Following our informative experience at the Masai village we entered the Masai Mara Reserve. So much has been written about this great nature sanctuary - it never disappoints and even in a short visit we were able to enjoy many lion sightings, cheetah and a host of other species. All too soon we were on the road again left to marvel at the abundance and sort through the many hundreds of photographs.
Heading North we cross the Equator and stop to witness the bizarre effects of gravity at this point. A local entrepreneur has set up a demonstration of how water, if allowed to drain from the bottom of a container, spins counter clock wise North of the equator and clock wise South of the equator.
Stopping at the mighty Thompson falls at the foot of the Aberdare range we enjoy the good natured antics of a small family group in traditional Kikuyu attire, face paint and all. Trying to get them to look fearsome was a futile exercise.
Finally we arrive at Ol Malo, the place of the Greater Kudu. A privately-owned game sanctuary on the banks of the Uaso Nyiro River in Kenya's wild and beautiful North Eastern Province. Built, owned and managed by Colin and Rocky Francombe, with the help of the Samburu people, Ol Malo is a fine eco-tourism experience.
The modest size, intended for just a handful of guests at a time, and the family’s commitment to personal service and attention to detail, offers a great mix of comfort, luxury and life in harmony with nature. Around the lodge the bird life is frantic and the small hyrax, skinks and other lizards abound. A highlight for the kids was being able to feed toast to a tame kudu. Orphaned in her youth she has remained close to the lodge and adopted staff and guests alike.
Sunrise is a great spectacle to enjoy from the comforts of your private room. Each lodge unit is unique and the designs are earthy and very comfortable. Another of our highlights, especially for the kids, was dining in private on our veranda, great food and personal service in relaxed comfort. The infinity pool adds to the beauty and activities are plentiful. Game viewing from camel or horseback has a very special appeal. Zebra, giraffe and antelope are quite relaxed and allow one to get quite close.
The Samburu Trust was established for the local people. There is a workshop where the local ladies craft many colourful beadwork items for sale to visitors and far off markets. We were taken to a nearby village or manyatta. Colourful sights as the present ilayeni or age set of initiates were visiting and entertained us with a display of their haunting wail and dance. Young maidens dressed in their finest stand and watch in awe. No visit to a manyatta is complete without a smoky experience in a hut or without milking a goat. The kids did not appreciate the smoky taste of the fresh proceeds of their efforts.
From Ol Malo we travelled to Borana, another outstanding experience with a similar style and class. Besides the horse riding and excellent game viewing we enjoyed bush walks and a visit to Pride Rock. This beautiful viewpoint inspired the concept of the famous rock of the same name as it featured in the Lion King movies. We got really close to elephant a number of times and enjoyed our first sightings of a number of species including Reticulated Giraffe, magnificent creatures with bold markings, Beisa Oryx and the rare Patas Monkey. The sunrise and early morning views of Mount Kenya are magnificent.
On from Borana for more adventure as we enter the heart of the Laikipia district in the Lewa Wilderness on the 45000 acre privately owned Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Lewa Downs. The hits here are too numerous to mention, but the highlights included many wonderful game sightings including the Grevy’s Zebra and Cheetah. Birdwatching with the resident naturalist was incredible. His birdcalls are better than the birds themselves, and the ones we sought almost always came out to look. More camel and horse riding opportunities thrilled the kids and one morning our ride ended at a surprise bush breakfast. Our guide was truly outstanding and built up such a rapport with the kids in the brief time we were together that there were some tears when it was time to say goodbye.
Finally, an experience that touched us all and placed the crown on the Northern Frontier for us. We went to meet Lulu. She is a young black rhino, only a few months old, being hand reared, bottle fed and protected 24 hours a day by an armed guard. Lulu’s Mother is blind and while she enjoys producing offspring has no capacity to raise them. Owners of the property have therefore taken it on as a responsibility to ensure her little orphans are always taken care of and once they are old and sensible enough to fend for themselves they are released to live a normal life in the wild. Lulu is a wild thing and after a good slurp on her giant sized bottle she would rest for a moment then go dashing around wildly, often charging strait at her keeper or one of us. Beware, she packs a huge punch with that small stub horn backed by all that momentum.
Our stay at Lewa sadly brought to an end our Kenyan bush experience for our trip. Good news was that were still heading to Zanzibar for days of sun and fun in a fascinating environment packed with spice of history. Till next issue then.