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Updates from the Last Chance to Paint team

Precious Africa Day 6 - African Sunset

As I think you can see yesterday, we had a really busy day. Born free team decided, when we were organising the trip, that we would need a day off in Nairobi halfway through our adventure. At the time, being full of energy and enthusiasm, we were quite surprised and disappointed. Little did we know how exhausting the first part of our journey would be, and we are quite relieved to be sitting quietly in a guest house garden, enjoying a little bit of sunshine while we work. Because of this my blog is a little shorter than usual, but I’m pretty sure there will be plenty to say tomorrow as we have a very exciting and full day planned!

Today John is doing a painting based on a fantastic sunset safari Martin took us on one evening in Amboseli, while we relax a bit here at our guest house. Most days we have been working from six in the morning until almost midnight, just to get these videos and blogs out to all the schools around the world - we definitely deserve a bit of a relax ready for our 6am start tomorrow and 4hr journey tomorrow! Yikes!

In today’s film John is going to give you a sneaky peak of how to paint a sunset scene in the savannah. We are also going to show you some of the fantastic footage that we took while we were in Amboseli, of some fantastic photos and films of wildlife that we saw while we were there and that you haven’t seen yet.

And how about a few fun facts while we are at it!

Did you know that while an elephant can hold up to 8 litres of water in its trunk, a giraffe hardly drinks at all, only once every few days, because it has to splay its legs out wide, or kneel to reach the water because its legs are so long! Talking of trunks, an elephant uses its trunk as a snorkel when swimming, and can swim as far as 50km and for about 6 hours, all without stopping! A baby elephant sucks it’s trunk for comfort like a child sucks it’s thumb and because it is so long it would trip over it.

Here are a few questions some schools have sent us. Please feel free to ask us things about our trip and we will do our best to answer them.

Here we have some great questions from Wells Cathedral School in Somerset in the UK.

Elspeth has asked - Can you tell what the ‘Big 5’ are and which animals you’ve seen so far?

The big 5 are the African elephant, the African buffalo, lion, leopard and black rhino.

  • Lions - So far we have been lucky enough from the big five, to see a beautiful pair of female lions who were rolling about on the ground, just like a couple of domestic kittens. They were magnificent.

  • African buffalo - We have also seen some amazing male buffalo with their incredible horns which grow over the top of their heads like hard hats! They use these they fight head to head with another male buffalo. Apparently the African buffalo is one of the most dangerous animals because they are unpredictable and hang out in a ‘gang’. If they stampede they will cause a lot of damage.

  • African bush elephants - There were plenty of African elephants in Amboseli, some of which were enormous. They always appear to be walking slowly, but when you are quite close and trying to film them, you realise that their stride is enormous, propelling them along at quite a speed. I wouldn’t like to see one running in my direction!!

  • We haven’t seen a leopard yet, but you never know, as later we will be heading up to Meru National Park where we will look extra especially carefully. It is really hard to spot the animals when you aren’t used to it, but Martin our driver manages to spot them from miles away while driving at the same time!!! Apparently leopards are hard to spot (hee hee), but we might see a cheetah up there if we are lucky.

  • Down in Amboseli there are no rhino, but we will be heading to Ol Pejeta soon where we will definitely see some. I can’t wait!! Watch our latest video to see what other animals we have seen while we have been here.

She also wants to know - Could you do a painting of the Big Five?

John’s reply is - Maybe if we manage to see them all I might be able to put them all in a painting, however, they would never all be in the same place at the same time.

Francesca asked - What’s the most interesting or your favourite Maasai word you’ve learnt so far?

My favourite word in Maasai so far is ‘Ashe Oleg’ which means thank you.

And Alma wants to know - Do you have a limited amount of water to drink because of the drought?

No we don't at the moment because there is always water provided at the hotels we have been staying in. We are staying in comfortable accommodation this time. It seemed strange at first, but when talking to Phoebe from Born Free she pointed out that most of the staff in the hotel are local Maasai. If tourism were to stop then most of these people would have no work, which would mean they would have much less money to live on. So, in this instance, it isn’t a bad thing to be a tourist. The lodge where we stayed also has solar panels which pump all the water from a bore hole which heats the water for showering, so they are doing their best to make it as ecological as possible.

Elsie is curious to know - Do you use materials from Kenya for your paintings?

John’s says - ‘We have carried our materials from the UK because then we can guarantee what we need is there (unless our luggage were to be lost on way of course!) It does mean that our luggage is quite heavy And we definitely don’t have too much room for clothes!!! On the way home I will roll the canvases up and put them in a tube. I will carry them onto the plane to make sure that they definitely reach home! We also brought all the watercolour boxes for the children at the schools to use. When we have finished our schools project over here we will leave all these with Phoebe to be distributed to the classes we worked with. Bearing in mind how excited the children were when they were given a pencil each, I think they will be delighted to get to do some more painting. Although schools don’t do as much art as perhaps they could, or should, children in the western world at least have access to materials. Let’s make the most of this and get painting!’

And is the food different in Kenya? - The food in Kenya which we have seen is quite western, although, like all countries they have their specialities. They use a lot of vegetables with some very tasty spices. They have some very nice vegetables which they serve with rice and potatoes. You can also get pretty much whatever we have to eat in the UK, especially here in Nairobi.

Clemmie asked - What scenery do you feel most connected to in nature?

John says ‘I particularly like architectural plants, which means that the rainforest is probably my favourite subject in nature.

Remember to watch the daily videos that we send from our expeditions at and you can also view them on our facebook and YouTube pages and on Twitter

On Saturday we released a fascinating video of women in the Maasai tribe, this is a must watch for your class and on Sunday we released a video of John Dyer taking you through the process of making a flamingo sunset painting and show you lots of wildlife, so make sure you don’t miss the weekend videos with you class.

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