Safari off the beaten track

While on safari in Samburu in Kenya, we heard about a school and village ‘across the river.’  Being adventurous…we decided to pay an unexpected visit.  The reception was grand (as it always is).

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Inside the school (below) we got to take a first hand look at what the kids were learning and how things operated at the school.  The kids hadn’t seen visitors for a long long time so eyes were wide open (as were ours).

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Then we walked to the village.  Few kids from the village go to the school (if any) as it is just too expensive.  This Samburu Village was as poor as it gets but the people were friendly and welcoming.  They also make money on us coming with a fee I pay to the chief as well as the crafts they sell to us on our way ‘out the door’ (see last picture).

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Peggy had this little girl attach herself to the hip right from the get-go…

IMG_1486…quite literally to the hip

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The dancing and rituals were quite real and interesting…

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and interactions genuine

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As we left the village it came down to business…as it always does.  Not a lot of customers and it was hard not to buy at least a little something and not argue the price down too much.

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“The specialist” on safari…

The cheetah is truly “the specialist”  and the most unique cat in many regards.  We all know the cheetah is the fastest land animal (almost twice as fast as a race horse) at speeds reaching 70 mph.  The cheetah has long, slender legs, an enlarged heart and lungs, a short neck, long tail, and a large nasal capacity. The cheetah is the only cat with non-retractable claws. It doesn’t roar.  Instead, it makes a variety of sounds like hissing, barking, purring (the only large cat that purrs), coughing, and even spitting.  It can cover 22 feet in a stride with its paws touching the ground less than 50% of the time while in stride!  There are two points in the stride when the feet don’t even touch the ground, and the cheetah can turn in mid air.  About 50% of the time the cheetah makes the kill–a high percentage compared to other cats;  however, it pays a big price in terms of energy spent.  The cheetah can’t fight like other big cats so it has to eat its food right away before a simba or other large predator comes around.  The cheetah rarely drinks water– she gets most of her fluids from her kills.

_DSC0053100 years ago there were approximately 100,000 cheetahs in the wild from Southwest Asia to Africa; today, it is thought that there are around 12,000 cheetahs left roaming free.

_DSC0099          Which makes coming across scenes like this on safari that much more meaningful.

_DSC0094                               Hopefully they make it.

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Cheetah on wildlife safari in Masai Mara

Here are a few more cheetah pictures from a recent Red Rhino Adventures Wildlife Safari.  Not seen in this picture Greg took on safari (in Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya) are the cubs (see picture below).

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The long grey hair of the cubs (called “mantel”) acts as camouflage especially in dry grass and helps the mother hide her cubs from predators–especially lions and hyenas.  The mantle makes the cubs look like honey badgers which few predators want to mess with.

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Searching for prey and trying to avoid having her cubs being prey is a fine balance…

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