Birthday Safari: Lolldaiga Hills

We were overjoyed to have some friends come and visit us and this just happened to coincide with my birthday so of course, we had to show them the delights that Kenya has to offer as well as enjoy the time off work that Mr Nomad had finally managed to organise.

We went to visit Lolldaiga Hills, a firm favourite with us and we were accommodated by Safari Series, a place which we have previously visited. Lolldaiga Hills is a 49,000 acre working cattle ranch nestled between the ever pervading but ever splendid Mount Kenya and the Aberdare mountain range. The landscape is diverse and offers a different dimension to the usual safari with the mountainous terrain, wooded valleys and forests as well as the vast rolling plains.

Blue thunder has moved on to a new home so we took our new, more robust vehicle and put that firmly through its paces on the journey to Lolldaiga’s. It coped admirably with the rugged and wild topography and we made it the tented camp with no issue whatsoever. Our friends were as pleased as we were to stay in the ever comfortable but rustic and naturel tents which are hidden from civilization and completely private in a location so dense in the bush that it would be difficult to find had we not been there previously.

My birthday was spent on safari in stunning surroundings which was unforgettable. We set out quite early in the morning and trundled through the conservancy at a snail’s pace to take in all the wild life that adorns this amazing landscape. We were immediately treated to a huge herd of elephants blocking our path and we looked on in wonderment as they scuffled along, taking huge mouthfuls of the fauna as they went.

We also saw impala, gazelle, warthogs, zebra, eland and many giraffe as we proceeded. We drew along side a dam which was surrounded by numerus elephants and giraffe. It was if we were seeing all of the elephants ever. There were hundreds of them at every turn. It was a delight to witness these majestic creatures wandering around, completely relaxed and not fussed at all by our presence. They seem to have prospered hugely from the lack of human interference and it was a joy to note the large number of babies amongst the herd.

We steadily moved on, spotting numerous birds along the way and eventually stopped for a scrumptious lunch in the bush. I was presented with a birthday cake much to my embarrassment but nevertheless, it was incredibly special to have a celebration in such epic surroundings. Whilst Mr Nomad and I relaxed by the dam and lolled around soaking up the sunshine, our friends went for a saunter around the dam and were unfortunate enough to stumble upon a lone buffalo. Anyone who is familiar with the wild life in Kenya will know that a lone buffalo is an incredibly dangerous and unpredictable beast and to be avoided at all costs.

This moment certainly caused concern to the guide, Julius who was accompanying them and a rapid retreat was made back to the vehicle to clear the site and let the buffalo have his privacy. We had not seen many buffalo until this point so we chuckled that one just had to be present when our friends decided to have a romantic stroll by the dam! This experience only adds to the great memories which are made wherever we go and whatever we do. It was made all the more better because we got to share this adventure with our best friends.

As we embarked on the journey back to camp, we spotted four gloriously golden juvenile male lions on the prowl. We could tell they were youngsters because they had the beginnings of a mane but they still had spots on their underbellies. At first, they were difficult to see in the long grass which offered substantial cover but their movements gave away their positions and it became obvious that they were hungry. Their sights were firmly fixed on a couple of warthogs. They skulked through the grass and we watched wide eyed in awe as they jostled for strategic positions in their attempts to hunt the warthog. One of the lions broke off and trotted ahead on his own to flank the warthog. The others lagged behind and placed themselves in positions to catch the warthog as they attempted to flee from the lead lion.

We couldn’t stop watching as this drama unfolded in front of us. It was utterly mesmerising to watch this small group of inexperienced lions try to catch their dinner. Some may see this extravaganza as somewhat morbid but it is nature at its best. Every animal has the right to life and to have the chance to thrive and survive and it was a privilege to be able to witness nature doing what nature does. The lions were unsuccessful in this hunt, their inexperience allowing the warthog to live to fight another day. Nevertheless, it was a true spectacle and fascinating to watch.

We were treated to a long leisurely drive over to the northern part of the conservancy where we were assured the best views could be attained for sundowners. The journey was fabulous and we sucked up the landscape on the way. The tracks up the mountainous hill sides were gnarly but the landrover made it, skillfully driven by our guide, Julius.

Once we reached the summit, we could see why Lolldaiga’s is famed for its amazing landscapes. The hills and valleys opened up and rolled on as far as the eye could see. It was breathtaking and for that one moment, we were all rendered speechless. We could see the neighbouring ranches of Enosoit, Ol Jogi, Ole Naisha and even as far as Samburu to the north of this expansive area. We were kindly provided with some beverages and we toasted my birthday in the most stunning of locations, with the best company. We unfortunately didn’t catch the sun going down as it had clouded over but still, the vista was outstanding and couldn’t detract from the magnificence of this place.

Darkness descended upon us and as we made our way back to the camp once more, we stopped for a moment to see if we could attract the attention of the lions that we had seen earlier in the day. It was pitch black but using a mobile phone and courtesy of youtube, the sounds of lions roaring were broadcast around the black valley. We loitered a little but nothing appeared out of the night so we set off again and immediately bore witness to a striped hyena which had mantled over to see what the fuss was about. Striped hyenas are rare so it was a lovely sight.

We continued on and as we rounded a bend in the road, there was movement in the bushes and as the vehicle was turned to the direction of the rustling noise, we caught fleeting glimpses in the headlights of the car of the very same lions that we had seen earlier. In the dark, they were much more aware of our presence with the grunting engine of the landrover and as we did not wish to cause them distress, we left them to the night and they melted away from sight.

This had been an amazing end to a spectacular day. It had been a fantastic way to celebrate my birthday in an epic location and in excellent company and I couldn’t have wished for more.

#bestestofbirthdays!

#bestestoffriends!

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