Welcome to Africa

Visiting the African Continent has been a much cherished dream for its famed wildlife. Our first day of the wildlife safari proved to be a long one as we exited from the Jomo Kenyatta Airport at Nairobi. We are welcomed by James from the Africanquest safaris and introduced to our 4 guides cum drivers who would be with us throughout the trip. With a hearty "Jambo" (how are you in Swahili), our guides cheerfully load our baggage into the vehicles that would serve as our  transport cum game viewing station for the next 7 days.
Our first destination is Samburu Game Reserve 0 deg 37' North of Narobi. It is a drive of 240 kms via Nyeri- Nanyuki- Isiolo and finally to the Samburu GR. We are moving across the equator from the Southern to the Northern hemisphere. It is quite a while before we are out of the smoky environs of Nairobi  and its traffic jams. A redeeming factor is that we spot the Marabou storks in the city and later some of the endemic birds of Africa - Pied crow, hooded crane, Superb starling, Common fiscal etc.

On the way we stop at a charming place off the beaten track called Kengrill Trout for a bush lunch. It was  wonderful to experience the real African bush and of course our birdwatching starts right here. So time to whip out the binoculars & cameras and go watching and clicking!
Some of the birds seen here include the Hartlaub's turaco - a beautiful greenish bird high in the canopy as well as the Grey cuckooshrike (see picture) and the Streaky-headed seed eater (pictrue below).

We proceed onward and reach the gates of Samburu GR in the evening. Samburu is an exciting place where we get our first glimpse of the African wildlife.

The variety and frequency of game in Africa is unmatched and one can spend the whole day admiring and adding to one's list of lifers species unique to this continent. Whoever referred to Africa as "the dark continent" obviously knew litle of colours. Indeed, from its people to its animal and birdlife, Africa is a riot of colours!
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This blog contains a selection of the nearly 800 photographs taken by me. We managed to see 29 species of Mamals, 202 species of the approx 1000 bird species in Kenya (compares very well with the 1250 bird species in the Indian sub-continent) and amongst the reptiles - it was the Nile crocodile. A full list of species, guide books  and other details about Kenya are given at the end of this blog.

Samburu GR

We enter the gate of the Samburu Game Reserve which will be our base for the next 1 1/2 days.
This is a scrubland and we are looking forward to seeing some of the unique species of the area

Nests of weaver birds

A view of Samburu GR. It is dry scrubland. the Ewaso Niyuru river that cuts through the game reserve is dry as the rains having being playing truant in this land.
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Unique species of Samburu GR

Samburu is home to the Reticulated giraffe which is distinct from the sourthern or Masai girafe in its body pattern In the former, it is more geometrical compared to the leafy pattern in the latter

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This is the Grevy's zebra which is which has distincly different stripes from the Common zebra found elsewhere in Africa. Here the stripes are thinner and do not reach upto the the abdomen. You can see the abdomen is white.

More unique species of Samburu GR

Beisa oryx

This lanky long-legged animal is the Gerenuk (Gere for short) best known for standing on its hind legs while feeding in the bush. Pic below.

Gerenuk on their hind legs enjoying some succulent vegetation

A caring mother with its young one.
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Reticulated giraffe keeping company with the cape buffalo


The Cape buffalo is one of the Big 5 and is a ferocious beast that is not to be trifled with. Even a lion would be wary of it.

and yet they will accept the synergistic relationship with an oxpecker. Here you see the Red-billed ox-pecker getting a free ride in exchange for some skin cleaning jobs.

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Kirk's dik-dik - a sweet and delicate animal that would frequent the watering hole near our lodge at dusk



Vervet monkey
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African elephant

The African elephant is distinguished from its Indian cousin by the large ears. Here you see a mother with her calf

A family digging for water in the dried bed of the Ewaso Niyuru river.

The mortal remains of a once mighty Pachyderm. We stopped near this animal to admire some of the birds around it - the animal was however rotting and the stench was quite overpowering! But we were quite enthralled by the Grey-headed sparrow, golden-breasted starling and the White-headed buffalo weaver howvering around. So, the stench was a small price to pay.
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This cute fellow is the Ochre bush squirrel merging beautifully in his surroundings

The Nile crocodile in the backwaters

One of them decides to have a sunbath
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Somali ostrich

One of the unque species of northern Kenya & Samburu GR is the Somali ostrich distinguished by its buff/white legs compared to the Common ostrich (seen at Mara GR) which sports pink legs. A beautiful graceful bird that reminds me of a ballerina.

These are the females

And finally, we spot the male amongst his females
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Enjoying the Birdlife at Samburu GR

Samburu is a real treat for birders. Right at the entrance we came across this unique African species - the White-bellied go away bird

Yellow-necked spurfowl

Yellow-billed stork

Grey-headed sparrow
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Egyptian goose

Striated heron

Crested francolin

Goldbrested starling
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