In my beautiful balloon

Following on from last week’s post of our balloon flight in Kenya, here were just some of the animals we saw.

Drifting peacefully.

Drifting peacefully. That’s our breakfast being set up under the tree.

No great “Out of Africa” moments with herds of creatures below us, rather a defensive elephant mother, a pair of rhino and a startled young giraffe.

645 elephants balloon flight

The great thing about two balloons being in flight is that you can get one in your photos. The two rhino had gone into defensive mode while the ostrich appeared indifferent.

The great thing about two balloons being in flight is that you can get one in your photos. The two rhino had gone into defensive mode while the ostrich appeared indifferent.

The rhino weren’t a common sighting in the Mara but our guide could identify where they’d been in the photo, and with some assiduous searching we were able to find them the next day. Believe it or not, one of them was only a baby.



656 giraffe Im out of here

I’m out of here!

And after all that we got an exciting (read bumpy) and hilarious landing and a fabulous breakfast in the bush with eggs ordered as desired from the chef. We had great chats with the other people round the table over breakfast. It was a tough life on safari.

671 breakfast in the bush

676 breakfast to order

Shadow Shot Sunday: Sunset Giraffes in the Masai Mara

How could I resist adding a giraffe photo or two today? My friends on Facebook are all having a go at a riddle, which if you get wrong, you have to change your FB profile to that of a giraffe to three days. Now I don’t see an issue with that, given giraffes are pretty handsome creatures!

© Pauleen Cass 2013

© Pauleen Cass 2013

So going along with the theme, here is today’s post: not my favourite photo of giraffes on our recent trip, but an appropriate end-of-day photo. These two guys were snapped as the sun set over the hills. They may look like they’re feeling rather amorous but in fact they’d been engaging in a protracted bout of necking. Unlike the 1960s human version, this is actually a way of ascertaining dominance of one male over another. Our guide said these fellows were not very old (teenagers maybe?) and were really practicing rather than taking it seriously.

© Pauleen Cass 2013

© Pauleen Cass 2013

In a serious bout, which this had looked to me, there’s a lot of bashing of necks going on. If the fight was severe enough it would be entirely possible to break the other guy’s neck.

So, an initially serene scene with a hidden tension.

It’s Shadow Shot Sunday so why not pop over and see what others have written and photographed.

Shadow Shot Sunday

Shadow Shot Sunday Samburu and Kudu

Today is once again Shadow Shot Sunday and I thought I’d start the photos from my recent trip to Africa – Kenya, Uganda and Zanzibar in Tanzania.Shadow Shot Sunday

We were very fortunate to do a few of safaris while in Kenya, the first in the Masai Mara National Reserve, one to Lake Nakuru where we saw flamingos, and one at Samburu National Park further north. What was great was to be able to see different species of animals, and ones that differed between the parks. The scenery varied quite a lot so we were so pleased to have the time and opportunity to take more than one safari.

A male Greater Kudu in Samburu. © Pauleen Cass 2013

A male Greater Kudu in Samburu -the shadows dapple his striped coat. © Pauleen Cass 2013

We were impressed to note that our pilots on the flight to Oryx airstrip at Samburu National Park were both young Kenyan women. One of our guides, Anthony, was there waiting for us in the ubiquitous open-sided Landcruiser and we set forth on mini-safari en route to Elephant Bedroom Camp.

A female Greater Kudu with her pretty face, and striped coat snacks on the tree.  © Pauleen Cass 2013

A female Greater Kudu with her pretty face, and striped coat snacks on the tree. © Pauleen Cass 2013

Anthony was a Samburu man and I think that their multi-generational knowledge brings so much interest to each drive. His keen eyesight soon picked out a few Greater Kudu grazing among the shadows.  Initially we didn’t realise this was such an important sighting as we’d seen a wide variety of antelopes already. However it’s fairly unusual to see a Kudu as they are quite shy and generally stay in more mountainous areas.

They have beautiful markings and the males have quite impressive horns. The multiple twists of his horn suggest that he’s quite old but with his young ladies around he certainly wasn’t solitary as our animal book indicates.

In the midday heat they were enjoying snacking in the shade of the trees – can you blame them?

Breaking from the shadows the male shows  the "war paint" across his nose. © Pauleen Cass 2013

Breaking from the shadows the male shows the “war paint” across his nose. © Pauleen Cass 2013

Into Africa

11 elephants and plains_edited-1Skywards in September

Australia to Arabia and Zanzibar

Wandering like Joseph

Under African skies[i]

Animals from Antelopes to Zebras

Roam their own vast spaces

As nature intended

And not in a zoo

How can a giraffe

So very tall

Disappear from view

A mother lion and cubs

Ignore the circling safari

A lick, a snarl, a swaggering few

The leopard with in-filled spots

Ignores the enclosing traffic jam

Yet jumps skittishly at a twig

Thousands of Wildebeest

Migrate like ants down the hill

To cross the river en masse

A Samburu in pastels and beads

Shares the knowledge of years

With his curious visitors

Maasai in red, hiss and

Leap before the fire

Bring the watchers to the dance

Narrow Stonetown lanes

Ancients houses, carved wooden doors

Intrigue yet exclude the visitor

New days, new language and experiences

Jambo, Sopa

Asanti sana, Karibu

Lala salama[ii]

These songs of Africa stay with us

Though our passing presence

Goes unnoticed into Africa

[i] Reference to Paul Simon’s Graceland album and the song,

[ii] Jambo (hello in Kiswahili), Sopa (hello in Maa), Asanti sana (thank you very much) always followed by Karibu (you’re welcome). Security guards wish you lala salama (sleep well)…a greeting that can’t be returned, for safety’s sake.