Posts Tagged ‘Mount Kilimanjaro’

 “We all have our time machines. Some take us back. They’re called memories. Some take us forward. They’re called dreams.” – Jeremy Irons

Elephants on the move in Amboseli -- Photo by Pat Bean

African Safari: Amboselli

The next morning we were up early for breakfast, served family style in open air tent, and eagerly ready for a day in Amboseli National Park, which was about an hour away from our Porini camp. Our driver was Emanuel, whom I was delighted to discover was more interested in birds than Bilal. I never once had to ask him to stop when one was in sight.

Emanuel, our driver/guide for Amboseli. He was a real birder. Yea! -- Photo by Pat Bean

In fact, even before we left the camp he had pointed out a blue-naped mousebird that I had missed seeing. I knew then it was going to be a great day, like every other day I’d so far spent in Africa.

We were accompanied in the Land Rover by a husband and wife couple, whom I barely remember except that they were pleasant. Kim remembered, when I asked, that he had a lot of expensive cameras and was heavily into photography.

The other person who also accompanied us was Jackson, who was nearing the end of a five-year internship to become a guide. Jackson was a Maasai, and would be one of the very first of his tribe to become a guide.

From a distance hippos looked like big gray rocks, especially since sometimes only their backs were visible in the sunken swamps that dotted the Amboseli landscape. -- Photo by Kim Perrin

While it was an hour’s drive to the park from our Porini camp site, there was plenty to see along the way, including two, then three, cheetahs stalking a gerenuk, which escaped all of them once the pursuit race began.

Our first sighting in the park was a large herd of female elephants migrating across the landscape with a lot of young ones in tow. Following behind was one huge male with a huge desire to sire yet another one.

Amboseli is a Maasai word for salty dust, and refers to the volcanic ash from past Mount Kilmanjaro eruptions. Snow melt flowing down into the landscape here from the mountain makes it an excellent habitat for wildlife, and rarely were we out of sight of the four-legged and winged creatures that call Amboseli home.

Saddle-billed stork catching a fish -- Wikipedia photo

Looking across the savannah, we often saw what at first glance were big gray rocks. In reality they were hippos lazing in the swamp areas of the park. 

Among our more fun bird-watching experiences was watching a saddle-backed stork fight with a snake. The stork won.

We also saw an African jacana walking on lily pads, a jewel colored malachite kingfisher and a squacco heron, which looked an awfully lot like our American bittern.

 Lots of memories were made this day.

Bird Log of new lifers: Lizard buzzard, red-billed hornbill, August 28, 2007,  during the drive to Porini; crested francolin, blue-naped mousebird, crested bustard, black-faced sandgrouse, Fischer’s starling, plain-backed pipit, Fischer’s sparrow -lark, grassland pipit, saddle-billed stork, long-toed plover, common greenshank, malachite kingfisher, African jacana, squacco heron, eastern pale chanting goshawk, pied kingfisher. August 29, 2011, Amboseli National Park. We also saw a sandwich tern, which is a common bird along the Texas Gulf Coast.

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 “Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

African Safari: From Nairobi to Kilimanjaro

This is a view of Mount Kilimanjaro that Kim and I did not get to see. I post it so as not to disappoint readers, including one who was looking forward to seeing it,. The Wikipedia photo was taken by Muhammad Mahdi Karim.

Our plane to Tanzania from the small Wilson airport on the outskirts of Nairobi was a Twin Otter with single seats separated by a narrow aisle that held much of our luggage. It was a bottleneck one late-arriving passenger had to stumble through to sit down.

The aircraft’s non-uniformed, Anglo pilot, a grin on his weathered face, twisted around and gave us our flight briefing. He ignored the luggage. It was as different from our KLM attendant’s memorized agenda on our flight to Africa, as our scrumptious breakfast at the Norfolk was to the in-flight meal we were served in a paper sack on boarding.

The entire lunch consisted of a slice of zucchini, a slice of carrot and a leaf of lettuce on a miniature hamburger bun.

The meal reminded me of the sign noting that millions of Kenyans lived in poverty that I had seen on arrival in the city. Just how thankful some people would be for just such a meal was impressed even more on me as the plane flew over an area of Nairobi where salvaged crate box homes were crowded on top of one another.

I decided right there and then that there would be no complaints from me during my stay in Africa. Kim had the same reaction.

Meanwhile, my seat near the front of the plane gave me a pilot’s view of the 50-minute flight. I could easily tell I was not flying over the United States. The landscape below lacked the tidy borders of fences, parallel streets and plowed fields that consume Americans’ sense of tidiness.

But by my own personal criteria and desire for adventure, today’s flight was perfect – even though Mount Kilimanjaro was hidden by clouds, both from the air and when we landed at the tiny Kilimanjaro airport near its base.

“Perhaps it will be less cloudy tomorrow,” said our pilot as he bade us good-bye. I think he was more disappointed than his passengers. Kim and I were already thinking about our  next leg of the day’s journey, one in which all traffic rules, if there were any, were broken.

Next Episode: The Chaotic Drive to Arusha

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