Day 21 MARA TO LAKE NAKURU GAME RESERVE

We take our last tour of the Mara as we head off to another part of the Great Rift Valley, Lake Nakuru Nation Park.  What a great surprise!  We find a cheetah with four cubs. 

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What beautiful animals.  The babies have shaggy-haired backs so they can hide in the long grass while the mother hunts.

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And this mother has her work cut out for her.  She will have difficulty feeding four cubs and keeping them safe.  

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Right now she is still nursing so she must be very concerned feeding herself.  

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We watch the mother stalk and run at a Thompson’s gazelle.  She didn’t make the kill this time.

We have one last surprise—we finally see a black rhino. 

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We now have our Big Five!  This term refers to the five African animals big game hunters of old determined were the most dangerous—the most dangerous when cornered during a huntThe elephant, leopard, lion, Cape buffalo, and the rhino.  Most are now only hunted by camera…most.  We learn Nakuru is a protected reserve where black and white rhinos are secured because these endangered animals are still poached in some parts for their horns, if the opportunity presents.

Our Twiga is on the road again as we leave, a final goodbye.

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 We roll past more elephants on the way out of the Mara Conservation Area.

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These famous Olaloololo Escarpment is a beautiful back drop for the iconic Balanites trees.  This escarpment is the western border of the Mara and the Great Rift Valley. The trees are found throughout Africa and into the Middle East.  It has been called the desert date and the soap berry tree.

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Out on the road, we are back to isolated African settlements. 

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Some of these areas even use euphorbia as fence posts—much like ranches in the American Southwest that use the long ocotillo cactus branches for fencing.  Once in the ground euphorbia can take root and become living enclosures.

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We pass a few shops on the road—full of colorful African memorabilia, like the Maasai blankets, 

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 And yes, tchotchkes too, like this rack of “hunting shields.”

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We enter Nakuru Park just after a rain—and a wide rainbow stretches across the sky!  More good luck?  This is a unique place.  Very small and right beside the city of Nakuru.  They don’t have elephants here because it would not be possible to contain them and they would endanger the town.

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An impala family greets us. 

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Along with olive baboons cleaning each other.

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Out on the open plains of Nakuru we see our first White Rhino. 

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Their name is said to be a mistranslation of the Dutch and later Afrikaans word “wijd” which means wide,  a description of the shape of its mouth.  The white rhino has a wide, square mouth built to graze. 

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It is also the most social of the rhinos.  Don’t read that as friendly, but it is often seen in groups and isn’t as skittish as the critically endangered black rhino (that has a narrow mouth and hooked lip). The black rhino is a browser, the hooked lip used to strip leaves from branches.  It is found at Nakuru–but we’ll have much less chance of seeing one here since it typically hides in the woodlands.  The white rhino is native to southern Africa and Nakuu is one of the locations where it has been introduced to help stabilize the species.

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We work our way around the lake shore and see large flocks of Lesser Flamingos.  The Lesser Flamingo, smaller than the Greater Flamingo, feeds primarily on Spirlina algea growing in very alkaline lakes, like Nakuru. 

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At dusk we head back to Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge where we have a special treat after dinner…native dancers.

Tomorrow we’ll explore more of Lake Nakuru and hopefully find our third type of giraffe, the majestic Rothchild’s Giraffe.

 

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