Aberdares, on the slopes of Mt Kenya (7200')
Drive to the slopes of Mt Kenya (150 miles) and check in to Mountain Lodge for lunch. Spend the afternoon viewing game from the lodge or join a nature walk led by a local guide.
We were awoken at 5:45 am by a knock on the door. There aren’t any phones here so a hotel person has to walk to each individual room to let you know about your wake up call. We thought we had forgot to bring along an alarm clock, but we eventually found that we had brought it and ended up using it as a back-up to the "knock". We had mostly packed the night before for we are leaving the Samburu area today headed for the slopes of Mt Kenya and the Serena Mountain Lodge for the night
As we were leaving the Samburu park we lucked upon a heard of Giraffes. We learned these are called a “group” later. They were absolutely incredible because this time we were as close as 100 feet or less. I think someone counted 13. We got some great pictures we hope to share with as soon as we find a good internet hook-up. After we left the park the trip took quite a bit longer than we anticiaped. Had to backtrack some of the way from out trip from Nairobi before we could get onto new territory. Again, all the roads were paved and we made pretty good time, but stopped twice. Once at a curio shop where they had restrooms and then at the Equator. There we got a little demonstration about how a floating piece of wood will rotate one way on the north side of the equator and the other way on the south side of the equator. You might be asking yourself what happens right on the line?? We there the piece of wood does not rotate. I know, it all seems like a big tourist trap idea, but it really does work!
K: We arrived at the Serena Mountain Lodge after 1 pm. The lodge is situated on the slopes of Mt Kenya at 7200 ft elevation. It was built 41 years ago at the site of a natural “salt lick.” I at first thought they brought in a salt lick but the salt is actually found in the soil
. This rustic lodge was built to one side of a large natural watering holel where the wild animals come to drink and lick natural “salt” minerals from the soil. When we walked inside the hotel, there was a very large viewing window where we saw at least 30 large Cape Buffalo (our 3rd
of the Big Five) wandering around the water hole. These are large animals bigger than cows. We had a chance to rest for a bit before we took a guided nature walk in the park. We are actually walking into the same area that the animals call home. We even have a armed guard going along with us in case we run into some animals that might cause a problem. Our guide said the rifle was only used rarely and as a last resort. I asked if the animals in this reserve have any purposeful human interaction and the answer was no. Not allowed in any form other than the guided walk.
The nature walk was well worth the $30 each. Of course, it was pouring down rain when we left, but the hotel provides both green Wellies (boots) and green long rain coats with hood to wear on the trip. We had a great guide whose name is Benson. We stopped many times along the way as he described things of interest to us. Lots and lots of green trees, evergreen trees, and shrubs. In some places you couldn’t see all that far ahead, and in others we would walk into a large opening with lots of visibility. We turned a corner and there in a lovely little clearing was a surprising sight:….a long log to sit on and 15 individual log “tables”
. Before each seat was a single white china tea cup and saucer. We were to be treated to either hot tea or coffee along with brandy (if we wished…and I sure did!) Here they call the brandy “brown milk” to go along with the white milk for your tea or coffee. It was kind of funny considering we are out in a wild forest with wild animals, it is off and on again rai, and we are sitting down to tea and brandy! Our guide then shared a short history of Kenya’s struggle for independence. I (K) loved that in particular. I learned that the name for the Mao-Mao warriors (for independence) is a really a acronym in Swahili. After tea, on the way back to the lodge, I was having thoughts of disappointment that we did not see any animals on the walk. All of a sudden our guard stopped suddenly and was looking intently into the forest. Then our guide motioned for us to stop and be quiet. The tension in the air crackled with our curiosity. The guard took a few careful steps forward. There on the path not far ahead was a small herd of Cape Buffalo! Maybe 8 or 9. There were a few “huffs” and then began a stare-down between us and them. They are huge animals and as our guide later told us, they are the meanest dudes in the forest. Our tension was not for show. A few of them made some forward movements and our guard suddenly cocked his rifle and loaded a shell. The noise made the Cape Buffalo nervous and with a little shuffling among the herd, they began running and crashing through the forest ahead and away from us
. Their size and strength came through loud and clear as they disappeared through the bush. It was a heart-stopping, thrilling and a little scary, situation.
(J again) Okay, now Daltons have a new story unique to us. It had to happen, didn’t it? After we returned to the Lodge we ran into a couple who are in the room next to us. They said, “Oh you’re the couple who had the Peanut M&M’s, aren’t you?! Huh I said. “Oh a monkey got into your room through your balcony door and found some Peanut M&M’s and took them outside and oh by the way they don’t like green one’s”. Kathy and I were dumbfounded…and we open the door and there is stuff scattered all over the floor from K’s suitcase, hat, handiwipes, a couple of ziplock bags full of stuff, etc. I had a book removed from my suitcase along with a flashlight, swimming suit and some other things. Fortunately it looks like the only thing they hauled away was the bag of peanut M&M from K’s backpack. It turns out that I had closed the door but not locked it. We were sure to lock the door anytime we left the room after that!
(K) Later we had yet another gourmet meal here at the lodge. Jack had roasted duckling and I had red snapper
. Delish! Frankly I could live on just their salad bar. Fantastic new (to me) combinations of foods. It has surprised me, not sure why, how many spicy hot foods we’ve encountered here. While at dinner, a staffer came by with a list of animals that are in this park. They have a service whereby they will knock on your door during the night if specific animals show up at the watering hole below your room. You have a choice to ignore their knock and go back to sleep, or you can get up, go to your balcony and take a look. So we signed up to be notified for 3 animals: elephants, leopards, and hyenas. After dinner we went to a slide show presented by our same nature guide about some of the wild animals around here, and just a little information about the geography of Kenya. For instance, the primary difference between black rhinos and white rhinos is NOT the color. They are both black. The key difference is in the shape of their mouths. We hope to see both tomorrow at Lake Nakaru. Also the country is pronounced “Ken-yuh” not “Keen-ya” as you often hear with tourists, especially British tourists. Although I was completedly interested in all that he had to say and his slides, I just could not keep my eyes open so headed back to the room a little early and off to bed. When I woke up at 4 am, I realized that no one had come knocking during the night. But it turned out at they did rap on our door but softly enough that we slept right through it. So we missed the hyena, but got a pretty good night’s rest.