.

The picnic on the river bend with elephants drinking, zebra stampeding, baboons eating sausage flowers and impalas hanging out underneath.

Finding tracks of two leopards on the path outside the tents.

Ava spotting the leopard from the lookout at the lodge.

Dikdiks everywhere we looked.

Tracking the two lioness until we found them.

Baobab trees.

Ngorongoro Crater

Breakfast next to the hippo pool.

The sheer beauty of the landscape and so many animals.

Serengeti National Park

Popping open a Kili beer as we watched black baby hyenas playing around their den.

28 lions in one day.

The leopard coming down off the rock and walking through the grass.

Being alone for the whole morning.

Climbing and making music with the gong rocks in Moru.

Wilddogs and Camels

My latest adventure was a safari designed by Charlie Babault. Starting in Maasai Mara we had spent four nights watching migrating wildebeest and zebra, driven long distances with picnics and taken naps along the river. We then spent a couple of nights in Nakuru National Park capturing great images of flamingo, white and black rhino, and watching lions and leopard. Driving from Nakuru to Laikipia had turned into a longer drive as unexpected rains forced us to detour, but gave us a good feel for the vast wilderness in Kenya. We’d arrived on a road that petered out to nothing as we pulled up to a host of Laikipia Maasai waiting for us.

(Zebras in the red-oat grass)

(Flamingos in Lake Nakuru)
(Siesta along the banks of the Mara river)

(Camp in Nakuru)

As I stood alone on top of a granite outcrop, watching a dramatic sky and landscape change as evening crept in, baboons climbed the biggest granite outcrops, bickering for the best roosts and a lone white-necked raven cawed as the darkness and silence set in. We had arrived on a beautiful piece of land just south of the Ewaso Nyiro River in northern Kenya. The next morning we headed off on a long morning walk while the camels moved camp. Three camels accompanied us should anyone tire or feel like riding.

That night, the Maasai sat around the fire watching buckets of smokey water heat for the guest’s showers, murmuring and sipping on camel milk chai. A chef diced vegetables for a wonderful dinner he was preparing, all the while watching his metal box oven covered in coals, taking care not to burn the fresh bread. Everything had arrived on camels that had been hobbled for the night.

The next day we set off on the walk after a wonderful breakfast. The rains on the previous day had cleaned the ground and we picked up fresh hyena, caracal, kudu, and warthog tracks. We talked of the animals, the plants, and insects that we found along the way. In a sudden clearing we stumbled upon our new camp, fully set up. The camp chairs sat under a flysheet looking out across the bush, the tents were tucked under trees, and a table had been set with campfire baked pizzas.

Another highlight materialized as I left the next day to drive to Meru National Park. Not 10 minutes out of camp I drove around a corner to find African Painted Hunting dogs, otherwise known as wilddogs as they regrouped around a large male impala they had just killed. I am very fond of wilddogs and this sighting allows me to boast, having now seen members of 3 of the 4 largest populations of wilddogs in Africa.

Meru National Park proved to be another beautiful corner of Kenya where we closed the safari sitting on the banks of a river, reading and fishing as the sun set.