Friday, September 21, 2018

The Birds of Lake Naivasha - Kenya at its Best

On the day 2 of the trip, we were to travel to Naivasha. Initially, we were planning to start early but as we had realised late yesterday evening that the Sopa Nukuru Lodge has an infinity (swimming) pool. We changed our plan. The first thing we did this day was to enjoy this pool.

Infinity pools are the ones where the deep end is such that it appears to merge with the horizon, at least it looks that way when one is swimming in the pool. See the photos below.

Infinity Pool
We had our fun in the pool, all the models in our group did modelling for photos (these photos are their professional property hence not posted) and then we finished our breakfast, packed, loaded the car and left.

We set out for our journey from Nakuru to Lake Naivasha at about 0930. We did not drive straight to Naivasha (as such we were in Sopa Lodge inside Lake Nakuru Nation Park), we took a smaller and quick safari through this national park and then continued further to Naivasha. Since this safari was a simple drive through, we saw the usual wildlife like Zebras, etc.

In about three hours including safari, we reached our place at Naivasha, Simba Lodge. We quickly settled down in our rooms and rushed down for Lunch. We were to go for a boating trip in Lake Naivasha.

There was a marriage function going on in the lawns of Simba Lodge and to our surprise, Bollywood songs were being played in that function. We later found out that it was a marriage of a Muslim girl of Indian origin and a local boy, hence the Bollywood songs.

The Lodge surroundings were all natural with some birds frequenting big trees on the campus. We were told that many animals also venture around the boundary and inside the boundary of the Lodge. Here are few birds shot by me (in a harmless manner by my Canon DSLR).

Superb Starling

African Paradise Flycatcher (also seen in India) 

Very Preety but cannot identify

African Pied Wagtail

After lunch and some rest, we set out for Marina Camp sit for boating. There are many places along the lake from where one can hire a boat but Eric, our guide cum driver told us that Marina Camp was the best and he was right.

After reaching the Marina Camp, we bought tickets for our boating trip (USD 30 per person) and went to boating point for boarding the next available boat. There is a place in the middle of the lake called Crescent Island where the entry was another USD 30 per person hence we dropped the idea of going there. There is also a road to Crescent Island (which is actually a peninsula) however, the entry fee is the same.

We wore our life jackets (mandatory for every passenger) and boarded our allocated boat. This boat was a narrow flat bottom boat being driven by a single Out Board Petrol engine. Our boatman was an expert navigator. He was also a good bird spotter and a bird guide. Soon we were underway for seeing a world full of birds.

From this point on, for the next one hour, it was a memorable boat ride in Lake Naivasha. We possibly have never seen so many types of birds in a single place before. I will now limit my description and let my readers take this trip themselves through photographs. I will interrupt only and only to give an explanation when needed.

Grey Heron (my guess)

African Sacred Ibis

Two is a Company
Blacksmith Lapwing
Great Cormorant

Giant Kingfisher

Yellow Billed Stork

Egyptian Goose
Should I sit or should I not

Pied Kingfisher

Mother at her house
Let me get some food
Cormorant on Hunt

Got my Catch
Add caption

Mile Sur Mere Tumahara
Aaa Aaja -  Aaa Aaja

Hippo - 90 % Underwater. They stay underwater during the day

African Fish Eagle on the Prowl

I see my catch
Got it

Let me take it home
Even before he sits down Mrs Fish Eagle Arrives

Majestic Flight

Water Bucks on Crescent Island

See you Soon Tourists

With this, we finished our Boat ride. The evening was a relaxed affair. After having our dinner, we retired for the day. 

I really enjoyed putting together this blog post. Even bigger fun was trying to identify the birds. Hope readers also have the same fun reading.

पुण्याचे मानाचे 5 गणपती - The 5 Ganesh of Prominence at Pune (Bilingual Photo Blog)

गणेश उत्सव हा पुण्यात (आणि सर्व महाराष्टात) उत्साहाने साजरा होणारा सण आहे. त्यात मानांच्या ५ गणपतीचे महत्व थोडे जास्त आहे. काल वेळ काढून आम्ही सकाळी ५ वाजता पेठ भागात मानांच्या व अन्य मंडळांच्या गणेश दर्शनास गेलो. त्याचा हा फोटो ब्लाॅग आहे.

Ganesh Utsav is a very important celebration in Pune (as also in rest of Maharashtra). In this festival, while there are many Ganapati Pandals in Pune, the 5 most prominent Ganesh (Manache Ganapati) are considered "first among the equals". Yesterday we made it a point to get up early and visit these 5 Ganesh (and few other Ganesh too) in the Peth (Bazar) areas of old Pune. This is a Photo Blog of our visit.

गर्दी नसल्याने मानांच्या सर्व गणेशांचे सहज आणी सुरेख दर्शन झाले. रांग फक्त दगडुशेठ मंडळात होती. आता आपण मानांच्या तथा अन्य गणपतींचे दर्शन घेऊया.

We were expecting that these Ganesh Pandals would have a crowd but since there was no crowd we had very easy and nice darshans of all "Manache Ganapati". There were queues only at Dagduseth Ganapati Mandal.

Kasba Ganesh - 1st Manacha Ganapati (not a good photo though)
कसबा गणपती हे शिवकालीन पुण्याचे ग्राम देव आहे.  कसबा गणपतीला पहिला मान लोकमान्य टिळकांनी  दिला अशी माहिती आहे. 

Kasaba Ganapati is the Presiding Deity of Pune of Chatrapati Shivaji's era. This Ganapati was accorded the statue of first Ganesh idol to be immersed into the river (at the end of the festival) by Lokmanya Tilak.
Tambadi Jogeshwari Ganapati - Manacha 2nd ganapati

तांम्बडी जोगेश्वरी प्राचीन पुण्याची ग्राम दैवत आहे. ह्या गणेशाला विसर्जनाचा दूसरा मान आहे.

Tambadi (meaning "Red") Jogeshwari ( a Devi) is the Presiding Deity of ancient Pune (Pune of days prior to Chhatrapati Shivaji). The Ganesh idol of this place gets the right to be the second one to be immersed into the river

Guruji Talim Ganpati - Manacha 3rd Ganapati

गुरूजी तालीम गणपती हा सार्वजनिक गणेशोत्सव सुरू होण्या पूर्वी पासुन अस्तित्वात आहे. हा गणपती दोन मित्रांनी सुरू केला होता, त्यातील एक मित्र हिंदू होता व दूसरा मुस्लिम. 

Guruji Talim (meaning Aakhada in Hindi) Ganapati predates the Public (Sarvajanik) Ganesh Utsav started by Lokmanya Tilak. This Ganapati was started by two friends, one of them being Hindu and second a Muslim.
Tulsi Bag Ganesh - Manacha 4th Ganesh
Kesari wada - Manacha 5th Ganesh

लोकमान्य टिळकांनी सुरू केलेला उत्सव. सुरूवातीला कुमठेकर रस्त्यावर विंचुरकर वाड्यात सुरू झाला जिथे टिळक राहात असत. आता केळकर रस्त्यावर केसरीवाडयावर हे गणेश असतात.

This Ganesh festival was started by Lonmanya Tilak. This Utsav was first started at Vinchurkar Wada on Kumthekar Road where Tilak resided at that time. Nowadays this Ganesh is placed at Kesari Wada on Kelkar road for the Ganapati Utsav days.

Some other Ganesh in the area are as under:-

DagduSeth Ganapati

Akhil Mandai Mandal

Municial Employees Ganapati in Mandai Area

A beautiful Ganesh - Mandal Unknown right behind Dagduseth Ganapati  Mandap
On the way to Tulsi Bag, a small Mandal

Monday, September 17, 2018

Kenya at its Best -Jungle Safari at Lake Nakuru National Park

Today is day one of our Kenya trip. We had reached Nairobi yesterday late evening. We spent our night at the B & B we had booked. Our Tour Guide cum driver Eric had arrived before time (at 0730 when we had called him at 0800) and was waiting for us in his Toyota Land Cruiser 4 x 4 vehicle.

Our B & B at Nairobi

Toyota Land Cruiser, our Ride for next 6 days

Today was our first ever Safari (in the evening) and everyone was excited. We managed to square up the place in quick time, finish our breakfast and after loading the vehicle set out for Nakuru at about 0830. The highway A 104 leading from Nairobi to Nakuru was very good 4 lane road constructed by the Chinese.

Nairobi - Nakuru Highway (not so good all through)

During this journey of about 180 Kilometres, our first stop was Rift Valley. Rift Valley Run a long distance in Africa. It starts in the north from Israel and goes down all the way to Mozambique in the south across many countries including Kenya and traverses a distance of about 6000 km. This valley has been formed by Tectonic plate activity and it is actually a geographic division of Africa across North to the south.

The Great Rift Valley

 There are few viewing points on the plateau over which the highway travels from where the Valley can be viewed. The small part one sees gives no indications of the length of the whole valley, however,  one gets an idea of the width which is quite a lot in Kenya.

We spent about twenty odd minutes looking at and photographing the Valley. After this break, we moved on and continued our journey to Nakuru. We passed by Mount Longonot which had a crater on it (one can not see it from the road but the edge of the mountain is a give away) as also a National Park. People trek periphery of the creator of Mount Longonot.

Mount Longonot on Google Maps Satellite Image
Mount Longonot Crater
Passing the Mount Longonot and thereafter Lake Naivasha (at a distance) we continued our journey and stopped for a break after about 3-hour drive. After a cup of coffee and some fruits shopping, we restarted our journey. Our Lodge was in the midst of Lake Nakuru National park, almost 20 km inside on a hillock. After taking necessary permit for entry into the national park we moved on and Reached Lake Nakuru Sopa Lodge, our place of stay in the wilderness. It took a total of about 5 hours to reach Nakuru from Nairobi.

Lake Nakuru

The lodge was beautiful and better than our expectation. It also has an infinity swimming pool which was added attraction. After check-in and settling down in our rooms, which overlooked a valley, we had our lunch, rested a bit and at about 1600 set out for our first ever Safari in Kenya, at Lake Nakuru National Park.
Nakuru Spoa Lodge, Rooms

Sopa Room from Ind

Spoa Dining Area
Nakuru National Park is on the floor of the Great Rift Valley. It boasts of very large quantity and variety of wildlife. When one goes for a safari in Africa, everyone looks for the Big Five of Africa. They are Lion, Leopard, Rhinos (both Black and White), Elephant and Cape Buffalo. As for me, big five is okay, the wildlife in Africa is enchanting with or without Big Five. Nakuru National Forest has big four with the fifth one, the Elephant is missing from here. It is a great question as to how nature works. Despite contiguous landscape, some national forests do not have some species of the wildlife.
The safari that we undertook worked out to be great. We got to see most of the wild animals and a large number of birds. Let the blog go to Photo mode. However, it is difficult for a talkative person like me to keep quiet. I would hence intervene once in a while in between photos. Let us start the show.
Water Buck
Wild Boar (Africans lovingly call it Pumba) 

Our first encounter with a Lion was this lazy fellow who was sleeping away to glory. We were told that Lions are like that. Once their stomach is full, they just sleep like cazy until they feel the hunger again.

Lazy Lion

Two Rhinos that we found also had joined the Lion in a competition called “who is lazier”.
Two Rhinos in Laziness Competition with Lion

Zebra Crossing
Africans call me "A donkey with the Strips"

Graceful Gazals

WHo is There. Gazals on Alert
And this Lioness had taken fancy to this branch of a “Yellow Fever Acacia” Tree. She stuck to the branch during our three visits to her in a span of over one and a half hour.

WHo is this so Well framed by the branches of this tree

SHould I stay or should I get do

Should I Sleep?

Time to Change the Place

 Then came the Cape Buffalo

Let me take my Fill

Who is this seeking a share of grass from us
Here are the water birds, many varieties enjoying their time at lake Nakuru

Yellow Billed Stork

Great Cormorant

Egyptian Goose

In all, the start of our Safari trip was grander than expected. The viewing was great and the jungle was soothing. Had a wonderful day of drive from Nairobi, beautiful Jungle lodge and even better safari. Seeing a Lioness on a tree is a rare sighting even for African locals. We were lucky.