Monday, December 27, 2010

Once upon a time...

The 26th of December is a memorable day for both of us..... 

If ever there was a true story that was stranger than fiction, we think you will find this is it. From the bride’s dress to the groom’s shoes, from the facial to the flowers ... it seemed like everything that could go wrong WOULD go wrong … but as all of you who attended our wedding would know … we made it ... and yes, we loved every minute of it!

The Decision…
After contemplating over it for many many months and going through what seemed like a million arguments, we decided to celebrate our love in front of family and friends. We both agreed we wanted a small but very special wedding where we could just have fun with our loved ones.  Little did we know that planning the dream wedding … especially planning one in Sri Lanka, while you are in the UK is much easier said than done.

The Dress…

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Amboseli National Park, Kenya

There are several great national parks in Kenya but we didn’t want to spend too much time on the road going from park to park. However, we decided that we HAD to go to Amboseli just to get some shots of Elephants against a Mount Kilimanjaro background. But being the “lucky” couple  that we are, we found the mountain engulfed in  thick dark clouds from the time we got there. For the whole 2 days that we were doing safaris, the clouds opened up only for 15 mts!!! Yes, just 15 mts! Fortunately, we were around some elephants when that happened and were able to get a few shots. Not the composition I wanted but at least it was better than nothing.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Petting Rhinos and Cheetahs

Our next destination, after our 4 days at Masai Mara (2 days at Nyumbu Camp and 2 days at Serena Lodge), was Amboseli. It would have been too tiring to drive there directly so we decided to do a stay-over in Nairobi.

On our way out of Masai Mara, we came across this Southern Ground Hornbill who seemed very willing to pose for us. I swear she batted her eyelids at me as well but when she saw Michelle, she backed off!

Since it was a black bird being shot against a very bright background with very harsh lighting (mid day sun), it was difficult to get the full dynamic range in camera. So, for the first image  I created 3 images from a single raw file to create an HDR image. The 2nd image is a single shot and you can see the colour and impact is much less than the first one - though there was quite a bit of dodge/burn to bring out the details in that one. 

Monday, August 30, 2010

Masai Mara - Day 3 & 4 - Serena Lodge

After two unforgettable nights at Nuyumbu Camp, we headed to the other side of the Mara. Here we were going to stay at the Mara Serena Lodge.

Located within the park, the Lodge offered great views of the plains and contained plenty of bird life, which almost made us not want to go on the game drives. We were greeted at the entrance to the lodge by this large colourful Red Headed Rock Agama

We had heard that the ‘Mara never disappoints’ and it didn’t! But we had to forgo many photo opportunities because they were “off track” and we were not allowed to stray away from the official roads. One of those missed opportunities was the only sighting of a leopard during the whole trip. We heard that a leopard and her cub were resting in a tree but since there were no pathways to it, we could not get close enough for a proper view. We parked ourselves as close to it as possible and waited very patiently for a couple of hours. However, all we could see was the tail and this is the best shot we got.

Ironically, the next day we heard that as soon after we left the spot the mother and cub had come down for a stroll and waited for awhile, right next to the vehicle that was parked there!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Having the cake and eating it.....

Another year has passed by and as I grow older, my birthdays just become better :D 
You may already know how my wife makes my birthday truly special – with lots of yummy food, delicious cake and loads of prezzies – this year was no exception!
It all started out with a lot of “secret” shopping on Friday, which Mich did all by herself. On Saturday, she had to work and then we went to Pioshy/Lionel’s place for a dinner (Pioshy’s bday was on the 6th) getting back at about 11pm. Since there was a lot to do, she started prepping stuff that night itself and went to sleep at 4am! I was banned from entering the kitchen so could not help out in anyway as she wanted it to be a surprise. Sunday, she woke up at  7.00am and went straight in to the kitchen to start all the cooking for the special bday dinner – to which she had invited Pioshy/Lionel as well as Lasa/Imal.
A lot of effort and time went into preparing a fantastic Caribbean + Sri Lankan   menu. Being a hot summer day we started off with a Caribbean style cantaloupe drink (bits of cantaloupe mixed with sweetened milk and topped off with pomegranate slush, almond flakes and pomegranate seeds). The starter was a ‘Coconut shredded shrimp’ with yoghurt and coriander sauce which was absolutely delicious.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Masai Mara - Day 1 & 2 - Nyumbu Camp

The Masai Mara is what people say it is – a miracle! They say the Mara never disappoints and even during the off-peak season, it didn't disappoint us. 

Mara is a large game reserve in south-western Kenya and is the northern continuation of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. It is named after the Masai people, the traditional inhabitants of the area, who we could see grazing their cattle in the outskirts of the park. It is famous for its exceptional population of Big Cats and the annual migration of zebra, Thomson's gazelle and wildebeest from the Serengeti.

The road to Mara

We were lucky to have gone with one of the best Safari companies in Kenya - As You Like It Safaris which is run by the charming Vivien Prince. We were not sure about staying in tented accommodation as April was supposed to be the rainy season so opted for Lodges for most of the trip. However, Vivien advised us to stay at Nyumbu Camp for the first two nights at Mara to get the real "African Experience". And we are sure glad we took her advice because that turned out to be the best place we stayed at during the whole trip! 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lake Nakuru, Kenya

From Lake Naivasha we headed for a 2 day trip to Lake Nakuru.

Accommodation was at Nakuru Lodge which was very good. The rooms were large with a good view of the plains and there were long winding walks to the restaurant which was quiet nice at night.

Of all the parks we had been to, we liked Nakuru the best – yes even more than the Mara. This might have been because it was small and it was very, very green! Lake Nakuru National Park is a bird sanctuary. The park is situated outside Nakuru Township in Kenya, which is part of the Great Rift Valley with its alkaline and fresh water lakes, within easy reach of Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. The park comprises of a large lake which is surrounded by a beautiful landscape of sedge, marsh, vast grasslands, rocky cliffs, outcrops, stretches of yellow-barked acacia woodlands, plus a large forest of Euphorbia trees (unique on such a large scale to Kenya).

The main reason to go to Nakuru was to see the flamingos. Ideally we would have liked to get some sunset shots of them but were not allowed to be in the park at that time.

There is the constant ‘clickin’ of the birds beaks as they feed – which, strangely, is a comforting sound.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Kenya - Lake Naivasha

The Trip
Even though we are clearly blessed in many ways, my husband and I always feel we are equally cursed in other ways. There is not a single thing we have done together without having to overcome a catastrophic event or two. After all these years, we have now learnt to prepare for the inevitable and expect the worse.

So when we decided to go to Kenya, we did expect bad things to happen – to get sick, get malaria, purge every day, rain, lose camera, get kidnapped etc. Well none of those things happened – but something worse did – we got to fly KENYA AIRLINES!!!

Why Kenya? 
Well other than for the fact that we met two wonderfully helpful people, Raabia and Abdul through FB– Kenya had always intrigued us. Contrary to what most people think – Kenya is NOT a dry barren land with no water and poor people running about. Even though Nairobi is a bit chaotic the rest of the areas are full of greenery and wonderfully polite, well clothed, well educated  people.

The planning
Health - We needed to get four jabs for seven different diseases + take malaria tablets – and yes they are VERY IMPORTANT

Safety - The most important thing is not to attempt to do the whole backpacker thing on your own – the country is too big, the facilities are few and there are far too many scams going on to attempt this. It is best to go with a reputed travel agent and we cannot recommend ‘As you Like it Safaris Ltd’ enough. It also seems like a lot of crime takes place in the city. Driving is chaotic and dangerous.

Accommodation - The lodges are similar to our Habarana Lodge but most are maintained at a higher quality. They offer Wifi, laundry, extensive buffets, comfortable, clean, spacious  rooms and pool (listed in order of importance).

We stayed mainly in lodges and the only tented accommodation was at Nyumbu camp – which for me, was the best experience. Details and pictures are to follow. When you say ‘tents’ in Kenya it does not mean little ones we put up and creep into – they are massive tents which are divided with  cloth screens, have their own shower cubicle and toilet with hot water, double beds, clean linen and clothes storage. The wind sweeps through the tent at night and the birds wake you in the morning – it is an experience in itself.

Attire - Cotton, Cotton, Cotton – no, it is not hot its actually chilly in the morning and evening but cotton will keep you comfortable and a sweater or light jacket is a must for the early mornings or late evenings.

We don’t want to go on and on as there is far too much information here already so if you are thinking of going to Kenya – get in touch and we will share all our information with you. 

Now for more interesting things…

Day 1 – was spent in Nairobi with wonderful Raabia and her family. We were too tired to take shots but had a good time going to the Masai Market and just chilling with her and her cats.

Day 2 of 12 – Lake Naivasha
From Nairobi we were headed to Lake Nakuru with a one day stop over at Lake Naivasha. Accommodation – Naivasha Country Club.
Rating – Average.
Lovely garden, small rooms, good food but bad service. 

On the way - The Rift Valley