Lewa Downs – On safari!

After a delicious first dinner and an eventful night at Sirikoi (we were visited by this guy: )

sirikoi_rhino_visitor

we woke up at around 5.30 to the smell of hot coffee and freshly baked ginger cookies – we wanted to get an early start on the morning game drive, but it seems that when you’re staying at Sirikoi you don’t even need to leave the grounds to see the wildlife. In fact, the wildlife comes to you – and quite often stays for breakfast.

coffee_with_a_rhino

chris_rhino_best

After what was probably the most exciting cup of joe we will ever have, (check out that dressing gown too haha) we eagerly hopped onto the car with Peter and James and got ready for some action.

chris_peter_spotting

Lewa Downs, with its incredibly varied landscape – endless plains, an abundance of watering holes and swamps, even a lush river – is bursting with wildlife, and being able to drive around with our two very experienced guides made for a pretty exciting day.

Here’s a small taste:

peter_spotting

charging_elephant

baby_zebra_in_water

lewa_cheetah

DSC_1812

two_waterbuck

zebras_watering_hole (2)

Zebras in Lewa Downs

zebra_ponies

water buffalo

warthog_family_on_the_run

zebra_under_acacia

zebras lewa downs

waterbuck

rhino in lewa

And all that was before lunch! Having been up since 5 in the morning, we stopped in a nice secluded spot (where Peter and James assured us that we were not very likely to be trampled by roaming elephants or horny rhinoceros [rhinoceroses? rhinoceri? anyone?]) and had a delicious bush lunch off the hood of the jeep. 

bush_breakfast

And then, replenished and rested, we headed out again…

Safari Lewa Downs Kenya Africa

vicky_on_safari

And Lewa had some pretty exciting things in store for us that afternoon…. There were of course lots of the usual suspects around, though we were getting sort of used to them, and there were, admittedly, some pretty cool birds flying/walking about:

lilac_breasted_roller_profile

lewa_ostriches

leaw_cactus_bird

Snake Eagle Lewa Downs Kenya

Ostrich Babies Lewa Downs Kenya

Lewa Downs Eagle

but they were completely eclipsed when some of the more elusive inhabitants of the area decided to make an appearance… First, we were lucky enough to spot a lion family hiding in the tall grass:

Lion cubs Lewa Downs

Pretty cute, right? Wrong! They were on a kill, dutifully devouring a poor baby zebra under the watchful gaze of their mother:

Lionness and her cubs

(the way she proudly watched them as they tore their prey to bits in her fiercely collected manner, made me think of this - like the geek that i am) (also, i would like to let you know that the search for an appropriate link here turned up some interesting stuff. there is a LOT of weird fan fiction out there, you guys.)

We watched for a bit with a mixture of fascination and repulsion as they devoured their kill before we moved on in search of other pastures, so to speak. And a bit further down, our spotter spotted something pretty exciting:

Lewa Downs - Gazelle Carcass

How did the gazelle carcass get up the tree, you ask? Well, that’s where it becomes interesting: the very elusive leopards don’t like to share their prey, and have figured out a pretty effective way of protecting it. They hunt undisturbed at night, then drag their kills up on the trees where they like to hide during the day. So the rare sight of a dead gazelle up a tree can only mean one thing: with a little bit of luck, we might catch a glimpse of the shyest of all big cats. We sat there and waited in silent excitement – and sure enough, she spotted us:

gifpal-20140510183454

Off she went into the grass – we spent the next twenty minutes intently watching a bush, convinced that she was hiding there, only to discover that she had slipped away, silent and swift like the big cat that she is. It was pretty fascinating though – and we were quite lucky to run into her. We came back to the tree quite a few times during our rounds, and she was nowhere to be seen – but that little glimpse of her disappearing into the distance was enough.

After all that excitement, we were pretty much ready to call it a day, and head back to the camp for drinks and dinner – and a few more surprises awaited us on the way back, such as another lioness standing guard over her kill,

A lioness guards her prey

while a jackal patiently waited nearby:

Lewa Downs Jackal

or another cheetah in the distance:

Lewa Downs cheetah

But the beauty of Lewa stole the show, as we stopped over for a quick sundowner on top of a hill. We could spot Mount Kenya in the distance,

mount_kenya_from_lewa

and had a couple of drinks watching the clouds form over the beautiful rolling plains.

lewa_landscape

A private dinner by the fireplace awaited us when we got back to the lodge – a lovely surprise prepared for us by the amazing Sirikoi staff, as a little present for – well, for our engagement (i guess the cat’s out of the bag now :-) ).

Private Meal Sirikoi

Not a bad way to end the day… We left Sirikoi the next morning, and as we headed back to dusty, hot Nairobi, Sasaab and Lewa seemed slightly unreal, like a dream – but  maybe we’ll get to go back one day. A girl can dream!

Tell us what you think!

*