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The great grasslands (or savannas) of Africa cover almost half of the continent's surface, or about 5 million square miles. That is significantly more than the 3.8 million square miles of land in all of the United States.
In Kenya, where we visited, a temperate climate matched with wet and dry seasons provide the perfect environment for savannas. Lightning strikes and their resulting fires help keep trees from spreading and converting grasslands to woodlands. Elephants, sometimes referred to as the gardeners of the savanna, also help grasslands thrive by destroying and dining on trees and bushes.
Until you visit, it is hard to imagine how vast the open areas are. When we left Rhino Camp in Ol Pejeta it took us almost 40 minutes by car on dirt roads to reach the border of the conservancy. And, even then, there were miles upon miles more of grassland outside.
Words fail to describe what we saw. Hopefully, the following few images will give you a glimpse of the vastness and diversity of a healthy savanna.
One of many great white rhino's on the plain outside Porini Rhino camp in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Check out or Safari 11: Crash on the Grass entry for more about the rhino and cape buffalo on the Ol Pejeta plain.
In the Mara, three of 28 lions working together to capture a zebra for breakfast. We happened on them early in the morning while the rain from the prior night still clung to their fur. Here ware are following their progress from within the pride. Check out Safari 1: The Hunt entry for the full story.
It took us a couple of hours driving across the savanna to catch up with the wildebeest migration crossing a river. Here they are, with a few zebra, just before reaching the river. Our trip to the river, the crossing and a kill by a lioness are described in our recent Safari 23: All Gnu But One entry.
There were too many good images to include in our entry about following a family of cheetah hunt in the grass (our Safari 19: Hunting with Children entry). Here is Amani leading her three cubs into the grass. One veteran safari traveler (more than 20 past safaris) said we will never get a better look at cheetahs than the one we had.
In the distance on a cloudy afternoon, five impala make their way across the plain.
Elusive in part because of their smaller size and the tall grasses in which they roam, this cerval cat showed no reluctance to walk beside our vehicle as it hunted on the savanna. For more about this unusual cat check out our Safari 24.5: On the Road entry from last March.
If you are a top tier predator, like this cheetah and her four cubs, a small tree for shade and a grazed portion of the savanna make a good place for a mid-morning nap. Four maturing cubs keep this mother busy much of the time.
This young elephant is dancing in the grass while its parents and siblings are consuming a nearby tree. Her trunk is a complex organ to learn to control and she needs practice. Check out our Safari 18: How to Eat a Tree entry for more about this young elephant and her family.
Families of jackals were everywhere. This one stops briefly to check us out.
Cape buffalo appeared in great herds across the grasslands of Nairobi National Park and Ol Pejeta Conservancy. The oxpeckers, like the one on this mother's back, were always with them cleaning their hides.
Would you call this elephant grass? Probably not but even the mighty elephant can seem engulfed by the tall grasses that follow the wet season. Here one makes her way to a nearby pond.
All photos and text are copyright Clinton Richardson. The images are from the author's Safari Collection at Trekpic.com. If you like these posts, please tell your friends about the Venture Moola blog at Readjanus.com. Want to plan your own safari? If so, feel free to check out the outfitter we used at Porini.com.
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Travel, business and history with original photos.
Clinton Richardson - author, photographer, business advisor and traveler.
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