I just spent the most wonderful week on safari in Kenya. I got to see a huge amount of wildlife from the luxury of an open safari vehicle, expertly driven and guided by Maasai guides. I had the opportunity to take night drives, go on several walking safaris and visited two Maasai villages. I ate well, slept well, and enjoyed watching the sun set over the plains filled with wildebeest, topi and zebra, while sipping large bottles of Tusker beer. I love my job. Here are some highlights from my trip:
1. Visiting a traditional Maasai village just outside the Selenkay Conservancy (Amboseli), learning how to make a fire using just sticks and dung, and sharing a song with some of the women without a single Kenyan Shilling being exchanged to cheapen the experience.
2. Remarking to the camp manager how well I slept because the roaring lions, grunting hippo, and munching buffalo sounded like they were at least 20 yards from the tent, as opposed to trying to get in my tent like the previous night.
3. Enjoying drinks and "bitings" while sitting around a campfire every night, looking forward to yet another delicious 3 course dinner to be served, and sharing wildlife sightings with fellow guests. I shared my tales of spotting cheetah, leopard, lion (eating, sleeping, mating), hippo, elephant, buffalo, crocodiles, hyena, jackal, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, eland, kudu, cranes, eagles, herons, vultures, bushbabies, vervets, baboons.... shall I go on?
4. Learning about Maasai culture, Kenyan politics, the price of cattle, the sexual habits of the dik-dik, the difference between the Glossy Ibis and the Hadada Ibis, satellite males, the brilliant constellations, Sheng, how to navigate Nairobi traffic, and much much more from all the fantastic guides, drivers, cooks and managers at the Porini Camps.
5. The discovery that wildlife is adaptable, that previously decimated areas can flourish when left alone, that community involvement is the key to conservation success, and that people and wildlife need not be in conflict if properly managed. A big thanks to Jake Grieves-Cook for opening my eyes and letting me experience his camps.