It is a peaceful feeling to be in this truly wild place, that is, once one gets over the fears instilled by modern society toward all things wild. It is no longer boring. It is adventurous finding something new and exotic. While many might have preferred clear, sunny skies, I am grateful that it is cool and cloudy. It can get sweltering hot here, so I am able to enjoy it more. The exotic sounds of birds and animals fill the air and are a treat to hear. Our tent is a throwback to the time of Hemingway and others of the early 20th century who came here to hunt but wanted their luxuries as well. This is living at its best, enjoying the outdoors and seeing new lands, animals, and cultures. Back home, one day blends into the next. Here, each day is something new. This is travel. Safari is a Swahili word for journey, and that is what we are doing. We journey with the mind as well as the body. It is also sport. In those bygone days, hunters came armed with their 9 mms and shot game for excitement and wall trophies. I come for the same reason, but armed with a 720mm. I stalk my pray. I watch their ever move and manner. I anticipate their movements. Then I line them up in my sights and squeeze the trigger. There is a sharp sound, and I’m recording them for my wall trophy. I have shot lots of game over the last several days, and it is very thrilling.
It is serene, comfortable, stimulating, and exotic here. But it looks different then I had imagined. I thought it was all savanna. Here, it is scrubby, desolate, dry, and not very buggy. Monkeys are climbing about, then stop and stare at me, hoping I will give them food. Tweeting birds are in the trees, cooing and singing. Then an occasional shriek and scream from something unseen and exotic. A stillness, cool, and sometimes humid.
Despite my wife lying in bed with both the light and flashlight on, I was somehow able to sleep. Maybe at 5am I awoke to the shrieks of animals. This was followed by the sound of gunfire. I was told later that elephants were attempting to cross the river into our camp and blanks were fired. At 6am a servant arrived with coffee, tea, and biscuits to awake us for the morning game drive. Each evening the drivers work hard to thoroughly clean the cars for the morning drive. Within a short time, we were off in our safari vehicle. We saw lots of beautiful birds, gerenuks, impala, waterbuck, and elephants. Uticus was tuned to the radio, trying to get a hint of where he could see big cats. At about 8am, he heard what he was waiting for and we made a mad dash to a large tree surrounded by a dozen other cars. About 10m up was a large leopard sleeping on a branch. His markings were unique to this area: a black spot with a brown spot radiating from the middle. They call it a rose, but it looks like a small paw print. We drove down to the river looking for crocodiles. We did not find any but saw a herd of elephants digging holes next to the river, then sucking up the fresher water. They covered the holes to prevent other animal access to clean water. The morning was cool, humid, and overcast, but it beats the burning heat!
While my family was getting some extra Zs, I walked along the river to spy for wildlife. I saw a couple of storks and monkeys in trees, and there was a samburu tending his cattle across the river. I sat around until a samburu came up to me and convinced me to see a tribal dance on the Intrepids grounds. I attended with a couple of others ($8/person). The dance lasted maybe 20 minutes. The costumes were very colorful, as were their beads and other adornments. They did the jumping contest, as had the Maasai. They were tall and lean but not as handsome a people as the Maasai.
At 4pm we went out on another game drive. For this drive, we saw the same animals as before, with a few new things: grazing Cape buffalo across the river, an owl, eagle, two different trees with leopards lying atop, herds of beautiful oryx, giraffe, and lots of nice Hornbill. We entered, with other vehicles, into a very large herd of elephants. We watched them tear apart and eat various vegetation. Uticus was concerned about a couple of the elephants that looked aggressive, so we pulled out a little farther from the herd. Near the end of our game drive we pulled into another herd of elephants with lots of other vehicles. It was amazing to see these behemoths so close walking around the car. Their steps were so quiet and peaceful. I was able to get lots of great photos and even a close up of an elephant’s eye an arm’s length away. They were adolescent males, and they started to trumpet and look aggressive. Uticus sensed the situation, so he pulled out quickly. Then a young male charged swiftly toward one of the minivans. We really thought he was going to take a hit, but the driver managed to quickly pull out just in time. We drove back facing a beautiful orange sunset.
In the evening, we watched a wildlife video in the bar lounge. During dinner, our waiter showed us a genet cat sitting in the restaurant rafters. While the afternoon had been very warm, the evening was actually getting cold. We quickly fell asleep.