Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Long weekend: Kigali and Virunga National Park

First two quick movie recommendations to learn more about recent history in Rwanda 
and the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo)

For Rwanda: Shake Hands with the Devil (2004 or 2007)
Trailer (2007):



For DRC, specifically the park we were in: Virunga (2014) 
(stream on Netflix)  Trailer:



First some scenes from the road


Loads of loads to push!

Such bright colors everywhere!

Curious peeker!

Simple wooden "bikes" very common for ferrying loads


Kids come out to see the cars go by!

A patchwork quilt of farming!

And the mountains of the Virunga park


Some rain clouds, but a lot of that is gasses from the lava inside!

We went with some park rangers to meet up with the gorillas living wild inside the park, protected by rangers / guards. There's only ~700 of these left, and the Virunga Movie is a riveting, modern true story about these creatures. Highly recommended.


Unbelievable strength of ripping and chewing! That's a solid cylinder of biomass, thicker than a coke can.

Serious! So beautiful and curious to stare into each others' eyes!

Play-fighting with each other

Gorilla bodies everywhere!

Cute little ones!

A silverback! Look how large his head & shoulders are compared with the young ones!


Contemplating... something?



Hiking and adventure buddy!


At the rim of the volcano after the big hike up!

Not bad for a photo taken without a tripod!

Lava.

Boom! Crash! So loud and active!

Check out the floating dark masses in the bottom left!



Hard to beat when it comes to adventure and beauty!

Quite steep coming down! I held this as level as I could with a water bottle as reference!

Hiking down the lava - sometimes solid like this, other times loose lava scree!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Amazing Amboseli

It's the rainy season, so allegedly, it's a terrible time to visit Amboseli. Couple that with an ultra-quick trip from Nairobi (only one night in the park!) and you could have a recipe for disastrously low photo count. 

Instead, we ended up with a fantastic trip through Bonfire Adventures, and 50+ photos worth saving.  Incredible.

Boring lists first:
Animals:
Lion lounging by his kill
Hippos in &  near water
Elephants with babies
Water buffalo 
Wildebeest 
Thompson gazelle 
Grand gazelle 
Hyena and hyena cubs
Tsavo cat hunting birds in the morning
Vervet monkeys 
some other monkeys 
(Giraffes on the drive down) 
(Zebras on the drive down)

Birds:
Crowned stork
Fish eagle
Grey egret 
Stork (yellow bill, others) 
Cranes
Secretary bird
Kori bustard 
Egyptians (brown ducks) 
White pelicans
Sacred ibis
Kingfisher(s!)
Ostriches


The human crew


Water buffalo loungin' around:


Hippos and their friendly birds


A black and white kingfisher (I'm sure it has another name!)


And a much cooler kingfisher!



Love some crowned crane!

Some crowned cranes about to fly in formation!

Keep shooting photos!

Vervet monkeys, with young'uns!


So curious!


And mischevious!


White pelicans


Big SUV, with a car behind it. :)



Families of elephants


Some low-light shots as well


It's really just a cloud at the top, I promise!  Kilimanjaro came out for a peek!


Picturesque


More crowned cranes, now in a high tree


Male lion with his kill - couldn't quite identify it from where we were. Hooves and horns.







A nearby hyena eyeing up the lion and his kill, but not coming within a few hundred meters.


A vulture nearby, also eyeing up the prey.


And some sort of predator bird as well?


Ostriches!


 A secretary bird, and we got to see him later with his head feathers all fluffed up

Kori bustard

And later, apparently, trying to mate:

Antelope, nothing too special, but I like how it turned out.

Fish eagle

No idea who this little cute one was!  Any ideas?

Wildebeest!  See you and your 1.7M friends in a few months for the great migration?
You trying to beat the rush?  ;-) 

Grey crane?

Lots of hungry, hungry, hippos!


Hyena mom, just chilling in her hole in the ground!

But even better, her little cubs running and jumping and playing all over the place!  They looked like black bear cubs from off in the distance, I was so confused!

No idea, but an amazingly beautiful bird!



Early morning entertainment as this Tsavo cat went after some crowned cranes (right side) 



Then he got so curious about us!

The two elephants on the left are fighting; one of them was trying to join the pack, and the other was playing defense to push him away

Tuskers, fighting!

Really putting on a show for us!

Allegedly they were sniffing the air?



 Ah, the savannah....


Really hard to beat the views - didn't turn out well, but note the elephants just past the water!