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Stories from the Kenyan bush

January 30th 2014 - The end signals the beginning

Giraffes and egretsIt is a widely known fact that when one chapter ends there is always another chapter that follows. And as in all exciting novels the next chapter in our life is looking jolly exciting.

After almost a year of working at Cheli and Peacock as relief managers, it is time for Kara and myself to move on to pastures new. We have been given the incredible opportunity to run a brand new upmarket safari lodge that, right now, is still being built!

The new lodge, which is scheduled for a soft opening before Easter this year, is a project of passion for the four directors and, although they don't have a background in tourism, they all have excellent ideas and, equally as importantly, they are willing to listen to other peoples suggestions.

Giraffes in a rowOur time working at the five C & P camps has been a great experience and we've met fantastic people. And, in a nice show of symmetry, our final stint with the company is at the glorious Lewa Safari Camp, the very same place as where we started last year.

The grass is longer, the animals are looking healthy and now, after five stints of relief management at the camp, all of the staff have huge smiles when we arrive. It's nice to see familiar faces and understand the routines… and it's for this very reason that Kara and I have jumped at the chance to go and spearhead the formation of a brand-new lodge.

The last stint working at Lewa went remarkably well and drama free. Sure, there were the odd small head-aches with one of the guides and there will always be problems of some sort or another with one of the guide vehicles, but this time around it just seemed to flow smoother and more quickly… it also helped that we had a fantastic group of people out visiting for almost 2 weeks!

Could this be the Garden of Eden?Every year Lewa Camp receives a number of "zoo groups" – all organised by the same people and with similar itineraries. Their two weeks are full of things to do, visits to schools, clinics and local villages, tracking with the blood hounds, spending the odd night at our sister camp, Joys, and even the odd game drive!!!! These groups are lots of fun and they really helps our final time at Lewa be so enjoyable.

I only managed to get out of camp three times, once was to help a photographic guide try and improve on his photos of rhinos. This meant a fun morning of stalking and photographing… and I even had the opportunity to use his monsterous great 800mm lens – wow!

Boisterous baby eleThe cats were being elusive but then with 5 foot tall grass everywhere they could have been asleep next to the road and you still wouldn't see them! It was quite ironic that, during their entire stay, the zoo group really struggled to see lions. They saw leopard and cheetah but their only sighting of lions wasn't fantastic, and yet the other guests in camp at the same time had brilliant sightings… it's just how it is sometimes I guess! I did find a mother cheetah and her three sub-adults but between the mid-day sun and the harsh colour of the grass, it wasn't a photo friendly sighting and I soon left them relaxing in the grass, gazing out towards Mount Kenya looking for prey!

Rhinos and Mt KenyaTalking of the mountain, I was fortunate to get some great photos of a group of white rhinos relaxing early one morning with the mountain, complete with a fine topping of snow, in the distance behind them. I love rhinos and we will surely miss them at the new lodge but when you consider the added security issues they create for a conservancy, I am glad we don't have any on Olkirimatian just yet! The other "northern" mammals that I'm going to miss are the Grevy's Zebra and Reticulated Giraffe – both are just a little bit more "pretty" than their southern cousins!

And so our time at Lewa draws to an end and we look forward to the future. We have a few days in Nairobi, supply shopping, before we head 3 hours south of the capital to our new home…. Stay tuned!