On the road again – destination anywhere

Well, traveling in times of Corona is a hassle and finding a safe destination with not to many restrictions almost impossible… If you now ask yourself if it’s really nessecary to travel in this time, I can only answer – yes, it is! Even if I’m grateful to my employer to give me the possibility to work in the safety of Homeoffice with full payment, I’m kind of fed up of sitting all day at home and do the whole cooking between my daily work. I’m really really looking forward to some NOT home cooked meals…

However, my plans changed from a week in Greece with a friend to 4 days Safari in the Mara to now an extended version of 3 days beach and 4 days safari – Africa I’m coming.

Sitting for 8 hours in an air plain carrying a mask is no fun but nessecary. The flight was half empty and the knowledge, that everyone sitting in this machine had to show a negative PCR test before boarding enhanced the feeling of security.

I arrived in Nairobi late at night, after curfew and all restaurants were already closed, time to sleep, next day I’m off to the beach.

Diani Beach Kenia

Eigentlich kann man über drei faule Strandtage gar keinen Blogbeitrag schreiben, zumal diese gar nicht geplant, sindern lediglich der miserablen Regenwettervorhersage in der Mara geschuldet sind. Bei über 90% all day Regenwahrscheinlichkeit macht Safari einfach keinen Spass mehr, da sind die Reservestrassen so aufgeweicht, dass Pirschfahrten ausfallen. Deshalb habe ich spontan entschieden, anstatt in die Mara an den Strand zu fliegen, die Safari nach hinten zu schieben, meinen Rückflug umzubuchen, einige Überstunden abzubauen und voilà decision taken. Eine ultrachaotische zeitlich sauknappe Fahrt zum Flughafen Nairobi, ein kurzer Hüpfer nach Mombasa und eine anstrengende Fahrt per Taxi später, alles brav mit Maske im Gesicht bei 30 Grad und 80% Luftfeuchtigkeit, bin ich im Paradies.

Wahrzeichen von Mombasa
Fähre
Shopping

Drei Tage faul an der weissen puderfeinen Diani Beach an der Sonnne rumzuliegen hat definitiv etwas für sich. Auch wenn die Diani Beach wegen des vielen Seegrases und der Seeigel im Wasser leider nicht unbedingt mein Favorit ist,

fühle ich mich schon nach nur einem Tag so entspannt wie schon seit Monaten nicht mehr. Die Ruhe hier ist herrlich, keine Musik, kein Kindergeschrei der Nachbarn, kein Baulärm, nur das Rauschen des Windes in den Palmen und die Wellen – herrlich.

Sowohl Strand als auch Hotel sind beinahe menschenleer. In meinem, für meine Verhältnisse ungewöhnlich luxuriösen 60-Zimmer Resort befinden sich aktuell 7 Gäste, nur übers Wochenende füllen sich jeweils 10 bis 20 Zimmer, sagt der Hotelchef. Dafür werden die wenigen Gäste wie Könige behandelt. Weil ich am ersten Abend nicht im Restaurant oben sondern lieber an der Strandbar essen wollte, haben die mir extra einen Tisch am Strand gedeckt, das volle Romantikprogramm; hatte bei soviel Zusatzaufwand beinahe ein schlechtes Gewissen, aber nur beinahe…

Nachts haben sich freundlicherweise Meerkatzen darum gekümmert, dass ich mich nicht einsam fühle. Ich musste natürlich trotz Warnung unbedingt mit offener Balkontüre schlafen, morgens habe ich mich dann zuerst über das auf dem ganzen Boden verstreute Teemachzeugs gewundert. Erst der Anblick der aufgerissenen, zerkauten und leergefressenen Milchzuckerpäckchen habe ich die Übeltäter entlarvt.

Meerkatze

Dabei wären die viel scheuheren und selteneren Colobus mit ihren weissen Mänteln viel spannender.

Colobus

So, jetzt habe ich eben gehört, dass der Strand weiter nördlich seegrasfrei ist. Mal schauen, ob ich mich dazu aufraffen kann, weil übermorgen gehts ja schon wieder weiter…

Habe meinen Arsch hochbekommen und frei nach dem Motto „wer suchet, der findet“ tatsächlich beim Nomad nicht nur ein superschönes Beachrestaurant sondern vor allem auch einen herrlichen, beinahe seegrasfreien Strandabschnitt mit kristallklarem, türkisfarbenen Wasser gefunden.

Lunch mit Mama Heule@Nomad

Leider treibt der heftige Wind die folgenden netten Tierchen an den Strand, was mir mein Badevergnügen wieder vermiest…

Egal, morgen gehts ab ins Mara Gebiet und endlich auf Safari 🙂

Arriving at Naibosho Conservancy and 1st day on safari

The wilderness and endless width of Kenyas Savanna was calling and I’ve responded. Luckyly the flight to the Mara was unexpectedly smooth so I hadn’t to die of fear.

Arriving at Eagle View Camp felt almost like coming home. 3 years ago I’ve spent three weeks as a volunteer with African Impact next door and walked over from time to time to enjoy a bit of luxury, a chilled glass of white wine and of course the spectacular view.

Honestly, the view was the main reason for me to choose Basecamp Eagle View and Naibosho Conservancy rather than the Mara Reserve itself. And of course the fewer tourists as well as the possibility of off road driving here. Upon arrival I was greeted with a very warm welcome by the staff, especially since being the first international guest since ages… I’ve felt like a queen and immediately got informed that all staff was Covid tested and has being Covid trained, thus not the slightest insecure feeling regarding safety was left.

Being the only guest I got my own vehicle and Derrick, their head guide, as a guide. Whoever knows me, also knows I’m more of an night owl than an early bird. Well, being on Safari you have to get up well before sunrise in order to get a chance to see cats moving in the cool before the sun’s warming up the land. Some minutes after leaving the camp a bis male lion crossed our path, proving that it’s worth to get up early, what a start into the day.

This scar nosed guy is one of three brothers who have replaced the former four Rekero ruler and „taken over“ Naibosho. Shortly after three lionesses of the Enesikiria Pride with their six cubs showed up and we could watch them for ages walking and playing around.

Just before lunch we’ve seen three Cheetahs laying lazy in the sun right next to the road, Entito with her two cubs.

Since cats prefer the shade, they got up suddenly and walked over to the next tree to nap till sunset. We should only see them more Agile in the late afternoon.

We were already on the way back to the camp for lunch, when my eagle viewed guide spotted another male lion in the bush.

As any other tourist I’m of course keen to see the famous cats, but there is so much more to see…

But my heart belogns to the most elegant giraffes and the funny zebras.

Don’t think for a second that Africa’s Savanna consists of dust and dry grass only, there is also bushland, drinking wholes and rivers.

Sunset time is cats time, what an incredible day!

2nd and 3rd day on safari in Naibosho Conservancy

The second day started with some excitement, there where monkeys along giving such endless shrieking alarm shouts, that Derrick my guide was convinced, that there must be a predetor around, according to the extended sound most probably a leopard. Let’s go and search for it. Unfortunately even with an extended search of about two hours we weren’t able to spot this elusive cat. A bit disappointed we left the river shore to find other animals.

Sunrise
Baboons
Beeeater
Hammerhead
Hyena
Jackal
Dik Dik – the smallest antelope
Suckling Topi
Male Impala
Gnus
Buffalow
Wharthog

After an impressive sighting of elephants Derrick showed once again his excellency.

He’s recognized some Topis in the distance staring all into one direction, and assumed that there must be something. Well, I’ve seen dark spots only, but once again he was right and we found a young female cheetah we could watch whilst having our sundowner; or maybe more like a „moonrise“.

Day 3 started with some lion cubs even when the moon was still watching and therefore before sunrise. If you’ve never been on a safari it’s almost impossible to imagine the excitement when this big cats show up and walk silently towards and past your vehicle. In complete ignorance of the card the come close enough so one can smell them…

Lots of sightings later we’ve searched ourself a nice picknick spot for breackfast.

The real action started after lunch on our afternoon game drive. The service staff told us about some baboons acting jumpy just im front of my tent. When we had a closer look, we stumbled over Nebati who was preparing for a hunt since she had newly born cubs to feed.

After following her for about two hours we finally got to see her hunting…

Last day on safari in Naibosho Conservancy and bye bye Africa

So far I’ve had an amazing safari and basically seen everything one can whish for. Funny enough, we’ve found more different male lions than female, very unusual. Therefore, today’s plan was seeking for a different prude of lions. First try led us next to Hemingways where Derrick found some tracks. Following them we stumbled oder three lioness with thick and full belly laying lazy in the shade with no intention to move. It’s hard to believe how boring this cats can be, when they just sleep….

But easy, my dream was anyway, to be able to find Ilkisiusiu Pride, which had been my fav during my volunteering stay some time ago. It used to be a big pride with many curious and naughty half adults which had a tendency to snack on safari vehicles, causing us often to laugh. Knowing that this pride has splitted in the meantime makes me a bit sad but also knowing that there are tiny cubs around again the opposite. Well, it should not be, on the way we’ve found a male lion mating with his female whilst a second male was watching peacefully. Poor lions, for them quantity seems to be more important than quality, every 15 minutes they were ready for another round… This was another stunning situation and we used the time between the rounds to have breakfast; breakfast with lions!

Done…
End of the show

But with all the excitement about the lions, never forget my favorites:

Along the river we found a beautiful herd of batchelor Impalas and later on some buffalos.

Not buffalos but a beautiful setting

After lunch we were off again to search for Ilkisiusiu Pride again, but I must be jinxed we first found two males again, absolutely impossible…

Only late in the afternoon we finally succeeded, four lionesses with eight cubs, all awake, drinking milk or playing around…

Suckling

On my last evening I unfortunately became so sick, that I’ve spent all night hanging over the toilet. Not even the lions next morning could stop my need to hop of the car and… Therfore we rather quickly called it a day said a final goodbye to anything being on the road and returned to camp…

The trip back home was a bit of a nightmare, first they’ve changed the air strip and my plane left earlier than scheduled so I just catches it, then this flight took 2 instead of 1 hour, then the 15 minutes transfer to Nairobi Intl. Airport took 2 hours due to road construction and upon arrival the whole airport was closed for an hour for desinfection… Funy enough, people waiting were nicely tanding on the 1.5m social distancing spots, very diszipined.

After having spent 10 days in Kenya I can only tell, that I’ve never felt unsafe, people there are very cautious and really happy about every tourist, that visits this beautiful country. If any of my friends need a recommendation for a safari camp in the Mara region, I can only recommend „Basecamp Explorer“ especially Eagle View in Naboisho Conservancy, not only because the location is beautiful and the sightings are great but also for all the community work regarding improvements of the work possibilities and education of the local Maasai people this camps are supporting.

Bye bye Kälte and jambo Hammerkop Migration camp

Wäre es nicht zum heulen, müsste ich lachen. Die ganze Schweiz inkl. Europa diskutieren über das Riesenpolitikum „offene Skipisten“, während die Swiss am Flughafen frischfröhlich den  Check-in 3 schliesst und alle Passagiere über die wenigen offenen Schalter im Check-in 1 routet, wo sich dann richtig tolle Schlangen resp. Ein hässlicher Pulk bilden, wir hatten glatt 1 Stunde fürs einchecken gebraucht.. . Auch wenn die Leute mit erstaunlicher Disziplin die Abstände beim Anstehen einhalten, nützt das nicht wirklich viel, wenn die Gänge der 7x gewundenen Schlange jeweils nur 1 Meter breit sind und einem dann zwar niemand in den Nacken hustet, man dafür von links und rechts bekuschelt wird. Naja, hoffen, beten und sich auf die montierte FFP2 Maske verlassen… Eigentlich sollte ich gem. ursprünglicher Reiseplanung längst in Costa Rica sein, die bereits gebuchte Alternative Seychellen ist auch ins Wasser gefallen, die haben uns Schweizer verständlicherweise auf die ie Quarantäneliste gesetzt, jeztz habe ich ein deja vu und fliege zum zweiten Mal innerhalb von 6 Wochen nach Kenia, diesmal aber in Begleitung.

Der Flug ist einiges voller als noch vor 6 Wochen, anscheinend erwacht die Reiselust wieder, bei der Ankunft in Nairobi dann das Chaos! Alle Passagiere müssen zur Temperaturmessung, Prüfung des PCR Tests und Scan des QR-Codes für das Gesundheitsformular, kaum zu glauben, dass es gefühlt die Hälfte der Leute nicht geschafft hat, alles vorauszufüllen. Naja, anstatt zum Dinner sind wir dann zum Mitternachtssnack im Hotel.

Ist fliegen schon seit 9/11 kein Genuss mehr, wird es mit Corona zum richtigen Hassel, mal schauen, wie lange ich mir das noch antue… Aber jetzt sitzen wir pünktlich eine Stunde zu früh (Flugplan konsultieren, anstatt sich auf das Gedächtnis verlassen würde eine Stunde Schlaf bringen…) wieder am Airport und warten auf das Minuflugzeug, welches und in mein geliebtes Mara bringt!

Bye bye Nairobi
Landing at Musiria Air Strip

Luckily everything worked out well and Derrick, my guide from my previous visit in October awaits us at the air strip. Being here in the rainy season we’re welcomed by ugly muddy roads that force us to drive a detour to our camp.

We’ll, the detour provides a nice surprise, 7 lioness feeding on a freshly hunted zebra…

Our camp the Hammerkop Migration Camp has a beautiful location directly at the Mara River providing spectacular views over the mighty Mara River. Anyway, whoever is looking for a beautiful camp within the Maasai Mara Reserve, I can only recommend this camp with the beautiful setting and it’s friendly welcoming staff. I’ve the feeling that I’ve arrived as a guest and left as a friend and maybe Importen for the current time, the whole staff does have current certificates of negative Covid tests and the Mara Reserve has never been so beautifully empty.

View over the Mara River
Inside a safari tent
Bonfire
Lunch table
Outdoors hand washing station
Holzbefeuerter Heisswasserboiler

Masai Mara Reserve – Day 1

Whilst being on safari and seeing all this exciting animals you should never forget how important good light is to take a nice photo. This giraffe didn’t move one step, it’s just us changing the position…

Traffic…

Even though the afternoon drive of our arrival day was rather an easy one we still got to see some lovely things

Lilac breasted roller
Female austrich
Male austrich
Herron
Male Impala

as well as a spectacular African Python and some guys you better not make angry.

In the evening rather than starring on their mobile phones people spend the time sitting at the bonfire and chat about God, the world and a lot about culture.

A completely different thing was our first day. The morning drive started with a spectacular sunrise.

Followed by some lions who had just finished their morning meal, only some jackals were still nibbling on something.

Directly after and just before breakfast

we’ve found my big highlight, Imani with her four cubs of about 5 weeks, all playing around in the bush; absolutely impossible to photograph, but great to watch.

Afterwards we decided to go into Talek Area to try our chances with the five brothers, the five musketeers or the Tano Bora, the special five as the locals call these five cheetah brothers who are ruling the Mara. With the flooded roads and the impossible river crossing we unfortunately had to leave the park, drive through Talek and reenter through Talek Gate.

Goats
Hard Rock Cafe Talek 😉

Since these famous Cheetahs were seen earlier the day we knew which area to search and found them almost immediately, unfortunately sneaked deeply into the shade of some bushes.

Ah, with so much excitement in such a short time I almost forgot the two male lions, Kaka and his brother, who were lying in the shade.

Next stop was a bushy area next to a river. Searching around Paschar, the Askari from our camp, who joined our drives in addition to our guide suddenly leand wide out of the window, almost crawling into a bush, where he’s spotted a half eaten prey, the prove that there was a predetor around. Having enough patience to seek even when everyone else (well, the one other car) left, we’ve spotted the most elusive cat of the Mara on the other side of the river, a leopard, Luluka with her two month old cub.. The were playing around, drinking and tried to cross the river bed in one jump, which caused the cub an unwanted bath. Afterwards, the mom laid down in the shade whilst the sweet fur ball showed some acrobatics by climbing a dead branch, going further to thin branches and sliding or falling down, just to start the whole game anew. A sighting to die for.

Starting to climb up
Yeah, a quick rest
Further out to the branches
And down
Suckling

Well, it has been an unexpected long and spontaneous day with a skipped lunch and so we decided to head back to the camp to give our brains time to digest this unbelievable amazing day!

Masai Mara Reserve – Day 2

Compared to yesterday this day was an easy one.

Good morning
Kingfisher

We got to see a female lion with her two cubs in the early morning, unfortunately after barely two minutes of hiding they disappeared in the bush and didn’t reappear again.

Right after only 200 meters away we saw a second female carrying one of her babies in her mouth straight to the bush as well.

Breakfast time
Zebras assembling for river crossing

During the day we’ve found some other things

Baboon
Topi
Warthog

as well as a nice group of elephants, which we enjoyed to watch playing around with their food.

Only on the afternoon drive we got to see another lion, nicely posing on top of a termite mound.

Very special for this usually arid climate are all the blooming flowers, which will massively grow in numbers as longer as the rainfalls last.

Late in the afternoon, just before sunrise we tried our chances again with the two lioness with the cubs, unfortunately for nothing…

Masai Mara Reserve – Day 3

Jaja, I admit, noone really likes full day game drives because of the midday heat and the hiding cats, but after the two easy drives of yesterday and with the more than muddy roads

around our camp we just waste to much time when driving back to the camp at lunch time and anyway, it’s not all about cats only, there is so much more to see. So, we decided to go for it and at the end of the day, it proved to be the right desicion. It must have been international lions meeting day, cuz we’ve seen a total of 9 lions close up and even more at a bit of a distance. We got it all, sleeping, sitting, walking, drinking, mating…

OK, not a lion, but look at this brave little guy
Scary situation for the Topi
Lucky Topi, the lion had other things on his mind…
Preparing to mste

There aren’t many things as impressing as watching these gentle giants.

Suckling
Uuos, too close…
Well, not always gentle

In the morning we’ve also found a walking Cheetah, amazing, seeing this elegant predator on the move.

But my personal highlight were the bathing elefants, I could have watched them for hours…

And after lunch at the mighty Mara River with Crocks,

Zebras attempting to cross the river
Crocks feeding on a Zebra

completely unexpected for the time of the day, we’ve spotted another two Cheetahs, male this time.

Who has ever told, that Hyenas aren’t cute?

4 weeks old puppy

And at the end of the day we got to watch my all time favorites 🙂

And more…

Bye bye Mara – hello lazy time at the beach

Time has run and for me our stay in the Mara was just too short, but we’ve seen a lot and are taking many memories back home. However, we still have a last drive towards the Airstrip ahead of us and you never know, who is crossing your path.

After a bit more than an hours drive we spotted a lioness lying next to the bushes, but what interested me more, was the bunch of vultures sitting closeby.

The vultures obviously had finished of something, when suddenly from one side a big Male Lion approached following a female and guess what… ? I was quite a bit of a drama, cuz there were actually two females sneaking around this male, trying to seduce him, but only one managed…