Safari 2015

As a little family vacation, transitioning from Burundi back to America (for 9 months), we stopped by Kenya and took the kids on a safari.  The last time that Maggie went to Maasai Mara, she was 1, and so we were excited to let them experience this, and maybe, just maybe, Maggie and Ben will remember this trip into adulthood.

We have been on safari multiple times (click here for old pictures), and each time is a little different, with unique things you didn't expect.  So, here is a rundown of what made this safari unique, i.e. what it will be remembered for.

Hyenas.  We saw more hyenas on this trip that all prior trips combined.  It was sort of like when they took over in the The Lion King, but the Pridelands did not look to be suffering otherwise.

Of course everyone wants to see carnage on safaris ("I want to see a cheetah eating a zebra"), but as Carlan pointed out, the more unnatural the carnage is, the better ("I want to see a zebra eating a cheetah!"), even to the point of the ridiculous ("I want to see a meerkat eating a zebra, who is eating a cheetah!").  Driving into camp this time, we were greeted by the closest thing we have yet encountered:  a hyena eating a hyena.

We stayed at a new place (for us) called Salt Springs, which was hard to get to, but is Maasai owned and run (unique among the lodges there).  It was more budget, but still very nice, and great service.  They had a dining area that overlooked a big bend in the river, and you can just sit and watch for animals in the distance.

This was Toby's first safari, and he loved it.  The monkeys were his favorites, and just riding in the bumpy car was his most favorite.

Mongooses and Rock Hyraxes (or Dassies).  I think we had seen about 1 of each of these on prior trips.  This time, they were out in droves and we saw more than 50 of each.  Here is a picture of the little Rock Hyraxes up in the cleft.  They are actually the closest cousin of the elephant, if you can believe it, and could rest on your palm.

We saw several hippos grazing out of the water, which is cool, since normally they are just ears and eyes poking out of the water.  Possibly because it was the rainy season...

The first of our two companions: Abraham Paternoster, our friend who spent most of his gap year (before college) with us out at Kibuye.

And the second: Molly Shankles, who is starting med school in the fall and spent the last 2 months with us at Kibuye.  They were both a huge blessing to us.

Birds.  Maybe we're just more interested in birds as time goes along, but we saw tons of great birds on this trip.  Here is one of about six lilac-breasted rollers we saw, but we also saw 5 types of storks, hamerkops with their ridiculous 6-ft wide nest, cranes and many others.

Probably the single coolest moment was this pride of lions eating a cape buffalo.  As Abraham pointed out, it was one of the Big Five, eating another of the Big Five, so there you go.  In fact, we saw probably about 20 lions, which is compared to less than five on any other safari we have been on.  No leopards.  They remain imaginary in our book.  And cheetahs are getting more dubious as time goes on as well.

There is nothing like an elephant (or better yet, a family of elephants) slowly making their stately way across the savannah.  We followed a great group of five for a while, and they can within about 20 feet of our vehicle.

Safari njema!
Urugendo rwiza!
Bon voyage!
It was a good journey.