A combination of a travel image and the job stuff today. We were driving from Nairobi to Amboseli on our first full day in Kenya. The road we took initially is the main road to Mombasa which is the principal port for not only Kenya but some of its neighboring countries. Parallel with the road is a railway and, as we headed southeast, a train was coming the other way. A pair of diesel locomotives were pulling the train, and they had a message on the side about their role. I understand they were built by CRRC in China. One for the rail fans who read my blog, I think.
Kenya and Tanzania have many small airstrips scattered around the countryside including in the national parks. These provide quick transfers between locations if you are willing or able to pay and don’t want the long and bumpy road trips. There are a variety of types that are used for these services and I shall show some others in upcoming posts. However, one type does dominate.
The Cessna Grand Caravan is everywhere in the region. It has the right size for many of the trips, it has sufficient capacity for luggage with the baggage pod beneath he fuselage, it is fine with the rough surface strips that are in most places and it is PT-6 powered so very reliable. We saw tons of them during the trip and also got to experience a flight on one. I was surprised to find it was a 1×2 configuration. I had assumed that they were 1×1 but not in this case. It got a lot of us in there but getting in and out was not an easy process. The aisle was minimal!
I have no idea how many Grand Caravans there are in use in rural Africa but I imagine that Cessna has delivered a ton of aircraft from Wichita to the region. I suspect that the best replacement is another Caravan. The Islander might once have been this sort of workhorse but the efficiency and reliability of the Caravan must be what has made it so ubiquitous.
For the first of my animal related posts from our trip to Kenya and Tanzania, I am going to go with the apex predator – the lions. When we saw our first lion, I was so excited. It was off in the distance that a bunch of lions from a pride were hanging out. A young cub was running around but everything was far away. However, this was just a taster. Before too long, we were right in amongst a pride of lions. They were youngsters one the whole and playing around. One was resting and it turned out to be nursing an injury.
From this point on, we just saw more and more lions. Sometimes they were far away but often they were very close. Usually they were doing nothing. Sleeping during the day is a regular occupation and hunting is something that they prefer to do at night. We came across a solo male (surprisingly close to the spot we had stopped for lunch) and he was quite injured after a battle of some sort. He could look either imposing or vulnerable depending on the moment.
We also came across mating pairs on a couple of occasions. One of these pairs was out on the grass on a sunny day with the light making the male look totally serene. Their lack of interest in us was hard to get used to. (Step out of the vehicle and things would change rapidly!). I liked getting shots of them sleeping too as they often looked like they were in uncomfortable positions. However, a quick opening of the eye would transform the shot.
It was easy to get a bit blasé about the lions after a while. We saw so many and in a variety of locations that it was easy to forget that these were lions for goodness sake! Don’t ever forget that. Now, as I look back through the shots, I am reminded of just how lucky I am and how amazing this was.
We undertook a big trip this year. Years of thinking about it but doing nothing were replaced with finally heading on a safari. We started and finished in Kenya and spent a good chunk of time in Tanzania too. This was a pretty photo heavy trip. I have pictures of wildlife, scenery, people, you name it. However, I suspect I would become rather unpopular if the blog for the next few months was nothing other than safari posts.
Consequently, I am going to try and moderate my use of those images in the coming weeks and months. There are definitely going to be some posts on various animals and scenes but, the goal is to try and not overdo this. I don’t want people rolling their eyes at yet another safari post. There will be some safari related aviation too, of course. In the meantime, here are a few shots from the trip to start the ball rolling. I will say, it was a truly amazing trip and one I am so glad we made.