In part one we were in Tanzania and we had had a wonderful time; our guide, Moses took us to the Kenya border to meet our Kenyan guide. Once again I’m not sure I remember his name correctly but it was something like Joshua or Completely-Miserable-Sod-for-Two-Days-and-Then-Fine.
First though we had to cross the border which involved a palaver and some Shillings passing in Masonic handshake ways. When in Rome and all that…
Once across, the roads, which up to that point had been baked and rutted mud and which, Moses informed us, were only comfortable if we travelled at 57 miles an hour – he was right – became the smoothest of tarmac… for ten miles. Once away from the border and the chance of a bit of National Braggadocio, it reverted to the packed red dirt that was ubiquitous in this part of the world.
It took a day to find out why Joshua had the grumps. He thought we were all related to royalty and had been gifted the wealth needed to visit Kenya. We dissembled which made it worse. In the end we accepted that, for him, it was easier if he thought we were Empire scrounging free loaders, with a penchant for silly jewelled headgear and a dodgy German ancestry – which I guess in a sense we were (not the German bit, of course). Once we had our roles clear, it was all smiles.
Joshua knew his stuff. We were soon in the Serengeti and whereas Moses let the images do the talking, Joshua explained the habits, the life cycles, the threats – poaching then was a great problem that, sadly hasn’t gone a way – and the personal stories of a number of the main creatures.
For instance did you know that this:
The Rock Hydrax, is the Closest relative to this:
The African Elephant? Sounds like bollocks but I did check that on Wiki and, yippee, my brain isn’t yet total mush.
We did have to spend some time visiting the indigenous people, the Masai, who were lovely but I have yet to participate in one of these visits and not felt totally intrusive. That and I just can’t pogo like the Masai men; and I’ve pogoed to the Clash, been showered with the Stranglers’ bodily fluids while doing the up and down jumping bit and, well, you get the picture.
Cue music btw…
Anyway, Joshua led us on some fabulous game drives. And I learnt one thing very quickly. If there was one creature that stunned me here, it was the cheetah.
We saw many, mostly dozing in the partial shade.
They slinked, they stretched in ways that would make an Olympic standard Yogi split himself with jealousy and they were the fastest things I’d seen until the Vet stood on an eviscerated mouse, left as a gift by one of our cats: once she realised the gloop oozing between her toes was intestinal, she really moved. What particularly blew my mind was the camouflage.
This has to be the best photo we took all holiday. Can you see the cheetah?
Here’s a close up.
Yep, the Textiliste nailed this one, damn and blast her.
Two other memories stand out from this point on the trip.
The first was the sheer vastness of the migration we saw – we managed this picture of the meander of thousands of wildebeests, zebra and buffalo but nothing prepares you for seeing it live.
You could watch it for hours, unfolding across the plains.
The second was the scent of the frangipani blossom.
We were staying by a lake where the hippos came out at night to graze on the grass by the river banks. We were told, under no circumstances to leave the path back to our hut after dinner.
Getting between a hippo and the water was a recipe for disaster. Needless to say, we stuck close in the pitch dark as we clutched each other and the feeble torch we were given. Half way back, a thunderous roar rent the air, much like a jumbo jet warming up. This was followed shortly by a smell that can only be described – well, I would if I had the adjectives to do justice to something so rotten and putrescent. A Hippo fart is like a Trump press conference: incredible, unpleasant and gargantuan in the way it leaves you gasping for oxygen.
But really there was so much wildlife…
Oh I forgot the Stranglers…
Now they were wild… Where was I?
In the Serengeti we saw so much; talk about spoilt. Hunting dogs
exotic giraffes; apparently these guys are also bankers being related to the Rothschild scion (Giraffa camelopardis rothschildi) – who knew?
various antelopes and deer
and elephants and birds and a monkey and a croc and…!
To say it felt a wrench to drag ourselves away would be an understatement but we were off to see Nairobi and, from there the Aberdare Mountains and Treetops. Next time…