Well today started as usual, however ended in excitement!
In the early morning we went to Solio Ranch, recognized as one of the most successful private rhino breeding reserves in Kenya. We encountered the white Rhino (initially called ‘wide’ mouthed, however the British heard white, hence the name today), black Rhino, zebras, wart hogs, and a golden jackal or two.
Lumbering along the rough pathway someone spotted a male lion - wow, the excitement. Our first cat in plain view! After many, many photos we moved along and then STOP , here is the female lion hiding every so quietly in the grass. The excitement was electric. She looked like she possibly was in hunting mode and was likely not thrilled that we had spotted her. She eventually stood up and joined her mate and meandered off away from us. You know when the animal is ‘done’ with you viewing it when he/she turns is backside to you!
We arrived back at the hotel a little later than normal and had enough time for lunch, and before long 9 of the 12 of us were heading back to Solio Ranch. This time our route was closer to the river, much greener with large trees and narrow paths for the jeeps.
The short rains have just finished and until a week or so, this area was flooded and impassable. The animals over here don’t see humans as often and we started to notice ‘disapproving’ stares from the animals - even the gentle zebras!!
Our first animals were a troop of baboons running along the opposite side of the electric fence from us. One was still on our side and we were pleasantly surprised when he shimmied up the post and poof was joining his mates. Shane happened to be videoing them and was able to get the whole shot - fantastic!
We carried along seeing bushback, impala and then a lovely black Rhino family, mama, papa & baby. They were quite close to the track we were on and as mama & baby started to leave, papa decided to ‘charge’ Sammy’s jeep in front of us. It was more of a bluff charge to subtly tell us, you better move long! Sammy backed up slowly (also why we have nicknamed him back-up Sammy ) and shut off his engine. We waited to see if the Rhino would wander away, but no chance of that. So with a lot of Swahili back & forth between Sammy & Steve, we carefully turned around and found an alternate route.
Well not so fast people, another pair of black rhino adult & baby (I suspect it was the same two) wouldn’t let Sammy pass again. He finally got on the other side of her, turn around and head up another way. We, however couldn’t pass them. Steve stopped a distance away and was hesitant to pass her, and eventually he decided we should go back the way we came. Oh no, that wasn’t going to be so easy. Three white rhino females (known to us as the 3 stooges) had blocked our exit and were giving us the evil eye! Yikes we were in a bit of a ‘Situation’! We were there for at least 15 minutes or more, turning from one side to the other until finally the 3 females moved and we found a route up to higher ground.
Sighing relief and with lots of humour, we carried on our drive. Oh no, here come 3 more rhino, b-lining for the road. They thankfully crossed the road but took their time leaving, and, oh the stares! We laughed - word travels fast amongst the animal kingdom and we seem to have a bull’s eye on the jeep! . Heading towards another road to meet up with Sammy, we again encountered grumpy rhino in the distance and then noticed the Zebra staring us down as well. A lone water buffalo was watching our every move. They are mean creatures so not surprising, but even the zebra was making us nervous. We gotta get outta here!!
Steve was on the phone to Sammy telling them we were safe but it just felt creepy - they thought we were just lallygagging. We finally caught up to the other Jeep and sure enough, another tough gang of rhinos bluff charge Sammy’s Jeep. He finds a route through the grass and once clear, boots it with dust flying and unknowingly being chased by the herd! Lucky us, NOT, we are behind this herd who are now blocking our way out. With some patient waiting and manoeuvring Steve got us past the herd. At one point they were running alongside us - nothing like a whacky rhino herd escorting you out of the park!!
We were never so happy to see the park gates and did we have stories and amazing memories from this drive. The group in Sammy’s Jeep were sad they had missed the excitement.
Upon arrival at the hotel, straight to the patio for a drink. Marilyn also had a close animal encounter with 3 baboons as she exited her room. We are not sure who was spooked more - Marilyn or the lead baboon. Apparently they both let out an eek!!
Wow, we are up close and personal with wildlife! Dinner was lively with many laughs. Good night!