Tortilis in Amboseli, early morning July 21, 2017

We got up early for our first full day in the park.  Coffee and biscuits (cookies) were delivered to our tent before sunrise.  Off we went in our Land Cruiser to look for animals.  It was cool and we wrapped ourselves in blankets, trying to stay cozy until

the sun rose higher in the sky.

Th​e elephants are voracious eaters.  They wrap their trunks around branches, pulling the trees down or push them over with their shoulders.  Then they rip the trees up and eat the roots.  A section of Amboseli was surrounded by electric wire to prevent the elephants from entering the area and destroying the trees.  ​

​Here is a video of a Cape buffalo in the swamp.  ​

​Mama Buffalo and baby are on the way to the swamp for the day.  You can see little guy nursing on Mama Elephant as they walk.You will notice that their aren’t many trees in this picture.  The elephants have killed them all. ​

​We saw our first spotted hyenas. Not sure who are uglier, hyenas or wart hogs.  Striped hyenas are nocturnal and we never saw them on our trip.  ​

​The elephants made it to the swamp and this is where they would spend their day, eating swamp grass and visiting with the egrets. Soon it was time to head back to camp for breakfast. Here are Collin, Sally and Steve checking out the ingredients for omelettes. Our stuff was on the table that Sally had picked out. As you recall from our adventures in South America, I am always trying to sit at the table with the best view.  Sally had picked another table but I overruled her. She was a good sport about my constant attempts to get “the perfect spot”!   It was great fun to eat our breakfast and to see the happenings at the water hole.  Breakfast was delicious.  I especially liked the little bananas.  Next up a trip to a Masai Village. 

Game Drive in Amboseli. July 20, 2017

After lunch we got in our vehicle to begin out game drive. Amboseli is in the southern part of Kenya.  It is known for its dusty savannah and swampland. It is known for its many large elephants. Except for the picture above and the video at the end of the post these pictures were all taken by Collin, our daughter’s boy friend.  We were not disappointed.  In the afternoon the elephants would move from the swamp where they spent their day, and cover themselves with dirt.  The babies were so cute.  The mothers always tried to keep the young near their feet and away from the vehicles filled with snapping cameras laden tourists.  Some times the young elephants would wrestle each other. Slapping ears and tusks.  We saw wildebeest, but no big herds like we were anticipating later in the trip when we would visit the Masai Mara, and hopefully see the Great Migration.  The Great Migration was said to be late this year, so we were hoping it would start soon. We saw lots of Cape Buffalo.  A very mean looking animal.  Older males were called Retired Generals.  You didn’t want to mess with them!Lots of Giraffe were out and about.  We were lucky enough to see a young male lion.  He had been in many fights and his face had lots of scars.  His right lower front leg was injured and the poor guy had a noticeable limp.  ​Sorry about the way the video ended. Operator error!  

On the way to Amboseli . July 20, 2017

Rise and shine everyone!  Now is the time for breakfast and to see the countryside of Kenya.  This is where we had breakfast. Outside in the gardens we could see Vervet monkeys scampering around. The babies would be clinging to the Mommy as she went from tree to tree.After a lovely breakfast of eggs, fruit and croissants we were off. One last photo and we got into the Toyota Land Cruiser and hit the road. We saw lots of people hanging around. It turns out that these guys on scooters were taxis and took people on short trips.  This hotel is the former US embassy which was bombed years ago. We felt quite safe in Kenya although we never wandered off by ourselves. The motorcyclists seemed to be required to have helmets, although the drivers didn’t always wear them! Cows were all over the road once we got out of the city of Nairobi!  Kenya used to be a colony of the United Kingdom, as such driving was on the left side of the road.  Here we are passing by a Tuk-Tuk.  There were three people in the front and only seat of the vehicle!  We did go by a grocery store, but as we were on a mission to see as many animals as possible I didn’t request a stop.  I must admit that the neighborhood looked a little sketchy.  We saw lots of Acacia trees with these nests in them. They were from weaver birds. ​We saw more of the nests than the birds 

Do you want to see what driving was like?  Hop in, there is plenty of room, just hold on! Just watch out for cows.  After about three hours on paved roads and an hour on dirt roads we made it to the gates of Amboselli Park.  Our guide Francis paid the fee and we stayed in the car.  We were then surrounded by Masai, who tried to get us to buy their jewelry and other trinkets. We kept our heads down and tried not to look at them, as they were quite aggressive. We were quite excited to see our first Giraffes in the wild.  Our driver Francis, was a bronze guide.  He was extremely knowledgeable and quiet personable.  However, I think he wanted us to stop taking pictures and get to our Lodge!  It would be another hour from the main gate to our first tented camp, Tortilis.It was hard to keep going when everywhere you looked you saw more animals!  Here are the elephants!  Next post will be our hotel.  

David Sheldrick Wildlife Trusts’ Orphans Project July 19, 2017

Back to the blog.  We are now at an elephant orphanage in Nairobi. The orphanage is in Nairobi National Park, a humongous park that has many animals in it.  This section of the park is home of orphaned elephants, and a Blind rhino. They had a hippo, but he died.  Here is the gang waiting for our entrance to see what is going to happen. As always I was resting in the shade on a rock. We really had no clue what to expect here.We saw many pens with gigantic baby bottles. We thought that maybe we would be feeding baby elephants with these big bottles. That would be fun! We all lined up on one side of the path.  The gentleman is instructing us to stay to the side, and not lean into the path, as the elephants would be coming soon. Collin is ready to take pictures. ​

Here they come!  Stay out of the way, those big feet will do a number on a pedicure!  All the elephants had gotten into their pens and it was time to explore. Pumba, decided to rest and we let him be. This rhino is blind, he will stay in the sanctuary all his life as he is unable to live in the wild. He is unable to protect himself from predators.  On a happier note we were then able to visit the elephants. You can see how flexible their trunks are.  They scoop up the food and then shove it in their mouths. This guy is just starting to grow tusks. Elephants in the wild have a life expectancy of almost 70 years. The elephants were quite friendly and enjoyed sliming the guests.  ​Let’s hope the rumors of laundry at the safari camps would be true! 

​Sally fell in love with Ndotto. Who wouldn’t?  He had fun playing low five and high five with her. As part of our trip it was arranged that we could adopt an elephant for the year.  The donation subsidized the orphanage, and we would get newsletters and updates about the elephant chosen. Sadly, I don’t think the rhino was chosen by many people. Why would they, when there were so many cute elephants to choose from?  The baby elephants stay in the orphanage for about ten years until they are able to be released into one of the wildlife parks or conservatories. Many of the babies come because their Mama’s were put poached.  You can read about the trust here.  www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.orgThen it was back to The House of Waine for dinner.  Another couple was ushered into the dining room before us, which of course got me wondering,  and then we were escorted into a special room for just the four of us!  We had a lovely dinner, of which I can’t remember what we ate, but here are the pictures to prove we did receive substanance!  We were very tired at this point and eager to return to our rooms, but there was more!A bottle of champagne and a congratulatory cake for Sally!  Then after we all got a slice it was back to the rooms. Sally and Collin had their bed all decoratively arranged with towel animals, we got nothing, but it wasn’t our celebration but hers after All!