I have less than a week left in Kenya. My time here has been full of adventures I have learned more in this past year than I could have imagined. My friends have become my family and this experience is something that I will treasure. I have put together a list of some of my top memories during my time in Kenya. Each of these memories leave me with stories that I will be sure to tell my friends and family once I get home.
I hope you find these memories as intriguing and memorable as I do:
10. Hiking the Escarpment
First of all let me just say I am not a hiker. During my journey along the escarpment I had feelings of misery, enjoyment, and all. I was told that the hike would last around 45 minutes but to my surprise it transformed from a 45 minute hike to over 2 hours. While I am glad I made the journey I am not sure if I will agree to go on a hike in the future only time will tell I guess. I did however manage to smile during all the pictures; even during my bouts of misery.
9. Getting Stuck
We all have adventures driving out here in the territory. Everyone here has gotten stuck at least once. On this particular day I was driving with my co-RA Chase and her mom Virginia. We had been rained in camp for a couple days so we were all excited to go out and see our favorite hyenas. After a couple of days of rain you have to be very cautious in the territory, crossings that you would normally take become impassible. Unfortunately I was not cautious enough and ended up getting the car stuck in a crossing along Horseshoe Lugga. As we were digging out the car the other car on obs showed up (cue the shame). After some laughter and teasing by Benson and Matt they helped us get the car out. I also left that crossing with a face full of mud (tip: try not to stand near the wheel when pushing a car out of the mud or else you will end up with a nice bush mud facial).
8. Eland Time
I decided make my last trip through the Talek Gate memorable and what better way to do that than have a photo shoot with a young eland. We use the Talek Gate to get from Talek Town to the territory. I have always seen the rangers standing near the gate with an eland and promised myself I would get a picture with it before I left the Mara. I hope this eland had as much fun during this photo shoot as we had.
7. Move in Day
When I first arrived to the bush I was not sure what to expect. I knew that I would be sleeping in a tent and that I would have to say goodbye to the worlds of flushing toilets and refrigeration but I had no idea what else laid in store for me. I was happily surprised to see that even though we live in the bush we have lots of amenities. Each tent has both a bed and electricity. There is a tent filled with books so if you ever have any downtime you can pick up one for a good read. There also lots of hard drives in camp filled with movies and TV shows. During the rainy season we spent a lot of nights watching movies together. If you’re interested in working out there is also an area in camp known as the gym. Chase, Matt, and I have spent the last couple of days in the gym doing the Insanity workout. I hope Shaun T would be proud!
6. Cooking in the bush
I love making granola. Using the oven here was such an adventure. It runs on butane so there was a lot of guess work as to how long it would take to make something.
5. Elephant Orphanage
When in Nairobi its always nice to take a break from errands and explore the city. During one of our excursions Chase and I ended up at the Elephant Orphanage. While there you can see the keepers feed young elephants and even pet them! You can also adopt an elephant and visit it during hours that are closed to the public.
Sometimes during obs we see other carnivores than our precious hyenas. One day while on obs in Fig Tree I lucked out and saw lions mating.
3. Hyena Mating
During my times here I got to see not one mating but three!! Two were hyena matings and one was the lion mating that I mentioned above. While in Fig Tree Benson and I got to witness Donatello and Santiago mate. The mating process lasted for a couple of hours. Santiago would continuously mount and dismount Donatello. The hyenas would also take breaks from mating to play around in the pond.
2. Balloon Flight
One my second to last morning in the Mara Chase, my co-RA, organized a balloon trip for me. We got to fly across the Mara in a hot air balloon and had a nice tasty breakfast that included champagne at the end of the flight. While in the air we saw one our Talek West hyenas loping across the territory.
Darting a hyena is such a nerve-wracking and strenuous process. My first darting was EWOK. He is a very beautiful sub-adult male in Fig Tree and he is also Hadley’s favorite Fig Tree hyena. The morning of the darting my nerves were at an all time high. The drive to Fig Tree is about and hour which gave me lots of time for my adrenaline to build up along with my nerves. Thankfully we spotted EWOK not too long after entering the territory. With help and guidance from Benson I shot EWOK successfully. Thanks Benson!!
My time in Kenya was full of memories and people that I will never forget. I hope to come back here and make more memories in the future.