Matt had a keen interest in wildlife, and loved nothing more than a trip to the zoo. One memorable visit was a family outing to Paignton Zoo. There was a large rhinoceros enclosure, and for some reason the male and female had been separated. The bull rhino was not happy, and had actually worn down a large furrow by constantly walking backwards and forwards to the gate leading to the female. We had been standing there for a little while, talking about the rhinos and watching the poor guy as he trudged back and forth. Suddenly he stopped next to the gate and started to pee – nothing wrong with this of course, every animal does it after all. Unfortunately for me it was a very windy day; what should have been a spray directed to the floor was suddenly taken up by the wind – covering me with rhino rain!
Day 7 – July 22nd
“Sleeping in a bed is so underappreciated! After another cooked breakfast, we set off towards Nakuru National Park. On the way, we argued about the details of our animal rugby dream team; rhino prop, giraffe second row, cheetah on the wing etc. We arrived at the park and immediately came very close to some waterbucks and flamingos.
We also came across another herd of buffalo, this time with young calves. Some of the buffalo had a symbiotic relationship with the local birds; protection for tic relief and cleaning.
As we drove along past the lake, Josh noticed something big moving under the water which turned out to be a family of hippos.
When we arrived at the lookout point again Adam was asleep, so we all silently left the bus and pretended to be baboons as he woke up.
Today we were looking for leopards, and although our search was unsuccessful, we still saw many more incredible sights. There was a large family of warthogs, with kids and a huge alpha male who looked ready to charge.
There were some large white birds with plumed heads which turned out to be kori bustards – the heaviest flying bird at 17 kg when fully grown. For me one of the most exciting parts of the day was when, scanning for leopards in the trees, I noticed a large black and white square in a very distant tree. We reversed the bus and examined it closer through Sam’s digital zoom, only for Robert to discover that it was a colossal Ruppel’s Vulture, with at least a 3 m wingspan!
Soon after we came to Makalia Falls – swollen due to excessive rainfall. Robert told us to be careful as we could be jumped by lions at any time. The falls were big and beautiful, with spray reaching us 15 m away where we stood.
Soon we carried on, passing some baboons trying to steal a baby impala from the herd, but being chased away by the alpha male. As we started to head back we came across the national animal of Uganda, the Ugandan Crane.
We also found a very rare family of rhinos; there were 4 in one place! There was a baby with them.
Gavan also claims he saw a gruffalo,
however this sighting was unconfirmed.
We headed back to Hotel Janus with a sad farewell to Robert, who went above and beyond what we paid him for. Not for the first time, Gavan wrecked our bathroom, this time by blocking our shower and flooding the room. The rest of the evening was spent in darkness due to a power cut, adding to the trauma of the flood. It was Simran’s birthday, and we arranged for Mary the manager to bring in the cake we bought and sing with us. Tomorrow we have to be up at 4.30 for our journey to Oronkai Primary School, signalling the end of the Acclimatisation Phase of our trek.”