Undoubtedly one of the highlights of Kenya is its animals and after climbing Mount Kenya, we were looking forward to putting our feet up on safari. On a recommendation from a friend we camped at Sandai, near the town of Nyeri, and from there organised a safari to Solio Ranch. Solio have been instrumental in helping to save the rhino and although exact population numbers are now a closely guarded secret, they are understood to be home to roughly 20% of all Kenyan rhinos. One article I read in 2015 notes that Solio has probably the highest density of rhinos per square kilometre in the whole of wild Africa.
Rhinos have been around for over 50 million years, which explains why they look like dinosaurs! There are five species of rhino, two of which live in Africa – the white and black rhinoceros. The white rhino’s name is said to derive from the Afrikaans word “weit,” which means “wide” and describes its mouth, which was misinterpreted by early English settlers in South Africa as “white”. The white rhino is the largest rhino species and can weigh over 3500 kg and it is the largest land mammal after the elephant. Despite it size, though, it can run at speeds of up to 30 miles/hour.
It didn’t take us long to see our first herd and by the end of an unforgettably special day, we has seen over 40 rhinos – both black and white ones, boys and girls, huge adults and ‘tiny’ babies (two were feeding from their moms), muddy ones and lazy ones. They all looked happy and content grazing in the African sunshine. We even enjoyed our picnic with a herd of four no more than 25m away from us. Only in Africa!
In addition to the rhinos, we saw four lions lazing in a tree in the midday sunshine, buffalo, giraffes, zebras, lots of different buck (impala, gazelle, water-buck and bush-buck) and baboons.
The day was made more even special because we had this amazing park to ourselves and we feel very lucky to have been able to see this endangered animal.