February 2012 News from Ride Kenya Horse Safaris
In January the Chyulus and surrounding ecosystem started their bi-annual transition back into the dry season. Though this means we lose the beautiful green grasses on the plains, the dry season is not without its advantages. For starters, the acacia trees are just starting to burst into beautiful blossom, attracting all kinds of bird and insect life to enjoy the pollen.
As the Chyulus is a dry season grazing area for the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem, the dry conditions also bring back many of the plains game that have been loitering near the water towards Amboseli and now need to move to find better grazing. Small herds of zebra and wildebeest are returning to the plains near Ol Donyo and large herds of eland are coming back to the woodland around the stables, as well as the rare fringe-eared oryx that always vanishes during the rains.
January was a busy month for riders at Ol Donyo, with groups from France, Argentina, UK and Hong Kong. Every group was treated to a variety of riding experiences; from creeping about in the woodland tracking elephant, to cantering across the plains and riding up into the Chyulu Hills for breakfast.
The best ride of the month was early one morning, riding up Ol Donyo hill. The riders stopped in thick woodland to admire a lovely family of giraffe, when suddenly several elephants appeared just beyond the giraffe. With the wind blowing in the right direction, and the giraffe in the foreground, the horses remained completely undetected by the elephant. The riders were able to watch from only about 20 feet away as the elephant browsed, scratched on trees, threw dust up onto their backs and ambled on into the woodland beyond. It was a magical moment of horse riders interacting with wildlife, and staying completely unobserved.
Ride Kenya had one safari in January, which was a tailor-made Chyulu safari lead by Patrick and Kim. Highlights of that safari were seeing a cheetah early one morning drinking from one of the remaining water holes and also an African wildcat, a very rare nocturnal predator. It is similar in size to a large house cat, but is beautiful silver-grey in colour.
Being a mixed group of riders and non-riders on this safari, these guests opted for a half-day trip to Amboseli, which was a great chance to see the famous herds of Amboseli elephant and buffalo. They also chose to explore the lava tube caves near to our Crater Camp, and narrowly avoided a black mamba that had been resting in the cool climate. Having returned home from that adventure, the very next day Patrick discovered a 7 foot “Large Brown Spitting Cobra” (Naja ashei) in his house! Not a sight for the faint-hearted!!
With a 7-night Amboseli safari coming up in February, please tune in again next month to catch up with more of Ride Kenya’s adventures.