Tag Archives: animals

First day walking the Great Walk of Africa

Our day starts with Jambo Jambo – the 6:00 am wake up call spoken by the man who fills our bowls with hot water every morning.

Hot coffee, tea and breakfast are waiting in the mess camp.Departure time is 7:00 am.

While we walk our campsite is completely broken down and set-up at a new location. Our laundry is washed as well.

Walking rules: Single file with no large gaps between us and don’t make a sound. The person who is at the front of the line is to rotate to the back every half hour or so. Don’t be kind to the people behind you by holding a branch to allow others to pass. Just move through it.

* click on photos to enlarge

Guarding us is Iain and five skilled Samburu bush men (wearing sandals made of tires), with weapons, as follows:

Iain – Rigby Ruger 416
Washii (he and Lajori switch places every other day) – spear and machete
Tioko – Rigby Ruger 416
We’re in between
Ekutan – Bruno 458
Lajori – spear machete
Lokori – Bruno 458

The red laterite-rich soil is uneven beneath our feet. The ground is stamped with hippos, elephants, lions and giraffes (many more) tracks.  Dung is everywhere.

I know it’s called “the bush” but better terminology might be “the thicket”,  “the brush” or “the bramble”.   It’s thick and unforgiving.After a half hour of moving branches and thick brambles out of my way I channeled Mohammad Ali and started dodging, weaving and ducking to avoid being pierced by long thorns.  It became quite fun and just when I started getting cocky I’d get slapped square in the face by a catapulted branch. Oh, to be humbled…

We had a challenging river gorge portion of the walk. Lots of rocks and sand with a steep drop to the river. A crocodiles refuge. It was challenging and rewarding and none of us fell in.

Iain had warned us about charging hippos and how dangerous they are. Our first big sighting of hippos were ahead in the river. I figured we saw them in the distance and that was good given their danger level. That’s not Iain’s attitude. We needed to see them up close and personal.  As long as we remained silent they wouldn’t know we were there. It was spectacular and scary.  Hippos forage at night. During the day they submerge themselves in the river to avoid the sun which burns their sensitive skin.  Often times you can’t see them in the water and then suddenly they pop up like a bobber after a fish has eaten your bait. Weighing about 3,000 pounds they can run remarkably fast. Certainly faster than humans.

Every hour or so there is a rest stop and potty break.  Out of caution we only go to the bathroom in the direction we came from and only a few feet away.

We stumbled upon a zebra carcass that Iain suspects was killed in the last week.  Notice how they left the legs untouched.

It was an invigorating day and animal sightings were plentiful. The mandatory vow of silence was not only for our safety but good for the soul.  Time passed quickly.

We finished walking around 12:30 pm. Just in time for a fabulous lunch.  Tea time at 4:00, hot showers at 5:30 followed by campfire cocktails and dinner.

Off to bed.  Rinse and repeat.