Thursday, 22 August 2013

DAY EIGHTEEN ~ A Break In The Journey And A Touch Of History

Today began in sublime fashion, with the largest herd of Zebra we have ever seen, comprising several hundred, visiting the waterhole at Ngutuni after breakfast. They were very nervous and easily disturbed, which caused many a sudden stampede from the waterhole: this made for some very interesting photographs as they kicked up the dust against the morning sun.

Spooked Zebra.

After saying goodbye to the wonderful staff at Ngutuni, we reluctantly headed north again; leaving our beloved Tsavo behind. Having spent three days in luxury, we decided that a night in a tent with just a long-drop toilet should be a last resort and agreed we would see if there were any rooms available in Hunter's Lodge itself.

Now for the history. Hunter's Lodge was built in 1958 by Dennis Hunter in honour of his father J.A. Hunter, a famous white hunter who had been employed in the area by the British Colonial Government after the second world war to clear the area of Black Rhino to enable them to displace and relocate the Kamba people into the area. Hunter turned out to be brutally efficient in this task, killing almost 1100 Rhinos (source: Rough Guide to Kenya by Richard Trillo).

Today the Lodge is a rather run down twelve room stop over, with reasonable food in a lovely setting but tired and dated rooms and facilities. The Lodge has, however, recently been taken over by Mada Hotels, the owners of Fig Tree Camp in the Masai Mara and they have plans for major upgrades. Construction is already well under way on twenty-four additional rooms and a conference centre. Once this is complete, the original lodge will be updated to match the standard of the new facilities. This work is expected to take a further six to nine months; so we will see what things are like when we come back next year.

We spent a pleasant afternoon photographing African Darter, Grey-Headed Kingfisher, Hadada Ibis, Purple Heron and a lone Maribu Stork who wandered right up to our ground floor balcony. We also caught fleeting glimpses of Pied Kingfisher, Monitor Lizard, Yellow Baboon and photographed a troop of Vervet Monkeys who live in the trees around the lodge.

African Darter drying its wings.

A very chilled Vervet Monkey.

We discovered tonight that the reason our new Safaricom modem dongle has been unable to connect is because our version of the Safaricom software was out of date and therefore, incompatible with the new modem. Unfortunately, having solved this problem, we find ourselves in an area with a very poor mobile internet signal; so you will have to wait until we reach Nairobi tomorrow before we can update the Blog.

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