Tsavo East & West National Park, Kenya March 23 - 26, 2011
23.03.2011 - 26.03.2011 33 °C
The #1 thing probably everyone traveling to Africa wants to do, is go on safari! There are several ways to book a safari, ranging from unbelievably expensive to affordable. Unless your wealthy, or incapable of planning your own vacation, I do NOT recommend booking a safari pkg thru a travel agent! They are so expensive! I saw a sign for an 8 day safari for $5999 per person PLUS airfare! We spent $7200 on a 3wk vacation in Kenya for 2 ppl! That included everything ... roundtrip airfare for 2ppl from Canada to Kenya, 3wks hotel, a 3 day safari to Tsavo East & West, all food & transportation, all other sightseeing, and souvenirs! Why anyone would pay $5999 for only one person for only one week is beyond me! I booked all flights & hotels on Expedia. As for the safari ... we booked it upon arrival in Mombasa. Every hotel has a tour desk where they can hook you up with a safari. But even that is pricey. We booked ours thru one of the many vendors on the beach. $1100 for both of us to go on a 3 day / 2 night guided safari. Thats more than enuf days ... we saw every animal on our list (except 1 - rhino), plus many more! The safari price included pickup & drop off at our Mombasa resort, transportation to Tsavo (about 2hrs away), 5 game drives, 1 night each in 2 different lodges, and all food & non-alcoholic drinks.
We were picked up at 5:30am at our resort in Mombasa, and driven 2hrs to Tsavo East National Park. Our safari vehicle was a pop-top van. In my opinion much better than an open-air vehicle. We felt much safer in here knowing that if danger approached we could just lower the roof! Also, all roads in Tsavo are dirt, so it gets quite dusty / dirty ... its nice to be able to sit down and be out of the dust. In an open-air vehicle you & your camera's lens would be filthy!
Our first of 5 game drives started the second we arrived in Tsavo East NP. We passed through the gates and were on our way. All the roads were dirt ... beautiful red dirt! We definately dont have red dirt in Canada! And acacia trees!
Huge termite hills were everywhere (as you can see in the background of this pic)! This one was taller than me!
It took about 45min before we saw any wildlife, and suddenly BAM, theres a zebra right on the road!
I just love zebras! They are my favorite! I love their stripes & funky mohawks
Zebra bums at a waterhole across the road
While we were watching the zebras, a herd of elephants approached! WOW! (can you see the adorable baby zebra?)
The elephants raised their trunks and sniffed the air for danger before they crossed the road right in front of us!
We expected to be searching the bushes for wildlife with our binoculars the whole safari ... but everything was so close to the road, or right on it!
They crossed the road to get to a waterhole
Elephants cooling off in the mud. It was awesome to watch & hear them play! This is why the elephants of Tsavo are red.
Wrinkly elephant bum!
We watched the elephants for about 20min, then continued on. We saw a baboon in the grass and a family of warthogs running away.
Heres a shot of the beautiful landscape within Tsavo East NP.
More elephants at another waterhole, and a huge Baobab Tree in the background. Those trees, and Acacia Trees were everywhere
After the first day's safari we were brought to our lodge for the night ... the beautiful Voi Lodge! I highly recommend it! Its built into a cliffside, so views are incredible! We could see the plains & 3 waterholes filled with wildlife! Heres a picture from our room of the pool & bar that overlook the plains. The pool is up on a cliff so theres no danger from the wildlife.
Me having a drink in the bar overlooking the plains & waterholes
Just by sitting here overlooking the waterholes we saw TONS of wildlife! It was like a safari in itself! Heres a family of baboons we spotted.
100s of Cape Buffalo and a few elephants approaching one of the waterholes! What a sight!
Elephants at one of the waterholes near the lodge
Umm, I think this photo is self explanatory, lol!
This guy was scratching his bum on a rock!!
Another view from the lodge
I think this is a Blue Heron, but I'm not sure
There were tons of these colorful lizards around the lodge!
HUGE Rhinoceros Beetle!
Thats it for day 1 ... a morning safari 7am - noon, then the afternoon was spent at the lodge watching the wildlife at the waterholes, and then a late afternoon safari 4-7pm. The morning of day 2 we were up at the crack of dawn to enjoy a free breakfast. Our morning game drive was in Tsavo East. Then we crossed into Tsavo West and spent the afternoon at our 2nd lodge, Ngulia Lodge. And the late afternoon game drive was done in Tsavo West.
The first animals we saw that morning were a herd of impala!
The first waterhole we happened upon was right beside the road and was filled with 27 elephants!
White Heron ???
Herd of gazelles
The next waterhole we came across was filled with Cape Buffalo. I love the colors in the photo ... like a rainbow with the blue sky, green mountains, yellow grass & red dirt!
Look what we found standing on the road all postcard perfect!!!!!
They stood like that for awhile, almost like they were posing for us! But then some idiot came racing down the road and scared them away!
One last wildlife sighting before crossing into Tsavo West. Which one of these doesnt belong? LOL!
Theres nothing separating Tsavo East from West except the Mombasa - Nairboi highway. So we crossed over and headed to our lodge ... Ngulia Lodge.
The view from our ground floor room ...
Waterbucks and baboons at the waterhole, seen from our window!
We spent the afternoon wandering around the lodge searching for wildlife. Safaris are always early morning and / or late afternoon cuz most animals snooze in the heat of the afternoon. Remember we are at the equator, it is quite hot here.
This rock hyrax was trying to climb a tree! He'd inch his way up little by little like this, until the branches became too far apart and he'd fall down and have to start all over again.
Eventually he tried this 'spread eagle' technique with no luck either, LOL! I could've watched him all day, it was hilarious!
Later that afternoon we headed out on another game drive. This is a Dik-dik, the smallest of antelopes. Tiny like a chihuahua!
King Fisher bird
Secretary Bird ... this was a big bird, at least 2ft tall!
View of the landscape in Tsavo West. Whereas the East was flat and open making it easy to spot wildlife, the West was more mountainous and had alot of bush, making it harder to spot animals.
We came around a bend in the road, and BAM, there was a cheetah just sitting there on the side of the road!!! We were told cheetahs are rare in Tsavo, so we were very lucky! Our driver turned the engine off and we coasted up right beside her! She didnt run, in fact she laid down and rolled over! Just like a big kitty
View of Tsavo West
Back at our lodge, they had rigged a hunk of goat meet in a tree to attract a leopard & a hyena! This was only 20ft from the open-air lobby!
Well, thats it for our 3 day safari! We also saw a couple hippos and 1 lion, but so far away I couldnt get a photo. So they dont really count. The only animal we didnt get to see that we were really hoping to was a rhino.
A few days after our safari we headed to Haller Park in Mombasa. Its a cross between a zoo and a wild national park. The dangerous animals, such as hippos, crocs and buffalo, are behind a 4ft brick wall (but I'm pretty sure a little 4ft wall wont stop a charging hippo!!), and the tamer animals, such as giraffe, giant tortoises, vervet monkeys, eland, etc, roam around freely and you walk amongst them!! When we pulled into the parking lot there was a giraffe right there just hanging out! I walked right up to him and he just watched me.
There were also Maribou Storks wandering around. This guys looks like he's about to steal this van, lol!
The hippos were my absolute fave!!! Before coming to Kenya, all I wanted was to get a great photo of a hippo yawning ... and now I got one!! This is my favorite photo from the whole trip
Playful Vervet Monkeys were everywhere playing in the trees. I coulda watched them all day
Blue balls, tee hee!
We came across this Giant Tortoise slowly wandering around!!!
Mama & baby Eland
Orange Billed Stork
There was a river with 22 Nile Crocodiles! At one point during the day the park's employees dangle a chunk of goat meat above the river and the crocs fight for it!
There was a raised area where you could get face to face with the giraffes and feed them! Their heads are massive! Their tongue is 12 inches long ... they can clean their own ears with it! When you feed them, they wrap their slimey tongue around your hand and pull all the food off, leaving your hand dripping with giraffe slobber, lol!
Thats it for Kenya! The wildlife was everything I dreamed it would be :D