Can a person even GO to Africa without doing a safari?! We can't! And thankfully our missionary friend Dave always schedules a short safari for his teams while they are in Kenya.
So while we were there in late March (yes...I'm finally getting around to posting this...) Kim and I and the rest of our team spent a couple of days on safari.
Dave's favorite safari destination (within reasonable driving time) is Tsavo West National Park.
Tsavo truly is a beautiful place, with many types of geographic areas within its borders...mountains, lava flows, and savannas in a lovely wild topographical mix.
Dave is particularly fond of the Kilaguni Lodge, where over the many years he's established some strong friendships with the staff there. That long-time relationship definitely has its perks for us...not only do they give us good rates, but also treat us like royalty during our stay.
...and open air dining area that overlooks a watering hole.
Part of our team chillin' in the observation area before dinner....
Enough of the lodging...let's go on safari! Following our van is Dave's truck with son Ethan and daughter Selah popping out the top, ready to do some wildlife-spotting!
We hardly left Kilaguni on our first evening game drive when we saw this hartebeest watching us from the top of a termite mound.
Tsavo is known for its elephant population. This big boy was eating dinner when we drove past.
Acres and acres of open savanna, punctuated by ancient volcanic mountains, support large herds of grazing animals. This herd was a combination of impala, zebra, and hartebeest with a few elands thrown in for good measure.
So many different animals...and they all get along.
Zebra are some of my faves. Kenyans call them pundamilia, which means in Swahili "donkey with stripes." Perfect!
Impala are everywhere...about the size of an Indiana deer.
These cute little antelopes are called dik-diks...they mate for life and are nearly always seen in pairs. They are not much bigger than a large rabbit, and probably weigh less. Very skittish...but Tsavo has a very healthy population!
Baby zebra...so adorable!
Seriously, it does not get any better than this! God's Creation is magnificent!!!
We drove up a mountain road and then climbed steps to the Roaring Rocks overlook....
..where Dave took our team photo, high above the Tsavo plains.
Kim, Chuck (Dave's brother), and Favorite Son-in-Law Zach in back, me and Angie (Chuck's daughter/Dave's niece).
Absolutely beautiful up there!
This outcropping is called Lion Rock.
I guess because it looks like a giant sleeping lion. Or maybe because lions like to hang around there.
From Roaring Rock, you can even see Africa's highest mountain, Kilimanjaro (in the country of Tanzania) about 60 miles away in the background.
This large herd of cape buffalo was grazing near the road.
They were quite curious as we stopped.
The big alpha bull came rumbling through his herd to check us out. He was quite intimidating...very strong and mean animals, those buffalo could have easily tipped over our vehicle and done serious damage to all of us. Our driver Francis kept his hand on the wheel and his foot ready to accelerate if need be.
But they only seemed curious, not aggressive at all.
This one even said "cheese" for us!
A serious injury to this buffalo. We suspect it may have gotten horned by another buffalo, ripping open its nostril.
And this buffalo appears to have survived a lion attack! Even when you're a big strong cape buffalo, life in the bush is rife with danger.
Our van startled a wild dog pup out of the bush and it high-tailed itself across the road. We were thrilled with the sighting, as wild dogs are rarely seen in Africa...
...but just as we were returning to the Lodge at dark, we saw a pack of wild dogs along the roadside. Too dark to get a good photo, but I tried.
Very cool! Wild dogs are a threatened species and rarely seen. In all the safaris I've been on, I've only seen one other pack.
Not all the interesting critters were big. This agama lizard was soaking up some warm rays.
Even this dung beetle was fascinating, rolling his dung ball across the road with his hind legs!
Safari game drives are just so much fun, as you never know what you will see around the next bend in the road.
On IN the bend in the road....like this female kudu....
More wildlife! Selah and Ethan enjoyed swimming in the Kilaguni pool between game drives.
A family pack of pachyderms...
Mama and baby pundamilias near the Lodge waterhole....
Baboons are considered to be a nuisance by Africans, but I kinda like them.
During the middle of the day when we weren't doing game drives, this troop of baboons entertained us from our balcony. They were right outside Zach's room, presumably awaiting an opportunity to get into his or someone else's room.
We are warned to keep things off our balconies and our sliding doors latched. A few baboons can quickly cause a lot of chaos and destruction!
So you can see why they are quite a nuisance for the lodge staff.
While I wouldn't say they are "cute," they are very interesting animals to watch and their behavior, especially the youngsters, is much like that of human children.
Don't try this with your lowrider...
The Tsavo roads, which are always difficult, were even more so after the recent heavy rains. Many places we had to turn around due to flooded or washed out roads, which Francis wisely did not try to negotiate even with the safari van.
You just can't phone AAA out here....
And we often have to stop and wait for the "pedestrian" traffic...
Baboon babe hitching a ride on its momma....
The males in the troop kept a close eye on us until their family had passed through.
And the giraffe couldn't care less....
It always amazes me how elephants seem to appear out of thin air! You'd think these massive creatures would have a tough time hiding, but they certainly can in the thick bush vegetation.
And suddenly, there they are!
Trumpeting out a warning to us...yes, we kept on moving! Not eager to get into a tussle with a mad momma tumba!
Dave found a promising spot in the park for his trail cam. (I jokingly told him that if a lion appeared and attacked, I'd have it all on video for the American news channels to salivate over...and make plenty of money for Mahali pa Maisha. Not exactly the type of fundraiser he wants....)
Dave thought that path might be a cat path...and he was right! The next day when he went back to get the camera, it had captured a meandering cheetah.
And speaking of cheetahs...
This may not look special to you or me driving by, but to the trained eye it surely is!
The highlight of our Tsavo safari was the spotting of three cheetahs slowly moving through the brush near our road.
Such sleek, beautiful cats!
We sat there and watched them for several minutes...
...as they came toward us and eventually crossed the road.
Two of the three...another one was lagging behind.
The straggler...there's always one in every group...
Humor me for so many photos...I've only seen a couple of cheetahs in the wild, and never three at once!
Very special and unique in so many ways...
...our Tsavo safari.