Sunrise happens quickly in these parts. Beyond our jambo wake up call the sun ushers in a yellow and orange medley of colors setting the tent aglow. To our surprise, on the way to the bathroom, the full brilliant moon was setting between the doum palms. Last night the palms were alive with baboons scurrying about shaking the branches and making the sound of a monsoon rain. This morning all is calm and peaceful.
I failed to mention yesterday that we walked down the Tsavo river toward its confluence with the Yati River which together form the emerald green Galana River. You can see below where the color changes. We had been using the Tsavo River water for showers but the water from the Galana is not used in camp.
This brings up the big question “Why are we wading through it?” Yes, this too I failed to mention (on purpose) because I didn’t’ have photos. We’ve been crossing the river. The body of water full of savage crocodiles. Crocodiles make alligators look like baby lambs. They are bigger, stronger and look for trouble. We paid for this!
So here are the rules: We only cross at elephant crossings – never where there are smooth rocks where you can hopscotch across the river (because the crocs lurk there). We are to look BIG. To do this we grab our partner’s hand standing shoulder to shoulder and then we hang onto the person in front of us – bellies to butts. No talking and walk briskly!
Lajori and Tioko test the water before we start. They throw rocks in and then grab poles and stir the water. The water depth is unknown but perceived to be okay. The short women get an occasional douche and the guys mostly get the bottoms of their shorts wet. I walk on tippy toes. If we can’t bathe with this water I certainly did want it going where it doesn’t belong. I have enough things to worry about.
Day six we walked a new trail for this safari. Not only are we chum but now guinea pigs. As we prepared to cross the river a crocodile slipped off the shore into the water. Red alert. My heart starts racing. Iain walks 75 feet down the shore and says this will work!
Day seven our river crossing area was full of luxuriating hippos. Iain had us walk down the shore and away from the herd but fairly close to a single hippo submerged in the cooling water. I’m sure he saw the concern in our eyes and promptly exclaimed, ‘If we all huddle together and move quickly we might all make it!” Some of our crossings are more than 100 yards wide so I’m sure even a hippo could catch us.
I think every one of us stared down that hippo and never even thought about the crocodiles.
From the Yatta escarpment to the Galana River elephants have forged a path for over a thousand years. For Bill and me, this may be the first thousand year old trail we’ve hiked which was not built by the Romans.
The volume of game grows daily. Especially the elephants. Their nature is so human like. Witnessing up close the way they nurture and discipline their babies could keep me spellbound for hours. A memorable moment was watching a female dig a hole in the sand to find filtered water. She’d scoop it up and throw it over her shoulder. In the meantime, her baby, thrilled to drink from the same hole, tried to get on the action only to be continuously pushed aside so mama could finish the task at hand.
Each evening while eating dessert Iain likes to tell us about what to expect the next day. Tonight’s briefing ended with a story about what happened on his previous safari two weeks prior on the same path we will walk tomorrow.
Of late the vehicles wait for us to conclude our walk and we drive back to camp. Simon, the other driver, had gone to the pick-up site early. As he waited for Iain and his group to crest a hill before crossing the river he witnessed a lion stalk and kill a zebra. Right in the pathway where Iain would emerge. He had no way of warning them. They were off the grid – no cellular service and the emergency radio only worked one way.
Iain said as he and the group were about to crest the hill he came face to face with a bloody mouthed lion. Both stood there shocked. Seconds later the lion turned and ran away. Iain said one of the walkers fell over right there in his tracks. I’m sure that’s the least of what I would have done.
We were left with this story. Go to bed, sweet dreams and tomorrow might be real fun……
Photos from the day. Click to enlarge.
Driving to the starting point:
Iain showing off his rock climbing skills.