Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi

One might have thought that we had seen enough elephants during our safari considering that we saw hundreds of them, but we were actually excited to visit the elephant orphanage in Nairobi. The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is dedicated to rescuing orphaned elephants and rhinos, raising them and possibly rehabilitating them, and then returning them to the wild. The baby elephants come from all of the various national parks and animal reserves where, unfortunately, poaching still sometimes occur leaving the elephants orphaned or sometimes they become orphaned for other reasons. Pretty much every baby animal is cute and adorable, but baby elephants are especially cute and precocious.

Just Like a Kid Pushing a Friend into the Pool
Handler Checking on an Elephant
Wrestling Elephants
Even Young Elephants are Big

During the time of our visit, it was very important to make your reservations in advance as the orphanage is only open for a single hour with a limited number of guests able to visit. Although the orphanage did have a single baby rhinoceros at the time, they did not bring him out as it would be too overwhelming for him and they were concerned of how he might react. The baby elephants on the other hand didn’t mind the people at all and some went over to get petted and a particularly curious elephant kept leaving the roped off area to mingle amongst the people.

Elephants at Play
Playing with a Branch
Sniffing the Air

The young elephants certainly seemed happy as they played and wrestled with each other. The handlers, who were all men, did a wonderful job of explaining their mission, the process for getting the elephants ready for release, and even took questions at the end. Once an elephant is ready to go back into the wild, they are taken to a camp at Tsavo National Park where they are slowly introduced to other wild elephants. They come back to the camp until one day the elephant simply stays with the wild animals and they are now fully reintroduced.

They Liked to Push Each Other Around
Butting Heads
Scratching Their Chin

Allowing visitors to the orphanage is just one way that money is raised to support the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, but anyone can go to their site and adopt and elephant as a way for them to raise money. During our safari, we enjoyed seeing so many different animals, including the elephants, and preserving all of these species is important for everyone, not just those who visit Africa. Ever since the 1950’s, there has been a concerted effort to protect the abundance of wildlife that is unique to Africa, which we benefited from during our time traveling through Tanzania and Kenya. Regardless of whether you are visiting Nairobi to go on a safari or visiting for some other reason, we’d highly recommend taking time to visit the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Elephant Orphanage.

Wrapping Their Trunks
Elephant Being Petted
Getting a Drink of Water

Magical Experiences in the Serengeti National Park – Part II

Our second day in the Serengeti National Park were as wonderful and full of magical experiences as our first day. We had several close encounters with lions, only this time it was with a couple of different prides that had young cubs in addition to the adult lions and lionesses. We spent a lot of time watching the lions interact, hence we took a lot of photos of the lions on this day. We also had many different moments of watching the great migration as the wildebeest moved in the thousands ever closer towards the border of Kenya. Whether it was the lions, elephants, wildebeest, hippos, and many different antelopes, the various encounters were all extremely fascinating.

So Many Adorable Family Interactions
Young Elephants are Cute as Well
We Saw Many Topis in the Serengeti
Hungary Hyena
Hippos in the Pond
The Great Migration
Cub on the Move

When on safari and seeing the wildlife, it is important to understand that the animals go about their lives without any concern that they are being observed by humans. This means that whether they are hunting, eating their kill, mating, or other normal activities, you will likely come across interactions involving those things. Although not everyone may want to see some of those things, it is part of life and death in the Serengeti, so it becomes part of the interactions. One such moment during this day was when we saw a hyena who was finishing off the remnants of an antelope. In addition to getting up and close with the hyena, we had the opportunity to watch the vultures gather and challenge the hyena and then other vultures to finish what was left to eat.

Vulture Protecting It’s Food
Family of Elephants
No Day is Complete Without Giraffes
Impalas Were Everywhere in the Serengeti
More Cute Interactions
Helmeted Guineafowl
Pulling a Land Cruiser Out of the Mud

Driving around the Serengeti National Park can be challenging as the roads are very rough and at times they can be quite muddy. Our guide, Shabani, did a wonderful job navigating through these obstacles. At one point, there were three vehicles all moving in unison as we searched for different animals and one of the Land Cruisers got stuck and had to be pulled out by the other vehicles. One could only imagine what would happen if that would have happened when no one was around to assist. Getting out of the vehicle was not something that anyone wanted to do unless absolutely necessary as there are many deadly snakes hidden in the grass in addition to the predators that could be hidden there as well.

Lioness Licking Her Paw
Sunset Over the Hippo Pond
Serengeti Traffic Jam
Vultures in a Tree
Lion Cubs are Playful and Affectionate
Elephants in the Grasslands

There were several times where we literally had to wait for the wildebeest and zebras to cross the road as they sprinted towards their desired destination. We could have moved through and they would have worked they around the vehicle, but it is safer to just let them move through before moving forward. We ended our day by watching the sun set over a hippo pond that had at least twenty to thirty hippos all swimming or playing together. It was just another wonderful way to end a fascinating day in the Serengeti. We were thoroughly exhausted after these amazing days in the Serengeti, but also completely in awe of our safari experiences. The following day we would continue north to cross the Tanzania and Kenya border in order to go to Maasai Mara.

Hyena Eating
Vultures Swooping in on the Hyena
Male Lion
Watching the Sun Set
More of the Migration
Hippos in the Water
More of the Guineafowl
Cuddling Together
Impalas Kicking Up the Dust

Amboseli National Park, the Land of Giants, in Kenya

We arrived in Nairobi about 15 hours later than we were originally scheduled to due to a variety of cancellations and flight changes. So, instead of arriving Sunday evening and getting a night of sleep before starting our safari, we contacted our guides, Perminus and David, and had them meet us at the airport to take us straight to our lodge at Amboseli National Park. Since we had been awake for over 48 hours at this point, we couldn’t have been blamed for drifting in and out of consciousness during the drive from Nairobi to the park. Since we didn’t leave Nairobi until early afternoon, it was near sunset when we approached the Zebra Plains Amboseli Camp where were to stay two nights. As we got close to the camp, animals could already be seen along the road, especially some wonderful views of giraffes as the sun set behind them. This would be the last time that we would not have cameras at the ready to capture every possible image, but we did take a few photos as we drove toward the camp.

Baby Elephant Sniffing Us
African Crowned Cranes Snuggling
Our Tent in the Zebra Plains Amboseli Camp
Standing at the Park Entrance
Mommy and Baby Elephant in the Water
One of the First Lions that We Saw
Elephant in the Road Staring Us Down

As we checked into to our tent at the camp, we were informed that we must always be escorted by one of the camp staff and Maasai warrior guards if we were to leave our tent after dark. This would be true at almost every place we stayed during our safari and it became very evident as to why on our very first night as we heard an elephant trumpet near our tent and even heard a hyena on the porch of the tent. Although we were up early every day and stayed out until dusk, we really enjoyed the places that we stayed. Our days always started with some wonderful African coffee and a warm and hearty breakfast. The lodges also provided us with box lunches to take along as we spent the day driving throughout the parks.

Eagles Taking Flight
Thompson’s Gazelle – They Were Literally Everywhere on Safari
Male and Female Ostrich
Giraffes on the Plains
Blue Heron
Elephant with One Tusk
Outside of Our Tent

Amboseli National Park is one of the smaller parks that we visited, but we literally seemed to come across different wildlife around every turn. The park is known for the elephants, hence the nickname “the Land of the Giants”, which are not only large, but also have some of the largest tusks that we would see on the safari. It was also the place where we would have our up-close interactions with the elephants and even had a playful baby elephant lift his trunk and try to smell us. We understand that the park can get quite busy because it is close to Nairobi, but due to the pandemic, there were not many other tourists or other Land Cruisers (the “official” vehicle of safaris) around us as we traversed the park.

Elephant Walking Away
Pelicans in Flight
We Saw Hundreds of Elephants at Amboseli National Park
Baboon on a Tree Trunk
One of the Many Types of Antelopes and Gazelles that We Saw
Birds Often Ride the Elephants to Eat the Insects That Get Stirred Up
Warthogs or Pumbas as We Called Them

In addition to the many different encounters with the elephants, we also saw hundreds of giraffes, zebras, and wildebeest. Amboseli would also provide us our first opportunities to see lions, of which we saw several times during our day and a half in the park. We also saw many different birds in the park including the ostriches, African Crowned Crane, pelicans, flamingos (which there are two types known as the lesser and greater), and hamerkop (also known as the hammerhead). As the sun set after our first full day on safari, we asked our guide, David, to drive us back to the area around the lodge where we had seen the giraffes at sunset the previous night. We wanted to capture them with the camera since we didn’t pull it out during the drive to Amboseli.

Ready for Bed
We Played with Our New Fisheye Lens in Amboseli
Sunset on Our First Full Day
Colorful Duck
The Large Tusks on the Elephants
Hamerkop or Hammerhead Bird

By the time that our first day and a half was over, we had seen three of the Big Five, elephants, water buffaloes, and lions, just leaving rhinos and leopards to be seen later. It truly was an incredible start to our safari as we so many different animals and we especially enjoyed seeing some of the baby animals. It was also mating season, which was quite interesting as well. On the second day, we drove through Amboseli National Park to see many more animals before making our way to the border of Kenya and Tanzania to continue south on our safari. The full safari is a giant loop that starts south, then heads west, and eventually goes north and finally back east. We can certainly understand why people might make this one of their only destinations on safari, but we would recommending extending it through the many other national parks as we did.

Another Unique Bird
Adorable Baby Elephant
Bar at the Camp Restaurant
Hundreds of Baboons
Just Relaxing
Sunrise On Our Way to Tanzania