12 March 2012
There's something special about a night game drive. We started out at 7.15 pm. I had my massive light and beamed it from right to left and back again through the dark night.
The guests were standing in the safari cruiser, smiling and eager to see the wild animals. At the air strip there were lots of Impalas. The male was chasing the females, trying to herd them together. We continued and came across two zebras and two buffaloes in the distance. Returning to the lodge after seeing more plains game, we saw the hippos along the river, grazing.
But it was the genet that impressed the guests most. It looked like it had hunted a mouse. It stood still for a minute before dashing into the grass. The guests were really happy because it was the fast time to see the genet.
- Genets are related to cats, civets, linsangs, fossa and mongooses.
- They are normally nocturnal but can be seen during the day, especially in wet seasons.
- Known to be arboreal but hunt on the ground as well.
- Omnivorous, feeding on small animals (rodents, bats), birds, birds' eggs, frogs, millepedes and some plants/fruits.
- Have semi-retractable claws for climbing and holding prey.
- Mostly solitary except during courtship or when a female is nursing young ones. Females may have up to 2 litters a year, with two to four kittens born.
- Lifespan of about 8 years, with maturity at about 2 years.
- Mostly found in Africa.
- They can squeeze their bodies whenever their heads fit!
- Genets will arch their back, much like a cat when in distress! They purr, hiss, spit and meow as well.
Heritage Hotels (Kenya) manages a luxury camp, Voyager Ziwani Camp, on the western edge of Tsavo West National Park. Located on a private sanctuary on the of Tsavo West National Park. It is 257 kilometres from Nairobi via the Nairobi - Emali – Loitokitok – Njukini route, or 273 kilometres from Mombasa via the Voi – Taveta route. The camp has a private airstrip where private charter can be arranged. The camp has 25 tents and borders the Sante River, where plenty of wildlife coming for a drink can be seen from the tent's verandah. Report and pictures by Stephen Lekatoo, Resident Naturalist at Voyager Ziwani
©Heritage Hotels Ltd, Kenya.http://www.heritage-eastafrica.com/
1 February 2012
On Boxing Day, l joined four couples staying at the lodge for a game drive in Tsavo West. We did the usual - the Shetani lava flow, Mzima springs followed by a picnic lunch at the awesome Poachers Lookout that gives a 360-degree view of the enormous terrain.
The game drive was exciting for the guests with towers of giraffes, herds of zebras, long-necked gerenuks standing on their hind legs to browse on the taller shrubs, elephants and many other herbivores of the plains.
The guests were – as for those who visit the Tsavo for the first time – excited to see all this but Sam (one of the guests) wanted to see a lion, since he had never seen one in the wild. He was getting a little downcast because it was nearing the end of the game drive and we were on our way back to Voyager Ziwani.
It began to rain as we crossed Kitani River – and then we saw what Sam had been wishing for all along - a lion - not far from us. The excited group clicked away delighted at the sighting and we drove off.
But that wasn’t all. Two kilometers from the lodge, we were in for another surprise. This time – the most elusive cat of all – the leopard. Perfect view and tons of pictures later, we arrived elated at the lodge.
It was the perfect end to a game drive and we hope to have more exciting luck in 2012.
Heritage Hotels (Kenya) manages one luxury camp on the western edge of Tsavo West National Park - Voyager Ziwani Tsavo - in Gicheha Ranch. The camp commands a spectacular of Mawenzi peak of the world highest free-standing mountain, Kilimanjaro. Some of the 25 tents are spread along the banks of Sante Dam where bloats of hippos play all day and loads of plains game and birds come for a drink.
28 March 2011
A secret lake lies in a crater within site of Kilimanjaro’s towering snow-clad mountain, only we can’t see Africa’s tallest mountain because of the thick clouds.
Formed by explosive eruptions thousands of years ago, the crater-lake is fed by underground streams from the mighty mountain.
Its turquoise blue-green waters stand in stark contrast to the dry and dusty land where fat baobabs and thorny trees tough it out under a merciless sun.
Dust trails the cars driving out from Voyager Ziwani
on the edge of Tsavo West national park to the secret crater-lake, driving past red-earth anthills, the shambas
of the Taveta people and the turning to the hill where Grogan built his castle in 1930.
Nobody would guess what lies in the mound amidst this non-descript terrain until one reaches the rim and a burst of blue sparkles in the volcano’s crater. So secret is it that one could easily drive past it.
Even today few people visit it but historical records show that during the First World War, the allied forces marched around the northern edge in their advance on Taveta to battle it out with the Kaiser’s force.
Scrambling down the narrow path to reach the shores of the pretty pond that’s 4.5 square kilometres and 94 metres deep with the invisible line separating Kenya and Tanzania, we meet two women climbing up with fish bought from the local fishermen.
The women, are from the shores of Lake Victoria almost 800-kilometres away. On my first visit to the lake eight years ago, nobody dared swim in it for a teenage British girl, Amy Nicholls had been killed by a crocodile.
Her body was found on the Tanzanian side and brought to Nairobi for a post-mortem where it was revealed that the culprit was a croc. A local diving team spotted one a few years ago and a pair of tusks lying on the lake bed.
On closer look, the tusks were plastic used in a film shot on location. Little boys swim by a collapsed bridge which some enterprising person wanted to build to connect Kenya and Tanzania – secretly l think it would have spoiled the beauty of the stunning lake besides affecting the natural biodiversity.
Sitting on the shore of the lake, I weigh the odds of bumping into a croc. More unlikely than being hit by a car in Nairobi and none of the local guys have seen one in many, many years.
Floating on the water surrounded by the steep walls of the volcano and its forest of euphorbia and fig trees and a blue sky above, life’s a dream. A lone African fish eagle soars above to complete the idyllic picture.
Diving a few feet underwater shows the sun’s rays filter through clear water. But like everybody in the group questions, where did the crocodile come from when there is no surface river flowing into it.
Picture by ©Gurinder Sehmi
A little investigation solves the mystery. The Challa croc-culprit is no other than Grogan, one of Kenya’s most vivid colonial characters who besides building his enormous castle on the nearby hill, pioneered large-scale farming and irrigation in Taveta.
He in his wisdom, then brought some rare dwarf crocodiles as pets and had them shipped from Madagascar in the 1930s and put into Lake Challa, which lay in his 9,650-square-mile estate.
The crocs were thought to have become extinct in the lake some years ago, many killed by the local fishermen in the 1990s when the toothy reptile continually ruined their fishing nets. Maybe it was just the lone one lurking in 2002.
Article by Rupi Mangat, email@example.com Reproduced Courtesy of Nation Newspapers. All rights Nation Media Group Ltd. As appeared on Saturday Magazine, 20th November 2010