DEAR DAUGHTER

Dear daughter,

2018 has been a year of many firsts… see at the beginning I told myself I wanted to travel more outside my county Laikipia so that I can see and appreciate other parts of Kenya and today I am proud to say I have done my best.

I started with our immediate neighbor Nyeri in search of Zaina waterfalls in Chania forest. With a group of friends, the plan was hatched and brought to life. It was such a beautiful experience standing like a little footnote at the base of that towering waterfall, so good that my friend called someone that had offended her and forgave

😂

. Nature is powerful like that.

At the base of Zaina falls.. .
Chania village, the trail leading up to the falls .
My friend’s forgiving moment

I then went a little further to Naivasha where my love for hiking was born. Unprepared as my friend and I were, we hiked through the gorges at hell’s gate all the way to the devils bedroom. We then conquered Mt. Longonot, not an easy hike but we made it after 6 hours of walking, crawling and breaking my tooth! At some point during the climb when I couldn’t feel my legs and I couldn’t breathe, I found myself wondering if it was worth all the trouble but the view from the top and the sense of achievement silenced all those thoughts.

Fischer ‘s tower-hells gate national park
Hell’s gate gorge
The view from Kilele Ngamia, Mt. Longonot summit
Naivasha Rocky resort eco-lodge

Proudest moment 2018

The most trying hike was Mt. Ololokwe (The mountain of God) in Namunyak conservancy Samburu county. I worked out and did my research in preparation for the hike but you see daughter, sometimes even the best laid plans can go really wrong. We did not get to the base camp in good time because we got stuck in a lugga (dry Sandy riverbed) and as a result we were going up one of the toughest mountains in the unforgiving samburu heat. I was so beat after the first few minutes that our guide Jackson had to carry my luggage and allow me to rest every five minutes. I hope like me you will be resilient in face of challenges and dehydration

😂

and when you set out to challenge yourself, you will not give up the minute it gets a little tough.

Later that night on our way back, we got stuck for almost 7 hours in the cold Meru county because we had a flat. None of us knew how to change a tyre so we had to ask for help from strangers. What followed is a long story but the moral of it all is dear daughter, be a hands on girl. Learn how to do things like changing a tyre because It may save your life or a night out in the freezing cold.

Mt. Ololokwe
Jackson
Maureen
Another proud moment

Postcard

After this experience, I decided to hang my hiking boots for 2018 but the bug had bitten so hard that when I got another hiking opportunity I went for it with open arms.

Mt. Kilimambogo wasn’t supposed to be tough based on what I had read but again, we had to hike in the scorching sun because TIA (this is Africa) where 9 o’clock could mean 9.30 or even 11 o’clock.

Dear daughter, please learn to always keep time and if you are ever running late communicate to the other parties, apologize and whatever you do, never act like being late is okay.

I did a lot of other fun activities in my usual places. I went for the second Grevys rally and earned my badge as a citizen scientist. This time I went to a new place in Laikipia north (Tumaren camp) where the landscape, sunsets and wildlife makes your jaw drop in awe…

A tumaren sunset
Reticulated giraffe -Tumaren camp

The Grevys ball-Mt Kenya safari club

I could go on about my adventures to new and old places but allow me to focus on the lessons I picked along the way from Laikipia to Suguta marmar, Lewa to Olpejeta, Nanyuki to Doldol and many more…

1. Always leave a place better than you found it. Don’t mess with the flora and fauna, do not litter, collect more than your own litter and if you see someone messing with the environment, call them out but always remember to be polite.

2. If you become a hiker like me, research your destination , work out so that you are ready physically and mentall. Be patient with your hiking buddies and never quit.

3. Be in the moment, focus more on making memories but remember to take photos because photographs are a return ticket of a moment otherwise gone.

4.If you go to conservation areas, stick to the designated tracks, don’t scare away the animals or harrass them because after all you are in their space.

5. Make friends along the way . Im the last couple of years I have been able to go to places that only existed in my dreams thanks to those friends.

6. Always catch the sunrise and sunset… It is the most magical moment when everything turns golden and for a few minutes the world and its problems donot exist.

7.Every year go some place you have never been.

As I conclude, I will leave you with some of my best photos from 2018 and a quote by Sarah Jessica Parker from the movie New year’s eve. I have personalized it a bit because let’s be honest we are in Laikipia not Times Square New York where the tradition of dropping a ball at midnight takes place.

We will get there some day though… Dare to dream daughter.

Here is to more travel, adventure, books and learning in 2019.

“
before we pop the champagne and celebrate the new year, to stop and reflect on the year that has gone by, to remember our triumphs and our missteps, our promises made and broken, the times we opened ourselves to great adventures
or closed ourselves for fear of getting hurt, because that is what new year is all about. Getting another chance, a chance to forgive, to do better, to do more, to give more, to love more and to stop worrying what if and start embracing what will be. So when it clocks midnight, let us remember to be nice to each other, kind to each other and not just today but all year long.”

Happy new year!

Thank you for following me on this journey.

Love and love

Mukuhi.

Water buck-Olpejeta
Favorite elephant potrait -olpejeta

M is for McDonald’s
Doldol
Art in a dead tree
Chimpanzee portrait -Olpejeta
Feeding time -David sheldrick wildlife trust
Kori bustard-Mugie conservancy
Elephant crossing -Mugie conservancy
Lake Naivasha
Gerenuk -Mpala research center
The equator -Olpejeta
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WORLD RHINO DAY 2018

If you are not overflowing with love, compassion, and goodwill for all creatures living wild in nature, you will never know true happiness.

Paul Oxton

In 2010, World wildlife Fund-South Africa announced the first ever world rhino day in South Africa, the following year, two conservationists from Zimbabwe, Lisa Jane Campbell, and Rhishja Larson embarked on a campaign to publicize September 22nd as world rhino day. Since then it has become a global event and grown bigger every year with different individuals, organizations and governments coming together to celebrate rhinos in their own unique ways.

The aim of world rhino day is to raise awareness on the plight of rhinos which over the years have become threatened due to habitat loss, poaching among other man-made threats, come up with the necessary funding, conservation model and celebrate the strides that different organizations and individuals have made so far.

There are five rhino species; black, white, Sumatran, great one-horned and Javan. The statistics according to save the rhino international are as follows…

  • Javan -67
  • Sumatran rhino-less than 80
  • Black rhino- 5,040-5,458
  • Great one-horned rhino-3,500+
  • White rhino- 19,666-21,085

In Kenya, we only have the black and white rhinos. There are two subspecies of the white rhino, southern white (still plenty in the wild) and 2 northern white rhinos which are not exactly a Kenyan species. The northern white rhinos were brought to Kenya in 2009 from the Czech Republic but now only two females remain at Olpejeta conservancy which sadly means they are extinct in the wild and there is a very small chance that they will ever reproduce again even via artificial means.

Here is what you can do to celebrate this day:

After the death of Sudan, the last northern male white rhino, a lot of information and misinformation-filled the Kenyan press. In this era of fake news and social media forwards, take time to get accurate information on rhinos and other endangered species. Also, take time to read up on different conservation efforts and find out how you can contribute or help in conservation.

Visit a local park to interact and learn more about wildlife from experienced wildlife biologists/scientist and guides. Once you are equipped with the proper information you will understand better why conservation is so important and possibly educates others on the same. I always say when it comes to conservation there is no small effort because it is the little things that make a big impact.

I am also a strong believer that despite all the threats, wild animals should be just that
wild. Conservation areas should not over-commercialize endangered species conservation to a point they confine animals to petting zoos just so they can raise money.

I will leave you with a few photos, all from Olpejeta conservancy and Lewa wildlife conservancy which by the way has had zero rhino poaching in the last 4 years thanks to working with communities and security forces to protect the conservancy.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed doing the edits.

Happy world rhino day!

Please leave a comment or question.

Also, find me on Instagram @kuhiwanjohi @proudly_laikipian

XX

Mukuhi.

 

Baraka
The departed Ringo, abandoned by his mother but didn’t survive long enough at the hands of humans
Another Baraka portrait
A southern white rhino-Olpejeta Conservancy
Sitting rhino- Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

Postcard perfect- Lewa Wildlife Conservancy
Living Wild and free-Olpejeta Conservancy 2018

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72 HOURS IN NAIVASHA

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And if travel is like love, it is in the end mostly because its a heightened state of awareness in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips like the best love affairs never really end…

Pico Lyer.

After a very long period trying to plan for a trip to Naivasha and failing terribly, my stars finally aligned during the Easter holidays 2018. To most people, especially those who live in Nairobi, Naivasha maybe a clichĂ© destination but I had only been there once during my university days and it rained half the time so I didn’t enjoy my trip or explore as much as I would have hoped to. I was also younger and not as passionate about travel and nature as I am now.

There is a lot to see and do in Naivasha so how do you fit it all in? Here are just some of the things you need to do during your 72 hour-long Naivasha adventure.

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FIND A CHILL SPOT BY THE LAKE

After coffee at the cutest cafĂ© near the Naivasha bus terminus, our host arrived and took us to Buffalo resort, a simple yet beautiful spot at the shores of Lake Naivasha. The plan was to go for a boat ride possibly to crescent Island but we couldn’t since we got in late and there were hippos everywhere. The view from the shore was amazing, the sunset was a little underwhelming but we had fun taking photos, playing around and finally settling down for a drink. We chose to sit outside to take in the view which as it turns out would be rewarding even after night fall. Imagine sitting outside at night, out of nowhere a dazzle of zebras casually strolls by followed by 2 giraffes and a herd of buffaloes which does not exactly go away but rest under a nearby tree
such was our treat at the buffalo resort. It was a classic Shakespeare ‘on a night like this’ moment (Merchant of venice kids would get this). We had so much fun making new friends, reconnecting with old ones and generally just being in the moment.

We later checked in at our hotel, Southern Lake Junction Rocky Resort which was all shades of gorgeous with unique architecture and furniture. The staff were also super hospitable and friendly.

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VISIT HELL’S GATE NATIONAL PARK AND OLKARIA GEOTHERMAL SPA

We went down for brunch at around midday in the most beautifully curated garden setting I have ever seen and later went on an excursion to Hell’s Gate National Park. On our drive through Hell’s gate, we enjoyed the expansive ranges, spotting a few wildlife here and there but the most outstanding feature for me was Fischer’s tower, a 25 m volcanic plug named after Gustav Fischer, a German explorer who visited the gorge in 1882/1883. It is an excellent spot for rock climbing and an instructor is always available but we had other plans for that day.

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The view…
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Fischer’s tower

I liked the drive through but I was more excited about getting to the Ol Njorowa gorge, a 24 km stretch of pure natural magic. Our taxi driver got us a good deal on a guide to take us through. If your negotiation skills are not that good you are bound to be overcharged and it gets worse if you are a foreigner. The first part of the hike was a little scary as we were going down a steep valley with a lot of water. We had to remove our shoes to navigate the treacherous terrain but interestingly our guide was like a magician
his shoes never came off and never got into the water!

The walk through the gorge was both intimidating and exciting but we made it to the end despite the scary stories of people who have lost their lives there as a result of flash floods. The last stretch was a super tough climb where we had to use some ropes to pull ourselves upwards but the view was amazing and so were the gift shops at the top which were surprisingly fairly priced. We got ourselves quite a number of beaded items which we get at triple the price in Nanyuki!

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Walk though the gorge

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Everyone here had their own photographer but they posed for mine.

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The other part of our day took us to another side of the park, Olkaria geothermal spa, the biggest natural spa in Africa! If I was in high school I probably would have been interested in learning more about the science behind the electric generation using steam but my focus was the swimming pool which lived up to all the hype I had been seeing on social media. I loved the feel of the water on my skin so much that I almost cried when the whistle went off to mark the end of swimming hours! It was another opportunity to sit and be in the moment so we did not take any photos here.

Since we were such balls of energy after the spa treatment, we concluded day 2 at the Delamere miniature golf (also no photos).

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Views on the drive to Olkaria

 

MOUNT LONGONOT-A MEMORABLE HIKE

Day three was the most memorable both for the experiences and the lessons learnt. We set out early and by 9.00 Am, we began our climb although it heated up pretty quickly after that. By the time we got to the first rest area I was literally dying. I was out of breath and I felt like my heart was somewhere between my chest and my head
talk about hard hiking lessons!

I was determined to get to the crater in the hope that the view would make me forget all the pain and loss of breath on my way up. I had to occasionally walk in reverse which weirdly made me feel better and also gave me a chance to enjoy back view. The last 50 meters were the most trying and hilarious since I had to crawl my way up with my friend’s voice in my head telling me how awesome the view from the top was. We made a few friends and took some clichĂ© photos at the sign which if we had read we would know we had a pending 7.2 km hike.

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When we thought the hard part was over

 

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We made it to the summit, Kilele Ngamia, took some more photos and felt like the kings of the world since it was our first ever summit. From here we could see hell’s gate and Lake Naivasha.

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Shortly after beginning our descent, I fell and broke my tooth but since there was nothing much I could do at that point we sat, took a few selfies, enjoyed watching hawks flying about. It would have been great to sit and rest and wallow in self-pity but we had to keep going. 5 hours later, we made it back to base.

You would think our day would end here but we still had the energy for a bit more of exploration around before calling it a day.

SAY GOODBYE

Most of day four was spent at the hotel garden in denial that we had to go back home.

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DOWNSIDE

Sadly like almost all places i have been, litter is a big problem at lake Naivasha, Hell’s gate and Mt Longonot national park. I was appalled by how casually people dispose plastic bottles despite there being designated litter points. I have said it on this blog before and I will say it again… KWS needs to ban single use plastic from the parks. That is the only way to beat the plastic menace

The lake has also receded significantly , illegal fishing is the order of the day and some tourist get too close to wildlife especially the hippos which not only endangers them but also the hippos. Remember when a Chinese tourist was mauled by a hippo and KWS hunted it down later and killed it? Those are the kind of situations that should never happen. I always advocate for responsible tourism. Be a conservationist in your own little way and you will be surprised how much difference it can make.

SNAPSHOT

  1. Mt. Longonot is 2,776 meters above sea level. That is 3.1 km walk to the crater and 7.2 km round the crater so brace yourself for a 15 km walk (took us 6 hours)
  2. Both Hells gate and Mt Longonot national parks are KWS parks that have a cashless system at the gate so make sure you have your card or Mpesa for ease of payment.
  3. Olkaria geothermal spa is part of the Hells gate national park therefore you need to pay the park entrance fee and an additional 400 to access the swimming pool.

 

We had amazing amazing days in Naivasha away from work and everyday challenges.Thank you Nyakio for letting me take you on this adventure with me.Thank you David for being an excellent guide and thank you Rocky resort for being a little piece of heaven on earth on our short stay at Naivasha. We will definitely be back soon.

until the next adventure,

Keep the travel and conservation spirit alive.

Mukuhi Wanjohi

 

 

 

 

NAIROBI NATIONAL PARK

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I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anybody could ever want to own.
Andy Warhol

Nairobi national park is unique in a lot of ways but the most popular is that it is the only national park in a city. You have three options… a game drive, a walk at the Nairobi safari walk or a visit to the animal orphanage. Personally, I do not visit the orphanage because I do not like seeing wild animals in cages. You see, I live in Laikipia, a place where wildlife roams freely in and out of conservation areas so it would not make sense for me to pay a few shilling just so I can see some sad looking lions in a confined space ( no offense)

I made my maiden game drive to the park on 31st st December 2017 with my sister and nephews who given a choice would have preferred to go to a mall. After making the payments, we ventured into the park hoping not to get lost (not sure if there is an option to take a guide and at what cost).

Different people have different experiences from the great Nairobi National park but this is what stood out for me…

  1. The cityscape

I have seen beautiful photos of rhinos and giraffes with a backdrop of the city from different photographers and I have always thought it is pretty cool. I can confidently report now that it is way cooler when you are there to see it for yourself. There was a giraffe on the tarmac that made sure we knew who had a right of way. My nephew was upset that we were too close to it yet the park rules stated that we should not get too close to the animals.

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The zebras and the city

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Boss giraffe

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  1. The people

Every one we encountered in the park was amazing and genuinely excited to be there. Different people stopped us to find out if we had spotted any lions. Sadly we did not see any on that day. One person tried to convince us that if we followed him we would see some elephants but the truth is all wild elephants were trans-located from the park to avoid incidents of human wildlife conflict. Elephants are generally migratory creatures so you can imagine what would happen if they were to move around in the city. If you want to see elephants, you would have to settle for the calves at the David Sheldrick wildlife trust which is open to the public everyday between 11 AM-12 Noon through the KWS central workshop gate opposite Multimedia University.

We may have not been lucky with the lions but we saw many ostriches, lone male impalas which got me wondering why the impalas at Nairobi national park do not form bachelor herds and prefer to go it alone and lots of other animals.

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we all have that one friend…
  1. Ivory burn site

Kenya, under the leadership of president Moi, burned about 10 tonnes of ivory stock pile in 1989. This was a desperate measure to devalue ivory and send a message to the international community that ivory was only valuable when attached to a living elephant. Shortly after the ivory burn, international ivory trade was banned under CITES (Convention on international trade in endangered species). You can read more here.

In 2016 president Kenyatta presided over the biggest ivory burn in Kenya at the Nairobi National park next to the 1989 site. At the site, there is white ash from both ‘ceremonies’ which is equivalent to over 120 tonnes of ivory. There is a warning not to collect the ash from the site as it is a symbol of Kenya’s commitment to elephant conservation.

How effective burning or crushing ivory is to conservation efforts is debatable. I wish someone would come back to after a year or two and tell us if there has been any change, decrease or increase of elephant poaching or if we still have people trafficking ivory through our airports. There was a lot of hype and debates on this topic and I wish someone keeps the conversation going so we know whether we are making progress or not and what can be done better.

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There is a bench at the site which was probably donated by a well wisher in memory of someone but when my nephew saw it he thought someone actually died there…

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Morgan, someone died here! said my dear Kyle
  1. Too close to wildlife?

A while back, national geographic posted a photo of a hyena carrying a glass bottle photographed at the Kruger National park in South Africa. The caption read ‘one of the saddest things to witness in nature is man’s impact of the wild. Careless people don’t realize the impact of their trash on wildlife’

This reminded me of another post by Olpejeta Conservancy of a beer bottle probably thrown out from a moving vehicle inside the park. The Facebook post referred to the person that threw it as a moron but instead of seeing the bigger picture, people chose to call out Olpejeta for calling a paying customer a moron. I have expressed my feelings over litter over and over again and yet everywhere I go it never gets better if the two incidents are anything to go by.

Nairobi national park was no different. As we exited the park, we came across this pack of baboons by the road. In this group there was a little one playing around with a plastic soda bottle. Another monkey at the parking lot was licking off the remains from a yoghurt container and what made me angrier was there was a father who got too close and seemed to be encouraging his child to get close to the monkey. There was another one was on a roof with a plastic bag. Every one including the park rangers went about their business which made me feel like I was the only one who was bothered by this situation. My two cent is Nairobi National park should invest in better trash cans which won’t be accessible to the monkeys or better still, go the Karura forest way by banning all plastic bags and containers from the park.

Don’t be the kind of person that travels just to tick off some destination off their bucket list, don’t be the kind of traveler that has no respect for their environment
travel because you genuinely want to connect with nature and make the world a better place by leaving each place better than you found it

That said, it gets really frustrating seeing the same litter problem in all the conservation areas I visit. This is a replica of what happens in our everyday environment and this is not going to change unless we make personal efforts, educate our children on the impact of litter on our environment and speak up against this vice.

Side bar

Please note that cash is not an acceptable mode of payment at the gate so please carry your card or load your MPESA.

For more stories and photos check out @kuhiwanjohi on instagram.

Thanks for reading.

Take care of your environment.

Xx

Mukuhi.

TUMAREN…ANOTHER OF LAIKIPIA NORTH’S HIDDEN TREASURES

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Once a year, go someplace you have never been before.

Dalai Lama

I have been to Laikipia North so many times now I have lost count. I assumed by now I would know all the corners but my recent participation in the great grevys rally reminded me there is a lot I am yet to see. I was privileged to attend the inaugural rally in another beautiful space in Laikipia North in 2016 and wrote about it here . When I was informed my team was going to Tumaren camp, I was a bit hesitant since I had no idea where that was and rumor had it that it was too close to Nanyuki town but then again I am always open to adventure and one can never turn down a trip to Laikipia North because as long as you stick to your lane you are in for a free game drive, amazing landscapes and rock formations. (Note to self write a book on Laikipia north someday).

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The rocks…

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Our journey to Tumaren started at around 7 AM from Nanyuki. The drive was generally pleasant as we were lucky to find a herd of elephants with lots of calves at a watering hole near Laikipia wilderness camp. If you know me well then you would understand how excited I get around elephants (People give me funny looks ).

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The eles

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We also found beer cans on the road which most likely came from another #ggr team that went ahead of us. I get really annoyed by people who litter. I can not understand how you can make a conscious choice to spend a lot of money and time in a conservation event as big as this and at the same time be a part of the litter problem by trashing a conservation area. We stopped to collect the trash which is insignificant if you think about the problem from a broader perspective.

At some point we had a flat but luckily we got help from a well wisher who happened to be driving a vehicle as our jack malfunctioned. We took a few photos and had a great time getting to know each other.

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The team and the rangers

For the rest of the drive to Tumaren, I was in worlds unknown since I had never been past Mpala research center. I was able to recognize a small town, Ilmotiok, and the familiar landscape of the North. We got to Tumaren at around 11 AM where we were welcomed with a cup of tea in classic Kenyan style despite the scorching sun. We then set up camp and headed out for a drive.

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We couldn’t find any grevys or giraffes for a while but interestingly when we found a lone grevy and got all excited ready with our cameras to shoot, we were accused of trespass by a local. Most of the conversation was in Maasai so I didn’t understand much but we sorted it in the most diplomatic way possible. Our ranger assured us that we were within the borders of Tumaren… okay we were at the border.

We moved on and found a dazzle of about 15 grevys and two plain zebras, our spotter Machira can confirm this figure since his estimations were annoyingly accurate.

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Spot the trouble maker?

I loved  Tumaren’s walking safaris concept. They major on walking /camel safaris unlike most of the parks I have visited in this region. Of course the rules still apply that you must be accompanied by an armed ranger for protection since they understand the terrain as well as wildlife behavior, keep a reasonable distance from the wildlife and whatever you do DO NOT disturb them.

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The transport…

Before I digress further, we went tracking on foot and despite the heat I was super excited. We tried our best to single out the grevys so that we could get clear photos but the plain zebras kept creating chaos. Eventually we got a few shots which I hope will help in the analysis.

at the end of day one we were treated to a spectacular sunset and I spotted a spotted hyena on top of a rock on our way back to camp (see what I did there)?

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In the evening, We told stories by the fire, some of us ( read me) almost sat on the fire because I was afraid of the cold…in my defense I almost froze while camping at Naibor and am still hang up on that. (cameras were charging so no photos)

The next morning, we set out before sunrise. The animals were out to play. We found a hyena and her cubs playing on top of a rock, there were quite a number of gerenuks (giraffe necked gazelles) which were extremely shy and a few giraffes which we were happy to track on foot.

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Spot the gerenuk?
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Patterns (reticulated giraffes)
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Another gerenuk
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Nothing beats the view from the top.

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Sunrise Day 2

We had a great experience at Tumaren apart from a few hiccups here and there the major one being that our driver was not conversant with the area and was afraid to go off-road despite having a 4WD. If we were in another park that doesn’t allow tracking on foot,we would not have gotten anything done since we would have been restricted to the designated paths away from the zebras and giraffes. Generally though he was a great guy with a great sense of humor. I guess the wilderness especially as extreme as Laikipia north was just not his cup of coffee.

Snapshot

1. Tumaren is a beautiful place that offer a amazing walking and driving safari. You can get a tailor made package depending on your preference. Check out their official website for more information and prices.

2. You can access Tumaren by driving on the Nanyuki Doldol road , take a left towards Juakali and proceed straight through Mpala research center, Elkarama ranch etc etc. You can also follow Nanyuki Ilpolei route via musul. From our campsite we could see Musul from a distance. Tumaren also has an airstrip for those who would prefer flying there.

3. Get all your supplies in Nanyuki if you are camping. If you stay at the lodge you will be sorted.

4. Network coverage is non existent so be ready to leave the tech world behind.

5. This area can get extremely hot during the day and cold at night… Pack appropriately.

And finally…

A big shout out to the county government of Laikipia (tourism department), Sema Laikipia and the rangers who took care of us at Tumaren.

To the grevy zebra trust… Thank you for the opportunity to be part of this event.

Until the next one

Plant a tree this rainy season

Do not litter or make excuses for people who do

Take care of your environment

Love, respect and conserve wildlife in your own small way

Go out and have an adventure!

leave a comment…

Love & love.

Mukuhi.

THE GREAT GREVYS RALLY- MY STORY

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Hey guys,

Would you like to go on an adventure of a lifetime? Are you a conservation/ wildlife enthusiast? Would like an opportunity to get involved as a citizen scientist? The great grevys rally 2018 is coming up at the end of this month 27th -28th to be specific. I had an opportunity to participate in the rally in 2016 which turned out to be the most epic weekend.  If you ask my friends they will tell you I have been talking about it for two years!!

Overview (over-simplified )

 The great grevys rally  was originally designed to estimate the population of the grevy zebras through photographing the right side of the zebra and later using IBEIS (Image based Ecological Information system) to analyze the data. According to the last census the estimated figure stands at 2350. Grevy Zebras are  classified as one  of the most endangered mammals and  are only found in parts of northern Kenya and Ethiopia.

In this years great grevys rally teams will be photographing both the endangered grevy zebra and reticulated giraffes.

In my post today, I would like to give you guys  a guideline on what to expect as a citizen scientist based on my experience in 2016.

How to identify a grevy zebra

  • It is slightly bigger than the plain zebra
  • It has a white belly
  • It has narrow stripes
  • It has a broader neck and larger ears.

This is not a comprehensive list but I hope it is a good start before you come up with your own observations once you take part in this event.

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A plain zebra photographed at  Nairobi national park
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A grevy zebra photographed at Mpala research center

There are three species of giraffes in Kenya ( the reticulated giraffe, Rothschild giraffe and Maasai giraffe) since the grevys rally will be taking place in five counties in northern Kenya, Laikipia, Samburu, Isiolo, Meru and Marsabit, you will most likely only see the reticulated giraffes here so you will not have a challenge identifying them.

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Reticulated giraffes photographed at Mpala research center

   The rally organizers will provide one  GPS enabled camera per team which you will use to photograph the right side of both the grevy zebras and reticulated giraffes. You are supposed to get as close as possible to the animals to take photos but please please do not harass them.  You will need a lot of patience since you will find them in groups but the rules of the game dictate that you have to single them out to get good individual photos. This is going to be a challenge but trust me you will enjoy the hide and seek.

PS you are allowed to carry other cameras.

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A dazzle of grevy zebras ( Mpala research center)

Some will hide in the bush while others will play in the sand in classic donkey style. You will look at your photos at the end of the day and wonder what you were doing but do not worry it is part of the process. The side shows made the experience worthwhile in 2016.

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Play time ( Mpala research center)

But eventually you will get good photos

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The type of photo you should take (right side of a grevy)
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or this one

The plain zebras will come out to play as well… do not let them confuse you

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Common zebra ( Mpala research center)

Now that this time we will be photographing reticulated giraffes as well, I can already foresee a challenge if they behave like the one in the photos below but you have to admit they are pretty amazing photos.

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  You will find a lot of other animals
 photograph them as well, you will appreciate the photos later trust me. Before ggr2016, I had never seen so many elephants in one day and at such close proximity. There was a scary moment though when an elephant charged at our vehicle. We later found out it had a calf
classic protective mother.

Remember to keep a respectful distance.

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You will meet amazing people. I met more than half my team on the first day of the rally and they turned out to be amazing people. I also met some cool photographers and reporters from CNN, ran into my high school classmate Beryl Wambani (then working for NTV),  the US ambassador to Kenya Bob Godec and the amazing professor Dan Rubenstein popularly known as Zebra Dan for his outstanding research on Zebras.

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Kids from Mpala primary school
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My team + 2 guy in the  fro Amref

 

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Professor Dan explaining something to Robin Kriel (CNN) and Bob Godec (US ambassador to Kenya)

     You will come across amazing landscapes in the five participating counties. If you haven’t chosen a destination yet, allow me to be biased because I am after all #proudly_laikipian
 Choose Laikipia. Come and experience Laikipias finest. It may give you a new perspective of Laikipia different from what has dominated the media since late 2016.

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The bow (Mpala research center)
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Beauty in motion
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A Mpala research center sunrise
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Views from below and top
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Sunrise

 Finally, you will have an amazing adventure to jump start your 2018 and you will have contributed towards the conservation efforts for two endangered species.

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My squad and amazing driver/guide (He knew all the right places to go)

 

 My question is…What are you waiting for? Register your squad here today!  I hope to see you all in Laikipia or read your stories from other participating counties.

Adventure awaits!!

Leave a comment or question and I will be happy to answer.

Yours truly,

Mukuhi.

2.0.1.7

If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere

Vincent Van Gogh.

Hello everyone & happy new year!

I hope you all are having a great start to the new year. After having a super amazing 2017 I couldn’t think of a better way to start the blog this year than taking a photographic journey through my year.
I had a chance to visit quite a number of places that I had never been to, had the most amazing road trips to Marsabit, Kisumu, Homabay and Mbita, sat at the shores of Lake Victoria where I was treated to amazing views and  witnessed the most gorgeous sunset in Kericho (Sadly I didn’t take a photo)… I could go on and on. 

Below is a sneak peek. I hope the photos inspire you to go out more, appreciate nature, conserve your environment and  live your purpose.

Cheers to an amazing and adventurous 2018!

Leave a comment.

Love and blessings

 Mukuhi.

A view of Mt. Kenya from Oljogi conservancy
A buffalo bachelor herd (Olpejeta conservancy)
Sunset in Naromoru
A Mt Kenya Sunrise
The great north road
Interior Decor (Jambo Mutara Camp).
Elephant view point (Samburu Simba lodge)
A Southern white rhino at sunset (Olpejeta conservancy)
A Lewa Wildlife conservancy  sunrise
Jackson’s horn bill (Lewa wildlife conservancy)
Beautiful landscapes at Lewa Wildlife conservancy at sunrise
more of Lewa
Betty is her name…you can meet her at the giraffe center Nairobi
My sister Njoki and Betty ( Girrafe center).
my favorite rock formation (Laikipia North)
Magical views from Musul (Laikipia North)
Sunset shot from Homabay Market
A sunset boat ride at Homabay
A view from the top (fourteen falls)
Road tripping through the North… I hope to camp on this mountain in 2018
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Close encounters (Oljogi Conservancy) PS I hope to see a wild Leopard in 2018
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More close encounters ( Best moment 2017)
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Natural very cold pool (Ngarendare forest)