The Wildlife Capital of the World: Into the Safari Van and onto the Savannah (Part II)

Welcome into Vintage Africa’s zebra-striped safari van, our home for this afternoon’s adventure. No, don’t sit down! You’ll not see anything for the tall grass. Stand up, hold on to the leather-covered bar in front of your seat and look out through the raised roof. We might spot some animals and birds we’ve not seen in the wild before.

See what I’m talking about! Our first encounter is right after driving through the gates into Nairobi National Park. A Baboon family, mom, dad and a baby. Mom and dad are busy examining the grass, looking for something to eat. And the baby is trying to learn this useful skill.

baboon family ud48After a while his curiosity wins. He comes and sits in the middle of the road. Examines us in deep thought.

baboon baby 3 ud48

He looks confused. Not quite sure what to think about us. But then he smiles shyly and has it all figured out. Humans, right?

baboon baby ud48And so we begin our game drive on the curvy, bumpy, red soil trails. They lead us through many kinds of habitats, from forests to savannahs, uphill and downhill. We are lucky as the trails are mostly dry now after last week’s heavy rains.

trail through savannah ud48Soon we spot our first birds in the sky, the African Sacred Ibis. In ancient Egypt, the Sacred Ibis was worshipped as the god Thoth and was supposed to preserve the country from plagues and serpents. The birds were often mummified and buried with pharaohs. They are now extinct in Egypt, but we are lucky to observe their large nesting colony on an island nearby.

sacred ibis in flight ud47

sacred ibis colony ud47See, there are hundreds of birds. Some are building their nests, others just mingling and talking.

sacred ibis ud47And look out to the left! Our next bird is a big one. This male Ostrich walks slowly, but if need be he can sprint up to 45 miles/70 km per hour. The Ostrich’s eyes are large, but they still have a tendency to run into obstacles. Might it be because their brain is really tiny, about the size of the teaspoon?

ostrich UD47And there – three zebras with their striped butts turned our way. They stand up while sleeping so these guys may be taking a nap in the afternoon heat. At least two of them, while the third is standing guard.

three zebras ud48The Hartebeest have also gotten the memo and pose in the same manner. One is curious enough to look at us. Hello there!

hartebeest ud48We continue our journey and soon spot giraffes on both sides of our trail. They are such gracious creatures. And their eyelashes are just gorgeous, don’t you think?

giraffe 1 ud48

giraffe 16x9 ud48The one on the right seems to be sleeping. Amazingly, this world’s tallest animal only needs 10 minutes to two hours of sleep per day. We don’t want to disturb her, so we continue our bumpy journey.

Keeping an eye on the trees, we spot a bird with a spectacular bill. Our guide tells us it’s the African Grey Hornbill, a female. These birds build their nests in tree cavities and “lock the door” with a cement built of mud and fruit pulp while the female is incubating, just leaving a small “key hole” through which the male feeds her.

African grey hornbill 2 ud47When the nest gets too small for the female and the hatchlings, she breaks out and the door is “locked” again. Both parents feed the babies through the “key hole” until they are ready to fledge. Neat.

african grey hornbill ud47Next we spot a Mousebird flying across our trail.  Her long tail looks quite spectacular in flight. She settles down in a tree at quite a distance. Zoom out and you can see her.

mousebird 2 ud47Oh, look there, in the shade on a large tree branch!  A big bird.  Our knowledgeable guide tells us it’s a “dark morph” of a Tawny Eagle only found in Africa and Asia.

Dark morph tawny Eagle B ud47Just up the next hill we can see something shimmering in the sunshine.  A bird with jewel-like colors, a Superb Starling, jumps around in the grass.

superb starling ud47Oh, he gets scared of our rumbling approach and flies up onto a bush at a safe distance from the trail. He’s easy on the eye, isn’t he?

superb starling 3  ud47From the woods we come onto the open savannah. And there’s a Warthog! He’s looking straight at us for a second, decides he doesn’t like what he sees, and runs away into the high grass with his tail up in the air. Just like in the Lion King. Lol.

warthog ud48The antelopes are much braver. These Impalas are pretty close to the trail. The female examines us thoroughly, while the male decides it’s time to cross the trail to be with his lady. She might need some protection after all.

Impala female ud48

impala ud48And that’s when we arrive at our “rest stop”. The restrooms are here, in case you need to use them. I’m staying behind at the van. There are some animal skulls collected from the park on display around a little hut.

animal sculls ud48While we’re taking a break from all the shaking on the uneven trails, I finally spot an animal that doesn’t run away, at least not very fast, an African Spurred Tortoise.

african spurred tortoise ud48And a White-browed Sparrow Weaver approaches our van. She examines me from top to toe and judges me correctly. A harmless old lady.

White-browed Sparrow-Weaver ud47From here we will continue back onto the savannah. Please return to our safari van – in a couple of days. We don’t want to leave you here at the rest stop for too long.

Cheers from the savannah ~

acacia and bushes on the savannah ud48

80 thoughts on “The Wildlife Capital of the World: Into the Safari Van and onto the Savannah (Part II)”

  1. Wonderful photos and story you’re weaving Tiny. You have a gift for making it fun and engaging. I’ll be back after a brief rest. 🙂 I’ve wanted to see the wildlife in Africa ever since I saw The Wild Kingdom. I really need to make a plan.

    1. Thank you Brad! Hope you’re not too tired after all the shaking in the van 🙂 Yes, you’ll need to make a plan…a vacation or maybe work that will bring you to Africa? See you soon.

    1. I know. Your comment made me smile. It’s strange how being in Nairobi just for a few days, including a brief visit to the park, felt like homecoming. You know the morning light and the air that smelled faintly of smoke…I truly felt it.

    1. It’s storytelling with some evidence, Eric 😀 Nature is a source of inspiration wherever it might be, always equally amazing to me. Happy you came along.

  2. What a lot of wildlife you’ve seen so far. Great shots! Love that cute baby baboon, and yes, the superb starling is very easy on the eye. I wish hubby only needed 10 minutes. to 2 hours sleep per day at the moment. He has so much to do. 😀 Looking forward to more pics of your safari sightings. xx

    1. Oh, I had the same thought about the giraffes sleep patterns, I wish I could do with two hours a night. And they still look gorgeous, no under-eye bags 😀 I wish all the best for your race to finish the renovations. XX

  3. What a grand tour! Thank you so much for taking time to share your adventure with us, Helen! Remarkable photos of these beautiful birds and animals.

    1. Thank you for coming along, Amy! Although the work part of this trip went really well, this one afternoon was the most enjoyable part of the whole journey.

  4. I so enjoyed all the pictures and reading the facts about the birds and animals. It must have been so exciting to be there and get such wonderful pictures. I agree the giraffe has lovely eyelashes. Absolutely amazing pictures sweet Tiny. Hugs

    1. Thank you dear Mags for taking this first half of the journey with me. It was very exciting to get an opportunity on a work trip to visit this National Park again, even only for one afternoon. The savannah with its animals & birds, is such a different environment from what we are used to here. Nature is always inspiring. Hugs

    1. I’m glad you came along for the ride in the safari van, Kathy. These game drives are usually only a couple of hours, but since I only had one shot at it, mine was for about four hours…very bumpy but so thoroughly enjoyable.

  5. What a nice read to take me away from my mundane life! All the photos are so wonderful. I love the baby baboon! To have eyelashes like a giraffe i’d be gorgeous! And if someone calls me ostrich brain, I will know it’s an insult! 😉 Thank you for the adventure. Be well dear. Koko:)

    1. Happy you enjoyed the ride, my friend! The driver/guide I had was very knowledgeable…and better than me in spotting animals and birds …all while driving on very challenging trails. The Baboon baby melted my heart too, he was such a cutie 🙂 Hugs my dear and all the best!

  6. I love it all Helen. A great experience for you. I can’t believe that Giraffes only need 10mins to 2hrs sleep a day! Imagine how much we would get done, if that was our time frame. 🙂

    1. Oh, I had the same reflection on the giraffe’s need for sleep. And despite their short rest they always look so good, no bags under their eyes 🙂 Thanks for coming along on this first half of the ride, Karen.

  7. Wonderful opportunity Tiny to see these creatures in the wild, and such beautiful birds also. We were amazed at the colours of Superb Starling. Really interesting about the Hornbill’s nesting routine. Love the way we can all jump on board the safari truck and join you on the trip. Looking with whetted expectation at your next leg of the journey. Thanks again it was really interesting Tiny!

  8. Happy you enjoyed the first half of the bumpy ride, my dear friend! I can tell you that I spotted the Superb Starling from very far, its color were shining in the sun. These photos don’t even do justice to its beauty. I found the Hornbill’s nesting routine very fascinating too, ultimate protection for the offspring. Many of these birds, were “lifers” and there are some more to come 🙂

  9. This is simply wonderful! Looking at your photos I was excited to see what was next as I scrolled down; I can’t imagine the excitement you must have felt to see all of these beautiful animals! Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful photos!

    1. I am very happy you liked this little shared adventure in the wild. I was excited, of course, as it had been over 10 years since I was there previously. So many wild animals and birds so close to the capital, it is amazing. Thank you for riding along, Stephanie.

  10. I am in awe of you, Tiny aka Helen. I finally know your name! This post is spectacular and throwing yourself into such a complicated post the way you did, shows me how strong of a woman you are. LOVED every photo especially the baby monkey which was just too cute. Thank you for taking me along for the bumpy ride, the closest I will ever get to Africa, most likely. To be there in person, I cannot even begin to imagine. Incredible job you did here!! (((HUGS))) Amy ❤

    1. Thank you for your kind words, dear Amy ❤ It is my pleasure to be able to share some of the beauty Mother provides us, even when not here at home. I felt so grateful for getting that one afternoon free from work so I could go and see these animals and birds. I am thrilled you came along on this bumpy ride, Amy. Thank you my friend. Hugs!!

  11. What I find so striking is that all the creatures you’ve captured (so brilliantly) look incredibly strong and healthy. They are obviously well fed and (I imagine) quite protected in their sanctuary. A lovely tour, Thank You, Helen… 🙂

    1. Thank you for riding along, Carolyn. All these animals only have some natural predators to worry about, a few lions and cheetahs and some smaller cats. But they are few and far between, so life is good on most days, with plenty of food around 🙂

    1. Yes Eddie, it is a beautiful earth we have been given to take care of. I am happy to see this wonderful wildlife conserved and protected so that future generations can enjoy these species.

  12. I love how you weave facts into stories and connect with your great images! Everyone looks very healthy and content. More so that humans being hurled around in the vehicle!!
    Looking forward to more and more 💛

    1. I am glad that you came along, Val. It was very bumpy ride but it was a joy to meet these animals ❤ And yes, they all have plenty to eat particularly now that they've had rains also in the dry/hot season. We'll not leave you at the rest stop 😉

  13. What a terrific safari adventure, Tiny — thanks so much for taking us along. The variety of great birds and mammals here is a total delight. It’s espec. hard to get close-ups of the ostrich and tawny eagle, and your other lovely photos are awesome. Superb superb starling.

    1. Happy you came along for the ride, Jet. The variety of wildlife was amazing, so close to the capital city. My highlight was the Tawny Eagle, such a majestic bird. And the Superb Starling was a darling 🙂

    1. The Eagle was my highlight too. Such a rare and majestic bird. Thanks for coming along for the first half of the bumpy ride, David.

    1. Thank you BJ for coming along for the first half of the drive. The animals and birds were truly amazing. I was so happy to get this opportunity on my work trip.

    1. That little Baboon baby really stole my heart. I stayed there for quite a while watching him 🙂 I’ll try to get the rest together for tomorrow.

  14. What a series, my jaw started dropping in awe from the first photo, by the end, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor!! Superb captures, Helen, as well as storyline. I’ll be sure to be rested to continue on the safari! 🙂

  15. My latest visit there was little over 10 years ago, but we might have visited it close to each other about 30 years ago as well 🙂 It is still a fantastic sanctuary for so many wild animals and birds, and I hope it will continue to be. Two days after my visit, three adult lions and a cub escaped through the electronic fencing (again) and were roaming the streets at night, but all seem to have been returned unharmed http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/19/escaped-lions-tracked-by-armed-rangers-in-kenyan-capital

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