Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas at Mt. Kenya

 This gate is the entrance to the Mt. Kenya national park and the driveway leading to the Mountain Lodge where we stayed.  The Mountain Lodge is situated in a rain forest area and soon after we started up the driveway, the rain started to fall.  After we were greeted by hotel attendants with umbrellas, we walked down a long wet path from the parking area to the Lodge.  Oleana and Oona were walking together holding their own umbrella in front of me.  As we made our way down the path there was a huge rumbling clap of thunder!  The girls both turned to me with terrified looks on their faces - I think they thought it might have been the roar of a huge animal! Later Oleana revealed that she thought that the noise might have been me practicing my elephant noises:)

exterior of the Mountain lodge constructed with traditionally used split timber

Once checked in and settled in our room, we set to work exploring the ins and outs of the Mountain Lodge and its surroundings.  Our room faced the Lodge's watering hole where many species of animal come to drink the fresh water from their well (bore hole here in Africa) or forage for yummies in the mud and grass.

Nile and the girls are peeking at the animals from an underground bunker that pops out near the watering hole for a closer view of the animals in action.  The first animals that we saw at the watering hole were a large herd of Africa Cape Buffalo.  This is springtime in this part of Africa, so we saw many baby animals with the herds.

In the afternoon they serve tea and cookies - to the monkeys.  That's right.  The Monkeys know exactly when the cookies are served and they show up every day just on time!  They are totally fearless and come right up to the balcony and help themselves.  We were so shocked that we quickly backed away and before we knew it the monkey was enjoying our cookies right off our plate. 

Waterbuck drinking

Cinnamon-Chested Bee-Eater (front and back!)

Bushbuck mother and baby

Male Waterbucks locking horns

 Some of the various species that came to the waterhole. Oleana and Oona checked on the watering hole early and often to see what new beast might be right outside the window.  The really exciting animals remained elusive (Elephant, Hyena, and Leopard), but we did see many wonderful types of antelope and buffalo. 

Every afternoon at the Lodge there is a performance of traditional dance.  On this day there were dancers from the Kikuyu tribe, one of the largest tribes in Kenya and native to this particular region.  At one point the dancers invited the audience to participate; that is why Oleana is hiding behind Nile's back!

The Peak of Mt. Kenya from The Mountain Lodge on Christmas morning

Oleana hand-embroidered this Christmas ornament for Nile to honor his favorite team

On Christmas morning the girls were thrilled to discover that Santa had found them all the way in Kenya!  There were presents at the foot of the beds and a small collection of new marbles in each of their socks that they had hung nearby.  We dressed up for a special Christmas dinner and the holiday would not be complete without a picture with Santa!

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