The 2011 African safari was very special to me since three of my older grandchildren, Linal (10 years at the time), Dunal (9 years) and Shenal (6 years) out of the seven that I currently have, joined me on the trip together with their parents (my daughter Dushani and son-in-law Amandha) to visit Kenya from 30th August to 7th September 2011.
The trip was planned a few months ahead and the kids were highly excited as the departure date drew closer. On 30th August we departed Sri Lanka and arrived in the Kenyan capital Nairobi via Dubai, in the late afternoon. My brother Pala, was also on this trip and he came down from London and joined us in Dubai. After an overnight stay in Nairobi, we left the following morning for the first leg of the tour which was Lake Nakuru National Park.
We arrived at the Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge in Lake Nakuru NP for lunch, which took us almost 4hours by road with a stop at the Lake Naivasha, where we took a boat ride to see Fish Eagles catching fish on the lake. While I captured some good shots with my Nikon D3X and 80-200mm lens, by grandsons took photos using beginner cameras and some of the shots were pretty good! When we got to Lake Nakuru, I was disappointed to find that there were no Flamingos there this time, unlike on my previous visits where we saw large pink patches on the lake from a distance where thousands of Flamingos were flocking.
In the afternoon game drive, my three grandsons were delighted when we came across White and Black Rhinos, four Lions on a broken tree branch, Giraffes, Zebras and hundreds of Pelicans.
While at breakfast the following morning, we learned from our waiter that the Flamingos had been seen at Lake Bogoria, a two hour’s drive North from Nakuru. As I was keen for my grandkids to see the spectacle of a large flock of Flamingos I decided to go there immediately. Pala chose to stay back at Nakuru and the rest of drove up to Lake Bogoria National Reserve.
We arrived at the park entrance by 10.30 am and within a few minutes thereafter we came across the pink patches on the lake. The kids were thrilled to see this spectacle and so was I. There were even bigger numbers of the bright pink birds here than I had seen at Lake Nakuru in previous years. On our way back to Lake Nakuru, it so happened that we had to pass the Equator. We stopped the vehicle at the Equator where a Kenyan lady demonstrated the fascinating phenomenon of the movement of a magnetic needle floating in a water bucket on either side of the Equator and as well as on the Equator. We were back at the lodge on Lake Nakuru for a late lunch.
The following morning we departed from Lake Nakuru and returned to Nairobi, to take a domestic flight to the Masai Mara Game Reserve. For the first 2 nights at Masai Mara on this trip we stayed at the Mara Serena Safari Lodge which was located overlooking the famous Mara River. During the afternoon game drive on the 2nd September, we were able to sight a Cheetah and some Lions. The next morning we drove to an area where the Wildebeests were known to cross the Mara River and waited in anticipation for a crossing but had no success on this day. Pala, who went in a separate vehicle on the afternoon drive that day had seen a Cheetah with three cubs that were only four weeks old. A few of us went on a night drive where we saw two male Lions feeding on a Zebra kill.
Early next morning we went to the area where the Cheetah family were sighted, and waited with our cameras ready for them to make an appearance. We didn’t have to wait long. The mother and the cubs emerged from an area of dense foliage to the open and got onto a low rocky hillock. What a sight! It was the first time I saw Cheetah cubs that young. Later, we drove to the river and after waiting patiently for almost two hours, we were fortunate to witness a Wildebeest crossing of the Mara River in their hundreds.
Later that day we moved to Governor’s Camp for the second segment of our Mara stay where we were booked for 3 nights. On the first day at the Governor’s, we had a fruitful afternoon game drive where we spotted some Lions of the Marsh Pride made famous by Jonathan Scott. We also had a close view of a leopard. The next morning, most of the time was spent once again with the Marsh Pride with their latest arrivals. Later we sighted a spotted Hyena with three cubs of a few weeks old, outside their den. In the afternoon drive, we had a sighting of a Cheetah and a cub of six months, where the mother gave chase to an Impala, but failed to catch it even though it is the fastest species on land and it can reach speeds of 110 kmph.
During the rest of the stay at Governors, many lions, a leopard and a Black Rhino were captured on our cameras in addition to other wild animals and birds. On this trip though we did not see the three Cheetah Brothers that I had seen the year before, close to Governor’s Camp. I learned that they had drifted far from Governor’s, from their familiar territory. But later I was sad to hear that one of the Cheetah brothers had been killed by a Lion. On the 6th September at dinner my 3 little grandsons joined the Masai dancers during my birthday celebration. We departed from Masai Mara the next day. While Pala, Lilani and I flew to Johannesburg for our next leg of our 2011 African Safari, my daughter and her family returned home to Colombo.