This link to youtube was e mailed by a mutual friend of Dr Zahoor Kasmiri, who was also known as Zorro.
The movie clip shows his amazing art and science in saving animals from injury and pain.
Dr Kashmiri was unfortunately killed last year by an injured elephant he was trying to help. You may recall, I placed this information on our "old" bushdrums.com website whenI got news of this very sad accident.
A film for all to watch, learn and respect the way such a person devoted his life and in the end gave his life to saving animals in a continent we are all part of.]]>
Sad news early this morning as I down loaded my e mails and received the very unfortunate news from running friends in Kenya that Olympic Marathon Champion Samuel Wanjiru of Kenya passed away on the 15th May 2011.
He apparently fell from a balcony in his house and died of internal bleeding.
It is still unclear how this accident happened however Mr Federico Rosa, who was "Sammy" Wanjiru's manager has confirmed his death through news sources.
Wanjiru won the Olympic marathon gold medal in Beijing in 2008 with a time of of 2:06:32. His other marathon victories included Chicago (USA) in 2009 and 2010, Fukuoka (Japan) in 2007, and London Marathon in 2009 amongst many other shorter distant victories and world records.
Wanjiru has had a tough 18 months facing injury as well as personal issues however the athletics and sports world has lost a young 24 year old runner who in the past 6 years left an impressive footprint in running and was sure to add to this in the future.
May he rest in peace -
Festus Langat - a middle and soon to be long distance runner.
Instead of bring running news to you, I thought to write a small caption of a person that I have slowly seen growing and hope will become one of Kenya's Elite in the marathon world. We will follow his progression on bushdrums.com
Festus Langat - a young family man living in the highlands of Kenya.
I had the pleasure of meeting Festus several years ago at a race in Italy and he has over the years developed into a mature middle distance runner having won the Indianapolis half marathon on 2 occasions and last week he came second in the latter race as well as many other national and international races.
Festus trains with his brother and a few friends in Kerichio and is known by the local boys as their coach.
He is one of the best pacemakers out on the field and we had the luck of seeing him at his full potential this March in Rome where he did a splendid job in pulling the race at a good pace to km 25 facing a strong head wind.
His manager Hussein Makke and Massimliano Monteforte (race director of the Rome Marathon) brought Festus to Rome this March where we spent time training, filming a documentary on the negative influences of doping in the running world (the short film called PUROSANGUE - translated "Pureblood" will be launched next year) and generally having fun and a good few laughs around Rome.
This July I will be spending time with him in Iten with a film crew to finish off the documentary and will be able to report how his training is proceeding to start competing in full marathons.
Next year he will start the season by running as an Elite in Rome and attempt to go for the podium; I will be there helping him the whole way. Keep an eye out for Festus Langat - the future Kenyan Champion on www.bushdrums.com
(c) Bushdrums 2011
I came across this on youtube - toward the end of the clip there is one of my favourite animals that I have never seen... for now! The black leopard!]]>
Kenya mourns loss of distance runner Peter Kiprotich Cherus
Kenyan distance runner Peter Kiprotich Cherus died in a car accident over the weekend. Peter Kiprotich lived in Iten and passed away before reaching hospital due to internal bleeding and head injuries. His death was confirmed by the medical team at Iten hospital and later by his Dutch manager Gerard Van De Veen of Volare Sports in Voorthuizen.
Peter Kiprotich Cherus was one of the pacemakers in 2003 for Paul Tergat when he broke the official world record 2.04.55 and for Haile Gebrselassie who set a new world record in a time of 2:04:26 in Berlin in 2007.
© Bushdrums 2011]]>
Dado confirms herself as the Queen of Rome
When Massimiliano Monteforte (Race director of the Rome marathon) provided me with the list of the elite women runners for the 17th edition of the Golden League Rome Marathon, I was pleased to read that the winner of the previous 2 marathons was ranked F1 – none other than the smiling athlete from Ethiopia, Dado Tufa FireHiwot.
Speaking with her the previous evening, as always Dado was full of smiles, relaxed and joking with her other team mates that Hussein Makke (director and coach of Elite Sport Management International) had gathered for the event. I told her that only a win was allowed or else no more invited to run in Rome for future marathon. She laughed it off and said that it will not be easy to do 3 in a row.
I glanced at Hussein who lifted his hands with a hint of a smile in a gesture of “anything is possible”.
Knowing Hussein who over the years has become one of the most successful managers representing the elites in middle and long distance running, off and on the track; he will not come with a small group of athletes to watch the world go by. In 2010 his runners took the double in Rome winning both men and women categories as well as Florence (Dado again) not mentioning victories at the Boston marathon, Paris – again an incredible double winning elite men and women categories, Dubai, China, Turkey, Seoul and many more!
On race day, Dado Tufa FireHiwot went out from the beginning with the leading pack keeping a meter or so behind her pacemakers before taking control of the race and stampeding ahead after the 30k marker. 400 yards before the finish line, she stopped, removed her shoes and went on to win barefoot her 3rd consecutive victory paying a graceful tribute to legendary barefoot marathon athlete from Ethiopia Abebe Bikila (1st African to win an Olympic Gold Medal in the 1960 games held in Rome and 4 years later in Tokyo).
Dado won in a time of 2.24.13 ahead of fellow country women Tesema Goitetom (2.26.21) and Lema Kebebush Haile (2.27.39)
(c) Bushdrums 2011]]>
Sunday 20th March 2011 – Rome
The weather, cloudy and quite cold; with less wind and perhaps more sun the conditions would have been better to start the 17th edition of the Maratona di Roma which this year has been upgraded to a Golden League marathon.
The atmosphere amongst the runner was calm, no signs of nervousness and on this rare occasion all athletes were ready to leave the Hotel in buses heading for the historical centre with police escort to the most spectacular start and finish of any city marathon – by the world famous Coliseum.
Race director Massimiliano Monteforte and had put together another great selection of about 45 elite athletes ready to hit the roads of Rome with another 85000 participants that included all categories as well as the 4k walk.
The race kicked off with half marathon expert Festus Langat taking the pace and pulling the lead runners through to the 25k mark before dropping out as a pacemaker and leaving the elites to take the lead on their own.
The last 4k saw a spectacular come back by last year’s winner – Ethiopian athlete AMDA SIRAJ GENA(who was unwell and in hospital the week before) who tried to catch Kenyan runner NIXON CHUMBA KIPTOLO.
Unfortunately for him, he would not make it 2 in a row and Nixon Chumba stormed through the finish line in a time of 2.08.45 followed by Siraj Gena 2.09.21 and with 3rd place going to Ethiopian runner Dawit Shami Abdulahi in 2.09.21
The race carried a dark shadowed due to the absence of elite Japanese runners that were affected by the tragic earthquake and tsunami.
(c) Bushdrums 2011]]>
Menengai Holidays – based in Kenya
I was contacted by Daniel Njaga some time ago as he was interested in our website www.bushdrums.com being keen on ecology and wildlife. I was taken by surprise by his prompt replies and information which I mentally filed away as it is quite unusual in today’s stressful life. We had little correspondence since until I was directly contacted by a member of bushdrums who wanted information on a company to take her and her family on holiday in Kenya. I remembered Daniel and passed on his details to her mentioning that I had personally never worked or met Daniel and his company Menengai Holidays.
2 weeks passed and I was pleased to receive a positive e mail by our member of bushdrums who was overwhelmed with Menengai’s responses and information.
A few months later and I found myself dreaming of the country I was born in and know so well – Kenya. “Time to go back home” I thought, only this time round with my wife, kids, a second family and my father in law. Not an easy task to handle as the age ranged from 7 to 70 and the days of throwing a blanket in the back of my 4x4 and driving off into the bush had to be placed on hold as a couple were new to the African territory and ways of life!
Time to bring in Daniel Njaga from Menengai Holidays based in Nairobi!
From my initial e mail to organise various hotels in Nairobi, lodges and accommodation around Kenya, internal flights, International airport pick up and drop off at crazy early hours of the morning, game drives, sightseeing, lake trips, tours in cities as well as organizing transport to restaurants booked by myself to see old school friends – nothing was an issue or a problem and everything was timed to the minute.
On meeting Daniel personally for the 1st time I asked him if he was Swiss or worked for some Swiss watch company? His prompt response to all my correspondence was immaculate and fast (giving the time difference) and he provided full information on all types of accommodation for me to chose from at various budgets (quality of accommodation highly differs on budgets in East Africa). All I had to do was chose what I liked and he would take care of the rest.
Although his working ethics may seem Swiss, Daniel is originally from Nakuru. Very mellow and well spoken, his academic endeavors and experience I believe is not matched by any travel agent / owner or manager currently in East Africa doing the same professional occupation as him. The company is fairly new but making great progress.
Daniel is a professional wildlife biologist with a Masters Degree in Ecology and Wildlife Management. He has worked as a wildlife research scientist in Kenya and as a communications expert in both public and private sectors.
His has in-depth knowledge and insight into wildlife, national parks, conservation and tourism issues in East Africa. He is a regular commentator on environment, conservation and tourism in the region and contributes opinion articles for the Daily Nation; East Africa's leading daily newspaper, and The East African the regional weekly newspaper.
Other professional assignments that Daniel is carrying out include giving guest lectures on tourism and wildlife management at the Kenya Wildlife Service Training Institute. He is also a travel writer for local lifestyle magazines and is a member of Marketing Advisory Committee for Kenya Association of Tour Operators.
I spent a few hours with Daniel driving from Nakuru to Nairobi and back and we enjoyed a light lunch by the crater lake lodge discussing farming, wildlife and political land issues to a great extent. His knowledge in these issues are superlative. It was a pleasure to be able to get his opinion and learn from his knowledge. Therefor it was of no surprise to discover that he lectures to foreign students who travel to Kenya for field studies on ecology and wildlife. This knowledge is also reflected in the staff that work together with him.
On our trips into various towns and national parks, we had the luck of having Anthony as our guide. Anthony or better known as “Tony” knows Kenya exceedingly well and has taken guests into the closer more popular national parks such as Meru, Mara, Amboseli etc however he enjoys driving all the way to the extreme northern district of Turkana for the more adventures travelers.
Apart from his vast knowledge on wildlife, birdwatchers will have a good run for their money to try and keep up with the knowledge on bird life as this is Tony’s strength.
Tony like Daniel was a pleasure to be with and his positive character added to the success of our travels.
Daniel Njaga handles all administrative affairs of the company at the Nairobi office to ensure each customer receives uncompromising attention and all inquiries are answered to promptly and satisfactorily. If you want to have a memorable holiday and safari of a lifetime, organized to your specific needs from choosing the type of vehicle, accommodation at your own budget in cities, lodges in the bush, hotels on the beach or close to airport before your flight, I can personally recommend Menengai Holidays Ltd and you can contact Daniel directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or his team at email@example.com
Written by Cody –
Co-founder of www.bushdrums.com
For your information, Menengai Holidays contact details –
Menengai Holidays Ltd
First Floor, Duplex Apartments No. 40;
Bunyala/Lower Hill Road, upper Hill;
P.O Box 2260 - 00202 Nairobi, Kenya;
Cell phone: +254-720-950-500
"We Unwrap Kenya for You”
The beautiful Kenyan Coastal Reef – sadly disappearing!
KWS – Kenyan Wildlife Services has set up laws along the Kenyan coast that shells, starfish – actually all marine life are strictly not to be removed from the coral reefs and gardens…. Gardens… a word of the past!
Gone are the days when one would fill their lungs with the salty warm tropical air and attempt to dive a few meters to get close to the colourful shawls of fish rushing from one coral garden to the next using the ocean currents to maneuver whilst the sun’s rays glimmer off their metallic bodies and shiny scales.
I recall snorkeling, or perhaps better explained, lying motionless in the ocean, face down and geared with a simply mask and snorkel. The only movements was of my head and eyes darting from one spectacular display of colours to the next, not needing to search much to enjoy a spectrum of tropical warm saltwater marine life.
Last December and this January – I felt embarrassed after explaining to my son and daughter what beauty the Kenyan coastal gardens had to offer.
Why embarrassed? – After various attempts of taking the kids out for some snorkeling, I felt that I had fooled them as it seemed my stories were lies.
Could it be that the tsunami helped devastate the gardens and disappearance of the numerous corals and fish? Perhaps again an expert can expand on this question.
I would be relieved if that was the answer. At least I can put it down to natural disasters hoping that nature would soon bounce back and show its true phenomenal colours.
Sadly some areas and coral gardens have been turned into semi deserts and at times a complete bland grey and dull green colour with little marine life.
Some blame it on the star fish!! Personally I blame it on the absolutely naïve, disrespectful stupidity that some locals but most of all tourists do.
I saw tourists and “fishermen” wearing their rubber shoes going off onto the reefs during low tide and removing any shells they could find. Do the hotels not see this and explain to their gets the ethics of the ocean? Do the hotels not understand that part of this ecosystem is what brings people to such wonderful countries!
Does KWS close their eyes to the beach boys selling cowrie shells amongst others on the beach – spread on native rugs?
KWS have rangers walking the beaches; – why do my eyes see things their trained paid eyes do not? Yet when guests go out to sea they are ready pounce and take entrance fee for the marine parks!
Why do street stands and shops in Mombasa sell numerous types of sea shells?
Again I have been personally disappointed with the lack of education or sense that is being used by the educated tourists and some locals who for money are willing to damage their own land!
Lucky there is still a lot to be seen when scuba diving as over the reef a boat is needed and a good healthy pair of lungs to get past 5 to 6 meters if free diving.
I say – come back Jaws but is a smaller version to scare away those ignorant reef wreckers!!!
Sorry about such negative reports but when you are still young and have seen what has happened to our childhood play ground in only 20 years (when I left the coast for the 1st time to study abroad) – what will happen in the next 20 years… it is very worrying and sad!
Co-founder of bushdrums.com]]>
Mara Leisure Camp –
Kenya - December 2010
Can be reached by road via Narok
By plane on numerous airfields in the Mara
On the odd cold autumn day, taking a 5 minute break to read and go through the itinerary of my next safari in Kenya is a personal way of relaxing. …
Another camp to get to know on my list was Mara Leisure Camp – a lodge/camp that I had yet to visit but from their website which kicks off with “an exclusive boutique camp in the African Wild” made it a camp I honestly look forward to relaxing in.
From their website www.maraleisurecamp.co.ke and price at US Dollars between 280.00 and 350.00 per night (per tent /room high season) I was looking forward to luxury after a few days of trekking it in the bush.
Due to personal issues I had a little change of plan and flew directly on my own from Nairobi Wilson Airport with Air Kenya to an airstrip about 10 kilometers from the camp. Tony, our guide who had been travelling with me the past week around Western and Southern Kenya was awaiting my arrival with his typical genuine warm smile and we drove off into the bush heading towards Mara Leisure Lodge.
A few kilometers before reaching the lodge we passed what was once a small remote Masai village however as with all areas on our ever expanding globe, where there is revenue turn over, there is space for infrastructure and buildings. New guests houses, shops, private homes had sprung up since my last visit and more were visibly in construction. - I just hope that they do not plan on building another Kimana (an area close to Amboseli)!
We reached the entrance of the camp; typical lodge entrance with local Masai decorations, wooden beamed roof with makuti thatching and the reception received by the staff was very friendly. We registered and were promptly shown to our accommodation.
We booked a tent but were given a “cottage” – a concrete build divided into 2 large bedrooms, each with its own very large bathroom and terrace.
The rooms and accommodation: Initial impact was relatively positive as the rooms are large and the bathroom have ample space with a bathtub to relax in after a long days safari. Plenty of hot water (via solar panels) to use in the wash basis. The shower tested ones patience! The options were either cold or hot with water dribbling down making it quite hard to wash the days dirt off! Being bald by nature this did not cause too many complications for me to clean my head however for my wife, washing her hair ended up being one of the most difficult tasks of the day!!
Towels were clean, soft and adequate.
The bedroom – typical local wooden furniture that more or less blended in with the rest of the ambiance. However there was something out of place which was quite familiar with lodges, camps or hotels that are going through changes (will explain as later)!! Most décor in the accommodation was tired, consumed and had past its expiry date. The curtains were semi ripped off the racks and impossible to close, the mosquito nets were either torn or missing, the mattresses where completely consumed and uncomfortable and the pillows…. After an hour’s attempt to sleep, I dropped it on the floor and folded a towel in its place!
The light fittings were chipped and some did not work. A big difference between reality and what is explained and displaced on their website.
In the morning I decided to re charge my torch however the socket came straight off the wall which I attempted to fix for them so the next guest would not have the same issue and risk getting an electric wakeup call!
Wake up call – although I requested one at 5.45 am and my travelling companion at 6.00 am in his room, non came. They were either too busy at that time in the morning or perhaps they forgot.
On requesting our wakeup call the previous night at the reception desk, we were also asked what time we would like to have breakfast. 6.30 was our answer – making it a day with a late start to game drives.
We reached the dining room at 6.45 and noticed that absolutely nothing had been set up. At around 7am the odd member of staff appeared and we helped them set up the table and get organized which was a laugh as the staff (like most Kenyans) were always with a smile and full of the positive joys of life.
Meals; I have worked in some exclusive kitchens producing fine delicacies however when in the bush I always take into consideration where I am, how the produce gets to these remote areas, storage and use of electrical power a couple of hours per day. In most cases I am positively surprised however here again the quality was below standard of lodges of this category.
I was now beginning to wander what category this lodge belonged to…..?
Gardens…. Perhaps the owners have decided to go with nature and let it take its course. The grass around most of the lodge / camp was what they call in central Africa and the Congo as Elephant grass; long and thick left to grow wild. My initial conclusion proved wrong as the next day a shamba man (gardener) with his curved bladed was happily slashing away at the overgrown shrub.
Views from the terraces; either from the tents or rooms – non existence, only thick bush around 1 to 2 meters away but this may have been done purposely to give one the feeling of being closed in the bush.
Tents – here again it looks like they have been neglected. Some canvases were ripped, stained and the wooden built frame they were built on where showing signs of rot.
I had come across such situations before and my suspicious was soon confirmed when speaking to various members of staff. The lodge had been sold and was under new ownership.
Unfortunately at times when owners decide to sell, they close off all taps and expenses to renew or to maintain quality to save as much money as possible before selling. This normally has a negative impact for the new owners as they have a lot more work on their plate to replace and fix the complete negligence of the previous owners and perhaps the most difficult part – to try and get a reputation back!
At US Dollars from 280.00 to 350.00 per night (excluding Park Entrance fee) I currently do not recommend this camp. Even in high season as one must balance value with what is offered and service provided. As stands, they are asking too much for what they are providing. I hope the new owners promptly take action on what can be a wonderful lodge and perhaps with a lot of work and effort they can re call it “an exclusive boutique camp in the African Wild”, but for now, they are a long way away from that!
Staff friendliness – 4 out of 5
Cleanliness of the rooms – 3 out of 5
Cleanliness and care of the gardens – 2 out of 5
Quality of food – 2 out of 5
Quality and comfort of the rooms – 2 out of 5
Quality of the bathrooms – 3 out of 5
Value for Money – 2 out of 5
Co founder of Bushdrums.com]]>