Tioko showed up in fancy sandals way too small for his feet. He must have borrowed someone’s clubbing shoes!
Today we walked 17 miles.
Click to enlarge photos.
Our campsite. Zoom in.
A large group of elephants were spotted on the ridge line. Iain headed in their direction but the wind was blowing our scent towards them so they started to turn in a different direction. We changed course and ran across the plain to meet up with them. This time undetected. With the Henry Mancini “Baby Elephant Walk” playing in my head, we followed them towards the river. Walking briskly to keep up then running around the saltbushes to watch them at the water.
It seemed strange in our given environment of not seeing another human or non-wild animal on this journey to walk into a huge herd of cattle and goats shepherded by children appearing to be 6 to 14 years old. They are from the Orma tribe near the Somalia border. Supposedly rich Kenyans own the animals. It was fascinating to watch. The kids were bathing and cleaning their clothes in the river. Their life is dreadfully hard and often short lived.
At lunch time we crossed the Galana to a grove of palms where the crew had set-up a tent and brought lunch while we walked. To relax, cots had been placed under the palm trees. We rested and then headed out again.This time we walked to the finish line! 100 miles in 10 days.
Stephen and Kim
Barbara and Rick
It was an adventure of a lifetime. The crew at Tropical Ice has this down to a science. We were so lucky that the three additional walkers were fantastic, lovely people. A couple from Colorado and a 84 year old retired doctor from San Francisco. We giggled so much.
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…..
Once again we woke up thinking it was raining and it was a baboon in the palm.
Eight graceful giraffes passed by early in the morning. They generally can be seen with zebras grazing about. If you look closely in the photos you can see that the top of a zebra is as tall as the under belly of a giraffe.
Our day started with a river crossing. After the last hippo “stare down” this one went off without a hitch. We cross and on the shoreline stop to change our shoes. Usually the bank is an incline, and after a scramble, we are up on the plain. Upon cresting there was a hippo off to our right side several yards away. Immediately Iain and the men lined up and were at the ready with guns drawn. We were told to run. ‘Stay together and RUN”. The hippo had turned and looked like it might charge.
By the grace of God he changed his mind. Hippos are mean and fast. Iain said “They tend to get discombobulated and either run away or charge.”
Another thrilling event. I think I have said “Holy shit” about 10,000 times on this walk!
In all the years that Iain has led these safaris they have only had one serious incident where a hippo charged and knocked over a ranger and then picked up a woman client and flung her. They weren’t unable to shoot it with the woman in its jaws. It was in 1987, In the middle of nowhere and no way to communicate. It took them five hours from the time of the incident to the moment she got to a hospital. She survived with a long recovery period.
With this crisis averted we began to walk again….
Approximately half an hour later Stephen spotted a female elephant in the saltbrush several yards away. A few days in the bush and he’s a tracker! Lajori did his soft whistle to let Iain know. Normally we can pass undetected. This elephant stepped out of the brush and made her presence known. She knew we were there.
Once again Iain shouted “RUN and keep running.” Lajori directed us with a rapid wave.
Iain fired a warning shot into the air. The elephant hesitated and then started to charge. Toiko then fired another warning shot. All the while Washii is making a repetitive rhythmic sound from the bottom of his throat – as if he was trying to calm the elephant.
She finally decided to turn.
Heart racing…. What now? Lions???
It was quite a morning – 10 mammal sightings and two heart racers in 1.5 hours.
The rest of the walk was uneventful.
Following the animal trail
Lion and elephant tracks
The Galana – crocodile love these flat rocks
The game drive was a lion experience. We first came upon two laying on their sides, out like a light, without a care in the world. Our Rovers drove right up to them and one barely opened his lazy eyes and closing them promptly as if he couldn’t be bothered. The lion beside him didn’t even budge. Moments later a maneless male came outof the saltbush – moseyed along and then fell to his sleepy side. Then another large maned lion came out of the bush. He majestically sat for a brief moment, looked around and then curled up next to his brothers side.
Kim and I decided to check out the kitchen at the campsite. Kikuyu, camp chef for 40+ years makes meals that one would think came out of a gourmet kitchen. It’s hard to believe that they are made with such basic necessities. The Dutch oven reminds me of an old metal ammunition box and bakes the bread and rolls to perfection. Kikuyu uses a shovel to raise the box’s lid. Here are some camp life photos.
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.
This are just hippo photos not from when we walked across
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……