Sunday, February 21, 2016

Day Six -- A Change Will Do You Good

Awoken this morning by lions at 4 a.m. is not necessarily a bad thing, at least it made me smile.  I heard them off and on for about a half hour, getting further from camp.  It seemed two were trying out-roar each other.  I have to think this bodes well for my day.

Minor calamity has ensued because I accidentally rinsed my toothbrush in the faucet water last night.  Not the best of ideas but completely by rote.  Now I can't use that toothbrush unless I do something to clean it up.

Askiris were here right at 6 to deliver my coffee, juice and today chocolate chip cookies.  I'll knock those back and be out the door in a jiffy.  

We rode around Naboisho for a while with very little luck until the guides must have heard on the radio that the resident mother lion of the moment with her three one month old cubs was spotted.  We became part of throng surrounding a dense bush through which you could hardly see anything.  I saw the mom switch location and three little cubs scurry quickly after her.  Then everyone jockeyed for position again, trying to get the best spot for her.  I got a bit upset by how the vehicles would just totally put their grill right into the bush, and I saw her jump back at one of them through my binoculars.  I asked my guides to leave rather than continue this, because it just didn't seem fair to her.  I cried pulling away, because there is nothing more I'd rather see myself, but I can't put my own desires ahead of those lions' well beings.  I'm struck again by that feeling that we really shouldn't be here.  It happens every once in a while, but this is the first time on this trip.

Our next spot also came by sighting other vehicles.  This was an odd set of lions because I couldn't quite place the relationships, and neither could my guides, as they are not native to Naboisho.  It was one fully adult female, a 1 1/2 year old female cub (still had the cub spot pattern) a 3-4 year old male lion and a 3-4 year old female.  It was just an odd assortment that I couldn't really digest.  The youngest cub did the best job posing for photos as she could barely keep her head up and eyes open as a nap set upon her.  I hardly saw the male at all other than through the bush.  The mother posed regally at the opening to the bush until she too dozed off.  The other female moved around the bushes for a bit before crashing back inside a bush.  There was a really tender moment when the male rubbed heads with the adult female in a bonding manner.  I of course missed that with the camera, but I took a mental photo.

Breakfast was a yummy vegetable frittata, bread, muffins, coffee and juice.

We then drove on to Ol Kinyei Conservancy, which is where my guides usually work.  It meant crossing through Naboisho, over some Maasai lands and then through the gate to Ol Kinyei.  This is a private conversancy so only Porini Mara guests (and me) are allowed there.  That meant in theory I could be the only one at a sighting.  If only there were sightings!  

Late morning we came across a female cheetah, Nosura, and three sub-adult cubs, two males and one female.  They are about 1 1/2 years old and Nosura is getting ready to set them free.  She herself was lying in the shade of one tree, while they were lying in the shade of another tree nearby.  All were pretty tuckered out and didn't seem to want to get up, or need to, as they had full bellies.  We pulled up within maybe 30 feet of them and just sat and watched for a while.  Behind us, a line of zebras sat staring, probably wondering if they or their young would be lunch.  It was funny to see.  Nosura has been an excellent mother, by all accounts.  This is her third litter, and she's not lost any.  Her previous litters were two and three cubs and they survived as well.  That was a great sighting and nice that I was there alone.

The rest of the day was a lot of plains game, elephants, lots of giraffes.  We play a lot of "guess what gender that is" with the giraffes.  I'm getting to the point where I'm often right.  My newest clue is that females have rounder bellies while males have flat bellies, this in addition to the forehead "horn" on males as well as hairless horns on the tops of their heads (hair wears off in fighting with other males).

There are a surprising number of elephants here, certainly more than I remember in Ol Kinyei especially.  We sat and watched a large family of about 12 eat some very succulent greens high above a river.  Some zebras were down in the shallow river drinking and when they heard us approach, they all tried to scurry up the one path to the river bank together.  It was like a mini-zebra migration.  Kind of funny.  Another shot I missed with the camera though.  Ah well, mental memory.

Lunch was pretty good today.  It was a vegetable salad with zucchini, green pepper, mango and olives, and more veggies stuffed into a wrap.  Surprisingly even without protein it kept me full.

Coming in toward camp tonight, we saw two wildebeests attempting to fight.  They seemed upset that we were watching and stopped fighting until we moved on.

For whatever reason, I was dropped here back at camp at 5:30, far later than the 7:15 of last night.  We decided over lunch that tomorrow would be two regular rides: an early morning and a late day.  The middle of the day was a loss for me.  It was nearly a 2 hour lunch and we saw next to nothing but plains game all day.  I had decided after lunch to see if I could go on an Encounter Mara ride instead for the next two days.  Since it was such an oddity that this was my arrangement to begin with, I figured this was my attempt to save my safari and the worst Encounter could say is no.  So I did and they made all the arrangements for me.  But, while I was off in the office complaining about my current guides....

There'd been a leopard sighting right outside of camp and my guides had heard.  They were looking for me to take me to it.  The assistant camp manager gave them directions and off we went.  We ended up being the fifth car on the scene so had to wait our turn.  Once we got in it was one of those situations where we could hear a meal being eaten and we could see the odd tail flick, but in this case, patience paid off.  This was Osirata, the famous leopard of Naboisho, and her cub.  The cub quickly had its fill of impala and came out of the bush a bit.  I managed several shots that I had to contort myself to get them.  After a bit longer, the cub disappeared again, first stalking and then pouncing on his mom's tail with these exaggerated little jumps.  It was just like watching my cats!

Finally, it was as if Osirata told him to go out and greet the public, because he came right out of the thicket and stood in between the four cars, let us take our photos for a minute or two, and he went right back inside.  It was like our token photo shoot for the night.  Osirata herself never came out, but I did see her move position and I saw her face through the grass.  Maybe in the next two days I'll see more of her.  Apparently she hadn't been seen in almost 2 weeks and folks here were starting to worry.

It turns out that Sammy, one of the two camp managers, spotted her.  He heard baboons screeching and lots of raucous so he went to investigate.  He saw game looking in the direction of this thicket and there was Osirata, sitting right on top of a very small tree with the kill (which then she dropped down into the thicket to eat with her cub).  Excellent ears on Sammy and way to investigate.  And coincidentally enough, Osirata's hangout is right past my tent across a small river.  I guess I was meant to be this far up in the camp!!

Returned around 7:00, shower at 7:30 and off to dinner at 7:45.  Andrew met me and confirmed the arrangements for tomorrow.  I'll be joining a family of 4 from England who I ate dinner with tonight.  They are a nice family and I think it'll be decent to hang out with them.  They want to do two short drives, so that'll work out well for me.  I enjoy my mid-day siestas.

Dinner tonight was quite good.  The soup was potato leek, my veg meal was a spanish tortilla which was excellent.  Dessert was chocolate mousse.  I'm addicted to my pre-dinner gin and tonic and my Unbelievable red blend wine.  I could get used to this!

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