Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Close Encounter

We had a close encounter of the elephant kind with this big guy. We came around a corner and this huge elephant was standing right on the side of the road. You would think that since elephants are so big it would be hard to miss one before you are right next to it, but believe it or not, such is not the case.
We stopped the car and watched him, amazed at how close he was. Our driver informed us that he was not very happy. I guess that elephants will continue eating and doing whatever it is that they are doing when they are happy, but if they're not happy, they'll stop and wait to see what you will do. This guy was just sitting there. He would take a few steps in our general direction, but not directly at the car, then stop and wait again. He started getting so close that we were all a little nervous. All of the sudden, in what seemed like slow motion, he turned his huge head and looked directly at us, and slowly took a step directly in our direction. Our driver immediately started the car and took off. Our hearts were pounding so hard! It was pretty exciting. Bart snapped this picture as he walked away.
And here are some more random animals we saw.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Masi Mara

We spent the next three days in the Masi Mara. The sunsets in the Masi Mara were beautiful. The sky was huge. I'm so used to having Mountains cutting off the sky on at least one side. It was amazing how open it was when there were only rolling hills to cut off the sky.
The Migration of the animals to the Masi Mara was in progress when we got there. There were thousands of Zebra and Wildebeest everywhere. The zebra have really good eyesight, but a poor sense of smell. The Wildebeest have a very good sense of smell, but poor eyesight, so they migrate together. We saw Zebras fighting several times. We saw a ton of animals here, so I'm just going to post a bunch of pictures.

There are more, I just haven't had a chance to get them onto flickr yet, so you will have to wait for another day.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Lake Naivasha

Our second night we stayed at the Elsamere Conservation Centre on Lake Naivasha. This sign greeted us as we walked into our room:

Apparently Hippos kill more people in Africa every year than any other animal. Who would have thought? They look so docile. But if you get between them and the water, you're in trouble! At night we had dinner in the main building. We stayed and talked with the other guests until after dark. When we finally went back to our rooms (after dark) they had men with flashlights and big sticks escort us.

We got to go on a boat ride to see all the hippos on the lake (they don't feel threatened in the water, so they're not dangerous...or so they told us).
Our boat driver brought a few fish with him. As we were riding, we saw an African Fish Eagle on top of a tree. He put the fish on a stick, held it high in the air, and whistled at the bird. When the bird saw the fish, he took it off the stick and threw it into the lake. The bird flew down and grabbed it. It was pretty cool.
After our boat ride we went on a nature walk and got to see tons of beautiful plants and birds.
At the end of the nature walk, we got to see some tortoises they were taking care of. Our favorite was the tiny baby tortoise.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Lucky With Leopards

After our unique encounter with the leopard we were all talking about how lucky we were to have seen such a rare scene, and on the second day too! Now there was no pressure for the rest of the trip to see a leopard.

About half an hour later, we came around a corner and our driver slammed on his breaks, pointed, and said, "Leopard!" Sure enough, right next to the road was another, even bigger leopard.

We stopped and watched it for a long time. We were so close we could hear it growling! It sounded a lot like a cat purring. (This picture is a yawn, not a growl).After a while he calmed down and pretty much ignored us. We drove a little closer and he decided he was tired of us, so he got up and walked away. We couldn't believe it, two leopards in one day!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Africa Day 1 (okay, so really day 2)

So I am in the middle of the process of uploading all of our pictures...we took like 2,000...this is a very intimidating process, not to mention the fact that it takes FOREVER!!! But there are a few people who I think will strangle me if I don't post at least a few pictures, so I'll write a little bit about our first few days in Africa.

So after our first day of picture taking in Kenya, Bart was playing around with his camera, and ended up re-formatting his memory card, so we lost all of the pictures from the first day. Fortunately there was only one thing we saw on the first day that we didn't see for the rest of the trip: The Black Rhino. So oh well, c'est la vie. You will have to take our word for it that we saw the black rhino. Bart also got some really cool bird pictures that we picture some really cool black rhino and bird pictures and insert them here.

We started off our trip at the Lake Nakuru National Park. We stayed at the Lake Nakuru Lodge. It was really cool. It overlooked this watering hole where tons of animals came to get water. So as we were eating dinner and breakfast, we watched the water buffalo, baboons, and impalas walking to and from the hole.
The second day was the really cool day. On our way into the park from the lodge, we saw a leopard eating a water buffalo! Now leopards are solitary animals that like to rest in trees, so it's extremely rare to see them at all. In addition, the water buffalo is too large for a leopard to kill, so this leopard was scavenging! Our guide said he had never seen a leopard scavenge before. It was awesome! I got some great video too, but you'll have to wait for that.
The leopard finished his meal, walked away from the water buffalo to a comfortable spot, and started cleaning himself, just like a cat! When he was done, he got up and crossed the road right in front of us.
When he got to the other side, this jackal came up and started barking at him. It was as if the jackal had been watching the leopard from his safe hiding place while the leopard was eating the water buffalo thinking, "Hey, that's my water buffalo! You're not a scavenger, why are you eating my food?!?" Then, when he saw that the leopard was done eating, he figured he was safe now and came out to say, "Yeah, that's right, just walk away, don't even think about coming back." The leopard didn't even give the jackal the dignity of acknowledging it's presence. It just walked away as if the jackal wasn't even there. It was so crazy!
Okay, there is my story for today. I will post more soon.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

We're in Africa!

So my internet time is about to run out, but we're here! And it's AWESOME! (Getting here wasn't, but being here is!) I'll write all about it when we get back!