Thursday, July 26, 2007

Watch out for the speed bumps

Lions are lazy. They must sleep 22+ hours a day. No wonder they are a member of the cat family. We came across these lions laying in the road. It's their road - we had to drive off the road to avoid them. Did they budge? Of course not. Only when they wanted to change their sleeping position to stay in the sunlight. (We were 5-10 feet from these lions and they couldn't give a hoot that we were there.)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Serengeti National Park

We finally made it the Serengeti National Park in the northwest of Tanzania. Last major stop on our trip.
We had yet another long, bumpy ride to get here from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

We stopped at Olduvai Gorge - supposedly the crater of humankind, and several game viewing locations along the way.

We are at the tail end of the famed wildebeest migration from the Serengeti Plains in Tanzania to the Masai Mara in Kenya. This time of year the migrating herds travel north. We saw the herds in the Masai Mara that had already made the migration. These guys either were late to the dance or too stupid to figure out how to get there.

Wildebeests are very dumb. Normally, zebras accompany the wildebeest herd and point them in the right direction.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Guess Who We Ran Into?

This morning we visited the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. This place is enormous and teeming with wildlife.

As we drove along in our dependable minivan, who should we come upon?

Bill Clinton! He's in East Africa to visit five nations on behalf of his charitable foundation. The Africans mob him like a "rock star." They idolize him.

We got within a few feet of him. I hope his cardiologist doesn't see the photos of him with the cigar.

Just think, we and Bill Clinton were looking at the same group of hippos at the same time. (I'm not referring to former White House interns.)

Monday, July 23, 2007

When Men Try to Do Women's Work

We shot this video in the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. As you will see, three male lions tried to attack two Cape Buffalo. Big mistake!

It's usually the female lions that do the hunting, and once they have a kill, they let the males eat first. I guess these males got hungry and didn't want to wait around for the females to do their job.

I think they went back to sleep for a while - they got tired out with all the exercise. They need some training.

Click on the arrow to start the video.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Rush Hour in Kenya

We saw a hilarious scene this afternoon - we're driving along the road in Lake Nakuru National Park, heading back to our lodge, and our driver hits the brakes. It's baboon rush hour. Every day at the same time, the baboons head down the road back to their sleeping habitat for the night. And we thought we were in Africa! This looked liked rush hour on the 405 Freeway.

If You Need a Flamingo for Your Front Lawn...

Today we arrived at Lake Nakuru National Park. Pictures (see below) do not adequately communicate the experience. It is a huge lake (about 4 miles in diameter). Near the shoreline surrounding the lake, the surface is covered with pink flamingos. Thousands of them. It makes the lake look like it's pink.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Playing Golf on the Equator

We are spending the night at the Mt. Kenya Safari Club. This place is famous because it was originally built by William Holden, the famous movie actor (remember the movie "The Bridge on the River Kwai"?). It recently got bought by Fairmont Hotels and they are doing a major remodel. Even so, the rooms (cottages) are very nice and the reconstruction does not really affect our stay.
Oh, and Jordan's luggage FINALLY showed up today. Clean underwear and socks today.

We actually played golf here. They have a 9 hole golf course - not in very good condition. We rented clubs and hired a caddie. We brought our own golf balls (and gave what was left to our caddie as a gift). We had the privilege of meeting the caddie master at the first tee and the course superintendent on the third hole. He informed us that due to construction on a few holes, we could play six of the holes as many times as we wanted. We were the only people on the course.

The layout was quite unique. Between the tee and the green on several holes there are several huge trees blocking your shot. You've got to be REALLY, REALLY good to get over the trees. The seventh hole was the best. A straight line drawn between the tee and the green actually lies on the equator. That was cool.

The best part of the Mt. Kenya Safari Club is the Wildlife Conservancy. They take in animals that are orphaned, or injured, or whose numbers are endangered, and raise them. They often return animals to their natural habitat. They are responsible for reintroducing the bongo (a small, high altitude antelope) back onto Mt. Kenya. Until this project, the largest population of bongos was in zoos in the U.S..

Here are some of the animals in the Wildlife Conservancy:

Monday, July 16, 2007

Mommy and Me

We encountered this female leopard and her cub lounging around a tree in the Samburu National Reserve in Kenya. We must have spent 15 minutes watching the two of them play. So many great photo ops!!! Here are a few shots of the two of them.
They were totally unafraid of the vehicles and people nearby. For those reading this that are afraid of animals, we were probably 15-30 feet away from the leopards.
This made me forget about the fact that my luggage has not shown up yet. My shoes are starting to smell like the animals. I just hope none of them try to snuggle up next to me.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Long Flight to Nairobi

We FINALLY made it to Nairobi, but my luggage didn't.

Baggage services at Nairobi airport are ridiculous. My lugguge is still at London Heathrow airport along with about 20,000 other pieces of luggage that didn't make the flights with their owners. The staff at Nairobi airport has no idea when (or if) my bag will arrive. BA has two flights a day into Nairobi, so we'll wait to see if it shows up tonight.

Never again are we flying internationally in coach class. It should be renamed "sardine can" class.

But, we made it here, the hotel is very comfortable, and we're off today to our first game reserve in Kenya. For now, I'll rinse out my socks and underwear and use a lot of deodorant. I'll probably smell better than the animals.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Already Off to a Bad Start

I hope this isn't an indication of how the rest of the trip will go - at Long Beach Airport they said that one of our bags was too heavy for jetBlue (50 pounds max) so we had to break out one of our small, spare duffel bags, throw a few things in it, and check it. Big mistake. It wound up in Boston, not JFK.

Guess whose bag was over 50 pounds. One hint - it had a bunch of hair care products, a hair dryer, and an electric toothbrush.

Now we have to pick it up at jetBlue Baggage Service on our way to the British Airways flight tonight.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Off to Africa (again...)

This week we leave for another journey to Africa - this time to the East African nations of Kenya and Tanzania. We are flying to Nairobi (via London), spending nine nights in Kenya and three nights in Tanzania.

The cameras are ready, lots of memory cards packed, and the video camera is charged up. We even packed our "safari" vests - they look very geeky, but they come in handy.

Caren has been warned not to touch or feed any of the animals. We've started taking our malaria pills and the bug repellent and Cipro are at the ready.

Unfortunately, we first have to fly to NY, then endure a long flight from JFK to Heathrow, followed by an even longer flight to Nairobi. Kenya is 10 hours ahead of California - I hope the kids can figure out the time change when they call.

Here are the hotels/lodges/camps we're going to in Kenya:

Sarova Stanley Hotel, Nairobi
Sarova Shaba Lodge, Shaba National Reserve
Mt. Kenya Safari Club, Nanyuki
The Ark Lodge, Aberdare National Park
Sarova Lion Hill Lodge, Nakuru
Sekenani Camp, Maasai Mara National Reserve

In Tanzania, we're staying in a lodge at the rim of Ngorongoro Crater and a lodge in Serengeti National Park.

Even though we're going to be near/on the equator, it's the dry season (winter) where we're headed, so the weather should be in the 70s during the day and the 40s or 50s at night. Nairobi Weather Report: