So the bell went off this morning at 12:45 am and I rushed to the window to see a huge bull elephant walking towards the waterhole on our side of the Ark! I pulled on a fleece and more or less ran to the open deck on our floor where the elephant stopped in the light of the building. I took some amazing photos as he dug out stuff from the muck with his tusks and trunk. It was pretty awesome. Then, I ran down to the bunker where we are on eye level with the animals and took a million photos of the elephant from there. It was amazing! I was so super excited to see an elephant that close!!
After the awesome elephant sighting the rest of the night pretty much sucked! The floors of our amazing hotel were really squeaky and the group that was above us got up around 3:30am and was really loud! Kendra and I thought we were the only ones with noisy top neighbours, but turns out it was our entire group! Too bad – but other than that the hotel was amazing! We had a great sunrise and awesome view of Mt Kenya this morning as well. It is the highest peak in Kenya at about 17500 feet. It was totally clear with clouds near the base this morning as the sun rose, which was spectacular!
We got back in our vans and drove off towards the hotel where our bags were stored overnight for us. We then proceeded to drive to Kigio Wildlife Camp which is located between Nakuru and Naivasha in the Rift Valley. We passed through several towns and got some great people shots. I had a great nap (on pretty much the roughest road possible!) which was awesome considering how little I actually slept last night!
We had a rest stop at the equator, which was really fun! There was a little shop there and I bargained hard for these three wooden bowls that have different animals carved into the bottom…they are serious bargainers here – way more so than in India or Central America! I think I am going to hold out for a salad bowl or something else…and not waste my time on any more little things. It is serious work here! I am happy with my bowls, however! And, besides, now I can say I went shopping on the equator! Pretty cool.
As we approached the wildlife camp, we saw our first wild (ie not on a reserve) zebra! It was so cool! They are just hanging out there…totally random! Like deer would be at home, I guess! Then, as we turned off the highway we were able to see a bunch of baboons which was unexpected and also totally awesome. As we continued into the park we saw Thompson Gazelles (2 big pointy horns), Dick Dicks (small, and in pairs as they mate for life), Elans (another version of an antelope but the biggest in the family), and Waterbucks (hairy creatures that look like antelopes too). We also saw a lot of warthogs including a bunch of tiny piglets as they crossed the road in front of us. There were a bunch of herds of zebras (who break off into groups of 9 animals when the heard becomes too large), and giraffes. Sooo awesome.
We are staying in these straw huts. It is an eco-tourism camp and there is a central dining area and individual cabins for rooms. There are solar panels and wood-burning for hot water. Overall, it is a really cool system. Us four were relocated to another adjacent camp because they ran out of room for us at the original camp (which is kind of a pain, but it does provide some peace and quiet from the group!).
After finding our rooms we headed back to the lodge where the rest of the group is staying and saw a bunch of monkeys climbing around in the trees. I heard a funny noise and thought it was a hippo and sure enough a while later a hippo climbed out onto the bank of the river! It was so awesome. We also saw two or three hippos playing around in the water further downstream while we were up at the lodge. It was sooo cool!
A group of women make paper beads for a living and we had a demonstration brought into the lodge. They brought a tonne of the products they had made and we all did some damage. I only bought one necklace, but I know that Kendra and mom bought a few as well. It was really cool because they are all handmade and require only paper and eucalyptuse glue to make and they look awesome.
We then went on a short “nature walk” where we went over a bridge to try and see the hippos…there was a mother and a baby sticking their ears up out of the water, but unfortunately, that’s all we were able to see of the hippos today! We walked through the bush and kind of followed a few giraffes around – they are so amazing. I didn’t know they actually didn’t have any vocal cords! Go figure! We also saw some little monkeys (that I don’t know the name of) scampering in the trees near the lodge before it became dark. It was really cool.
We have our first game drive tomorrow and I am seriously wiped from yesterday/this morning, so it’s off to sleep I go!