Africa, Kenya, Vacations

The Last Day – Lion Camp Part 4

You can always tell how good the camp is by how sad and pre-nostalgic you start feeling when you are on the last couple of drives. I was feeling a little down because Lion Camp was such a good camp that I didn’t want to leave! But we had one day left and we were determined to see all we could see. We decided we would do a night safari, as well, and during the day we would try to see other parts of the conservancy that we hadn’t seen yet.

The morning started off nicely with a pretty sunrise.

Kenya is so beautiful.

A really cool sighting we had was seven small jackal pups. We drove up as they were scampering around and into their den. Unfortunately the den wasn’t big enough and only fit five of them!

They really needed a bigger den. I felt a little bad because the other two then went off in different directions, hiding. And it was chilly and windy, so the poor things were shivering behind grass/bush. We didn’t watch long. We had never seen a group that big before, though, so that was pretty cool!

We were driving along, enjoying the scenery, when we rounded a corner and there was this giraffe that was standing in the middle of the road.

Our guides kept driving towards him, hoping he would move off the road. 95% of the time that’s what happens. I don’t know if this guy/gal was kicked in the head or got into one too many fights, but it decided it would move forward. Still on the road.

Our guides were not concerned at all. Clearly they’d never seen the crazy giraffe video on YouTube where the giraffe started chasing the vehicle. We kept driving steadily forward. The giraffe started running forward. Still on the road. I’m just going to say this was probably a male because the common sense just wasn’t there. Ha! Giraffes look sorta funny when they run/gallop. This guy was no exception. He thought we were chasing him, when all we wanted to do was drive on the road. I may or may not have yelled, “Get off the road, ya ding dong!”, which is the polite version of what I would have said back at home to vehicle traffic.

We got to spend more time with ellies, of course.

I could do a coffee table book on elephant butts. Look how cute these mamas and babies are!
A leeeeetle baby.
I see you!

Then it was time to set up for breakfast. I asked our guides if I could take their picture.

Wilfred (spotter) and Wilson (driver). Excellent guides!

We enjoyed breakfast in this new location and decided to look around a bit, and guess what we found? Serval cat #2. Wow! It was hunting for its own breakfast.

We watched it for a while with only one other vehicle. It would walk from shrub to shrub trying to find something. This was a younger cat than we saw the day before. We were all like, “Holy cow! We got to see two!”. I thought to myself, “If I have to see a kill in the wild, this is the type of kill I could handle!”. It would be like seeing a pet cat catch a mouse or a bird or something and not all blood and guts like I’d heard about with the kills the other animals can make.

This serval had no luck while we were watching, but some other people in the camp that drove up as we left did get to see it catch something. Good job, buddy.

We decided we were going to look for cheetahs or leopards in this new area. I mean, why not? At this point we had seen everything at the top of our lists, including not one, but two serval cats. We felt pretty lucky. It wasn’t long before the following happened:

Wilson yells, "Cheetah!"

Neeners (grabbing binoculars and looking frantically) responds,"Where?"

Wilson, pointing straight ahead in the distance, answers, "There!"

Wilson puts the pedal to the metal and races to see the cheetah.

Neeners looks and looks.

Neeners doesn't see the cheetah, but also rarely sees the actual animal until the 
vehicle is pretty close.

Neeners is old.

Neeners says, "I don't see it, but yay! Good job!"

Wilson drives closer.

Wilson realizes it's a Secretary Bird.

Neeners teases Wilson and nicknames him, "Secretary Bird Wilson".

Wilson nicknames Neeners, "Serval Cat Stephanie".

We had a lot of fun teasing Wilson after that. We had a discussion with him regarding the difference between a secretary bird (the flying things with feathers and beaks) and a cheetah (the land things with whiskers and four legs). Poor Wilson. It was all in good fun and we all had a lot of laughs over it.

Before lunch they took us to see the pink hippos.

These hippos were pink from sunburn! Because of the drought, there wasn’t enough water to always cover their bodies. I felt so bad. Apparently because the water is shallow it’s very dirty and a lot of them were dying, too. It’s very sad. This is why everyone (except us) was so very happy to see the rain they said we brought. After seeing the poor hippos I didn’t mind the rain after that. Water was definitely needed.

We drove back to the camp for lunch, and on the way we got to see my favorite antelope, the dik dik!

They are 12-16 inches tall and they are usually in pairs.

I think this was the first one of the trip. They are so cute and tiny.

We enjoyed lunch, exercised, then had bucket showers. Then we did something that we hadn’t done the whole time at camp to that point (due to weather, mostly). We went to the little area by the water to enjoy the hammocks. It was wonderful! We had a slight breeze so it had cooled off. It was the perfect location to read. I just wish we could have enjoyed it sooner!

The afternoon drive we were looking for leopards or cheetahs. We didn’t have much luck at all to begin with.

More animal butts.
Scratch scratch.

My sense of direction is subpar, to say the least. So when we saw this troop of baboons…

Lotsa butts.

I didn’t realize that we were pretty close to camp. Great. I was hopeful that it was the opposite end of camp, because remember our tent was on the end. It was not the opposite end; they were headed towards our tent. Wonderful. Luck was on our side and either the workers scared them off, or they weren’t interested in getting into our tent to poop and take our medications. Yes, I’ve heard several stories of them doing such a thing.

We saw some lion cubs hiding in the grass/bushes.

We couldn’t see them well because they were right in the bushes, but that was fine by me because I really didn’t want to hang out there anyway. The mom wasn’t around.

Then we noticed a vehicle watching something semi-nearby, and it was a leopard! Not only was it a leopard, but it was Fig’s youngest daughter, Faulu. So even though we didn’t get to see Fig, we got to see her daughter. I was so happy!

Before we knew it everyone from our camp, as well as a few other vehicles, were all around this tree watching her and waiting to see if she would come down. She didn’t seem stressed or anything, so we stayed.

We sat there waiting and waiting. We decided to just have our sundowners there. I really, really wanted to see her get down from the tree!

We had the best conversation with Wilson and Wilfred. They told us about the Maasai, their lives, their families, and just general chit chatting. I’ll never forget showing them both a picture of who their names reminded us of back home. Wilson got the volleyball from Cast Away, and Wilfred for some reason (probably because this was after a gin and tonic or two) got a picture of Wilford Brimley. I’m laughing remembering their reactions. We were all laughing a lot. I was laughing so hard I had to wipe away the tears.

Faulu would switch positions occasionally and we’d all think she was going to come down. She tricked most of her viewers. One by one the other vehicles left. At this point we were having a great conversation and waiting for the leopard was our excuse to continue. So eventually there was only Faulu and us.

A beautiful face.

It was getting into our official night drive and at that point I said, “Let’s stay here as long as we can and hope she comes down.”

Once it was pretty dark she started yawning.

Then she actually stood up!

And then she was both standing *and* yawning, which apparently is the International sign for, “I’m coming down!”

And before we knew it, she came down.

And yawned again.

We did it! We outlasted her and got to see her come down. It was dark and we had to use the red spotlight to see anything at that point. She was very considerate, though, and got down before our dinner time, so thank you Faulu! We only watched her for a little bit because once she was in the bushes there was little chance we were going to find her again.

It was very dark and the drive back to camp was exciting…mostly because you couldn’t see all that far ahead of the vehicle. Between the red spotlight that Wilfred had and Sal and I using our phone/flashlight we tried to see as much as possible.. The bad thing about night safaris is it’s almost impossible to take photos unless you have really great cameras, which we didn’t. The good thing is you get to see some things you haven’t seen before. We saw a white-tailed mongoose, which apparently is pretty rare. You can always tell how rare something is by the excitement the guide shows. We saw a spring hare, which they call the African kangaroo. We also saw a bush baby (very cute with big eyes). All of the sudden there were two hippos, which at night can be scary if you are between them and the water. Thankfully we weren’t and they didn’t even pay attention to us.

Mom and baby hippos out of the water!

And last, but not least…

Yes, that makes three serval cats. Three! They don’t call me Serval Stephanie for nothin’.

We got back to camp and enjoyed dinner and went to bed early because we were tired. It’s amazing how 9-10 hours in an open jeep can wear you out!

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