Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ake goes to South America

Get there... by any means possible

26 Jan 2010

In true lindstrom form I was LATE leaving Arusha, Tanzania. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been handing over my role in Summits Africa to New General Manager Karsten Jannicke. The last minute details were driving me nuts. Anyhow, aside from a few teething problems, I know my team are going to be fab and after some hand shakes and banter I finally left the office, headed to meet Nangini (late) for lunch (not happy face on Nangini, poor soul). Frantic emails were popping through my PDA and so after a brief lunch punctuated with 2 phone calls (how does Nangs put up with this?) I headed to the Arusha hotel to grab my favourite taxi driver Peter. And then I went inside the hotel and sent some emails… Infuriating behaviour even for myself. So, 3.30pm, left Arusha, aiming to arrive at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta airport for an 11 something pm flight. The road is being rebuilt, had no idea how long it would take (4 hours, 6 hours or more). Peter, being the ever so helpful chap that he is, promised he would have meet at Namanga border by 4.30pm. An hour from Arusha on these roads?? ‘Ok’ I replied.

By the time we reached the open plains half way to Longido a tyre burst. Yup, middle o’ no where. Was there a spare tyre? Yes. Was the spare tyre usable? Kind of. Was there a jack? No. Frantic arm waving and 2 cars later we had a monster jack from a truck – a jack to lift 10 ton trucks a foot into the air. So that didn’t fit under the car at all, Peter, oh so ready to get the job done, drove his flat tyre onto a big rock to achieve the extra clearance required to posit the jack under the car. Ok. Wheel spanner, wheel spanner, oh where could it be? Certainly not anywhere near our car. Hmmm.

No time to guess when the next car with a suitably sized wheel spanner would pitch and so I liberated my bags from the car and waved down a passing Dar Express Coach – good timing!! 22,000 tsh later and a suitably happy conductor we were powering towards the border. Phew.

The border at Namanga posed no serious obstacles. Aside from the Kenyan visa officer who obviously needed a shot of double expresso. Or two. Or something stronger. I mean, does it really take 7 minutes to write up 4 lines!!!?? All the other passengers had left by the time I’d finally grabbed my passport back – ‘kwa heri’ chipped the female immigration officer, and then chuckled ‘oka, oka haha!’ – ‘come here’ in kikuyu a very simple play on the phonetic pronounciation of my name. Oh how we laughed. Not really. Now the conductor suhered me along at speed to catch the bus – which had motored down the road, out the border controls and for some reason had parked just far enough for me to break a massive fever like sweat from catching up. I wish I had missed the bus. 30 minutes down the road, as the night started to win over the day, the bus stopped. My mind raced ahead to missed flights, thousands spent on flights, gear, phone calls, insurance, gear. Fudge. Alighting from the coach I followed the driver and conductor listening to every word. Unbeknown to them I can actually understand even relatively complex Swahili (although my spoken Swahili is like a 4 year old speaking pidgin), and as soon as the yabbering turned to how much fuel was put in 2 days ago I knew it was time for plan c. The genius team has simply miscalculated the fuel requirements and run out of fuel. By now I’d donned my backpack and helped my self to my larger bag in the storage compartments, and distanced myself from the stranded Dar Express. Sure enough a Akamba bus (I’d used Akamba on my round lake Victoria trip, chilling moments flashed back) and there was nothing to do. A quick wave, the bush stopped. The door didn’t open. In fact it didn’t have a handle. It was broken. ‘I say, vipi?’ I yelled to the conductor and before you could say swiss cheese he had booted the door open. ‘Mia mbili’ (200 Kenyan shillings) he demanded before I could climb on board. A couple of my fellow passengers from the fuel starved Dar Express bustled past me, obviously desperate to secure a seat and I thrust 5000 tanzanian shillings into the conductors greasy hand and followed suit!

Some of these buses go rather fast.

We arrived in Jomo Kenyatta International airport in good time. Well, I was practically the last person to check in, but that was certainly a good thing. Upstairs into the departure lounge for some last minute duty free and then off into the British Airways Boeing 777. No crazy departure delays and soon off into the night sky London bound! Quick bite to eat, some movie, no idea what is was now and a good 5 hours kip. Sorted.

26 Jan 2010

The flights from Nairobi to London and from London to Miami were a bit of a blur. In London I did start chatting to a lass called Jessica from Chicago but drifted off for some retail therapy – some Oakley sunglasses and sky googles soon lightened my wallet considerably. The airport exchange rates USD$ to sterling is ridiculous, I was being charge 1.89 dollars to the pound, what a rip off and ‘rip off Great Britain’ deserves it’s name. This was duty free but the prices were 40% higher than prices in the US. Never mind, I needed the gear!

From London I caught American Airlines mid morning and we sped off into the air across the atlantic. A 10 hour flight this time and really crappy tv. Food was about as lame as it comes but I persisted anyhow not wanting to sleep. The chap next to me must have slept 8.5 hours of the 10. Good for him.


Coming into the Miami the first thing I noticed was that it was FLAT. And lots of water everywhere in canals (or canal like features). Heading into the airport I couldn’t help but notice how seriously tatty the whole airport was although I understand they are having a major face lift.. The plane landed around 2pm and my departure is at 11.45pm – oh my. Only one thing to do, complete customs and then head into Miami for some more shopping! I still needed to find a waterproof compact camera and preferably a Suunto watch for going to altitude and so I bit the bullet and forked out $30 to head into the Bayside area – good idea! Plenty of shops, and if you head back a block off the waterfront there are a plethora of watch shops, clothes shops and so on. The Guess shop in the Bayside shopping mall also managed to eke out some of my hard earned cash as I spotted some nice tatty jeans and faded black t. Loaded up with my Suunto watch and my second Canon Powershot D10 I eventually found myself back at the waterfront. Dusk had fallen and rather than settle for trashy airport grub or a Maccydees I plonked myself down at Mambo CafĂ© (not the Arusha version!) and promptly odered some Samwell Adams draught beer (lovely stuff) and a fish and prawns dish. The waitress was very keen to please, offering plenty of advice about traveling in Colombia insisting that I should head down to see a variety of sights from Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, El Nevado del Ruiz, Manizales and El Rio de 7 Colores! No idea what they really are (some mountain features and a 7 coloured river) but I dare say these are thing to see next trip).

The food was fine. By which I mean I could have been staited by the same quality of food at the airport, but it was Bayside, there were big boats in the harbour and the freeway is lit up at night as are the skyscrapers, so who cares about the meal with that sort of backdrop?

Headed into the airport through all the rigma of customs and then had 4 hours to kill. My backpack, now straining under the load of cameras, laptop, essential clothes and random books, felt vastly overweight and so I decided to meander around for 2 hours – excellent pre Aconcagua training! Way to go Ake!

Speaking of training programs, don’t come to me for a training regime, Lindstroms generally wing that sort of non productive use of time instead preferring to loiter around talking on hashes (running club drinking problem for theun- initiated) and wherever possible do ramdom excessive acts of adventure to keep fitness levels up. See my post on the 2 day Mt Meru hike last weekend as an example. Next Meru trip is in March 2010 for those that are interested in seeing the ash cone, which is very rarely visited / hiked and summiting Meru, let me know.

27 Jan 2010 Hola Santiago!

The evening flight from Miami to Santiago was ostensibly ideal – night flight, get some sleep etc etc. Except that my body clock was way on the other side of the world and so now with low serotonin levels and having just had the in flight meal, I was ready to party / run around, do anything except sleep. Fudge. Finally morning came, views of the Andes became apparent (although I had to sneak glimpses over my neighbors head) although not overly dramatic just yet.

Santiago is a very clean airport, plenty of eateries and the ubiquitous Starbucks. Armed with almost a liter of coffee I prowled around for a bit looking for a plug to charge up the laptop. There was one. It was occupied. The owner / nay usurper! of the plug that had snuck in before me and was now kipping on a nearby chair, so what to do? Plugged mine in and kept an eye for stirring of said usurper. Teehee…

Reading through the guidebook I had just bought (Lonely Planet South America on a shoestring, $60!!) I was reminded about Che Guevara’s (or che guava as I fondly call him) bike trip through Argentina and a plan begins to form in my mind for next year.. What’s the point in coming 12,000 miles to just climb a mountain!!?? Perhaps finding a 250cc motorbike this time and then setting up an Aconcagua climb + round Argentina / South America trip for next year should be the way to go. Again, if anyone’s interested in doing something quite that nutty then lemme know – would be February 2011 I reckon.

Kevin Jackson, our guide and friend, soon arrived and joined me for the next leg to Mendoza. The flight was short (an hour) and some of the views very spectacular. I managed to ask the kids next to me to take a shot, see below, but it was far from dramatic. This area is stunning.

At the airport we met up with the trip Doctor Phil Swart - South African, done some crazy trips such as rafting all the way from the source of the Amazon down very challanging rapids (for months at a time!!). From Mendoza airport into the city - hot and dry. Reminds me of Sudan, not in the rainy season though..

From the pictures you can see that the hotel, the Diplomat Hotel, has a wine tasting room... A wine tasting room - wow. Apparently Mendoza is famous for great wine and steaks. I've tried both, fair to say that it is true..

Once I've done some research I'll post Argentina info. First impressions of Mendoza:

* pretty. Very pretty
* Lots of cafes with pedestrian areas, parks
* Restuarants everywhere
* People take siestas VERY seriously!
* Yes is a common word. Getting things done, not quite as common
* Friendly and helpful people

Follow us online to find out where we have actually reached. If you check this out periodically you'll actually be able to see exactly where we have reach on Aconcagua..

Tomorrow we head up to Penitentes for one more night in a hotel and then it is onto the mountain. Can't wait to take photos and so as I sign off for a couple of weeks safe journeys one and all and wish us luck..

Argentina - Quick Facts
  • 28 million km square (roughly the size of India, or so my Lonely Planet guide tells me!)
  • 39 million people
  • Exchange rate today 3.80 peso to $1 USD
  • Capital is Buenos Aires
  • Language is mostly Spanish although Quechua is spoken in the north west

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tanzania Family Safari, Under Canvas - 17 Dec 2009

The Northern Tanzania Family Safari - R&T Families

NOTE: Names have been omitted / changed to respect guests privacy

Ake Lindstrom

Great all round trip, even more non vehicle options are always a good idea with large groups with younger members, 1 day less safari may have been better but then we would have missed a great lion kill. Ndutu is great for flexibility as you can walk and off road game drive, have bush breakfasts and lunch very easily.

Family Safaris are a bit different to the average safari and I always suggest trying to make sure that in the planning stages as many options are considered / put on the table as possible. Quite often you will find that actually a decent amount of down time is also a very good idea. Getting 'gamed out' - safari fatigue, is very common and so long drives need to be punctuated where possible. Snake parks, walks, cultural visits, Maasai olympics, breaks in a hotel with a swimming pool (preferably stay somewhere like that rather than just visiting for a couple of hours) are all options to consider.

18 Dec 09
Everyone in and a gentle start to safari

From Arusha the driver guides, Lesikar and Clemence, along with yours truly, headed along the Arusha Moshi road to KIA airport in good time to meet the private charter from Nairobi. Customs was easy enough and after picking up the slightly travel shocked team, we headed out to West Kilimanjaro.

Ndarakwai was our first stop. The camp is nestled into the base of a parasitic cone on a private 10,000 acre ranch. The style is very much ‘classic safari’ with kerosene lanterns, lots of canvas and wood. A total of 12 tents accommodates a maximum of 24 guests at one time and we actually had the camp to ourselves for the most part. The most charming parts are the dining area and the views from some of the rooms of un-spoilt bush. One comment was that it would be great to have a large panoramic view as the camp is very tucked away.

For the first day I decided to avoid the cars once in camp – they had traveled enough and so after some downtime we meandered out with Thomas, the resident Maasai guide, to a local Maasai ‘Engang’ or ‘boma’. The rather pretty pink flowers on the trees were Cape Chestnut on route and on arrival at the dwellings we were shown around. The visit was, in my opinion, one of the best I have witnessed so far as it was very low key. No one was pestering clients to buy beads, quite the opposite really. After a wander around and with explanations from Thomas we witnessed the goats and sheep being brought back from pasture (and market) and then headed back for a shower & dinner.

A bottle of champagne was brought by Mzee T at this point and I have to say this would be a magic touch to all future safaris (if I can find a decent supply of real champers!!).

Before dinner I asked Carlos from the horse riding safaris to give a talk and judge the ability of the riders for the following morning’s activity. There were more novices than expected but not to worry.

19 Dec 09

Horse riding & horses at Ndarakwai!

Post breakfast we all trundled up the hill in the landcruisers to the stables. Here there Carlos and his team paired man (and women) to beast and for a short time everyone walked / trotted around the nearby paddock to warm up their riding legs! As they headed out on horse back, some being led, a few confident enough to ride unaided, young S and I headed off with an armed ranger on a walk.

This area has quite a history. The Maasai initially acting as ideal wildlife custodians and then the German’s retreating forces under the masterful command of Paul von Lettow Vorbeck used some of these very hills as watch outs, dug trenches and slowly retreated further South. Latterly the area was turned into a ranch, successfully but after nationalization in 1975, fell into complete disrepair with rife poaching of wildlife, including elephants. Since then once taken over as a private wildlife conservancy in 1994 the wildlife populations have once again return with fantastic elephant herds once again visiting and residing here.

Elephants are a true love of mine and while walking we had the great fortune to watch a great herd of some 70 to 100 elephants in the distance (the riders also watched from a safe distance) and with our binoculars we even witnessed one female being mated in 2 separate incidents as the larger bull elephants took advantage of her! As she matures she will be able to ward off the amorous advances of some males and be somewhat more selective but this youngster seemed to be having trouble keeping the bulls at bay.

By mid day we arrived at the tree house to look out over the waterhole and sauntered back to camp for lunch. Here everyone was reunited for a short while before I took S out for a bush driving lesson.. To hone his throttle and clutch control I made him stop on a slope, placed my mobile phone behind the back tire of the 3 ton landcruiser and made him start the car and pull away. Well done S and thanks for not destroying my PDA!

In the late afternoon we then headed out to the top of the parasite cone (all the hills in this area are all parasitic vents from Kilimanjaro) and had spreading views of the surrounding Maasai steppe. Back down and back to camp for dinner and dice games before bed.
20 Dec 09

Snake eats man!

This was a transfer day essentially – West Kilimanjaro to Ngorongoro. On the way we stopped off in Arusha where I could locate some eye drops and pills for the R family. Lunch was taken at the Arusha Hotel, situated right in the heart of Arusha town, supposedly half way between Cape Town and Cairo. To break up this day I asked the guests if they would like a stop off at the snake park and so after a rather tasty buffet we stopped off at the Meserani Snake park some 36km out from Arusha.

The Meserani snake park is many things from an overland camping spot, art gallery, pub and of course, a great place to see some of African’s deadliest reptiles (and great to see and hold the non deadly snakes too!). There is a great article and photo on the Rock Python cage of incidents of whole men being eaten by Anaconda in South America and as it was feeding time we witnessed plenty of mice / chicks being eaten too. Some were daring enough to hold a baby crocodile and the non poisonous rufous beaked snake. Great laughs when the croc released a stream of wee in defense..

On route to Ngorongoro there are superb views and we stopped twice – once to see the rift valley all the way to Oldonyo Lengai and then on top of the rift wall where I could give a quick history of the rifting process before heading up into the Mbulu highlands for a refuel at Karatu (lots of youngsters trying to sell trinkets there, one adamant that he took any and all forms of drugs and asked Mzee T to buy him a liter of petrol to keep him going for 2 days…) and then up and up to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and finally into camp for sunset.

Once in camp we were warmly welcomed by the Hoopoe camp team, lead by the very able Peter aka ‘Sauri’ Mollel. This lad will, as I’m sure the others will echo, go far given he right training and support. A very warm host and it was a pleasure to be under canvas on the rim of the worlds largest, unbroken, non water filled caldera!

Dinner and off to bed after a short game of cards, early start to come in the morning!

21 Dec 09

The 8th Wonder of the World

Ngorongoro is a massive caldera. It has at least 20,000 large mammals as well as well over 1000 predators, the most numerous mammal predator being the spotted hyena (500 or so), outnumbering the lion by around 10:1 (60 to 70). Some animals come and go, such as the wildebeest, zebra and elephant. Quite often it is referred to as the eight wonder of the world and at dawn as we headed over the rim into the crater, I believe that is a fair description that covers the magnitude, uniqueness, beauty and diversity that is Ngorongoro Crater.

Wake up was at 5.30am… lots of blank looks as we headed off but once at the rim and heading down the first game became apparent and everyone started to brighten with the day! Aside from the regular sightings of plentiful wildebeest, buffalo and zebra we had great lion and superb rhino. In fact the rhino were probably the closest I had seen them for years, which was a real pleasure. The massive mature bull elephants were easy to see with some stunning ivory (the poaching incidentally in places like West Kilimanjaro is a real concern now – the sooner the new lodge is built the better to provide a presence and deterrent to would be poachers). Breakfast was taken down by Ngoitokitok springs – the kites were present and annoying as ever. IG had the fright of her life as a kite swooped down to steal some food from her hand and P did a valiant job of distracting them as we all ate our breakfasts very close to the car. The kite problem is a perfect example of what happens when tourists feed wild animals and sadly when the kites become too bothersome they have to be put down – so for all would be safari goers don’t feed wild animals!!!

We were a little late to leave the crater and everyone by now needed a refuel and so back to camp for a late lunch. This day could have been better with an early breakfast and slightly earlier return to camp.

In the afternoon for those that wanted stunning views the option to head over to the Western side was offered. The male folk all opted to go and so we headed out in the vehicles to the outer slopes of Oldeani where we had superb views of Lake Eyasi and the Eyasi rift – formed some 20 million years ago and as dramatic as the main Gregorian rift scarp to the East. On the way back we chatted about the Maasai in the Ngorongoro (around 60,000 Maasai live in the NCA, up from 5000 when it was set up) and had amazing bull elephant right outside camp (and Steinbok too), and so after dropping the gents we returned with V and Ab for some photos. Dinner back at camp.

22 Dec 09

Young G makes the sighting of the Safari!

With a final crater descent to come we had breakfast and packed up our gear in camp before heading down to the crater around 7.30am. The sun was obviously higher than the previous morning and so I didn’t expect too much in the way of predator action but as we headed across the floor G chirped up ‘what’s that over there?!’ – sure enough a small, unmistakable cat with large pointed ears was pacing through the grass! Grace had spotted a Caracal and what a sighting indeed. This is the largest of the ‘small’ cats and has been know to hunt Impala and other small antelope but generally feeds on rodents and even birds.

We only spent a short time in the morning (seeing 2 cheetah near the historic fig trees) and ascended back to the camp, on route having very close up views of elephant and even a family herd in the Lerai forest – very rare to see as family herds tend to keep well away. One of the 2 female elephants had a very young baby of around 2 weeks old and with this many hyena around I felt nervous for the little one although with close maternal care and loving sisters and young brothers, there is a very good chance it will be fine.

Back in camp we collected picnic lunches, took a loo stop and headed off towards the Serengeti. Once past malanja depression and onto the outer rim of the crater it is easy to see that this side is a rain shadow and yet there are plenty of Acacia drepanalobium (the ant gall acacia or whistling thorn acacia) as mixed with A. seyal and A. nilotica – perfect for giraffe and we also saw a 8 strong herd of eland. A picnic lunch was taken at a view point where I also had the chance to explain the geological events that shaped the area and, more importantly, exposed Oludvai Gorge, our next stop.

Olduvai is a funny little museum – some people love it and learn a lot, others find it small and quirky and yet I think almost all of our group learnt some great facts here and from Jackson the latest young archeologist who gave a short lecture. The exposed millennia of fossils surrounded us as we drove through the gorge and briefly stopped at the shifting sands before driving completely off road, which is always a lot more fun than following the masses as they head on to the Serengeti on the main roads. A long trail of wildebeest thronged from the East, obviously coming from the Gol mountains and headed in exactly the same direction we were headed – Ndutu.

By late afternoon we found the main road to Ndutu and round Lake Ndutu with sightings of jackal, Thomson and Grant’s gazelle, 22 ostrich, warthogs and lots of giraffe right by the lake. We all headed in camp and everyone went straight to the rooms – it had been a long day.

Being on safari one can never guess what will happen next and sure enough, despite being the end of a long day as camp manager Otto and I were chatting about the days to come we noticed a car heading up near our camp.. A possible leopard perhaps? Well, never being one to keep guests out of the loop I told S to tell Mzee T (who was changing!) that we may have an exciting sighting near camp and they quickly came to join me at the car with Rupert. Sure enough, just down the road there was a great sighting with a female lion up in a dead tree trying her hardest to relax into a comfortable position. A female companion lay nearby and we decided to let others know right away. Everyone piled in the cars and we headed back over for some lovely shots (mine were terrible!) of this rather rare event. Lions generally are entirely terrestrial, although tree climbing lions are relatively common in Lake Manyara National Park. Sometimes they will ascend a tree to avoid the heat, avoid biting flies, or avoid each other! These two females were both very well fed and judging by their enlarged teats they could well be pregnant too. To top off the day we sought out a nearby male courting another female and headed back for sundowners by the fire before dinner.

23 Dec 09

The Migration!

An early start, slightly deadpan looks from the kids but that is very normal! We set off just after 6am this morning to try to take advantage of the early light and find some predators in action. To be frank, it was quite quiet! By around 8.15am we had reached the plains to the West and here wildebeest spread from horizon to horizon. We had found the main bulk of the migration. This 2 million strong mass of mammals, mostly wildebeest but with around 300,000 zebra as well as other plains game such as gazelles and even eland, was concentrated (or at least a vast part of the total) in this relatively small area. This magnitude of wildlife gathers here for a simple reason – food. Not any food but extremely nutrient rich grasses, commonly found at the base of the Ngorongoro highlands which is perfect for when the pregnant wildebeest (now 7 + months pregnant and due to give birth by around 8 months).

The history behind the migration is relatively simple: volcanoes in the Ngorongoro highlands erupted mineral rich ashes which drifted following the prevailing West / North West wind directions. This mineral rich soils became populated with grasses, those grasses are nutrient rich and so following the short rains the grasses grow, attracting the wildlife which give birth around February. As the rains peter out post May (April, May) the migrating herds go through rutting (mating) in June and head north to the Masai Mara (in Kenya). In the Masai Mara there are year round water sources such the Talek and Mara rivers which keep the herds sustained. As the short rains start again (November in to December) the herds move south once more and the cycle starts again..

And so we stopped out safari vehicles, pulled out our chairs and had a picnic breakfast in the middle of the migration.

Stopping for breakfast is always a great way to break up the game viewing and there were some nearby holes to peer into. Most holes / tunnels here are made by aardvarks and some are extensive, often used as communal dens by hyenas. The hole nearest our picnic spot has most likely been used by jackals recently. Further a field another hole had lots of feathers from a white stork which met an untimely end, most likely to a Ratel (honey badger) and a still born wildebeest calf, possibly dropped by a stressed mother (possible chase or just still born). Leopard had been spotted and sure enough after seeing some safari vehicles far out near a tree we found the treed carcass of a yearling wildebeest. Spotting the leopard was actually rather more difficult as it was atop the tree lying in a vulture nest! A very small, most likely female leopard.

Leaving the leopard to the circling safari cars we found a coalition of 3 male cheetah and soon enough they stirred and started to prepare for a hunt. Despite our patience they did not manage to approach game close enough to hunt but on route back to camp we stopped at the leopard, this time the lead car had the good fortune to see the leopard below the vulture nest in plain view!

Lunch was back at camp and time to relax for most in the afternoon. After lunch I actually headed out to book a ranger but that same ranger later had some ‘problem’ and could not come out which rather dampened my plans for a longer walk. Nevertheless the ‘wazee’ and S joined me in a short wander around camp before we headed out for a game drive. Some stayed in camp and then we all congregated at the nearby hill for sundowners. Those that went on the evening game drive had the pleasure of seeing a mother cheetah and her 2 offspring (soon to be adults). They did set up for a hunt but were just too far to actually attempt a kill.

24 Dec 09

Marsh lions, hiding buffalo, Ndutu sunset

To avoid too many early mornings we set off after breakfast this morning and headed out towards the marsh. Here there are a lot of kills around, a sign of the current times of plenty! The lion pride in this area has numbered as many as 24 or so cats and is currently around the 17 to 19 mark. From other guides I have heard that the pride is actually made up of a coalition of 4 males. Well, today we saw a great group of 5 females and 5 cubs near the top / south end of the marsh looking very healthy indeed. We spent some time before heading out to see the leopard again (still in the same spot, the carcass looking decidedly lighter! What a luxury to be able to feed at leisure, unlike the poor cheetah that have to bolt everything as they are so easy forced away from their kills by the likes of lion or even hyena..). The male cheetah were spotted again (unless I am mixing up my days, which is entirely possible!!) as well as plenty of plains game before meandering back to camp for lunch. There was plenty of down time and this time we managed to snag a ranger for a decent walk in the afternoon. The ranger, Joseph, certainly looked portly but not long after starting out spotted the massive boss of a lone male buffalo. His eyes were certainly in good working order!

Our camp was set up on the NCA side of Ndutu which is quite simply fantastic when you want to walk or have an increased level of freedom. Just down the road is the Serengeti National Park side of the Serengeti short grass plains – walking and off road driving are prohibited.

On our walk we saw a Cape Hare and poppy approached within 2 feet, the hare preferring to stay absolutely still rather than bolting. Our walk then diverged towards Lake Ndutu, wildebeest tearing away to our left and a Hartebeest sauntered away to our right. Crossing the edge of the lake we had good views of both Lesser and Greater flamingo with a lattice of wildebeest footprints beneath our feet. Atop the nearby rise overlooking the lake I had Otto and his team set up a sundowner and there was even an impromptu game of rounders before we hopped in the cars back to camp for showers and dinner.

25 Dec 09

Thank you Santa!

It started raining just after we went to bed. In the morning it was bleak – we were supposed to depart with a picnic breakfast but there was limited enthusiasm with the rain peppering down.. So, breakfast in camp and then a quick confab – yes everyone wanted to head out on a game drive before lunch and so off we went. The hatches were closed, faces were pretty grim, was there going to be a safari revolt!??

As the rain lightened we found a pride of lions out on the plains – it was the marsh pride! There was one lioness, definitely more battered than the others, had one eye and so easy to identify. The cubs were great to watch and we maneuvered to secure the best photographic opportunities as the cubs and mums played. And then they started to hunt..

Lions statistically hunt more at night time. They have great night vision (lots of light sensitive rods in their retina at the expense of any significant colour vision) but are also opportunists and so a day time hunt is never out of the question.

One female looked into the distances and spotted a line of wildebeest, heads bent and walking in single file. She very quickly assessed the opportunity and started walking far head of the column, stopping to look back at her sisters who quickly responded. The triumvirate all seemed to know their roles. Lead female heads far ahead, second female to the tail, 3rd female (one eye) covers the middle and keeps the cubs in check.

Their progress was quick and their patience was an obvious result of years of hunting. The lead female was eventually lost from sight as she had managed to position herself on the far side of the approaching herd, which hid her from our view as it the column of around 70 wildebeest and one family of zebra progressed. At one point I thought the zebra had spotted the rear female and yet as she remained still so the column continued slowly, pausing to graze. Suddenly an explosion of activity marked the start of the assault and the female at the rear reacted by launching herself towards the scattering column – one of the lions had to catch a wildebeest and sure enough the lead female had timed her attack to perfection. The rear female soon gave up – no need to continue and waste energy on an attempt that would most likely fail now that the herd had bolted. The lead female had managed to secure a strangulation hold on the wildebeest now, it was simply a matter of time. It’s mouth and nose covered the unlucky male wildebeest started to succumb and within a few minutes, as the rest of the excited pride of cubs and 2 females approached, the wildebeest died before us.

The next 40 minutes was a rich series of interactions as the cubs toyed with the dead wildebeest, the females interacted and congratulated each other and then the lead female helped the cubs to open up the carcass. Not always easy to stomach for some guests, we had one casualty as P spent a little too long looking through a telephoto lens as the scene became bloodier, I don’t think she was alone though!

After a kill what to do? It was time for Christmas lunch! When we arrived back at the camp Otto and his team had ben hard at work setting up a bush lunch just below camp. The setting was very pretty indeed and throughout lunch we had views of game below us. Turkey was served, nice and moist, plenty of vegetables and we even managed to confuse the pudding for a main dish! The rest of the afternoon was spent variously relaxing and chatting before Otto asked who would like to see the preparation of the traditional evening meal..

In Tanzania most celebrations have a meat dish of some sort and in Maasailand that is normally goat (on rare occasions such as a wedding a bull may even be killed for food). The camp team had organized a goat to be brought over from the Masek area of Ndutu by a local Maasai herdsman and now, in camp, the camp crew prepared the goat traditionally. 3 people were brave, staying long enough to see the choking method carried out – hard to stomach the first time for almost everyone! The preparation was then finalized over a scented matt of herbs (Lippia or ‘bushmans tea’ plant), legs and ribs impaled with wooden stakes and then all slow roasted over an open fire.

By early evening the cooking had been completed and the troops gathered. Goat was served up with some more traditional fare (barbequed chicken) and post main meal the crew sung a welcoming song before presenting our group with a cake. S was asked distribute the goat in a traditional way, first pieces to the parents and then the youngsters. A traditional Tanzanian end to the celebrations and a great day of contrasts and fun.
26 Dec 09

Flying high!

After a wake up call at 6.30am everyone finished up their packing and post breakfast it was time to say farewell. Otto and his team bid us all bon voyage in the car park and we set off for a final game drive. Right below camp and along the environs of Lake Ndutu were at least 3 different groups of elephant. I had news that they were over at the Lake Masek area but they had obviously come over to say goodbye. Always a pleasure to watch, the young males were testing each other’s strength and forcing each other up and down the slopes as we watched. One female had no tusks and another young male had lost one of his and broken the second, most likely fighting. On route to the airstrip we passed by numerous Giraffe (and a moulting Gabar Goshawk) and we even had time for a spot of fossil hunting. It is actually remarkably easy to find fossils in many areas of the Serengeti, none more obvious than Ndutu where Man and beast have evolved side by side around these very important water sources. Bones of animals are quickly saturated with the calcium rich liquid (again, the volcanoes are to blame for this!) and become fossilized for future generations to find.

The flight, Regional Air, was on time and we lifted off from Ndutu all the way back to Arusha, passing over Ngorongoro Crater, rain clouds on many sides. On arrival it was time to say farewell to the R family as they connected with their Zanzibar flight whilst I joined the T family for some lunch at Shanga House. The Shanga (meaning bead) project here is well established and not only can one buy bead work but relaxing with an enjoyable lunch is part of this project’s core offerings. The lunch was great. From here off to Arusha Town centre where I bid farewell to the T family. And now back to office work!

Mammals seen on Safari
• Elephant (100 strong herd of around 20 families in Ndarakwai, many in Ngorongoro including family)
• Waterbuck
• Greater galago
• Blue monkey
• Olive baboon
• Zebra
• Banded mongoose
• Lion
• Leopard
• Cheetah
• Hippo
• Giraffe
• Spotted hyena
• Bat eared fox
• Black baked Jackal
• Golden Jackal
• Buffalo
• Eastern white bearded wildebeest (note this is a slightly different species to the wildebeest found in the Serengeti, separated by the rift valley for around 2 million years)
• Western white bearded wildebeest (Ngorongoro & Serengeti)
• Coke’s Hartebeest
• Eland
• Steinbok

Reptiles & others
• Plenty of snakes in the snake park from the very lethal black mamba to the easy to handle rufous beaked snakes
• Crocodiles (only at the snake park)
• Agama lizards, red headed rock and tree species
• Leopard tortoise
• Terrapins (again snake park!)
• Lots of insects from the Emperor moths to the very noisy crickets around Ndutu camp, plenty of caterpillars and butterflies

Birds seen on safari / heard on safari
• Black saw wing
• Red fronted tinker bird
• Fisher’s lovebird (possible hybrid yellow collared)
• Hadada Ibis
• Spotted flycatcher
• Chin spot batis
• Augur buzzard
• Olive thrush
• Red chested cuckoo
• Mountain buzzard
• Ostrich
• Little spotted woodpecker
• 2 banded courser
• White napped raven
• Hunter’s Cisticola
• Plain backed pipit
• Rosy breasted longclaw
• Gabar Goshawk, black morph
• Gabar Goshawk, juvenile
• Eastern pale chanting Goshawk
• Pearl spotted Owlet
• Namaqua dove
• Ring necked dove
• Baglafecht weaver
• Rufous tailed weaver
• Speckle fronted weaver
• Chestnut headed weaver
• Blue capped cordon blue
• Verreaux’s eagle owl
• Egyptian goose
• Greater flamingo
• Lesser flamingo
• Black headed heron
• Hammerkop
• Crowned crane
• White stork
• Marabou stork
• Ruppel’s Griffon vulture
• White back vulture
• Hooded vulture
• Lappet faced vulture
• Cattle egret
• Yellow billed oxpecker
• Blacksmith lapwing
• Little ringer plover
• Ringed plover
• Hildebrant’s starling
• Superb starling
• Coqui francolin
• Grey breasted spurfowl
• Yellow necked spurfowl
• Hybrid grey breasted and yellow necked spurfowl
• Helmeted guineafowl
• Black bellied bustard
• Kori bustard
• White bellied bustard
• Common Ostrich
• Southern ground hornbill
• Secretary bird
• Greater kestrel
• Batleur eagle (now short tailed snake eagle)
• Eurasian marsh harrier
• Pallid harrier
• Steppe eagle
• Tawny eagle
• Black chested snake eagle
• Chestnut bellied sandgrouse
• Speckled moosebird
• Lilac breasted roller
• Eurasian roller
• Hoopoe
• Green wood hoopoe
• Von der decken’s hornbill
• Red & yellow barbet
• Pied wagtail
• Yellow wagtail
• Fisher’s sparrow lark
• Red capped lark
• Common drongo
• And quite a few more…

Kilimanjaro - The Machame Route - 5 Dec 2009

On Kilimanjaro with the Bowen's


Ake Lindstrom

The Bowens! Note that first names have been removed for privacy reasons (hence references are made to ‘Mum’, ‘Dad’ and other references to the kids, apologies if this confuses things a little!).

A very successful trip, 100% success in returning safely! 3 made it to the top and one made it to 4,800 meters before being turned around for safety reasons. I’ve never had someone puke so much and make it to the top (from the start and so not quite as bizarre as it sounds). The banter, silent banter and crew singing were all very memorable indeed! Well done all.

4 Dec 09
After 27 or so hours the Bowens finally arrived at Arusha airport where Clemence transferred them over to the Arusha Coffee Lodge. This is where I first met the Bowens – slightly dazed and ready for a rest. So, no in depth briefings tonight, time to relax and try to sleep.

5 Dec 09
The first day is always a wake up call
Starting altitude: 1,800 meters
Ending altitude: 3,000 meters

In the morning I headed over to meet the climbers at the Arusha Coffee Lodge and we had a briefing. Thankfully they had been prepared well (thanks to Epic Expeditions) and so looking through the route and final preparations did not take long.

Soon we were off from Arusha on route to Machame and the journey took around 2 hours. The gate had the normal down time as the equipment was weighed, the porters checked in and so on. By around 11.30am we were on trail, a quick intro to the crew just after the gate and we sauntered on up the trail. Lunch was had relatively early on as our departure time was relatively late and then the rest of the day we headed up the mountain slowly gaining altitude. The rain started and this is where our umbrellas came in handy (almost everyone we tell to bring umbrellas still scoffs them off but they’re the best!).

This zone is known as the afromontane zone, and is a haven for bio diversity with endemic flora such as the Impatiens kilimanjari and massive trees such as the camphor wood (Ocotea usambarensis). Lichen and mosses lace most of the branches and almost every level of the forest is occupied by some type of vegetation.

On arrival into camp the crew sang us in, a pleasant end to the hiking and a great way to distract people from any tired feelings! Everyone settled into camp and Elo showed everyone the toilet operation.

Dinner served up by Ngamu our camp crew with Jackson the cook working hard to keep gluten away from the meals for Poppy.

6 Dec 09
Into thinish air
Starting altitude: 3,000 meters
Ending altitude: 3,860 meters

The second day from Machame camp we ascended to Shira camp, through the heath zone with plentiful ericaceous shrubs up to around 3 meters maximum with patches of moorland, bog-like with pretty yellow flowered Haplocarpha ruepelli and plenty of tussock grasses.

Breakfast was in the mess tent and with some fuel on board we set off up the thinning vegetation layers. There were a couple of dramatic view points and the edge of the Shira plateau with the Shira Catherdral and needle were apparent. The sun was blazing for a while and as one of our intrepid team could not find her sun hat Sam kindly helped fashion a hat from a top. It was not long before the clouds chased us up the mountain and enshrouded us before lunch.

Post lunch the pace was gentle, plenty of time for the girls to don disguises of Old Man’s Beard (Usnea sp.) and by mid afternoon we had cleared the highest point of the day (around 3950 meters) and dropped down into camp. The crew really had their singing voices on today and serenaded us for a number of songs – attracting a number of other guests over from their camps! Hapson lead the songs and Sam ended the vocalizing with his classic ‘piga nzeze’!

New developments at Shira camp were the helipad and ranger station under construction. There are helicopter landing points at almost all the main camps now and a private company in Moshi is operational.. Our emergency evacuation cover will also be able to use these landing points when appropriate, although with our monitoring methodologies I hope that will never be necessary apart from the most unexpected scenarios.

It was becoming apparent by now that one of the team was under relatively more stress due to the thinning air than the others, but with 3 nights to come at similar altitudes there was still a chance of a successful summit bid.

Overnight at Shira camp with some card playing in the afternoon.

7 Dec 09
Walk high, sleep low(er)
Starting altitude: 3,860 meters
Ending altitude: 3,950 meters
MAX altitude: 4,600 meters

From Shira camp we headed up to Lava Tower before descending to Barranco camp. This day is a long day of around 8 hours, rarely less and the high point is often a good indicator as to how people are reacting to the high altitude. That is not to say that everyone that has some symptoms of altitude sickness will have trouble later on but this is certainly a key point for guides to be very alert with their guests to ensure that if necessary, evacuations are done earlier rather than later.

Everyone was in good spirits as we left the camp… The youngest member of the team hit a wall 20 meters from camp… 20 meters!! The problem was soon solved with a chocolate / sugar hit and we continued up the slopes glacial slopes.

The glacial valleys and their associated features are very apparent in this zone. As one heads out of Shira camp the next zone, the alpine desert, becomes apparent very quickly. All the vegetation changes are all controlled by the average amounts of rainfall that fall and as one goes higher so the rainfall drops. This historic relationship has meant that forests have developed below us at the zone where most rainfall falls and higher up the lower rainfall combined with the freezing temperatures at night and blazing sun in the day time all mean less vegetation, and some rather bizarre adaptations for the flora that has made this zone their home. Silvery hairs on leave to reflect excess UV, thick waxy cuticles to minimize water loss, special antifreeze fluid secretions, warm leave cladding on stems and so on are all adaptations to be found here. Even in the most extreme environments life does persist but far less profusely and in cracks and crevices and the best sites being sheltered spots from the biting wind.

Progress to our high point was slow but sure. All of the team slowed before lunch and some large headaches were starting. Sam and I were keeping a close eye on the whole team. Lunch was very welcome and the rest did us all good. By now the weather had closed in although we were able to snatch a glimpse of lava tower through a window in the cloud. After lunch and in the rain, we descended carefully from our high point of 4,600 meters and arrived in camp by nightfall.
8 Dec 09
The Scramble for Karanga!
Starting altitude: 3,950 meters
Ending altitude: 4,080 meters
MAX altitude: 4,226 meters (top of Barranco wall)

The morning at Barranco is stunning. The clouds had cleared and Kibo was out. This valley is the product of 2 different but massively destructive events. The first was a series of glaciations that carved out the valley. The 4th and main glaciation (which waxed and waned from 10 to 70,000 years ago) carved a deep valley all the way down to the 3,000 meter mark. In amongst this there was also the final death throws of Kilimanjaro as Kibo erupted significantly for the last time. Around 60,000 years ago the inner crater group of lavas erupted and it is thought that in conjunction with those eruptions of lava there were associated earthquakes. Due to existing lines of weakness on Kibo’s flanks a massive collapse occurred, forming the dramatic Western breach and Barranco wall. We now started out from camp to climb the Barranco wall.

The Barranco wall is always a great respite to the relatively drudgery of hiking, and with some 3 point contact and dramatic drop offs this was possibly the most fun and exciting part. The ‘hugging’ rock, no guessing required to explain the name, was a highlight and it defies belief how porters with long loads pass around this safely.

A short break at the top of the Barranco wall and then on over the glacial valleys to Karanga valley. We choose the ‘bambi’ route to camp. The crew, helpful as always, relieved us of our packs half way up the Karanga valley and we were in for lunch.

At this point there had been quite a lot of coughing from 2 of the team and so mum was checked by yours truly with a stethoscope to make sure there was no fluid building up in the lungs. The only congestion I heard was in the upper left of her left lung which was definitely better than the alternative (of a cracking or bubbling in the lower lunch fields that might have indicated the onset of a pulmonary edema).

In the afternoon, to avoid sleeping, there was some frantic card playing and in the late afternoon we went for an acclimatization walk a little higher up. Back to camp for dinner and time to relax.

9 Dec 09
The mountain has traps
Starting altitude: 3,950 meters
Ending altitude: 4,600 meters

The hike from Karanga is up, and up and up to Barafu camp. We set off with the sun blazing and with superb views of the southern icefields, which was ideal as the previous day we had been covered in clouds for most of the day. Sam kept a steady pace all the way to the top of the Karanga ridge and there was time for a toilet stop… One of the team found the toilet that many others had found and her shoe found more than she bargained for. Our youngest member was in the vicinity and on witnessing the shoe to poo contact was sick. There was much disgust but more laughter.

On arrival in camp we all signed in and then headed in for some lunch. I had given said youngest some amoxicillin for her dry cough previously and she actually had a little blood in her sputum but her oxygen saturations remained high – a high altitude cough with irritated bronchioles in this case and not more as far as we could ascertain.

The afternoon was spent packing. After an early dinner it was time for a little rest before the summit bid!

10 Dec 09
Starting altitude: 4,600 meters
Ending altitude: 3,100 meters
MAX altitude: 5,896.1 meters

The final push. Coming out of Barafu camp is often the hardest part. There is the blocky lava flow right outside camp, which is very energy sapping and tonight as we left camp around 11.45pm the wind was blowing. Our token pukaholic, in true form, puked right by Sam’s tent before we had covered any ground. By now this was accepted as normal. I would have to ask her for a more accurate guestimate but by now I would suggest a figure of around 15 to 20 pukes so far on the trip.

For Mum though, it was a different scenario. After a slow ascent of the lava blocks on route to Kosovo camp it was becoming apparent that her pace was very slow but that was not the key concern. By now her balance was also slightly off, it was time to turn around. Sam and I chatted briefly and Sam rather kindly told Mum that is was time for her daughters to finish the job for her. Well worded and sensitive.

Had Mum started the trip more relaxed and less exhausted I think that she could have made it. A slightly longer trip would also have worked but in essence from talking to her and Dad, she had been working very hard pre arrival and her body simply did not acclimatize well this time. So, it was time to descend. Geofrey and I led her back down to camp from over 4,800 meters and there were points where we really needed to watch out. Back in camp it was time for Mum to rest up and Geofrey’s role was now as monitor which he did very well.

Rather than stay in camp I decided to head back up to join the others, Mum was nice and stable and had a great team to support her in camp. I thought I would catch the group easily but they made fantastic progress and kept ahead of a large group of 30 hikers. At around 5,300 meters I rejoined them and we made our gentle progress up and sure enough the sun started it’s course over the horizon. A little bit of light was very welcome and Dad and oldest daughter were very solid throughout. The youngest has been sick numerous times and Sam led her step by step. Every now and then we would all stop for a refuel – gelly snakes every 50 meters or so kept Poppy going all the way to Stella Point.

Once at Stella I thought for a second that youngest might consider heading down, but no, with encouragement from her dad and sis they all headed all the way to Uhuru peak, arriving around 8.30am. What a bunch of stars! Youngest looked like a zombie at Uhuru and yet as we turned to head down the two youngsters started a snow fight (short lived…)! The change in pace and heart on descend was dramatic, to say the least. At Stella Point we all donned some sunscreen and started our descend to Barafu (I had taken a slight detour to live up to my word to lick the glacier, not too many more years of that sort of behaviour possible before the glaciers disappear for ever). Back in camp we had hoped to see Mum but she had left some hours previously with Geofrey who wanted to make sure she could descend slowly and with plenty of time. A good call.

Back in camp we had a short time to rest, refuel and soon enough we were off down to Mweka. At this point we passed one of the large charity group that had been helped to the summit. He had a pulmonary edema and as the others descended I assessed him using the pulse oximeter and some simple questions. Their oxygen had run out being used on another one of their team and so we left ours and one of our strong porters to help support him in his descent until the rescue stretcher could be located. There really is no substitute for having oxygen for many emergency scenarios and whilst that charity group had at least 4 trip leaders / handlers I wonder what would have become of the gent that we helped it our oxygen had not been available.

Descent is always an anticlimax but the girls banter was great. We arrived into camp at dusk, time for a wash and time to get some well earned rest! Mum was there to meet us and was all smiles for the team.

11 Dec 09
What goes up…
Starting altitude: 3,100 meters
Ending altitude: 1,800 meters

After breakfast our crew sang us the traditional songs and thanks to the Bowens for their generosity in tipping. Dad also donated his jacket and Sam, wise as ever, performed an immediate lottery to whittle down the crew to 1 lucky person by dividing the group until there was just one person left. Try as they might the would be tricksters were eliminated one by one and a porter walked away with a great jacket!

On the way down we had a decent collection of falls on the slippery mud. Top marks to oldest daughter’s bag for saving youngest from any serious injury!

At the road head it was a complete mess as the parks authorities are rebuilding the roads – it will be very good for rescue access in the future though. Back at the gate, congratulations all round and some frantic shoe cleaning from the local lads and after signing out we headed back to Arusha (much eye resting going on) to prepare for the next leg of our adventure!

Mammals / signs of mammals on Kilimanjaro
• 4 striped grass mouse
• Civet cat scat
• Serval cat scat
• Jackal prints

Birds spotted
• Ruppell’s robin chat
• Olive thrush
• White naped Raven
• Eastern double collared sunbird
• Montane white eye
• Scarlet tufted malachite sunbird
• White starred robin
• Lammergeier


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Shorebirds galore! The Sabaki River Delta

Sabaki Birding trip Nov 2009

Make sure you pack
Sun hat
Water - 2 liters min
Sun block (factor 30 +)
Shoes that you don’t mind getting muddy
A snack
Telescope a great advantage
Camera with a zoom lens if you want photographic evidence

Getting there
From Watamu 50 mins
From Malindi 15 minutes (depending on location)
Drive from Malindi on the Lamu road for 9 – 10 km, when you come to the only significant river this is the Sabaki. Cross the bridge and take the first right, following the sign for the Sabaki River Delta Hotel on the right hand side. A rough track, vehicle accessible and 4x4 only, takes you around 2km down towards the estuary mouth. You can leave your car at the Delta camp/hotel, or, if you want to, you can even leave you car nearer the delta mouth. We left it in the Delta camp under a tree, worked out just fine. There is a charge listed on the sign for parking but no one collected. 500 kenyan shillings for a 4x4.

So coming through the scrub onto the estuary edge is often productive, and some common sightings were spotted flycatcher, Golden Palm Weaver, some cisticola that bugged us all morning, and the odd speckled mousebird.

A great spot early on was the Zanzibar Red Bishop, just moulting into breeding plumage, and Yellow Wagtail and then we were on to the edge of the receding tide mudflats where the shorebird action went into overdrive.

Lots of Curlew Sandpipers, Common ringed plovers and both greater and lesser sandplovers close together to allow easy comparison. Almost all birds were in non breeding dress and none more so than the Grey plover. Lots of spur winged plovers were also apparent and also less shy than many of the other shorebirds. Fred pulled a good paleartic bird up on the scope, the broad billed sandpiper and the bar tailed godwit followed by a Eurasian curlew and a ruff. Lots of lesser flamingoes in the shallows and soft mud.
The Sabaki estuary offers a variety of habitats, and so we meandered past some mangroves, not overly productive, and over to the north to a marsh area, much more productive. Here some very obvious birds were the greater flamingoes, black winged stilts and sacred ibis and then with some more careful observation marsh sandpipers and greenshanks. At this point I was up to 4 lifers, fred only 2. There were also lots of wood sandpipers in the same marsh as well. Fred helping explain the jizz to get me up to speed!

Turning towards the beach we were rather frantic to find a malindi pipit and definitely had a couple of stringing moments there as we spotted a rather drab looking yellow wagtail and then a grassland pipit but alas, no Malindi pipit today.
Down to the beach and onto the shoreline revealed white fronted plover, grey heron, sanderling and some gulls which we didn’t identify properly to identify (to be honest).

Heading back up the estuary there was plenty of tern action. The larger Caspian tern and then the lesser crested tern were plentiful. There were a few whimbrels around and Eurasian curlews on the far bank. Suddenly a flurry of flight and frantic toing and froing meant only one thing (or two) a predator was around. A Peregrine swept in from the West and on missing flew around the estuary rather erratically trying it’s luck before heading off again.

Once the chaos had settled we spied some lovely greater pelicans and pied avocets. Rather interestingly a sandpiper (marsh?) was skimming the water in a very avocet like motion back and forth and then also deeper movements into the water as well. Interesting stuff.

On the way back out we got our shoes thoroughly muddied. The car was still there and relatively cool as we left it under a tree. Back to Watamu, fresh tuna for lunch!

November 30, 2009 – Ake + Fred