Staying at Hog Ranch once Simon was released from hospital was great. I had itchy hands as I had no camera with me and wildlife was tame. David Gulden, our host, was scratching a warthog on the nose and called over to me to “come and feel her warts.” A new one for me. I also marveled at a huge bull giraffe that bowed his head down to meet mine, just curious it seemed.
Sandy and Sandy have been endlessly kind to us and have been putting us up in their home. Simon has been progressing really fast and we are almost ready to take on our expedition. Simon’s bad hip is the one he needs for the clutch so I will have to pass my driving test (which embarrassingly I have not yet done) so I can do the driving.
Simon was feeling so well two days ago that with the two Sandys, we decided to go on a camping trip to a cliff site called Kwenia. We made the decision that morning and within a couple of hours were ready with the car packed. We didn’t get too far before the car starting giving us trouble and we had to turn back. That didn’t hold us back for long and we tried again the following day, on Obama Day (Kenya declared a national holiday in honour of Obama winning the American presidency).
It isn’t a pleasant road for the most part, but once we left the main road, we started to see Dikdiks and Kudus. The rain arrived, bringing in the termites which in turn attracted the Hobbies. The scenery got more and more beautiful until we arrived along a huge expanse of cliff faces on one side, mountains on the other and an empty temporary lake in between them, full of golden grass. Sandy and Sandy wowed and we all sat quietly contemplating the beauty of the place. Simon has been talking about Kwenia for a long time and I now understand why. We arrived as night fell, so we started a fire and discussed potential ways in which the place could be protected.
The rain returned and sent us running to the car where we all dozed until the braver of us got out and set up tents. I continued to sleep in the nice dry car. Morning brought light that allowed us to look onto the cliffs and see the real importance of the area: a colony of nesting Rüppell’s Vultures, the largest known in Southern Kenya (at last count, it had more than 200 individuals). We ate breakfast with binoculars glued to our faces as we tried to count them, then watched as they set off to whatever distant locations they may go to. Still so much is unknown about their daily routine but they do travel very large distances. We also had the pleasure of seeing Rock Kestrels and Egyptian Vultures on the cliffs.
We set off and took a little detour to Lake Magadi to see the Lesser Flamingos. Simon and I hoped to see a Fish Eagle swoop down on a Flamingo but it wasn’t to be. We did, however, see what Simon believes to be an Imperial Eagle drinking from a puddle. If it was the Imperial, then it is quite a treat as they are extremely rare migrants from Europe. The scenery is beautiful around that area and we all returned pleased from a great little trip. We really do hope that Kwenia’s importance will soon be realised and that it will be conserved.