We were heartened to see this magnificent male on our second day at Nairobi National Park. We were tickled to watch from less than 30 yards away while the old fellow reached up with his hind leg to scratch behind his ear. It reminded us our our pet cat at home. As our trip progressed and we saw more and more lions lounging, playing and interacting, we would have this familiarity-reaction over and over.
We also enjoyed the people we met as we traveled. Their varied backgrounds and experiences made for interesting conversation. I am sure we seemed quirky to some as some did to us. Like characters from a book.
One Aussie couple fit that bill. He, at 84, was a retired barrister and businessman with an engaging conversational style that was peppered with pointed questions and good humor. He wore a baseball cap with an Australian flag on the back and was an ardent fan of Aussie football. There was an intensity to his conversation that reminded me of an eager law student who is full of new taught analytical skills.
He and his wife were a comfortable pair but not overly organized, as we learned on our joint flight to the Porini Camp in the Selenkay Conservancy. They were late for our 5:45 a.m. ride to the airport and not too certain about where they were going. And he disappeared outside the entrance to the Wilson Airport before our flight causing some minor concern within the group. It turns out, he confessed to me on his return, that he had to find a private place to retrieve his passports from his underpants.
As with all travel with Gamewatchers, we were escorted by their representatives from the camp until we were on our plane, a twin prop with twelve passenger seats. The flight to the Amboselli Camp was uneventful and low enough to take in the scenery below. We landed less than 90 minutes after we took off on a grass landing field near our camp. Our game drive spotter and driver were waiting for us with an open air Land Rover with six seats in two rows.
After getting off the plane and learning our Aussie friends were headed, unbeknown to them, in a separate vehicle for a different camp, we unloaded our cameras and hopped into our vehicle for a game drive on the way to camp.
We did not have to go far. Before we could drive 50 yards, we were surrounded by a tower of Maasai giraffe, more than a dozen spread out among the trees and brush before us. It was breathtaking. So many of these giants so close and busy feeding in the upper reaches of the trees around us. Below you can see an adult "nanny" giraffe with five younger giraffes and below that some of the younger ones making their way across a meadow to fresh trees.
Our guides took us off road into the bush to get closer and we learned a critical difference between a conservancy and a national park. In the parks you stay on the roads but in conservancies you can go wherever your vehicle will take you.
We arrived at the Porini Amboselli camp before noon and were shown to our tents. This camp was more open air and spread out. After lunch we had our first hot afternoon while we rested in our tent. It was not Georgia summer hot but something in the 80s.
By 4:00 when we head out for our game drive it was already beginning to cool down. Our driver Julius and spotter Daniel, both Maasai, led us out into the conservancy in our open vehicle. Our companions were an English school teacher who worked in a private school in Nairobi and young married couple from Sydney. She was originally from Hungary and he from Brazil.
This afternoon's drive culminated with a visit to a waterhole that was full of elephants. Next to the waterhole was a platform for viewing. We would spend the better part of an hour there watching the elephants and participating in our first sun downer, a tradition of safaris where you stop in the wild to watch the sun set and partake in refreshments.
It was hard not to be fascinated with the elephants. There were at least 15 or 20 although it was hard to count because they came and went in small groups. They drank and splashed and rolled in the mud. The mothers interacted tenderly with the young and, of course, the young played.
They were also quite jealous of their domain paying close attention to approaching groups of zebra and warthogs and running them off when they got close. And, while they did not seem to mind our being there, we were careful when exiting our vehicle to enter the platform and occasionally an adult female or male would give us a hard look.
After our sun downer, we returned to camp for dinner and a surprise. More about that in next week's posting where we will also explore Amboselli National Park.
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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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We write for creative doers who seek inspiration from experience. Our readers are students of life, interested in travel, photography and ideas.
Clinton Richardson, has been writing and photographing for decades. His acclaimed venture strategy series is now in its 5th edition. His Ancient Selfies is an International Book Awards Finalist and an eLit Award Gold Medal Winner. Many of his images can be seen online at TrekPic.com.