"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Friday, January 21, 2022

The 2021 Africa Journals, Ch. 18: In Which We Search for Rhinos

 Chapter 18:

In Which We Search for Rhinos


'But African time was not the same as American time… As African time passed; I surmised that the pace of Western countries was insane, that the speed of modern technology accomplished nothing, and that because Africa was going its own way at its own pace for its own reasons, it was a refuge and a resting place.' - Paul Edward Theroux, an American travel writer and novelist. 


The guards opened the gates of Rhino Watch Lodge and we drove up the driveway to the small parking area.   We were just in time for lunch.  

This lodge is operated as a hotel even though they had both hotel rooms and tents.   Our group had reserved tents and and they were spaced far enough apart as to be almost private.

Laura's tent even had sofas and as she described the furnishings we  decided she was in the special tent suite and thereafter ensued a long-lived joke about Laura "having everything."

Unfortunately, I never did get a photo of Laura's tent.



My tent.

We had time after lunch to settle in, download the morning's photos from Samburu, and make certain all the camera batteries were charged.   Then, around four o'clock, we loaded up and drove five minutes  down the road to Solio Ranch and the rhinoceros reserve.

Solio Game Reserve is a fenced, privately-owned conservation area geared toward protecting both black and white rhinos.    The reserve was begun in 1970 when Courtland Parfet, owner of Solio cattle ranch, fenced off a large portion of the property so that indigenous animals could roam in their natural habitat.

The forerunner of today's Kenya Wildlife Service approached Parfet about taking in five black rhinos  and thus rhinos became part of the reserve.   More and more black rhinos were taken in and eventually, Solio became the source  of rhinos for many other reserves that were sufficiently secure to protect the animals from poaching.

The reserve has faced many challenges over the years including drought, fire, and refugee settlement.

During our three-night stay at Rhino Watch Lodge, traveling into the Solio reserve twice a day, we saw only one vehicle within the reserve plus ranger trucks.    It is well off the tourist trail and thus provides great bird animal sightings.

The splotches on the photo are rain drops.

This is where our guides went to take care of whatever paperwork was required, but why it took so long is beyond me.

Below is one of the ranch buildings.

We saw a number of DeFassa waterbuck in the reserve.

When we first saw the three rhinos in the photos below, they were pushing each other around.   As soon as we stopped to take photos, they were suddenly best friends.

I was taking a photo of this black-shouldered kite perched on a branch when it suddenly leapt into flight and I got this!

Blue-eared starling.


Rainbow  with vultures.

Eventually, we came out of the forest and into a large grassland area and it was there that we saw several rhinos.

By the end of our short afternoon drive, we has seen 11 rhinos--all of them white rhinos.

We had to be out of the reserve by 6 PM, before they lock the gates..   Here's a photo of one of our vehicles at the gate.  We are right behind him.   Time 6:03.

Next:    Where are the black rhinos?

Monday, January 17, 2022

The 2021 Africa Journals, Ch. 17: In Which We Leave Samburu


Chapter 17:

In Which We Leave Samburu


Today is moving day as our time is up at Elephant Bedroom Camp in the Samburu National Reserve.  Frankly, I would have loved to stay another few days just to enjoy the unusual animals found only in this area--the retirculated giraffe, Grevy's zebra, Somali ostrich, Beisi oryx, and especially, especially the gerenuk (pictured left).

It wasn't a bad place for birds, either!

But, it was off to a rhino reserve for us and a chance to see the wild and endangered black rhinos. 



The sun was rising as we set out on a shortened game drive.   We had to be back in camp by 9 o'clock for breakfast, packing, and heading back the way we came.

Not all of the  following photos were taken on this morning drive, but I'm posting them because I didn't want you to miss them.   We paused to give several elephants the right of way as they were heading for the river for a drink.  Their well-worn path went right through a small public camping spot.



If you look closely at the above photo, you can see several camping items behind the elephant.   Table, water jugs, etc.    I saw the campers sitting in their parked vehicle.   Very wise thing to do when the behemoths are in your campsite.

Another sight that blew my mind was a line of vulturine guineafowl coming out of the brush.   They just kept coming in a seemingly endless stream.    I counted fifty before our driver moved on, and they were still appearing!

We found the warthogs to be very skittish and it was difficult to get a photo of anything but hog butts going away from us with their tails straight in the air.

And now, I would like you to meet Red.   He's a red-headed agama lizard and he owns the pavilion at Elephant Bedroom Camp where guests have meals and relax.   When I first saw, he was rather faded.

Part of his tail is missing.  Agamas use their tails to fight other agamas and have the ability to drop part of their tails.    They eventually grow back!

One day, Red was on the ramp leading up to the lounge area.   He was much more colorful and vibrant.    I walked over to see what had captured his rapt attention.

On the ground beside the ramp, was another lizard.    I don't know lizards very well (okay, not at all) so I mistook what was going on.    I thought the greenish lizard ono the ground was an interloper.

It turns out that the greenish lizard was a female agama and that's what had Red's color up.   He jumped down behind her.

Look at how colorful he is.   Look at the expression on his face.   Her tail is in the air!   She's receptive.   Go for it, Red!

Oh, Red.  You're fading again.  You lost your opportunity.  No female is going to be interested in a guy was a fading libido.

By the way, that leer is just plain creepy..   You really have to work on your presentation, Bud.

 Ah, the beautiful  bee-eaters.


Downloading photos on Marg's deck during an early afternoon break.

Grevy's zebra on he march.




One day we found a cheetah with three cubs.   They had a kill and were in a deep thicket with it.





 Grevys zebra

Close up of generuk male.  The dark spot in front of the eye is a preorbital gland.

The lead elephant is kicking up dust to hide the baby in the back.

Three generuk.

Helmeted guineaufowl.

Great egret

Black-necked weaver, female.



I don't know what I did to get their attention, but I'm glad there's a wide river  between us.


Elephants across the river from camp.


Elephant in the duom palms



The hornbill that came to lunch.


Superb starling

A map of the Samburu National Reserve.    Our camp is  the second blue area from the right.

 Samburu  is near the center in the map below.

Highlights And Parks Kenya Highlights And Parks Kenya



A couple of the ladies on this trip decided to do something awesome for the children at this school, which is right outside the gate of Samburu National Reserve.   They took photos of the younger children, one by one, and will (somehow) get those to the children.   Also, Laura brought a duffle bag full of supplies and three soccer balls.


A few of the kids.

The three photos above were taken in one schoolroom.  It was a humbling experience.

The school's water source.

Another class.

Some dwellings outside the reserve.  Our guides say the residents are transitioning to brick homes.

Back in Nanyuki, we stopped briefly and the requisite equator sign photo.

And less than an hour later, we arrived at the gate of Rhino Watch Lodge, where we would spend three nights.

Next:   The hunt for rhinos.