A KENYA SAFARI WITH AUDLEY TRAVEL -A DAY IN THE BUSH
Date published: 7/05/2019
Date published: 7/05/2019
“Last year I won a travel writing competition and the prize was an incredible Kenya safari holiday to Nairobi, Masai Mara and Watamu, provided by Audley Travel and Hemingways Collection. This post is about a day on our safari at Hemingways Ol Seki in the Naboisho Conservancy, which adjoins the Masai Mara. All words and opinions remain entirely our own”~ Heather Cole
Most wakes I’ve attended have been rather conventional affairs, involving delicately cut ham sandwiches and enforced chit-chat with relatives whose mer e existence had come as a surprise just hours before. Tea is generally served in china cups that wouldn’t be out of place on the Antiques Road Show, and there’s always someone who turns up in neon pink rather than the standard black, with the excuse of celebrating life rather than mourning death. Uncle Alfred I’m looking at you!
This wake was a little different.
Here the attendees were all hunched over and appeared to be wearing dark shrouds of their own. There was no small talk, just an eerie silence that whispered menace. I got the distinct impression they were congregating in anticipation of a death, rather than because of one. And why were they all looking at me?
I could’ve sworn I heard a chilling cackle coming from the back of the crowd…
Reminding myself I was in fact quite safe in our vehicle out on safari in Kenya, and this was just a group, or ‘wake’, of vultures waiting for breakfast, I relaxed in my seat and stared back into 50 sets of unblinking black eyes. It was that unnerving time just before dawn, when the lingering mists were slowly receding from the plains, revealing all that had gone on during the dark of night. A couple of hyenas were squabbling over unidentifiable bones that had been picked clean long ago, and wildebeest calves were jumping for joy after surviving another night out in the bush. Wrapping my chilled hands around a warm flask of hot chocolate that had been provided by the thoughtful staff at Hemingways Ol Seki Camp, I mused it was far too early for those sort of energy levels. Even if they had just escaped the jaws of death.
The vultures had unsettled me with their brooding air of intent, their vast numbers, and the fact they were all standing on the ground, facing the same way. Towards us! Usually we see them perched up in trees in twos or threes, on the look out for the latest feasting opportunity. Shivering slightly, which was only partly to do with the cool temperature of early morning, we continued on our Kenya safari and trundled off into the bush.
Then came the sunrise, and with it the safety that daylight brings. Our Maasai guide Patrick pulled over behind a conveniently positioned acacia tree and we watched as oranges, yellows and reds gradually flooded the plains of the Naboisho Conservancy all around us. The new day had finally begun, even though we’d been up for hours. Such is life on a safari holiday. With renewed vigour we set off in search of a cheetah. The one creature we were keen to see.
In the event we saw not one, but FOUR young cheetahs, stalking across the savannah with their long agile limbs. Just another day out on a Kenya safari! We followed them for some time as they half-heartedly thought about hunting, but the herds of impala obviously weren’t on the menu today as they continued past without so much as a glance. We eventually left them to it, not wanting to crowd them or put them off their hunt!
It was Hubbie who spotted her. Perched regally on a fallen tree, she was using the height gain to scout out the land and wait for her own breakfast opportunity. Or was it lunch.
Normally at this point we’d be snapping away with our cameras, seeing the entire episode through the lens rather than with our own eyes, a failing we never seem to be able to shake. Yet this time it was different. We’d had our good camera stolen in Tenerife the week before, so were pretty much relying on our phones for pictures. Whilst this was frustrating in that it meant we weren’t getting any shots worthy of hanging on the wall, it also meant that we were able to just sit and enjoy being so close to this magnificent cheetah. And when she suddenly stood up, stretched, and then pelted off into the trees we didn’t miss a thing. The chase was over in a matter of moments, and although ultimately unsuccessful, like so many cheetah hunts, it was incredible to see her in action.
It was the highlight of our entire Kenya safari holiday!
A short while later Naboisho had another speedy animal to throw at us, and it wasn’t one we were expecting. Hippos. You know, the huge cumbersome grey things that don’t do much except wallow in the river, occasionally coming up for air, and sometimes snorting disgruntledly for no particular reason.
We’d seen our fair share of hippos on previous Kenya safari holidays, and weren’t that excited at a couple of nostrils lurking just beneath the pool surface. But when those nostrils arose…
Article by Heather Cole
Sports Illustrated Swimsuit visited this amazing country and explored some of its most popular destinations; Nairobi, Masai Mara and Watamu. They were hosted by Hemingways Watamu & Hemingways Ol Seki