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The pool

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My First Impressions of Meru

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It has only been ten days since I left my chaotic London life. Once in Kenya I then caught a small, cute aeroplane to my final destination; Meru airport. There my friend Harriet met me along with some giraffe who were waiting on the land strip. On my way to the camp, and with my mouth still wide open from the spectacular landing in the heart of Kenya, I could see the first inhabitants of the park: a family of elephants wallowing in a muddy area of the river, some wáterbuck, 2 kudu and a few dik-diks amoung other species.

Then, three men  from the camp wearing some traditional costumes, welcomed me with a glass of fresh passion fruit juice and a cold towel. Harriet showed me to my tent and around the site. I could only said: “wow! Am I in Kenya?” I must admit that this is my first time in Kenya and I haven´t been elsewhere in the country yet, however this spot is just spectacular. The tents are surrounded by big bushes, a river, a rich variety of birds, and the occasional visit of friendly baboons.

During my first days in the camp I met many members of the staff, all of them really friendly and helpful. On my first game drive we enjoyed a bush breakfast, where I saw elephants, buffalos, cheetah and lots of funny baboons. On our way back we crossed paths with lots of zebras; I love these animals, they are so adorable and individual with their perfectly striped lines.

In the evenings we did” sundowners” and before dinner, Jonathan showed us how to read the  constalations. The sky at night here is so clear that it seems to me like a painting

On Tuesday Harriet and I picked up some Borana dancers at their small village. I felt so lucky when they showed me their traditional houses, kitchen and crafts. After that, they danced and sang to the guests in camp, especially to a young couple who had become engaged only two days before, here in the camp. Everyone joined in and loved it. What a lucky family! An engagement, Borana dancing and also seeing so many animals and brids they could hardly believe it! They saw the Big 5 and cheetah on 4 separate days … including once on a bush walk!

Coming from London, the first days I was a bit shocked and felt as though I was in a different planet, I was a bit confused and bewildered. Soon I settled in, and I now  see how peaceful and beautiful this place is. It’s a place where I don´t need to wear a watch, where I don´t need to rush to the “tube”, where people don’t stress and push for their place in the rat race. Its a place instead where time stands still, where the peace and tranquility is an antidote for the noise of big city life, where animals and nature come to you and, above all, where I wake up every day thinking how lucky I am and how glad I am to have made the decision to come out here and visit my friend. 

Sabela Lopez

 


Tristan's Near Death Experience on Top of a HIPPO'S HEAD!!!

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December plans changed dramatically but the 8-18th set departure was a memorable safari and came close to calamity for me.

The weather turned just in time to produce glorious grass and game under blue skies: perfect safari weather. Sadly only a small group mustering, seven total. The Olare Lamun area I shall rename giraffe shire. We saw well over one hundred in two days. The Olare orok produced lion and leopard on our first evening before dark and after showers  and the thirty miles ride, what a day! We saw plenty more lion and a total of four leopards in the week.

The highlight for me was doing something I hector people never to do: namely falling off in front of a charging animal. In this case it was a hippo who was quite rightly upset that I got between him and his water on the Olare orok. I turned but there was a blockage of horses on a narrow trail behind me and the hippo bumped my horse from behind and caused a huge leap forward  which with  the help of a looshish girth had me sliding off my horse thinking I was landing on his head. Instinct told me to lie still as I was facing away and I adopted the foetal position and lay there. Waiting for the next  phase of my life I had many thoughts run through my head in a micro second; what the sound of hippo teeth on my rib cage would be like, being one of them. Then I heard huffing and puffing inches from my ear before he pushed me with his snout about three or four feet. Suddenly there was silence and I lay for some few seconds not daring to move in case he was still standing over me. A slow head turn and glance behind told me he had gone back to the water.He had not bitten me!  My horse meanwhile had raced back to the others, rider-less and with his saddle half way round his side. The voices of the other people sounded frantic, until I appeared with torn shirt and a little ashen. Bruised ribs and damaged ego were the only legacy and I have done two more safaris since.

Christmas was spent at Deloraine with a historic reunion of descendants of the Scott and Sladen families who built Deloraine and Fintry next door in 1920. Geraldine Macoun (nee Sladen) at 94 is the last surviving member of the original five children who moved onto the land with their parents  and created farms from bush after the First World War. A great time was had with church at Turi School on Christmas morning and various rides and outings were arranged over three days.

January promises to be excellent as well.

 


What a start to the new season! A herd of 70 ellies came for a visit for our first lunch where we counted around 50 females saunter by, all guarding their 10 babies with another 10 or so male elephants a little way behind. Amazing! There are many babies around at the moment. Baby giraffe are definitely the cutest and it’s so lovely watching them play in their nurseries, they are timid but also a little cheeky! The two Walberg eagles have a baby we have named Marky Mark and lots of little baby birds are chirping away and running through the camp.

Since the rains, it’s all been very green, luscious and colourful. Millions of different coloured butterflies are fluttering around. Yellow butterflies gather at the river banks in hoards so that when you drive through the rivers, they fly up in their thousands, filling the air with colour and magic. It really is stunning here especially with pink, yellow, white and red flowers pushing out from the the ground, trees and bushes. Paradise!

Fishing has been a theme over the last few days as  a friend who skippers a deep sea fishing boat out of famous Hemmingways was up and took our 84 year old lady guest (and her friend) fishing, which she had been longing to do all her life.  She caught loads! What a delight to see her beaming face! Thank you Steve for all your help and for charming everyone completely!

Our chefs have been praised and praised and the food is even better than last season – though I never thought it was possible! The food is just too good!! I am not going to be able to resist and lose those stubborn pounds. Comments of “I’ve never tasted such good beef fillet in my life!” and “what an amazing spot for a bush breakfast. Breakfast is now ruined for me because I know I will never have another one like it in my life. It was perfect!” are general comments I have been getting from our visitors. Well done Peter and Bob!

We’ve had some wonderful guests to visit already. My family and friends who have been on many safaris in Kenya were enchanted with this “magical spot” and felt it was Kenya’s best kept secret. Another two lovely English guests, one of whom is a famous author, wrote “Think of heaven and then try again and you will come nearer to knowing the beauty, comfort, friendliness and unforgettableness of this place.”

I hope lots more of you out there will come and enjoy the wonders of Meru with me this season. It really is heaven! 


The rains arrive, transforming Meru into a green jungle!

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Fantastic news from Meru for the final update of the season. After a long drought, buffalo dropping dead all over the place and dust covering everything, the rains have arrived!! Heavy purple clouds, accompanied by great theatrics in the skies of loud rumbles of thunder and bright flashes of lightening,  brought such huge quantities of rain that the river banks burst and the water go to its highest point in many years; right above the fire place. The whole place has been transformed from the dry shrub land into a lush green jungle. The relief is plain to see in all the faces of the local Borana and everyone is grinning broadly, despite all the extra work around camp.

Good news from the local school too. The headmaster texted us the following message: "We have distributed ur funded materials to our pupils in the presence of their parents. All has expressed gratitude 4 ur generosity & Offbeat is regarded as a true friend. Thank you."Photos of these happy and grateful children have been uploaded onto our facebook page so please have a look. Thank you from Offbeat Safaris to all our guests who so generously donated their money.

The camp is closed during November due to the rains, but at the beginning of December it is looking very empty so please do come and see us if you have the time! Meru really is looking beautiful and the game coming into camp continue to be diverse and wonderful from leopard to giraffe and honey badger to kudu, all were seen around the tents the week before the camp was shut. The bird life has increased which I never thought was possible and they are all making lots of happy noises in their gratitude for such a lot of rain.

December will by dryer, but Meru will still be green and overflowing with life in the “most complete and perfect ecosystem ... with the greatest diversity of species in Kenya” (as quoted from an expert in the field of conservation). We hope to see you then, or if not, in the New Year. 

 

 


Last Month of the Season

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Dear All

We are now in the last month of the season - wow time really does fly and it seems like yesterday we were getting ready in late May to open the camps. All the Offbeat properties (except Deloraine) close in November so we only have a few weeks to go. The game viweing continues to be seriously good, the weather is great and the parks/reserves are always less busy at this time of year. However it is still an excellent time to come and we do have some space left.  So if you would like to come and visit us just pick the phone or sent us an email, or contact your favourite tour operator.
We open again in early December and have a pretty flat out Christmas and New Year, again some space over this busy time remains free so please hurry and book the last few dates.
Hope to see you soon


Fantastic game viewing in Meru and a new musician!

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Meru continues to provide awesome game viewing inside and outside the camp. Two guests from the UK who also own a lodge in India have had the most amazing time with Stanley our silver guide and have “seen everything that there is to see” including an identifiable black cat like species with a long tail that was spotted going up Leopard rocks! Stanley has decided it was a large, dark Civet cat. Our lucky Canadian guests (who have been such fun to have in camp over the last 3 days) spent half an hour within only a few feet of a large male Leopard up desert date tree. While they were here I had my first experience of some reticulated giraffe browsing in camp within arm’s reach of tents 5 and 6 and then again right next to the fire that evening.

The camp is an oasis for creatures which seem to flock here to graze or drink from the river. Kevin the Kudu has been seen with his first girlfriend (go Kevin!) and another male kudu has been seen a few times on the edge of the camp with 3 females; some of the bush bucks have been getting more and more daring buy coming and grazing almost INSIDE the mess area, a honey badger has taken to running up and down the path to tents 1 and 2 after dusk; a servile cat was spotted by guests running past the dinner table two nights ago and 2 Wahlberg eagles have started to build a nest in the large gnarled fig tree.  The naughty monkeys and baboons continue to be a source of amusement for our guests and every night bats chase moths round the candles at the dinner table – watch out for your wine glasses!

On the entertainment side, I have discovered a talented musician in our new Askari (night watchman) Raphael who has taken to sitting on the rocks outside the mess area in the evening, singing and playing his Chomonge (a self made Turkana instrument); he has won the heart of all our guests. The Borana have come from the nearby village a few times to sing and dance round the fire, even getting some of the guests to join in the fun.

We had one afternoon of heavy rain a week ago, the first in almost a year, and clouds seem to be building, promising rain again soon – fingers crossed! 

Over and out

Harriet


New pictures coming soon......

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This week has been busy at Offbeat Mara and Meru with South African guide and photographer Albie Venter doing a photo shoot at both camps. In the next few weeks we should have lots more pictures up on the website, and various members of The Team acting as models! We still have some space in September in both camps so please come and see us as the game viewing is spectacular in both Meru and the Mara at the moment.
Piers


George Adamson 22nd Memorial, 20th August 2011 – by Sam

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Leaving Offbeat Meru at 7am we finally arrived in Kora after a long and uncomfortable journey through the bush. It was my second day in Meru after spending two months in the Mara so this was a great first little outing to Kora. I was excited but not sure what to expect when we arrived at the memorial event, it was very hot, dusty and dry. The memorial event was fantastic with a great turnout. People had come from all over to remember all the hard work that George Adamson did over the years.

After all of the speeches we headed to the river where the majority of the guests were staying, a very temporary camp with a gorgeous view of the Tana River, Kenya’s longest river. We were looked after very well and had a delicious lunch with all the guests and Tony Fitzjohn and his family. I sat down to speak to Mukka, Tony’s eldest son, as he was planning to go fishing and I thought it would be a wonderful way to spend the afternoon.

With the temperature cooling we decided to head down to the river, Muckka, Jamie (an old friend of Harriets who now works for the foundation), Harriet and I. Muckka and I however decided to take a small detour to climb Kora Rock, it is situated just next to George’s camp. It took us 15 minutes to climb, both out of breath even though we claimed that we were fit enough to try and run up, we weren’t. The view from the top was stunning. The 360 degree view was sensational. You can see the different lugers all around and then the lush green trees down the banks of the Tana River. After catching our breath back we decided it was time to join Harriet and Jamie down at the river. We arrived to find Jamie swimming, something I joked about doing at lunch but didn’t think was possible due to all the Crocs that may have been about. I was told by both Jamie and Mukka that it would be fine and I quickly jumped in my boxers, it was refreshing beyond belief. We spent the afternoon in the water going down the small but traitorous rapids. We spent the last hour of day light chatting on the rocks, the sunset was beautiful with a fantastic reflection on the water.

With Offbeat Meru camp being a good 3 hour drive away we were invited to stay with Jamie and the Fitzjohns in Kampi ya Simba (camp of the lions). It a caged camp where George lived for many years. It was brilliant to see and a fantastic little camp. Wonderful pictures of George and the lions were situated above the Mess table. After a delicious supper with Jamie, Tony, Lucy, Mukka, Jemima, Tilly and Imogen it was time for bed. We were camping outside with no tents, just a camp bed and a sheet, it was lovely and still very warm. The stars were phenomenal and it was a great way to end the day.

A big thank you to all the organisers of George Adamson’s 22nd Memorial Day and to Jamie and the Fitzjohns for kindly hosting us in Kampi ya Simba at the last minute.

Sam Scott


A brief update on whats been happening in Meru Camp

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The camp was empty for a few days recently so Millie and I headed back to my home in Tigoni to catch up on our sleep! Wow it was cold and wet after being in the dry heat of the Meru. Piers came by my home on the 18th to pick up Millie who he was going to take to help out at the Mara and drop Sam with me to help me out in the Meru. Sam and I have been having an awesome time, starting with a very energetic gallop around the shambas and tea plantations of Tigoni.  We then drove back to Meru on the 19th and hit the sack early that night, ready for the next day’s event: George Adamson’s 22nd Anniversary Memorial Service in Kora National Park. (Please see Sam’s blog for all the details!)

The lions have been around the camp. I heard them roaring right outside my tent yesterday morning. Sam and I also saw the cheetah brothers twice since we got back; once while we were driving back from Nairobi and once on the way back from Kora. Three very thin hippos were also spotted out of water on three separate occasions as we steamed back to camp, just in time to meet or new arrivals.

Camp has been quiet this month, unlike the Mara. Our guests have almost had the place entirely to themselves… apart from the ellies which have been handing around a great deal (see our facebook page.) I know that Sam thoroughly enjoyed watching the ellies yesterday while chilling in the pool! Our new guests also got a fantastic 2 hours of ellie watching while eating a lunch of Aubergine Parmigiana, salads and Browns Cheese yesterday.

September is much busier here so looking forward to sharing our piece of paradise with more people. 


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