Africa, Kenya, Vacations

Her Name Is Akira – Lion Camp Part 3

After our wonderful morning sightings of the mama/baby cheetah and the serval cat, we headed back to camp for a yummy lunch, some exercise, and a bucket shower.

Nathan would fill the bucket/bag with water that had been heated, then you get that much water for your shower. At first I was nervous about taking a bucket shower and thought that I would end up all soapy or whatnot because I wouldn’t have enough water to rinse everything off. I was pleasantly surprised to find as long as you only keep the water on for rinsing, and turn it off in between, it was fine. I even had enough water to condition my hair with a bar I had brought with me. It added to the adventure!

After a bit of a rest it was time for the afternoon drive. We were still on a high from an awesome morning drive and figured anything we saw the rest of the day would be a bonus. And what a bonus it was!

I love these trees.
I see you.
I see you, too.
Hi, fella.

The lilac-breasted roller (LBR) is Kenya’s national bird. It’s a beautiful, small bird that is often really hard to get a pic of in flight. They startle easily, so sometimes even getting close can be a challenge. Sal tried his best.

Lilac breasted roller
Wing colors.

As my luck would have it, we soonran into two male sub-adult lions who were at the bottom of a hill.

This is an example of how close I’m willing to get to the lions (as long as there is someone between us to eat before me, no problem! Sorry, Wilson & Sal!).

Right up from them were some buffalo. It was a strange sort of stand off. We think the buffalo must have climbed down the hill then saw the lions blocking their way. They were two sub-adult lions, so they weren’t going to take down a small group of buffalo, but nobody was moving. The one big buffalo just kept staring at the lions. So really, he was just being a typical buffalo because all they really do is stare at you.

We See Each Other!

Wilson asked if I wanted to get closer…

We were close enough. Thanks, though!

We left the lions (yay) and went in search of leopards. Yes, we knew Fig (RIP) was gone, but she had successfully brought up some babies to adulthood and we were hoping to see one of them or another leopard in the area. As you guys know, leopards were #1 on our wishlist since we hadn’t seen any last time we were in Kenya.

We drove around enjoying the scenery. Then we noticed a family of ellies in the grass, so we went to join them. There were no other vehicles around, so we had the family all to ourselves. I’d discovered most people don’t stop and watch elephants; they’d rather watch the lions. It makes no sense to me because the lions almost always are just laying there sleeping, and elephants at least are always moving. Oh well, more elephants for me!

Gotta stay hydrated.

We got pretty close…

For once the animals were on Sal’s side. I remember he asked me if I wanted to move to that side of the vehicle. I declined. While I love ellies, I didn’t feel that comfortable that close to them yet. Especially wild ones. Our guides were *extremely* comfortable and not even watching the elephants. And they just kept getting closer and closer as we sat there parked and quiet.

Then we were sort of surrounded – front and on the left side. I was very happy I didn’t switch spots because this is how close one got…

That empty seat would have been where I was sitting. That empty seat would have gotten wet.
She (?) walked by very closely while we were sitting there, engine off, watching the family in the grass.
He’s nuts.
Holy Crap Indeed.

Watching this video back, after having learned much more about elephants, I think this elephant is probably 4-6 years old, so not fully grown. Still, when you’re sitting down and it’s *right* next to you, oh yeah, and don’t forget WILD, it’s definitely a holy crap moment.

We stayed with them for quite some time, then decided to try by the water for leopards. Wilson and Wilford really were trying their best to find one for us. We drove very slowly down a full length of river, everyone with their eyes peeled out for the big cats.

We had no luck and it was getting to be sundowner time. We stopped to take a few pics of the sunbeams through the clouds and enjoy the view.

We heard some weird noise while we were sitting there. I think we all said, “What was that?”. A vehicle of park rangers drove by around that time and they chatted with our guides. They drove off in the direction we had just come, and before we knew it they were telling us great news – they found a leopard!

We took off, back where we came from, and they pointed to where it was. Then we saw her. I cannot even begin to tell you how excited we all were. We were racing to find her before a bunch of vehicles showed up. Finally, we were going to see our first leopard in Kenya!

Sooooo excited!

Her name is Akira and she is the daughter of Tito. No idea who her mother is. Isn’t she a beauty?

It’s beyond thrilling when she would get right by us.

We were very lucky to have her to ourselves for a bit of time. We never would have gotten that alone time if we hadn’t stopped to enjoy the view and take the photo above.

Our radios only transmitted between our camp vehicles and most of the people at our camp were on the other side of the park and it was getting dark. The rangers called the sighting in to some other camps. Too soon there were other vehicles joining us. We all gave the beautiful girl space and enjoyed watching her.

More vehicles arrived.
She walked right by.

Every time she would walk near our vehicle my heart would beat out of my chest. Not from fear, from excitement! For some reason I am not as afraid of leopards as I am of lions, even though I know what leopards can do…(spoiler alert – awesome leopard story coming up in your future reading!).

Hello and I love you, pretty girl.
Everyone was happy to see this beauty!
Gorgeous.
Blending in at sunset.
Hello, again.
She looks very soft, but no petting!
Nice profile.
And another.

It was getting dark and we decided to leave to leave her.

What a joy it was to see her. I actually teared up. I just find leopards incredibly beautiful and I was happy to get to see my first one in Kenya.

We rode back to camp with a smile on our face. We had such an absolutely amazing safari day between the cheetah (#2 on the list), serval (not even on the list), and leopard (#1 on the list) sightings. I felt incredibly lucky and thankful.

We got back to camp and there was a fire waiting for us.

We shared stories with the gray hairs while enjoying an adult beverage. Dinner was delicious, and then it was bed time. What a fabulous day at Porini Lion Camp!

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