Posted in photography, Travel

ON TO THE NORTH

WELCOME 2

 

The earth has music for those who listen

William Shakespeare.

When I started this blog about a year and a half ago, I was looking for a platform that would allow me to share my love for nature, wildlife and photography and hopefully use the three to promote conservation education and a general appreciation for the world’s beauty. Taking stock a year and a half later, I have to admit I haven’t posted as much as I originally planned. Sometimes I write in my head but it never translates to an actual published post…blame it on trying to balance a full time job and using every spare moment of my life travelling somewhere in this country (Excuses excuses).  I sure hope the few posts I have managed to publish have in a small way fulfilled my goal.

Going through my photos made me realize I am a chronic hoarder. Most of my space is taken up by photos from all the places I have been but never shared. Taking photos is all fun and games until it gets to the sorting and editing part… then I switch off. So I have decided to get back on the writing/ sharing  bandwagon and hopefully keep doing it on reasonably regular basis by sharing one of my most epic trip this year to Marsabit. I have always wanted to go there but I guess the uncertainty of what lies ahead has always held me back until I read the Kenyan campers series on Northern Kenya.  Unlike him, my trip was rather spontaneous since the plan was hatched 2 days before it happened. One day to the trip, my friend was chickening out  but I gave him my positive vibes speech that nothing bad happens to me; which means nothing bad would happen to him as we ventured into this strange land.

On a Saturday afternoon after winding up in the office, the adventure began at 2.30 PM. We cruised through familiar territories from Nanyuki, through the beautiful farms in Timau  all the way to Archer’s post.  That is as far as any of us had  ever been before so after Archer’s, we were all in the dark as to what lay ahead. That road is not referred to as the great north road for nothing. It is in my opinion the best piece of tarmac in this country…well done President Kibaki, well done.  We had our first stop over near Mount  Ololokwe also known as Ol Donyo Sabache in Samburu county. The traffic on this road is non existent so you can take pretty good photos from here without the fear of some car ruining your shot. In the words of #Thekenyancamper ” This road has so few cars that when you come across one you just take a photo…It is an event!”. You can also do cat wheels if you wish. As for getting the camera settings right for harsh day light photography depending on what time you travel  is a story for another day.

Before  I digress further, the drive was quite scenic  thanks to the amazing Matthews ranges, Mount Ololokwe and the Nkadoru Murto (Cat and mouse rock formation). You may have come across some amazing aerial shots of this online. We got to Marsabit at around 6.30. Can you believe that? Truth is we were driving  at a constant speed of 160/170 km/h ( Don’t tell NTSA).

I really wanted to visit Marsabit National park but we were turned away at Ahmed gate because apparently the rains were coming and we would get stuck even if we had a 4WD. Thank you KWS ranger for breaking my heart like that and giving me a reason to come back.

Here are a few highlights on the trip to Marsabit and then I will let some of the photos I took tell the rest of the story for me.

  1. Carry a lot of water. It is very hot on the road.
  2. Do not be fooled, Marsabit is a cold cold town…pack your sweaters people.
  3. Lots of people asking for water on the road but since you can’t be sure if they are genuine or not… keep driving
  4. Apparently the roads in Marsabit National park are not well maintained so if that is on your list of places to visit plan your trip during the dry season.
  5. There are strong winds crossing the road as you approach Marsabit…watch out for that and be careful

I go to nature to be soothed and healed and to have my senses put in order.

John Burroughs

Until the next one

Love and more love

leave a comment

Mukuhi Wanjohi

SCENIC VIEWS 2
Beauty in motion

BEAUTY IN MOTION 2MATTHEWS RANGES 2

WELCOME TO MARSABIT 2
Drive way to Marsabit town

THE FINAL STRETCH 2THE FOREST

SUNSET TREE 2
The sunset…
TRAFIC 2
The traffic
THE STERLING 2
Only in Northern Kenya

OPEN ROADS 2

RAINBOW SUNSET 2
My rainbow sunset
PROJECTS
projects projects
DRY RIVER BEDS 2
One of the dry rivers-Serollivi
DSC_0049 2
Mount Ololokwe

SCENES

 

 

Posted in photography, Wildlife

POSITIVE  VIBES  FROM  LAIKIPIA  

Nature always wears the color of the spirit and nature comes in different forms…trees, animals,  sky etc etc… Over the last couple of months I have been out and about in Laikipia North which in my opinion holds some of the most beautiful and unexplored landscapes in this country.

I say this because lately, there has been a lot of negative buzz on Laikipia because of the illegal land invasions and general lawlessness in the area.  I have read most commentaries and opinions on the matter which are Unfortunately biased because some of these writers  have either never ventured  into these parts of Laikipia or  have lived here long enough to have a one sided opinion.
Any who,  I don’t want to get into the politics surrounding the whole issue, what I can do is share the beauty that awaits you in this remote part of Kenya once the dust has settled.  Trust me if you are a nature/ wildlife lover you will want to put this in your Kenyan adventure bucket list

Here are a few photos from Oljogi conservancy in Laikipia North from a few weeks back.

Until next time

Love & love

Mukuhi

Mr Eagle
Owl
Toucan
The crested crane
mr-lion.jpg.jpeg
Mr. Lion
Cheetah
Mr. Bear
The elephants

Mr. Very old leopard
Gulley erosion in a snap shot
And a cow /hardy cow
Wild dogs
Posted in photography, Wildlife

Proudly_laikipian

dsc_0904
Sunrise -Mpala Research Centre

Hello,

It has been a moment since I  posted because lately my day job has been a little more demanding than usual. Despite that,  I must say that 2016 has been a great year since it started on such a high with the great Grevy’s Rally, a  two day action filled adventure and my cameras first serious gig.

I have embraced the quote “Every year visit a place you have not visited before.”    I attended the Lewa Marathon for the first time  (as a spectator),  I went to Archers post (first time in samburu County) and the most memorable visit was to Loisaba conservancy which is tucked  away in the ‘middle of no where’ in Laikipia North.  I can bet not many people know this place exists.

In my two part post,  I would like to share a few photos from my few trips around Laikipia in the hope that they will awaken your spirit of adventure and  a desire to conserve these amazing gifts of nature in Laikipia and the rest of Kenya.

Here is todays installment of beautiful Laikipia.

Until the next one,

Lots of love

Mukuhi 😍

the-rock-ilpolei
The great rock of Ilpolei
chimps-on-olpejeta
Chimpanzee grooming session -Olpejeta Conservancy
the-great-kudu-loisaba
The great Kudu – Loisaba conservancy
Illiegal grazing - Loisaba
Herd of cattle illegally grazing – Loisaba conservancy
dsc_0090-2
Elephant March – Loisaba conservancy
dsc_0126
Ostrich and landscape -Loisaba conservancy
plains-loisaba
Open grass lands -Loisaba conservancy
mount-kenya-sunrise
The amazing Mount Kenya at Sunrise – Nanyuki
Posted in Uncategorized

Kalama Conservancy – The Perfect Pit -Stop

The Kenyan Camper

How much do I love Kenya’s bit of the Great North Road? I can count the ways for days. Out of the entire 7000+ kms all the way from Cape Town (South Africa) – Cairo (Egypt) Kenya’s infamous 500km section of lunar surface from Isiolo – Moyale put us in the unenviable position of ‘number last’  but that is now all behind us. Who do we give props for this? Was it ex-president Kibaki? Wherever you are mzee please pokea a fist bump. The soon to be completed stretch of the Isiolo-Marsabit-Moyale road has created massive potential in the previously marginalized Northern Kenya counties and has already created better tourism opportunities and brought enhanced security to this previously ‘unknown’ region.

As we’ve seen before Kenya is full of surprises so of course there’s a little conservancy just off this highway that’s just begging to be visited.

kalama-conservancy-camping-northern-kenya-43

View original post 1,125 more words

Posted in Wildlife

OUR CHEEKY RELATIVES

GROOMING

Photography: Mukuhi Wanjohi

Location: Sweetwaters chimpanzee sanctuary (Ol pejeta conservancy)

Have you ever been to the chimpanzee sanctuary at Ol pejeta conservancy? If not let me tell you what you have been missing. Anyone who went through the Kenyan  8-4-4 education system must have been told that primates are our closest relatives based on the evolution theory and the general appearance of apes (whichever kind). At that time none of us set out to understand that statement because truth is we were just trying to pass our exams and move on to the next level. This place will not only elaborate the statement but also answer all the questions you were afraid to ask your history teacher.

Interacting with chimpanzees and listening to Yego (my favorite guide at the sanctuary) has made  understand just how close we are. I was a little girl during my first visit here and my most memorable chimpanzee was Bahati who came out as quite the show off as he jumped from one branch to the other. Back in those days one could go on a boat ride in the Ewaso Ngiro river and so we huddled into a boat and off we went. One of the chimpanzees (most likely Max) ran after the boat and threw as many stones as he could at our boat. Lets just say 95% of that boat ride was spent crouching inside the boat praying that the stones would not make it inside. Yego told me the boat rides have since been abolished because a chimp once jumped into a boat and beat up a tourist injuring her seriously

 

RELAX MODE

Occasionally Max still throws stones at people but I cant blame him considering his traumatic past and that of the other chimps in the sanctuary. Most of them are refugees of war from Central Africa while others like Mary were kept in captivity in South Sudan. Others were transported across international borders in  inhumane conditions before they found a home at Sweetwaters.

These creatures are very  intelligent and have an amazing memory. A few weeks back, I found Max really agitated throwing stones at everything and everyone.  My guide that day told me it was because a certain politician came to visit bringing along his gun bearing security detail.  Did I mention chimps have a good memory and they still remember the guns and the war in the Congo? Those security guys tried to hide behind view tower but Max was determined to show them who was the boss in that territory. On that note I think America needs chimps like Max who have zero tolerance for guns.

GROOMING

Chimpanzees  walk on their fours but some can stand  or move on their twos. No one does it better that Poco. Last week he was lying in the bushes but the moment a bunch of school kids showed up he got up and gave them a show to remember. I don’t think they will ever forget it the same way I have never forgotten Bahati.

GROOMING (2)

Unfortunately Chimpanzees in captivity do not have the opportunities to exploit their full potential like their counterparts in the wild. Remember how in Madagascar ( the animation) Marty was fascinated by the thought of going out to the wild, am sure some of these chimps feel the same way. Lucky for them Ol pejeta engages them in a number of activities to keep them active and creative.  According to Yego and maybe science the females are more intelligent than the males.  There have been incidents where they have orchestrated a ‘prison break’ by tampering with the electric fence but not to worry if this ever happens when you are there because there is a visitors safety cage where one can run for safety .

SAD EYES
you with the sad eyes…

Judy has the saddest eyes I have ever seen. Makes you want to breach the electric fence and go give her a hug. She uses her forearms for movement since polio affected her hind legs. She is however a lovely chimps who makes funny faces and nods when you speak to her.

MOVEMENT
Judy

 

This one (Cant remember his name) grew up in ‘shags’ because he knows that when you have a thorn in your flesh, you use another thorn to remove it. If that is not being brilliant, I don’t know what is.

THORN IN THE FLESH
Thorn in the flesh!

 

I could go on and on about these amazing creatures but I will leave with a few facts about chimpanzees

  1. They are humans closest relatives with 98% of our genetic makeup
  2. Their main habitat is rain forests and sometimes open Savannah and woodlands
  3. They live in families with  usually with one dominant male who has the mating rights (according to Yego there are clande manenos in chimpanzee world)
  4. They are endangered due to habitat loss, hunting for bush meat and commercial trade.
  5. They can walk on fours but can stand  upright and move  on their twos

SIGN POST

You can become part of the Chimpanzee story by visiting the sweetwaters chimpanzee sanctuary especially the adoption center. Here you can adopt as many chimpanzees as you want from rates as low as 10$. Every dollar counts so go to the adoption center here and make your contribution.

#conservationforever

Until next time, thank you for reading…

Love

Mukuhi

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

#IAMDARAJA

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I AM DARAJA

A couple of months back I wrote about my experience at Daraja Academy during their fundraising cycling challenge and gala night  here. My post was more on my connection with the scenic views that make up the surrounding of the campus because generally I focus on nature, the environment and wildlife conservation on this platform. Allow me to deviate a bit today to girl empowerment and education because I believe education is the bottom line to everything.

At the gala night, we sat in the freezing cold Laikipian night and watched the girls showcase their talents ranging from sports, fashion show ,music and spoken word. When I say Daraja girls are talented I mean exactly that. Two girls moved me to tears with their remix of John Legends ‘one man can change the world’ to ‘One girl can change the world’. My friend and MC for the event Ndunge did a stellar job before and during the event. She managed to organize the girls during their rehearsals through to the final presentation. If you need an event planner/MC she is your girl. Check her out on Facebook, Hadithi. She is also a director at Dyrah Group Limited, a company that deals with marketing, branding, events and supplies.

A lot of promises were made by most of the guests at the gala but sadly not all promises have been fulfilled to date. Last week, Quix’s sports gear in partnership with the Daraja Academy management delivered sports uniform to the girls which they can use for both their rugby team and football. Quix’s sports gear is a Kenyan clothing line that specializes in developing new uniform designs for teams participating in different sports activities. The photos are a clear indication of the great work Quix’s is doing and the look on the girls faces is clearly one of satisfaction for a job well done.

To partner with Daraja academy please visit their website and partner with them in shaping the future of these young women in whichever capacity you can.

Also take a look at quix sports gear  website for all your sports gear needs whether personal or for an organization.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

LEWA

Safaricom LEWA marathon 2016 took place on 25th June. This is one of the most hyped runing experience in Kenya because of its unique setting (Running in the wild) .  This marathon takes place in one of the most beautiful landscape in this country. Lewa wildlife conservancy is a UNESCO world heritage site and a sanctuary for all wildlife especially  endangered species. I don’t want to make my post about the marathon you can read all about it on the Lewa and Safaricom websites. My focus is on my personal experience,  the friends I made and my appreciation of such events.

On ‘Race day’ my friend Caro and I were on the road by 7.00 AM. I was super excited as it was my first time to attend the Lewa marathon but for my friend it was her first trip ever to Isiolo county and to the Lewa wildlife conservancy. I have been on that road severally and the drive was as beautiful as I remembered especially in the morning light. I was eager to show Caro the ‘mowhawk’ hill in Timau, the view of Mount Kenya from Kisima and of course the beautiful live fences that characterize most of the large farms in Timau. 

Timau bridge
The Timau bridge
The mowhawk hill
The ‘Mohawk’ hill
Timau road
Ibis farm

My other friend, our host at Lewa had warned us not to expect to meet any elephants as they had been moved away to make room for the runners. I am an elephant person so you can imagine how excited I was when just a few meters into the conservancy I spotted a herd of  elephants .  In my excitement I may have shouted  a bit louder than l intended because I remember Caro was ready to take off in fear.  We took a few photos including an elephant calf which was half hiding in the bushes. This bull however stood out for me as it strutted across the grass land in the morning light.

Elephant on Lewa

 

Elephant on Lewa

 

Another few meters ahead we found some grevy zebras and impalas grazing by the road side. There was a fight of some  sort,  possibly a male impala trying to take its position as the dominant male in the herd. We didnt stay long enough to find out how it ended.

Lewa is home to quite a number of grevys. This particular species is a resident of northern Kenya and is classified as one of the endangered species. here are a few facts about this species

  1. It is physically larger than the plain zebra
  2. It has thinner stripes,  a white belly and larger ears
  3. It’s  main habitat is northern Kenya and Ethiopia
  4. Its main threat is habitat loss, competition with livestock and predation.

In January this year citizen scientists took part in the first great grevys rally to carry out a census to determine the population of these animals using IBEIS technology. The results will be released later this year as scientists are still analyzing over 45000 images submitted by the citizen scientists.

Grevy Zebra on Lewa
Grevy zebra
Impala 2
The poser
Impala
The fighter

HornbillBack to the Lewa marathon, this year I was the spectator, the sight seer and the cheer leader. If I start now I believe I can survive the 21 km race in 2017.

If you would like to participate keep checking the Lewa conservancy website as well as safaricom.  Every contribution whether monetary or information will go a long way to supporting this organization in its quest to care for all wildlife and save the endangered species from extinction. Go to a conservation area near you get inspired  and make your contribution.

I will leave you with a few images which I managed to capture during my two days at the conservancy.

Hornbill

 

 

Vervet on roof
The view from the topn

Mr impala

Vervet
Every time is tree time for these vervet monkeys

Tree

DSC_0320 (2)
Reticulated giraffe towering over us as we drove out of the conservancy
Posted in Uncategorized

DARAJA.

DSC_4423 2photography: Mukuhi Wanjohi

Location: Daraja Academy (Laikipia North)

Two weeks ago I attended the Daraja Academy cycling challenge/ gala night followed by camping on one of the coldest nights of my life. I think my brain froze at some point I could no longer feel the cold. It was a magical night. Those girls  inspired me, made me laugh and at some point moved me to tears.   This school is raising a generation of strong women who have overcome a lot of challenges in their short lives to become young role models. If you ever meet them,  trust me they will have the same effect on you…

DSC_0158 2

As much as this event  was about raising money for girl education,  I had to go looking for some inspiration in nature.. I read in a blog once that if you are a photographer and you are not sure if it is okay for you to take photo or not you just keep snapping until someone stops you. That is exactly what happened in this case… We took a walk just a little outside Daraja academy to take a few photos of the landscape. A few minutes out,  there was a herd of camels and my friend and I were more than happy to shoot away. My friends exact words were that this was as close to a wild animal as we would see right before a very angry man came from the bushes shouting at us.

DSC_4422 2

“Usipige ngamia picha! Hio sio mali yako. Ukipiga picha utaniona!” (Don,t take photos of the camels! that is not your property. If you take photos I will deal with you!) We silently backed off but not without a few shots of these beautiful creatures of the dry Laikipia North. I was later  informed by a source  that the local politicians have told the locals not to allow people to take photos unless they get some money from it. I guess that is a valid point but then again how do you determine the cost?

DSC_4433 2

DSC_5567
The ever present blue sterling bird

The flora and fauna at Daraja did not disappoint either.   I was treated to some of the scenic views  below and one  of the most amazing sunsets I have seen in a while. I don’t t think there is a day that goes by that I do not see the blue sterling bird… It never dissapoint and its curiosity is always welcome

DSC_5607 2
The ‘tower’ on the hill
DSC_5555 2
Moments before sundown
DSC_5618 2
A man walking his camel home at sunset

 

DSC_5648 2
The sundown moment

Sometimes I wanna lose faith in humanity but I still believe people will have sense enough  to do what is right. Allow me to go on a bit of a rant. I have mentioned earlier that the Daraja girls inspired me and I feel like am the one who should be looking up to them and not the other way round. I took the first photo of the camp site when we arrived and the second one on the morning after,   after almost everybody had left.  We were there to support these girls and set a good example  but instead this is what we did. we found a perfectly clean campsite but left our litter for the same girls we went to support to clean up. I have no respect for people who drop litter without even flinching, especially those that say if they don’t litter the county council guys wont have work to do.   If you are such a person, shame on you and I hope you change. Remember to always leave a place better than you found it otherwise what example did we set for these girls?

DSC_5553 2
The campsite on arrival
DSC_0160 (2)
The campsite the morning after

Finally,  as you drive into to Laikipia, there is a welcome to Laikipia County the Oasis of opportunities sign which only has  wildlife photos and I wonder why because  as much as I love elephants, check   Ivory to ashes  and  Falling for Elephants , there is so much more in this vast county;  the landscapes, livestock  and the communities. This is the place to be. I am yet to explore most of Laikipia but thanks to a little inspiration from   The Kenyan Camper  and an invitation from Dr.  Josephine Kulea  (The founder of Samburu Girls Foundation  Mukuhi is heading to the north starting with Samburu.  I can’t t wait to meet Kulea’s girls,  experience the Samburu culture,  eat a Samburu goat and meet the Samburu elephants!

DSC_4453 2
A herd of cattle by the river

This was my last photo on the road from Daraja Academy . The car was moving at 60km/h but the cows were generous enough to let me steal this shot.

Until next time, be a responsible citizen,  do not litter & alway set a good example.  You never know who is watching.  Above all else connect with Nature wherever you go.

Get more information about the school  on  daraja-academy.org and if you can please send your donation.  It will go along way in educating the girl child.

                             💝💝

Mukuhi.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Ivory to ashes

Photography: Mukuhi Wanjohi

Location : Mpala Research Center & Olpejeta conservancy

Two weeks ago, Kenya led by its president burned its entire ivory stockpile in a highly publicized event. Kenyans love a good story and the Kenyan media never disappointed as they made the ivory burn the talk of town for the two weeks preceding the burn.  As the debate on whether Kenya should have burned the ivory or not continues, I would like to add my voice as an elephant loving Kenyan who grew up near a national park.

Several times elephants have come to our home and destroyed our fences and crops. During  their last visit, they  scared the daylights out of my mother. she peeped outside to check what the commotion was about and there was an elephant in all its majesty standing outside her bedroom window. Me being me, I don’t mind having a jumbo standing outside my bedroom  but for my mother, she wasn’t very happy because besides scaring her in the middle of the night, she had to rebuild the fences and although she is not a large scale farmer count her losses on her few crops. The spectacular Ivory burn meant nothing to people like my mother who consider elephants a nuisance and a threat to their livelihood.

Ivory only has value when it is attached to a living elephant. Many have argued about the economics of biodiversity and felt that the ivory should have been sold and the funds channeled to conserving the remaining elephants. The implications of this would be devastating to the existing elephant herds because the moment we open up the ivory trade we will open Pandora’s box. we will open  up the market and there will be no way to tell which ivory is legally in the market and which one is not. On the day of the burn,  I overheard someone say that they could not sit and watch all that money burn… IVORY IS NOT MONEY. Kenya can get that money and much more through promoting tourism. Tourist do not travel from their side of the world to see dead elephants or buy meaningless ivory tusks. I remember watching an episode of the Amazing race and there was a moment in the race where the teams forgot they were in a competition to marvel at the majesty of the elephants in Botswana. On that note I want to go to the Okavango Delta… it is absolute perfection.

Back to the ivory burn again, the ban on ivory trade has been in place since 1990 but elephants are still dying. Communities living next to elephants still do not see the value in conservation because to them elephants are a bother that benefits the tourism sector but destroy their farms and homes.  To these people the ivory burn means nothing. In my opinion it was turned into a celebrity affair . The person in the village does not care which Hollywood star was at the giants summit or the ivory burn site. Therefore, the government must give them a reason to peacefully coexist with the gentle giants. My colleague once told me if i went to his village to tell people about the importance of elephant conservation they would beat me up because for years they have raided their farms and no one has given them a solution. Those are the issues the government need to address because poachers come from these very communities. The government must empower the  community  economically by channeling some of the tourism funds to benefit the local communities that way, they will understand the value of a live elephant as opposed to just its tusks.

David Attenborough once said, people are not going to care about wildlife conservation unless they think it is important to them. The authorities need to address all aspects of the poaching menace. It is a cartel that goes beyond the lowly paid poacher in the African bushes.

Tristan McConnell (photographer/ foreign correspondent for Agence France-Presse (AFP ) wrote that real killers of African elephants  are criminal enterprises with ability to establish and maintain supply chains stretching from the African jungle to the markets of Asia. there are corrupt officials every step of the way therefore if we are to stop poaching we need to aim at the right target (corruption, criminals and buyers of illegal ivory).  I agree with these sentiment and hope that as the dust settles on this event, we will channel our efforts towards mitigating human wildlife conflict and uplifting the communities that live with the wildlife because at the end of the day all wildlife is

#Worthmorealive

#whenthebuyingstopsthekillingwillstoptoo..

 

DSC_0689
Mother and child at Mpala research center
DSC_0691
A matriarch warning us to back off from her herd at Mpala Research center
DSC_1399 2
A rush for the mud bath at Mpala Research Center
DSC_3254
A young bull grazing at Olpejeta Conservancy

DSC_3259 2DSC_3279DSC_3294 (2)