An iconic feature of the African continent, the great rift valley provides some of the most fertile land in Kenya. The massive tea plantations and agricultural practices in the north seem to fade away as one approaches the harsh and arid southern regions of the valley.
Lush green vegetation gives way to the saline grasslands, acacia woodlands and large patches of land which seem to be completely void of any life. Dust devils rising into the skies during the mid day heat serve as a not so subtle reminder of how harsh this environment is.
Looking out across the open plains in front of our campsite the horizon is punctuated by no less than 5 volcanoes (including the volatile and active Oldonyo Lengai), the eastern edge of the Ngorongo crater, all of which slope gently down towards the alkaline waters of Lake Natron.
You are quite right if you think this sounds like something out of an African exploration diary. We really were in one of the most remote and rugged environments in Kenya.
Yet, this seemingly inhospitable environment supports large numbers of eastern bearded gnu, plains zebra, Andersons’ Grant’s Gazelle, Eland, Giraffe, Elephant, Buffalo, leopard, lion, goats, cattle and Maasai.
No, that’s not a typo.
The Shompole conservancy is unique not just by virtue of its spectacular landscape and diverse wildlife, but in that this area has managed to conserve wildlife and simultaneously support local agricultural and pastoral practices.
Returning to the area 8 years after he had spent so much time dedicated to sitting in a waterhole hoping to photograph some of the 10 wild free-roaming lions of the region, Greg and our guests used the Wild Eye East Africa mobile camp as the base from which to explore this incredible piece of Africa.
Over the next five nights our group would meet local researchers and Maasai community members, photograph wild free roaming lions, capture dramatic landscapes of Lake Natron, visit a local Masai village, herd Cattle with local Masai, and share in many other incredible and unique experiences.
Right now I am now hosting a 5 night Essential Amboseli Safari but am looking forward to sharing a full trip report with some of our experiences and images with you in the new week.
This trip was always tipped to be one of the most unique and exciting safaris on offer and our inaugural safari certainly delivered the goods!