Wednesday, July 4, 2018


When bright-eyed bushy-tailed research assistants arrive in Kenya, they're ready to learn: how to identify hyenas, how to operate the tracking equipment, how to change a tire, how to speak a little bit of Swahili, how to drive a stick-shift. But, like many of the skills research assistant gain in the field, learning to drive in the Mara isn't going to be as simple as it sounds...

Driving a manual car on a paved road is one thing. Driving an ancient 2-ton diesel Land Cruiser is another thing. And driving said Land Cruiser off-road in tall grass during the rainy season? To say the least, it builds character.
At the end of obs, we thought we could beat the storm back to camp...
we thought wrong.
When the rains come, this grassland turns into a swamp.
I guess we won't make it to North Clan's den today after all.
To avoid rocks, swamps, tall grass, and the occasional drop-off, it's easiest to stick to the tracks. Unfortunately, we're not the only ones who think so. Believe it or not, traffic can get pretty rough...

The migration is here!

Baboons kick it in the drive to the Serena Lodge.

The cars move aside to let the queen pass... but she's not alone!
These buffalo aren't too keen on us. It's up to us to find a different way to
Happy Zebra Clan's den before the sun sets!
As this herd of elephants passes, a young calf turns to face us, swings his trunk wildly,
and lets out a high-pitched little trumpet. He thinks he's quite intimidating.
On this hot day, we didn't have the heart to make these warthogs abandon
their mud puddle on the side of the road.
A male ostrich takes off running from the road.
Patience is a virtue...
A pair of black-backed jackals have found a way around the tall grass.
We'll wait our turn.
A kori bustard shows off!
Always good to see a bat-eared fox!
On the way into Talek camp, we luckily spotted this little guy before rolling over him!
We scooted him off the track, and he went on with his day, only moderately irritated by us.
I like to think I have a special relationship with Billie Jean (North Clan female).
She seems pretty relaxed around us, and even let me get a peek into her den to see
her little black cubs one day! The downside is that she trusts us too much to move
out of the way of the car. When she sacked out in front of us, I knew we would we'd
need to reroute.

Even in Nairobi, we face some unexpected obstacles...
Driving down the escarpment on the way back to the Mara is
a little anxiety-inducing...
Cars aren't the only traffic in Nairobi. This sheep seems to
know what s/he's doing though.
Even in the busiest parts of Nairobi, it's important to
look out for cattle.

Sharing the road with the wildlife (and cattle, sheep, and goats) can be a pretty great thing though. The Mara is my favorite place in the world to be behind the wheel, because you never know what amazing surprise you'll stumble across next!

An unexpected, and eternally appreciated, PANGOLIN SIGHTING!

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