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.
After a while his curiosity wins. He comes and sits in the middle of the road. Examines us in deep thought.
He looks confused. Not quite sure what to think about us. But then he smiles shyly and has it all figured out. Humans, right?
And 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.
Soon 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.
See, there are hundreds of birds. Some are building their nests, others just mingling and talking.
And 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?
And 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.
The Hartebeest have also gotten the memo and pose in the same manner. One is curious enough to look at us. Hello there!
We 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?
The 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.
When 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.
Next 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.
Oh, 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.
Just 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.
Oh, 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?
From 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.
The 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.
And 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.
While 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.
And a White-browed Sparrow Weaver approaches our van. She examines me from top to toe and judges me correctly. A harmless old lady.
From 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 ~