African Safari (Kenya) Pt. 2
As our Kenyan photo safari began, we headed northeast of Nairobi for a day long overland trek to the Samburu National Park. At 3300 foot elevation, this is high savanna territory. Usually semi-arid, this land is normally baked and brown in January. But not this year as unseasonal rains have left much of Kenya plush and green. John Gerlach, organizer of our photo workshop, has been to Kenya 32 times at this time of the year and this is only the second occasion it has been green, resulting in a robust and well fed food chain. This is the off season, usually extremely hot and dusty, with smaller numbers of wildlife and even fewer human visitors. For me, it is “portrait time” because the wildlife is more settled and there is almost no competition with other vehicles for that perfect angle from which to shoot. It usually requires either great patience or incredible luck to get that spectacular action shots we all traveled 8000 miles or more to witness. For instance, we watched this leopard shade himself in an Acacia tree while waiting for prey to approach close enough for an attack. After 5 hours of observing, we concluded it was not be, this day was only “portrait time”!!
We had hoped this Waterbuck would venture just a few feet closer. Not to be this day, for the leopard is not about to waste his limited strength and energy on a questionable chase.
So we busied ourselves with the Reticulated Giraffes and their personal groomers, the Red-billed Oxpeckers.
The rains have our long necked friends browsing on low bushes thus preserving the high trees for more desperate times.
That thick leathery tongue will make light work of the thorny Acacia leaves it will devour later in the year.
This rambunctious youngster frolicked in the unusually abundant flow of the river that ran right beside our permanently tented campsite. The presence of 20′ crocodiles guaranteed the watchful protection of the adults in this herd of African elephants.
The red clay of Samburu acts as sunscreen achieved by dusting themselves with their trunks. In the northwest of Kenya, the elephants are slate grey.
We stayed inside the park so as to not waste valuable morning and evening sunlight traveling to distant accommodations. As we made our return to camp for the evening, this huge bull seemed intent on beating us back to the site. I would not doubt if he were the source of the trumpeting just outside my tent that lasted to nearly dawn.