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Updates from the Last Chance to Paint team

Precious Africa Day 3 - Today it’s all about the animals!

Updated: Mar 12, 2023

Our third adventure here in Kenya started very early! We met up with Martin our brilliant driver, at 6.15 am!!! We set out before daylight ready to see the sunrise and watch the animals gradually coming out of hiding.

The sun was like a big red ball that appeared gradually over the horizon. Once it peeped out, it seemed to rise incredibly quickly. Mount Kilimanjaro made an appearance from behind the mist. Even though it is sweltering in the savannah, it is so high that snow is on the top.

As the light gradually became stronger we started to see the animals creeping out to graze. One of the things I found interesting is how all the herbivores live side by side so comfortably, mixing their groups as they graze. Wildebeest and zebra wander around in the same areas, interspersed with Gazelle. Nearer the wetter areas, there are big birds - flamingos, pelicans, herons and marabou storks with elephants and hippos wallowing around. There is so much to see, photograph and paint! We have discovered that Kenya is an artist’s paradise.

We spotted hippos wallowing in the swamps - I really love the curvy shape of a hippo, and when they are wet they are a shiny chestnut brown. At first, we found it impossible to spot them at all as they look like shiny rocks in the water. But don’t be fooled by its cute face as the hippo kills more humans than any of the other African animals. It sneaks up on people, and its jaws are so vast and its teeth so strong that they will go right through a person!

And then disaster struck, and our vehicle wouldn’t start again after stopping to view some ostrich. Bearing in mind that it is not advised to get out of your vehicle in the park, after fiddling with the battery under the front seat to no avail, Martin got out and started looking under the bonnet. Just as he stood leaning into the engine, John heard the patter of feet and a hyena galloped by!! Luckily Martin didn’t see it, and it didn’t see him! Hyenas are one of the most dangerous predators and carnivores, but Martin didn't look tasty, it seems! After a few tries of various things, Martin decided that it was definitely the battery that was playing up, and could we try to push! Have any of you ever seen the size of a Landrover Defender? It weighs just over two and a half tonnes! We must have looked very funny to another passing safari party whose driver stopped as it ended up with just myself, Jo, pushing as John wanted to take a picture! The other driver kindly turned his vehicle around and gave us a push with his bumper up against ours. And, oh joy, it worked, and we were off again!

After breakfast, back at the Lodge, we were off again. There is no time to rest when you are an artist! This time we went up Observation Hill, where you are allowed out of your vehicle to climb up the hill to view the landscape all around. What a stunning sight. Below the hill, there is a lake with small islands. On the islands, there were elephants and even a shiny brown hippo (hippopotamus, to be precise). On the edge of the lake, underneath the hill, there were more elephants with zebra and wildebeest wandering around grazing. In the water, some enormous pelicans were swimming around and all around us were small colourful birds swooping and hopping between our feet. There were bright yellow ones and iridescent blue ‘Superb Starling’. This was the perfect spot for John to start his next painting.

It was a fantastic sight to see John standing with his easel overlooking the African landscape, stretching into the distance with many African species of wildlife below. It wasn’t easy, as a strong wind was buffeting the canvas, and it was so hot that the paint was drying on John’s brush. Having spent a couple of hours out on the hill, John felt that he had gathered enough visual information to be able to take his canvas back to the Lodge and finish it there, out of the wind and the heat of the sun. The final painting captures the landscape of Amboseli and some of its unique wildlife - it is a fantastic piece of art work.

Next came the evening safari drive to bring the day to a close and watch the sunset on the same day we had been up to see it rise! Because we are on the equator here, the days are exactly 12 hours long, so as we watched the sunrise at 6.30 in the morning, we would see it set at 6.30 in the evening. You can see all these fantastic adventures and learn some fun facts about some of the animals we saw on our travels today, try and catch our Precious Africa Day 3 video.

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