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Posts Tagged ‘Porini Tent Camp’

 “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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“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chamber. The mind can never break off from the journey.” – Pat Conroy.

Dik-Dik -- Photo by Kim Perrin

African Safari: A Kenya Welcome

We joined another couple and their driver for the half-four ride from Arusha to the border town of Namanga, where after a check through customs we met up with Johnson, another Ranger Safaris’ driver. He warned us that we were in for a long bumpy ride to the Porini Camp Lodge, where we were to spend the next two nights.

We were used to a bumpy ride and there was plenty to see along the way, and Johnson was quite knowledgeable about the sights we were seeing. So it all seemed perfectly normal.

Kim emerging from our tent suite, one of only six for safari guests at the Porini Camp. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I even got two more life birds, a lizard buzzard and a red-billed hornbill. The longer we were in Africa, the slower grew my list of new birds. But I was happy because I was beginning to recognize many of the earlier ones now without having to use the field guide every time.

We also saw quite a few giraffe along the way, as well as elephants, zebras, gazelle and a couple of dik-diks, tiny antelopes named for the warning sound they issue when predators are nearby.

The hot water tank for showers in our tent. -- Photo by Pat Bean

When we finally drove up to the Porini Lodge, we were met, as usual, with a wet wash rag to clean the African dust from our face and hands. I noticed my washrag had turned from white to brown by the time I handed it back to a staff worker.

Our lodge, however, was a far cry from the five-star camp complexes we stayed at in Tanzania. Tonight we would be sleeping in tents, albeit one with floors and showers. Hot water for the latter, however, was hauled up in a canvas bag.

A shower would have to wait, however. We had barely gotten into camp in time for the nightly sundowner. This even was a late wildlife viewing drive to a place where we could watch yet another spectacular African sunset.

Two very tired ladies at the end of a long day enjoying their first taste of a Tuskers.

Bone-tired from the long day, Kim and I watched it go down with a Tuskers in hand. While I’m not a big beer fan, this one tasted really good. And the photo someone took of us two with the beers in hand turned out to be another favorite of the trip

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