Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Masai Mara safari

We're back from a few days at the western edge of Kenya, where we were on safari at Masai Mara, one of Kenya's most famous game reserves. Spread out over 1500 square kilometers and contiguous with the Serengeti in Tanzania, the park has vast expanses of grassland in which all manner of wildlife can be found – we were able to see lions, elephants, cheetahs, cape buffalo, giraffe, zebras, a leopard, and many varieties of antelope (and a tiny snake that found its way into Buck & Jim's cabin!). We're back at Lang'ata this evening to have our last dinner here, which we will share with Dr. Nick Oguge, a local scientist who is one of the founder members and president of the Ecological Society for East Africa (ESEA), who will talk with us about efforts by the Earthwatch Institute to integrate community sustainability and wildlife conservation in the Samburu region of Kenya. Next we're off to Mombasa and the coast!

Message from Ashley:
Hello from the sunshine!!!! The safari was absolutely amazing! I saw my favorite animal the warthog with a few little babies. It was so cute! The only problem was that all the girls, including me made the awwwww noise and made them run from us. Hopefully someone got a picture of them to share. I have never been so close to wild animals before. Our driver was the youngest and the fastest, thanks to Isaac! We got to see vultures, lions, hippos, yet no rhinos. I tried to keep calm with the amount of flying insects that were smacking me and Vicky in the face, I only screamed from them a MILLION times. I am finally losing my phobia here. (WINK WINK). Our roads were barely roads and extremely bumpy. They said it was a good Kenya massage! The second night was the best. We got to see the Masai dance for us after dinner at the resort, and then on Tuesday morning we stopped at the village and they danced again. Everyone kept rubbing on my tattoo thinking it would come off on their fingers. It was super funny. The men would jump and whoever jumps the highest gets more wives! It was really exciting to see the dance and interesting that many people spoke a few words of english. What an awesome experience! p.s. My name that my family gave me was Danu which means Happiness!

Message from Vicky:
Hi everybody! We went on safari the last few days and saw some awesome animals! I took tons of pictures (in between getting attacked by bugs lol) and it was lots of fun!

Message from Mwalimu Jim:
Well, it seems that I get end of using the health care facilities in Kenya more than in the US! I am feeling much better now although I am bummed I had to miss the homestays. I have had a great couple days in safari in Maasai Mara with the crew seeing the big cats, elephants, and much, much more. The rolling savannah is just beautiful in itself, and an amazingly intact landscape still although our stop in a local Maasai village outside the game reserve showed the increasing pressures from the human population. Kenya is definitely at a crossroads socially, politically and environmentally; they really are all integrally tied together! It is interesting to read of crackdowns on graft and corruption in the newspaper as we hear similar things from our hosts, but they are also very hopeful about constitutional changes in the works and the promise of the near future. Well, off to the coast today, to Mombasa and then Watumu on the northern coast! I was stationed on the coast 20 years ago in the Peace Corps so I am excited to see it again!

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