In The Shadow Of Mt. Kenya

On the slopes of Mt. Kenya, deep in the heart of Laikipia county, lies the Ol Pejeta Conservancy.  West of Nanyuki on the equator, Ol Pejeta is home to the Big 5 (lions, leopard, cape buffalo, elephant and rhinos) as well as the Chimpanzee sanctuary and 4 of only 7 Northern white rhinos left in the world.  It has the highest density of wildlife in all of Kenya.

As we entered the Conservancy, we hurried to the Chimpanzee Sanctuary before it closed for the evening to see some of the most expressive faces in the animal kingdom.

 (Kimberly Day)

Chimpanzee Relaxing In Grass  Sweetwater's Chimpanzee Sancturary - OL Pejeta September 2012 - Kenya (Kim Day)

Afterwards we wound our way through Pejeta’s roads for a pre-sunset game drive.  Lions were busy stalking warthogs (first photo below) or simply lying in wait for their prey until the cloak of darkness could provide them with a hunting advantage.

Lion stalking warthog in the OL Pejeta Conservancy.September 2012 - Kenya (Kim Day)

Lions in the grass OL Pejeta Conservancy - Kenya September 2012 (Kim Day)

Lion at sunset OL Pejeta Conservancy - Kenya September 2012 (Kim Day)

We were fortunate enough to stay overnight at Sweetwater’s luxury tented camp inside the Conservancy. Built on permanent platforms with ensuite bathrooms, Sweetwater’s has 39 tents that ring a lit watering hole at night that allows you to observe the comings and goings of various non-predatory animals after dark (fences keep out their more lethal brethern, allowing vistors the run of the place after the sun goes down).  The luxury tents have all the comforts of home, including hot water bottles in your bed to combat the chilly night air that comes with the 5676 ft elevation.  Mt Kenya itself tops out at 17,057 feet and is the second highest mountain in Africa, second only to Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.  My temporary home is below.

My Tent at Sweetwaters OL Pejeta Conservancy - Kenya September 2012 (Kim Day)

Tents at Sweetwaters OL Pejeta - Mt. Kenya - Kenya September 2013 (Kim Day)

Sunrise brings the clearest view of Mt Kenya; most of the day its peaks are enshrouded in clouds.

Dawn On Mt. Kenya Sweetwaters - OL Pejeta - Kenya September 2013 (Kim Day)

The sunrise is reflected in the watering hole as a wide variety of birds and cape buffalo crowd around to slake their thirst before the heat of the day takes over.

Birds at watering hole at sunrise OL Pejeta Conservancy - Kenya September 2013 (Kim Day)

Mt. Kenya at sunrise OL Pejeta Conservancy - Kenya September 2012 (Kim Day)

After breakfast, we set out for a game drive before making the long trek to Lake Nakuru, catching glimpse of zebra, impala and a lilac breasted roller.

Grazing Zebra OL Pejeta Conservancy - Kenya September 2012 (Kim Day)

Impala OL Pejeta Conservancy - Kenya September 2013 (Kim Day)

Lilac Breasted Roller OL Pejeta Conservancy - Kenya September 2012 (Kim Day)

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