Just Monkeying around

Trip Start Nov 03, 2011
Trip End Nov 11, 2011

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Flag of Kenya  , Eastern,
Saturday, November 5, 2011

My sleep schedule is still off. I woke up around 4 am. I tried to go back to sleep with no success. I quietly unlocked the door to the balcony and went out to watch the watering hole. The terrycloth robe provided by the hotel was warm and comfortable. I could see the hotel staff hired to watch for animals shift in his seat on the balcony off of the bar. It was only the two of us watching the watering hole and the silence was heavenly.

The sounds of the jungle surrounded me and I was mesmerized by the sound of the frogs. When I first heard the screams coming from the bush I thought it might be the trumpeting of elephants but later when I talked to Nicholas he said it was the Hyrax. Coming from a society that is so addicted to our technology I was surprised that I felt no boredom without computers, televisions or phones. I sat quietly and listened. As the sun started to rise the birds did also. The song of the frogs was replaced by the singing of the birds and Cory finally woke to join me.

We were alone with nature until our neighbors awoke. For the second day in a row the woman next door started to talk loudly and annoyingly from the moment she opened our eyes. She talked about everything and nothing all at once without thought to all the signs begging the guests to remain quiet. It was not something that I was able to handle without a cup of coffee so I went out to get a couple of cups for us. We were leaving early this morning so after finishing a cup of coffee we dressed and went down to breakfast.

We got packed and met our group in the lobby. The porters took our bags down to the van and we all prepared to leave on our drive to the Sarova Shaba Game Lodge. Since most of our trip is spent on Game Reserves or at Luxury Game Lodges these drives from location to location are the only view we get of the every day life of Kenyans. It is from the van that we see the kids in their school uniforms on the way to class and the women selling their harvest from their makeshift stands. I wish I could stop and talk with them, know a little more about what their traditions are but our tour is mostly about the safari so we continue on.

We stopped to get some gas. While the van was parked a cute little boy looked at us curiously from the sidewalk. He waved and Cory called him over and gave him one of our Mickey Mouse stickers. His older counterpart came over and Cory placed one of the stickers on his shirt which he patted with pride. They loved that we wanted photos and the younger one cheesed it up for the camera. The older boy picked up his younger brother and again patted his new sticker with pride. His smile was from ear to ear.

Video of our Drive to Sarova Shaba Lodge


When we arrived at the Shaba National Reserve Cory and I were fascinated with the rock work. There is a certain structure of the rocks that the Disney Imagineers captured in the rock work around Animal Kingdom. Of course this rock work acted as homes to the local animals and lookouts for predators. It wasn't made out of concrete and metal lathe. The colors were the colors of the minerals in the ground not of latex paint. The reality of it was confirmed as we saw a troop of baboons climbing the rocks.

As we got closer to the lodge we were fascinated by the pumice stone. I had no idea that this area had once been a very volcanic area. The termite mounds dotted the landscape and Cory and I were discussing the fact that they looked abandoned. We spoke to Nicholas explained that the termites abandon the mounds around this time of year and that the mounds that we were seeing were slowly being warn down by wildlife. That explained why most of the mounds we were seeing were not the tall towers that we build on the savanna at Animal Kingdom out of concrete.

We made it to the Sarova Shaba Game Lodge and we were greeted with a friendly Jambo and a warm washrag that smelled of Eucalyptus. We were checked in and we walked down to find our bungalow. It just keeps getting better. These thatched roofed villas are beautiful. As we take the path next to the gorgeous pool and head toward our room, room number 20 I am thrilled to see a troop of monkeys hanging out by the villas. They are adorable. There are males and females and tiny little babies clutching to their mommas. Have I mentioned I LOVE monkeys?  

We pass the crocodile viewing area that overlooks the river and Nile crocs sunning on the opposite bank. The Lodge feeds them at night but due to the high waters they haven't seen many crocs on this side of the river. Last week there was a lot of flash flooding that has effected the area.

Our room is gorgeous. I am so excited to see the mosquito netting. It is something out of the movies and I find it so romantic. Too bad we also have twin beds. No worries I already have plans to push them together.

Sarova Shaba Lodge video


This location is much warmer than the last and I am starting to worry how I will be able to sleep tonight without air conditioning. They have warned us that we need to keep the windows shut during the day because the baboons WILL come right through the screens. We may need to be a little more aware about the mosquito's here. The warm weather and the water are a perfect environment for them. The hotel provides for us with a mossi chip contraption that plugs in, heats up and dispenses some sort of bug repellent from a little chip. They have also left us bug repellent towelettes. So far I haven't found them necessary.

One thing we needed to do immediately was plug in the battery chargers. We are taking so many pictures and using the zoom so much that we are running through the batteries like crazy. One thing that we have started doing is bringing an electrical strip with us. It has been instrumental in getting all of our batteries charged on this trip.

While the batteries charged we headed to lunch. The open air restaurant opened onto the springs and provided a beautiful setting to eat. In the springs turtles and talapia were swimming. The sound of the waterfalls serenaded us. We had a little time before our afternoon game drive to explore the lodge. 

 We loaded on the van and headed out on our first game drive in the Buffalo Springs National Reserve. Nicholas has lifted the roof on the van so that we will be able to stand and view the animals. As we head out of the gate I notice the weaver nests. We have taken some of the ones at Animal Kingdom and epoxied them to preserve them. These are not the nests of the Golden Weaver instead they are the nests of the white brow-ed sparrow weaver. Nicholas explained they were the lazy weavers and are not as particular as the golden weavers.

As we headed down the dirt road a dik-dik ran across in front of our van. Cory shouted out the identification much to the surprise of those on the van. I guess working at Animal Kingdom does have some advantages. I tried to get a picture of this tiny ungulate but he hid quickly in the bushes. I was so disappointed. I was sure that would be the last dik-dik I would see since they are normally so shy. Of course the fact that they are called a dik-dik started the jokes. Subtlety at first but more blatant as we all got to know one another better.

The afternoon is a whirlwind of ungulates. Grants gazelle, reticulated giraffe, grevy's zebra, oryx, gerenuk, even warthogs. The oddest things we saw was a Korybuster who was trying to attract an mate by puffing out his neck feathers. At first I thought Nicholas was calling him a Cory Bastard... I didn't know if Cory should be offended.

Videos of that first game drive



The afternoon kept getting better and better. A male giraffe was only yards from our vehicle and seemed to pose for us. He paused before walking away. We had to slow down for two East African Grey Crowned cranes in the road. The male even did his little mating dance for us to photograph.

Our group is fantastic. We are all polite and try to make sure everyone gets a shot. We had decided on the drive from Nairobi to Mount Kenya that we would rotate seats during the trip so that everyone gets a chance at each and every seat. Some of the seats are better for standing, one seat has a window that doesn't open and each seat is different in some way. Funny thing is, that in the moment, the seven of us shuffle around one another until we have all gotten our shot.

At dinner tonight the conversation turned to travel. It is the one thing that all of us have in common. I overhear a little of the conversation next to us and realize that one of the couples is feeling a little put off by all the talk of places that people have been. It reminded me of Cory and I on our first organized tour. It was Egypt and it was our first trip to somewhere other than Europe. As you get further away from the western society you travel around people that are more traveled. The country dropping came across as bragging.
It has taken me a long time to realize that just like me people are proud of traveling. It is something that has educated us. It is something that we never thought we would do and it is something that we have in common. I took the opening and opened up to my table mates about growing up without a lot of money in a very rural area. That I never dreamed that I would have been able to travel. It opened the conversation to their story that was similar to my own. I hope it bridged that gap between commonalities and just plain bragging. Don't get me wrong there were those on the trip that had to one up everyone every conversation. Bragging came more naturally to them than finding commonalities.

After dinner we went back to the room. The room attendant had put down the mosquito netting. It was still pretty warm in the room but we turned the ceiling fan on high. Once we were in bed with the ceiling fan billowing out the netting it was actually quite cool. The white noise erased the rest of the world. I think it is going to be a very good night of sleep.

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