East Africa – Day 42

Kenya 29 August 2015

I have not been able to upload photographs to my blog because there has not been any wifi or decent band width but will add my photographs to my blog post as soon as I can.

Today is the eleventh day of our birding trip to Kenya which we have organised through a local ground agent and bird guide Moses Kandie of Birdwatching Express Tours. He provided lots of references, who all said that Moses was a brilliant guide and well organised. Having now birded with him, he is a great birder, very focused on what we want, which is seeing our target birds, and a great guy too. I would highly recommend him. Our driver Max was also great and we had loads of space in our extended Toyota Land Cruiser. He drove quite fast, but that speeded up our journey time and I didn’t mind the ‘African massage’ as it didn’t stop me from sleeping or reading, though blogging was challenging!

The story of everyone we met in East Africa was the same. Tourism had been devastated everywhere for the last eightieth months, with almost no one coming. This was since the Nairobi Westgate shopping centre massacre at the beginning of last year and Ebola, even though this was 1000 miles away. When I told people at school that I was coming to East Africa, virtually everyone said ‘don’t get ebola’. I couldn’t be bothered to give them a geography lesson. When you are sitting at home, it’s easy to not appreciate your decision not to travel with people abroad. East Africa is safe to travel to, so long as you avoid the border with Somalia. I hope some people reading my blog decide to go there for birding or wildlife.

This morning we were up at 5.30 am, for a 6.00 am breakfast and then out into Samburu National Park birding on our way out of the park. Here we are in North Central Kenya, but also getting a little close to the border with Somalia than is comfortable. Certainly, we wouldn’t want to get any closer.

There were a couple of Genet cats that came in close to the dining area, which came in for food. They were like a long-necked Civet and were stunning. It must have been up all night and was still there at our early breakfast time.
We were north of Mount Kenya, where you get specialist birds, many with Somali in the name.

In terms of a game reserve, although Samburu NP is relatively small, it was fantastic for animals and to see them close up. I would highly recommend it. Also, I liked the lodge, especially as our room was next door to the dining room and reception, so easy to get in and out. With the river being bone dry, there was a high risk that animals such as Elephants and Lions would try and cross the river bed during the night and maybe get into the compound. It definitely felt safer to not have to walk far.

We saw lots of elephants right next to the track, including quite a few cute babies with the herd. We also saw some Mongoose, antelope and Monkeys.

We didn’t see any new birds during the morning but got some good views of Somali Bee-eater, White-headed Mousebird, Red-neck Falcon, Taita Fiscal and Black-faced Sandgrouse. Samburu was an excellent birding destination and one of my favourite places for birding in Kenya. We also got much closer to the animals than anywhere else we’d been.

We then drove the long journey to Nairobi, where we were staying the night. We didn’t stop en route because the journey was so long and Nairobi traffic can be really heavy.

It can be frustrating having pretty much a whole travel day, but there’s no point in having that kind of attitude. You have to take the travel time into account when going somewhere as good for birds as Samburu. It was about 6 pm by the time we got to our hotel, so time so Mum and Dad could re-arrange stuff in the bags before we had dinner in the hotel.

It’s strange when you get to the end of a long trip. I always want the trip to carry on but at the same time I look forward to getting home, to my room and my own bed even if it’s just for a couple of weeks like in 2012, when we went to South America,

Trip List – 585 birds for Uganda, 183 birds for Rwanda, total trip list of 612 for Uganda and Rwanda, 391 trips for Kenya, 753 total trip list and 399 lifers for me.

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