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It is very hard to capture mara in few shots.. have tried to upload some of the memorable shots.

Lioness relaxing in the evening at Mara

As if giraffe were posing for the shot…like the view of both looking in opposite directions..

Don ‘t click…Her Majesty not approving the shot.

Cub playing with Lioness

Cheetah resting on tiny hill..oh what a look ! Took my breath away !

Thirsty  post good lunch of wildebeest

Enjoying  Meal on the tree…

Wildebeest tired after migration….

Hippos taking siesta @ bank of Mara river

Croc taking  nap @ Mara river

Leopard resting on the tree.

Grey Crowned Crane…

Hyena having lunch with left overs..

Thirsty after good meal…huh,

His Majesty – Lion King

Love below looks….

I read lot about what to expect in Mara and this being one of best blessed wildlife lovers paradise I was absolutely excited for this trip. We had faced some challenges with the bus ( Matatu) during Lake victoria and hence was bit nervous about the camp arrangements etc. But we had got fair deal from Pega tours and we had got one land cruiser and other Safari Van for the travel. We left Nakuru in the morning and team was full on with excitement and we were really looking forward for various game drives. Initially we headed towards Naivasha and then took road to Masai Mara. Road is fairly good till Narok but later on the landscape really changes.. Our driver Peter was good and he tried his best to make the journey comfortable.

 We reached lunch time at Mara and were happy with arrangements of the camp and it was wonderful and peaceful to be within the nature’s heart! We had our first game drive in the afternoon and wow…what a surprise it was.. All the readings and research did not help as I was taken aback with Majesty of Mara.. It seems to be endless infinite land of nature where most of the animals are living in harmony within the ecosystem. Initially we were getting excited to see Zebra and Giraffe but over period of time it is as good as watching sparrow outside window…You get to see many of them grazing peacefully resting their head on each other’s back. Baby Zebra playing with Mom Zebra, some Zebra just scratching their back in the mud. Yes it is really a sight to watch Zebra crossing. You see plenty of Impala, antelopes, water buck and different birds.. As evening headed we saw pride of lions peacefully resting and soaking in the evening sunset.. It is amazing to watch them from such short distance and they do not get perturbed with so many humans around. I wonder how they manage it. I was bit worried that we humans are inching in each and every space of nature and sometimes we cross the limits.. This was quite evident when there was lioness on kill, and most of the safari had surrounded to watch the sight.. But one of the safaris to impress literally got so close that it kind of gave warning to prey and the lioness had to lose on the kill. I think this being high peak season the pressure on the national park is getting too much and this am sure would be impacting the wild life.. I hope we humans learn restrain especially when we enter their space and should respect it. Evening ended on high note with beautiful sunset and it was so peaceful to be surrounded by stillness.. You could find balance in harmony and I returned to camp feeling blessed and promised I would be visiting Mara again and again.

 Post dinner I really wanted quiet time and wanted to feel the stillness silence around the camp. So I took the local Masai for walk around in the camp and it was beautiful experience to walk and listen to sounds of hyenas and giant squirrel.

 Next morning started really early but I had no complaints to get up early as we were ready to explore nature when it was at its height of serenity and purity. It was beautiful day and it was so overwhelming to watch sunrise from the mountains and you are in midst of the grand Mara. Zebra grazing,Wildebeest standing around,Impala with their nervous energy moving around…I truly felt blessed and it was so much of peaceful and wished time could stay still! Entire day was really fun and adventure with constantly moving around in the van with endless satellite radio chaos on intimation of any sight of precious animals.. The landscape kept changing as we moved deep into interior and core of the national park.. I was hoping to see wildlife in its natural state- drinking water, eating prey, cubs playing with their mother and I would say I was not disappointed at all. We saw all of these in their natural state.. We saw leopard peacefully resting on the tree possibly taking siesta after full meal course… Cheetah sitting on small hill and soaking in the morning sun and deciding on strategy for the next kill I guess! I doubt if animals think too much and complicate like we humans do.. I believe they live in each and every moment and hence it makes them so much in harmony with the ecosystem.

It was great day which ended with visit to Masai village.. It was nice to understand their culture, their life style and see their huts and visit them and spend some time with their family. We watched Masai jump and Masai men and women doing their folk song.. I could not still believe myself I was in midst of this beautiful diversified country watching nature and locals at their best!  Evening had perfect ending with good dinner cooked by our chef Eric which was followed by sleeping on the grass around the camp grazing at the thousands of stars.. It was peaceful, blissful and wonderful night to be remembered!!

 Next morning we had our last game drive and we were not disappointed at all as we saw pride of Lions and lionesses and it was picturesque to watch it.. We saw how wild buffaloes started chasing this pride of lions and they literally ran away from them. It seems wild buffaloes are the most dangerous species even than lions! We were eluded by black rhino sighting but that personally did not matter me much. Post our morning drive we returned to camp had our breakfast and bunch of us headed for walking tour with Masai Chief and his team.. It was climb to the hill and we came across some Masai women who had come in to collect woods for their food.. Saw couple of baboons and it was peaceful to take the trail up the hill.. It was satisfying to reach top of the hill and sit there and watch the panorama and get the aerial view of the camp. We did meditate there and it was so peaceful you could hear the wind blowing!

 We returned to the camp and had our lunch and were ready to head back to Nakuru. My heart was heavy and so were my feet while leaving Mara. I believe I have left part of my heart in Mara and I have to visit it again for sure to collect back my remaining part of heart. This journey has definitely made me richer, deeper and recalibrated human!

 PS I am posting special photo blog of Mara as it is hard to capture Majestic Mara in few photos!

Sugandha #ibmcsc Kenya3

It was 6.30am in the morning and we all were excited and high with energy to have some great sights of big five animals. It was our first game drive in Kenya and we were really looking forward to see what we could.. as some of my team mates said “ we will see what we see ! “ and were not having much expectations but I was really looking forward for to leopard/lion sights.

It was serene and calm as we entered the gates of lake Nakuru national park and their was beauty in that silence with occasional chirping of birds.. We sighted Gazelle and we got excited about it.. then we sighted Guinea fowl..As we neared the lake we could see the entire pink coloration around the lake where their were thousands of flamingoes along  with Great white pelican with occasional Marabou stork. All there living in harmony each in its own space and rhythm! Around the lake we could see the wild buffaloes grazing as well.

We clicked loads of pictures and I could not just get enough of flamingoes.. It was mesmerizing view and just wanted to sit there and really meditate and wanted to absorb as much as I could the purity and serenity of the place! As we headed further in the national park we started spotting Zebra and were very excited to spot the first Zebra but as we moved further we saw Zebra all over place.. Some crossing our safari van and reminding us of Zebra crossing and animals have first right to cross the path!  Later we saw three spotted hyena just relaxing and getting the morning sun. We saw plenty of olive baboons. Our tour guide warned us that we should not be getting near the wild buffaloes and should keep the distance from there.. Flamingoes and pelican were sensitive and they used to take off as soon as we tried to near them to get better shots.. It is wonderful to watch the take off and landing of flamingoes…Interesting to observe how they initial start walking in the water and then take off in the air.. Once they take off there is nice pink tinge contrasted with black and white wings and as they do in groups it is really worth watching the various flights and realize how stylish and graceful they are !

 We were really blessed and lucky as around 9-10am or so as we were driving in the park we got the intimation on the satellite radio that there is leopard spotted nearby. Our tour guide just pressed the accelerator and we were zooming to see most amazing sight. We saw handsome male leopard from close view walking around the bush and were lucky to see it as we were told there are only 5 leopards in such large park and not necessarily they are spotted everyday… After having satisfied our visual senses of the leopard sighting we went to baboon hill.. It gives good aerial view of the lake and it is beautiful pink lake with thousands of flamingoes then white range of great white pelican and zebra and buffaloes grazing. 

As we moved deeper in the core area of national park spotted lioness with her two cubs but they all were lying down. Possibly was having siesta post kill! One of the cubs later just woke up for few seconds and walked and obliged us to get some better shots.  Many types of birds were spotted as well.

On our way back from Lake Nakuru we visited Menengai Crater, an extinct volcano 2490m (8167 ft) high. Menengai Crater is an extinct volcano with terrific views of Lake Nakuru, Lake Bogoria and the crater itself. It is a legended that the Menengai Crater is home to many demons and ghosts and so the crater is referred to by the kikuyu of central Kenya as Kirima Kia Ngoma, “the mountain of devils !  What a  beautiful day and you can truly understand  and appreciate how this country is truly blessed by Nature !!

Some of the pics from Lake Nakuru….

 

Sugandha #ibmcsc Kenya3

It was interesting day today as we had planned to visit some of the local citizens and understand their needs and perspective from government and the public services offered. What we got at end of day was much more and really insightful and helping us to understand the underlying currents. 

We initially went to Super market in nearby area and interviewed two of the store keeper guys. We had taken initial permission yesterday from the store manager that we would be interviewing your staff. These two guys in their early twenties were willing and happy to be interviewed. We started with some of the basic introductory and greetings. As we started to interview and delve bit deeper we realized this guys do not have even basic needs such as electricity at home. They had completed their schooling but had to drop out of college due to need to support their family. They were aware of face book and some other social media and were using internet twice a week. They did not have much clue about what public services were available electronically. 

Later we interviewed employee in mobile store and he was not much aware of things which Govt has to offer. Later we headed to lunch and decided to interview one of the waiters who is really enthusiastic as we had experienced while we went out for lunch on our first day to Nakuru. Julius – waiter was more than happy to receive us and he was very warm and friendly. As we placed the order and while we were waiting for he confessed something which we all were surprised. Other day when we had gone for lunch we all team of 12 and our NGO partner Alex. We had two tables and our team placed Indian food order. While billing he charged some of the items from other table to our table as well and we were doubly charged with 2900 KSH. He offered that he can give back that money and got them but his honesty and his ethics were so high that team decided to have him that money and use it for some better social cause! This was interestingly contrast to the mamba village experience at Kenya where the waiter was charging us extra per soda bottle/beverages than what it was quoted in menu card !

 Julius our waiter later obliged and gave very detailed perspective from voice of Kenyan citizen in terms of public services, its availability and even some of the opinions on Kenya 2007 elections and its aftermath.

 Later we headed and interview the owner of the store and he gave us detailed run down on various challenges an entrepreneur faces while setting up his start-up. It was interesting for me much more as I know some of the challenges we have in India as well. Corruption came as very strong challenge from his perspective. And when I tried to contrast it with India, he mentioned that “In Kenya once you give the bribe you can be assured your work while be done, while in India that may not be guarantee!  He has travelled around the globe and done businesses so his perspective were factual and would be really helpful for our project! Kwa Heri ( Bye in Swahili)

Sugandha – #ibmcsc Kenya3

Team was settling over weekend and our weekend were also full of activities getting to know more about city and culture around.We had presentation lined up with each of the sub team’s client for Monday and we knew it was going to be a long day. Day started with KENET team presentation in the morning where we went to Nairobi University. This was our CSC team’s first presentation and we were curious to know who all who would attend. It was attended by Ministry of Education, Vice chancellor of few other Universities, Various Directors and staff of the KENET. It was full house and our team did wonderful job with presentation. We were really impressed with the logistics arrangement and presence of all the senior key stakeholders and how much this people respect IBM as company.  This session was quite interactive and we could sense the enthusiasm of the hosting team.

Later we had a presentation of the E-Voting team at the Ministry of ICT Board and this team did great job in presenting their work plan.  As per the plan our team which we named as “Big Five “ team was to present to President office of Kenya. But there were last-minute adjustments and presentation has been rescheduled for Tuesday morning at 8.30am.

 Big Blue Team along with NGO Partner leaving hotel for the presentation  !

 

@ Bomas Village

Sunday morning we had orientation around the socio dynamics of Kenya.  It was interesting to note the various 42 communities which reside within Kenya each speaking their own language. Swahili is what they are having it as unified language across the nation similar to back home where every Indian is supposed to know Hindi. It was worth noting the political under currents and the context of 2007 elections as well and its after effects.. New constitution which in place and aspirations of Vision 2030.

Afternoon later was spent at Bomas Village which is closer to Nairobi city which is more like cultural orientation park if you may call.. There are huts of various tribes on display. There is cultural hall where we spent most of the time watching tribal dances of Kenya. Depending on which part of Kenya you come the dance form differs similar to back home. It seems North Kenya has more of shoulder movement dance while the south Kenya has more of Pelvic movements. It was interesting to watch various dance forms and some of the form and in fact one song seemed very close to Bollywood. Now I know where the various dance form in Hindi movies originate from ;-) .Here are some of the pics @ Bomas Village :

Tribal huts.. depending on the community hut design is unique !

Morning started early with plan to watch sunrise .Lynn and myself went for early morning walk to “public view point” to watch sunrise. This point is where you can watch Nairobi skyline and it overarches the park. It was cloudy and hence could not watch sunrise but what we watched worth the walk.. We saw bird walking gracefully and seemed like as if human is walking. We did get to see few other birds. Yes the canon lens is named as “Monster Lens” by Lynn.

 Breakfast was full of high energy as this was first time few of team members who arrived late at night were seeing each other! We had planned day to visit David Scheldrick which is Elephant Orphange..This is charitable trust which preserves the elephant and nurses the baby elephant who have lost their mother. They have saved loads of elephants where there have been around 800 poachers. It is interesting to see how these baby elephants are being treated like their own kid by the care taker. There is also Rhino orphanage and for the first time I saw Baby Rhino’s .

From the Elephant Orphange our troop went to Giraffe center.. I could not believe myself when I saw Giraffe. .I felt like as I am in the Jurassic park world ! Here we could feed the giraffe and I did feed giraffe couple of times to get the right shot ! But the giraffe was fast to pick its food before the camera clicked! Amazing experience.. From there right across the road there is bird sanctuary. We took nature trail but as it was afternoon could see only 4-5 birds .It was fun though as at some point some of the team mates were getting nervous that we would get lost in the sanctuary as there were not printed maps of the sanctuary. Just sign post on the trail.

Later as we headed to mamba village for lunch and were greeted by Masai who sang the song and were dancing. In India too if we visit some places like Rajasthani Resort you been greeted with their culture songs and dance. The song and dance was so tempting that before I could realize I joined hands with them and started dancing. Later entire team joined as well. It is nice place and we could see lot of local people and kids who had come on school picnic to Mamba village. What strikes very distinctly when you say “ Jambo “ to local people is warmth, friendliness. Kids were very excited and gave hi five to us ! We had five course meal and was relaxing one as some of the team mates had just got 3-4 hours sleep. Black and white Kingfishere shot @ mamba village

Evening we had team dinner with NGO partner- Alex and Mureiki and we been talking to them since last 3 month over the phone. It was exciting to meet them in person. Had great evening with team everyone chatting and having fun and we had each one of us speak about first impressions since we arrived in Nairobi. It was interesting to observe such diversity in the team which is our team’s strength!

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