Wednesday, August 3, 2016

To Kenya Camp 1: Lewa Safari Camp

The airport in Accra really sucks.  Once through security/immigration, there are literally NO restaurants.  There are 2 "snack bars" that served meat pie, fish pie and that's it.  We opted for crap from duty free: peanut m&m's, tobblerone, potato chips and water.  We did make it to the "first class" lounge, which was on par with the airport.  They surprisingly had a shower, but no hot water and it was tiny.  Plus, to get a towel, you had to leave your boarding pass with the reception desk which was returned when you returned your wet towel.  
Once we landed in Kenya ( 6 hr red eye), we were transferred to the Wilson Airport, a much smaller version of Long Beach Airport (15 min drive).  We got breakfast, which was actually pretty good and waited for our flight, a 12 seater that landed us an hour later at Lewa.       
We were met at Lewa by Festus, who ended up being our guide.  Festus was the Bestus.  We've kept a list of every animal we saw but he just knew his stuff and took it personally if he didn't find us as many animals as possible.  On our way from the airport to the Lewa Safari Camp, we saw elephants, giraffes, warthogs, rhino's (white), zebras, gazelles, and a few others.  We got to camp a few hours later and were oriented by the managers, Sacha and his wife Tablyn.  Also met their daughter Mela, who is 3 yrs old and adorable.  Nice lunch by the pool, chicken pot pie, marguerite pizza, avocado & tomato salad.  After a siesta, we went on a 4pm game drive that was filled with animal sightings, a flat tire in the bush, a flock of vultures that were feeding on a large antelope and apps and wine atop William Hill, overlooking the whole valley.  awesome day, awesome Fetus.
We awoke at 6:45 the next morning for a 7am breakfast and an all day excursion to the forest.  We say a pair of cheetah's on the way there, along with a bunch of animals (see list).  We stopped at Lewa Conservancy headquarters on the way where we fed a black faced monkey some crackers and he was nice enough to show us his blue balls.  Jacob has since made the blue balls his screen saver on his iPhone.  
After we left the headquarters, we came across 2 black rhinos, a mom and her calf (AR baby rhino's called calves?).  These rhinos are pretty aggressive and as we drove off the road towards them, they charged us!  It was so unexpected and crazy!!  Festus expertly maneuvered the vehicle so we didn't get rammed but it was close and boy can those rhinos move!!  Unfortunately we didn't really get it adequately captured on film but more on this later.  Holy crap, we couldn't stop talking about it and laughing!
 Once we arrived at "the forest", we hiked down to a really cool waterfall, then hiked to a deep pool where we all (yes, even Jenny) jumped off the rocks into the ~50 degree water.  It felt great.  We dried off, hiked a bit more to the source of the falls, then drove to the canopy walk, which was about 50 yards above the ground in the tops of the trees.  It was about 500 meters in length and our lunch was waiting for us at the end.  On the drive back to camp all we talked about and looked for was more black rhinos but we didn't see any.  However, about a mile from camp, Festus abruptly turned off the road into the bush and after about 5 minutes, we stopped under a tree to find the 2 cheetah brothers lounging into the evening.  It's kind of crazy that these guides know where to look.  Kind of reminds me of my deep sea fishing guide in the keys, Joe Petrucco.  Listening to the chatter on the radio about what other guides are saying and making it happen.  Anyway, as we sat there and took pictures of the cheetahs, Savannah decided to make a clicking noise to get the Cheetah's attention.  One of the Cheetahs abruptly sat up and looked directly at us, not 6 feet from the truck.  Fortunately, that was it and Savannah notched another "naughty" in her belt.
The next day we packed for our 9am flight and were on the road at 7 for a mini game drive on the way to the airstrip.  Well, we got our wish.   Festus spotted 2 black rhinos from about 3 miles away and we drove a bit too close (again) and again, got the double charge!  This time Jacob had his camera ready and he got a great little video of it (you can see it on Instagram @wingsforcrossover).  We got to the airport at 9 for our 9:20 flight.  There were already 2 planes on the ground waiting for their passengers.   Our guide went up to the pilots and said "I have 4 people name is Chad". The pilots were looking for a Cooper group so they took off without us.  When we finally figured out the mistake, the plane had to come back and get us, which was about an hour off of our departure time (no biggie) and we were en route to Ngerende Island Lodge.

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