Tag Archives: Trekking

The Great Walk of Africa Day 9

What you don’t know won’t kill ya. Apparently that’s not the way in the bush. 

This morning I felt like Emily Blunt in the The Quiet Place movie.  The predators are out there….  There’s no Jaws movie music Da dant da dant da dant.  Not only have we taken the oath of silence so have the predators.  It’s a quiet killing grounds in Tsavo. The only things making noise are the harmless birds.  HA!!! The stuff I think about…..

Lots of game sightings today – zebras – elephants – gazelles…

Click to enlarge photos…

It was a peaceful day with no heart pumping events.

Until we were about to cross the Galana River back to camp. Toiko and Washii started into the water when a crocodile’s tail took a swing at their ankles. Both jumped back to the shore quicker than a Kenyan runner. Toiko minus a sandal. He returned to camp shoeless. Poor guy.  It will be a long time before the guys stop teasing him about this one.

The surface beneath our feet is a bit of a conundrum – harsh, dry, and barren like the surface of the moon and closer to the shore there’s beautiful fine white sand. There are a few springs of greenery sprouting.  Otherwise, food seems either non-existent or inedible.  How any animal forages and lives in this area is baffling

Look who tried to wander into camp. Yes. That’s Bill at our tent.

Hello Bill – do you see the elephant?

On our evening game drive we drove up to a male and female pair lounging in the sun.  Jokes about the manly lion ensued… To prove his virility the male jumped on the female. Big her in the shoulder and did his thing. Who’s king of the jungle now?

Tomorrow is our last day of walking and it will be a full day. We leave at our usual 7 am departure time and will not be returning until 6 pm…..

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.

Mzima Camp

Good Lord. Oh dark thirty. We had just fallen asleep.

Breakfast at 5:15 am so that we could be ready for our 5:45 start to Tsavo.

Our flight didn’t leave until 7:30 and the airport was only 15 minutes away. Leaving before gridlock would leave down time but ensure we made the flight.We boarded a 12 seater prop plane. Some of the guys had to crawl to their seats. It was a quick one hour flight to Tsavo West. The welcoming crew was two grazing giraffes just on the side of the dirt runway. The real deal. Not a zoo. Just two giraffes hanging out.

We hopped into a modified Land Rover Defender. Bill and Stephen sat behind the driver. Kim and I loaded up in the next row with Washii, our spotter, sitting on the back roof. Within no time we were standing on the seats with our heads and shoulders peaking out of the roof spotting game.

The rest of the crew loaded up in second Rover and we headed to breakfast at the Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge 45 minutes away.

Cape buffalo, warthogs and zebras (the Brits say zeb-bra) grazed while we stuffed our bellies.

Two more hours to the first camp – our jaws wide open as more wildlife started to appear.

Click on photos to enlarge.

According to Iain we were very lucky to see a leopard lying next to the road. A rare occurrence since they are nocturnal. Looks like he got in a scruff only hours before.


Meet our fearless leader Iain. Iain started Tropical Ice and the Great Walk of Africa 43 years ago. Born in Scotland and raised in Kenya since the age of six. A lover of the outdoors, modern day Indiana Jones, avid reader, movie buff, John Wayne impersonator, comedian and head man in charge. This will be his 93rd walk.

Yes, we fools paid lots of money to walk 100 miles across Tsavo West and Tsavo East. We’re the chum to the predator’s delight. No pussies allowed.

The safari of my dreams has been altered.

Yes, we have tents, twin beds and even woven rugs. It’s a throw back to safari’s from the golden years. Everything we need and then some. Bathtub and chandeliers are foolish childhood dreams. This is a big girl’s camp.  It’s like drinking black coffee.

There is a mess tent where we are served three outrageous meals a day with tea and crumpets each afternoon. It’s perfect. The only downside is we are in Tsavo which means “Place of Slaughter”. Predator’s stomping grounds…. Going to the bathroom in the middle of the night is scary!!!

This camp is named Mzima (alive in Swahili). That’s because it’s the start of the journey and at this point we’re all still alive.

Time to relax and settle in. The walk starts tomorrow.