Saturday, February 5, 2011

Intricate designs, happy tails and insightful eyes

Tsavo East

Right away, greeted by a hornbill upon our entrance to the park. Then the tallest tour guide, a giraffe welcomes us in.

I’m fascinated by zebra. Their markers—odd angles. Dissected in parts, they’re truly sculpted animals. Swishing tails, standing end-to-end to watch for predators. Bucking males, nipping and playing in their own red-earthen paradise.

More swishing tails—it’s the Thompson’s gazelle and oryx—moving in a never-ending pendulum of a fly swatter within the savannah.

Elephants graze around a gentle river that runs across a lush valley of green and rolling vegetation. Flocks of white water birds lift into the air, zipping up and around the big pachyderm feet highlighting the striking contrast of ivory on emerald.

Lunch at the Voi Safari Lodge is amazing, (ugali, lentil, passion juice, yum,) but it’s the view out our window that is astounding. Down below, many family groups of elies dunk, dip, and rough-house in the water holes below. At times, they totally submerge, except for the lone sticking out of the water like a snorkel. A small family that includes a mama, aunty, teen, and month-old baby arrive, and it’s joy to watch them drink and play. That baby never quite leaves the protection of his mama’s legs, but he slips in and out of the water in pure happiness. His mini-trunk barely reaches the water for a drink…slurp…reach…slurp! Even from miles away, we observe the many elephants heading toward us. A lone male slurps water from a drainage hole in the group. Sucks it up, sprays in the air, and then repeats—all afternoon!

Baboons rule the grounds. We watch one hop into a hotel room, steal a hat and candy, then another zip in and out of a restaurant window, swiping a piece of bread in just a second. We attempt to catch a agama lizard, and are joined by baboons, totally acclimated to us humans.

Back on safari, we’re overjoyed to see so many animals. Hartebeest, long-crested & tawny eagle, plus the rainbow-feathered superb starling. No crocodiles or hippos at Crocodile Point/Langu Springs, but the beautiful, water-worm red rocks and pools are a treasure. We hike over the gorgeous stones, watching the water rush over curved and twirled formations formed over years and years.

We spot four lions on a buffalo kill. The two males are overstuffed—huge, blood covered bellies, their bodies so still and languid we think they might be dead! Food coma! The two lionesses eat, using their massive jaws to tear and rip the buffalo meat and submerge their heads inside the body cavity. Cruelty, yet the obvious cycle of life.

The giraffe, with their gorgeous marbled design and insightful eyes and gentle gallop. Warthogs with happy tails rising toward the sun cross the road in front of us. Intricate designs, happy tails and insightful eyes. Oh, how I’ve missed Kenyan wildlife!

No comments: