We are enjoying the comfort of the Samburu Game Lodge, 320 kilometers north of Nairobi. This is situated on the Ewaso Ng’iro River and is an expansive area of unfenced national parkland.
Leaving Nairobi at 7:00 am yesterday morning we first travelled north on the major road to the town of Thika. It was slow going for about 40 kms on the rough by-pass roads around long stretches of work in which men were working to construct a four lane highway. Once past Thika, the road became a two-lane road and we continued north adhering to the local speed limit of 80 kmh.
Our lunch stop was at the Trout House Restaurant, which we reached along a narrow and very corrugated dirt road. It was a trout farm, consisting of half a dozen circular ponds, over which a restaurant was situated on a series of platforms in an enormous fig tree. It made me think of the Enid Blyton’s famous book ‘The Faraway Tree’. instead of Dame Washalot, a waitress appeared to take our order and her fine and very pleasant manner was absolutely consistent with the quality of the food. Outside, we could see a family of black and white monkeys in the trees which we photographed before moving on.
Just after lunch, we crossed the equator at a very non-descript place. There was a sign and dozens of souvenir shops. Its location actually correlated with our GPs very well. We all had our photos taken with one foot in each hemisphere, consistently beating off an invasion of vendors trying to sell everything from ebony hippos to beadwork. We visited a couple stores along the way in order to use the toilets and they all had exactly the same objects at similar prices. I think that the Kenyan souvenir manufacturers have been very busy.
Before reaching the game lodge, we visited an African village where the Chief explained some of their culture. Both the men and the women danced for us, and afterwards, the chief showed us through the village. These people were traditionally nomads who moved location every year with their goats and cattle. Now, because of the drought, and the opportunity for education at the local schools, they live in a permanent camp on the outskirts of the town of Samburu. As in any other tourist location, we exited their village through the ‘gift shop’ where the women were selling traditional handicrafts along the pathway.
Our last six, or so kilometers for the day, and to the lodge, became a game drive. Our drivers Charles and Kim) had taken the roof panels of the Landrovers so that we could stand and take photographs out through the roof. The first animals that we saw were a herd of about a dozen elephant. They lumbered along steadily (perhaps not gracefully) and crossed the road about four metres from our vehicles. It was a little disconcerting to watch a series of fully grown elephant walk straight towards us across the plain and then veer slightly only metres away to walk in front of our vehicle! We also saw a number of antelope and interesting birds on the drive and we arrived at the lodge just on dark at 6:30 pm.
This morning (Wednesday) we were up for a cup of tea at 6:00 am and then off on another game drive in which we saw more elephant antelopes, and this time, giraffe. The ones that I had seen in Botswana were quite pale but these were Reticulated Giraffes and much darker. We were back for breakfast just before 9:00 am.
We have spent the middle of the day back at the lodge before going out on another game drive at 4:00 pm. We used the time to review photos with David Burren and pick up some technical tips.
Lunch was a buffet in the dining area, during which we were entertained by this young man whose job is to keep monkeys away from the restaurant and the food. He has a set of eagle eyes and and as soon as he sees a monkey in the wrong place, he is quickly into action and fires stones at the intruder with his slingshot. He has a bloody good aim, I can tell you!