It was yet another early start for day 3 of our African safari. It was a bit of a struggle to get up at 5.50am again but we were excited to see what animals lay in store for us today. I enjoyed an interesting breakfast of bacon, coconut beans and rice before we went to check out of the beautiful Kilaguni Serena resort. There was a slight problem in that the hotel had not yet been paid. They were calling Peter as was our guide Leonard but nothing seemed to be getting done. After 45 minutes and a frustrated call to him myself I decided to leave our luggage while he worked out the problem while we started out game drive an hour late. We had just spotted a secretary bird in the bushes when Leonard and I received phone calls simultaneously to say the bill had been paid. We rushed back to collect our luggage and continued on with our game drive around the wilds of Tsavo West National Park.
As I mentioned in my previous blog the park is really wild and so spotting animals here is quite a task in comparison to the more open parks like Amboseli and the Masai Mara. However, this adds to the excitement when you do finally spot something and I really loved the rugged landscapes. The sun was shining as we drove around animal spotting. We were enchanted by the bird life, there was so many brightly coloured birds including these beautiful bright yellow African golden weavers which seemed almost like butterflies. They were so fast and it was mesmerising to watch them ducking and diving around. The other common occurrence was the dik diks, the smallest antelope species they mate for life and even if their partner dies they simply wait for their own life to end rather than finding a new mate. They are super cute and we saw lots of pairs springing around amongst the trees. As well as the standard zebra, giraffe and ostrich sightings we came upon probably the highlight discovery for me of the entire trip – a pack of wild dogs. In the entire time I spent in Africa the last time (10 weeks in total) I never managed to spot these incredibly elusive creatures. Yet, in the wilds of Tsavo West, after a slow morning with not much action we came across an entire pack sleeping just next to the road in the bushes. What luck!! Given my excitement we stayed with them for quite some time watching them sleeping, waking and moving to a better location then settling back down again. This to me is exactly what a safari is about – complete and utter luck. You can go to the most famous location and see nothing (I visited Hwange in 2014 where wild dogs are regularly spotted and seen nothing), yet in Tsavo West where the chances are so small I came across them. The wonders of safari life.
After our high of the wild dogs we exited the park and made the 3 hour quick journey to our next and final safari accommodation Voi Wildlife Lodge. This was not quite the fancy Serena lodge but it did have a watering hole and as we arrived a herd of elephants were ambling around having a drink of water. We watched them before having our lunch and then chilling at the swimming pool for a few hours. It was lovely to have the chance to relax at the accommodation rather than just arriving and sleeping, then leaving again. I had called Peter the night before to organise this earlier arrival and he was more than accommodating which was great. Feeling relaxed and a lot less tired we hopped back in our truck to see what Tsavo East National Park had to offer.
After an incident with a monkey who decided to break into our van while we were inside and Leonard was purchasing our permits we started off. The Vervet monkeys were adorable and we enjoyed watching them playing (mostly in the bins) in search of food. They are so inquisitive and any new thing just needs to be explored in case there is food to be found. After the countless elephants we managed to spot the rare kudu and waterbuck (a very hairy antelope) but things were looking particularly slow yet again. We had however spotted a dead baby cheetah and giraffe. 2 eagles were feasting on the little cheetah which was absolutely heart-breaking as it was a very fresh kill. The giraffe had obviously been set on by lions who had not even bothered to eat much of their prize. There were a few other giraffes hanging around clearly very on edge at the slightest sound given what they had witnessed happen to their friend. The life and death aspect of life here can be upsetting but it is a daily reality and all part of the great circle of life. It is at these points when life sends you a gift and this was in the shape of another very elusive animal (particularly in tsavo) – the majestic leopard. There was a huddle of vans all surrounding a tree and as soon as I saw them I knew at once they must have found a leopard. It was a young juvenile not long separated from its mother and was simply basking in the late afternoon sun not giving the slightest care about all of the tourists underneath contorting their bodies into strange positions for the perfect photograph. It is crazy to imagine what they must think of us gazing down from their tree. Our luck continued and just after exiting the park we stumbled across a pack of hyenas, including one very pregnant female, crossing right in front of our van. We had seen these before but it interesting to see a whole pack, clearly gearing up for a hunt and in such close proximity. We headed back to our lodge happy and sleepy and enjoyed a wonderful dinner watching the elephants frolicking at the waterhole. What a life. I could get used to this.