Keeping a balance in your life is a very popular forumula these days. Therefore, conscious that allowing ourselves a few pleasures is necessary to give good working performances, we decided to enjoy a little treat this weekend. After four very busy days on the farms, Shauna, Jessie and I left Friday morning to go on a safari in Lake Nakuru National Park.
The road to get there led us into the legendary Rift Valley. What a sight ! The Kenyan highlands stopped abruptly and gave way to this huge and green ground depression called the “Craddle of Humankind” and that streches over more than 6000 km from north to south on the African continent. Dominic (our guide and driver on this expedition) also drove us to the equator, letting us enjoy the childish pleasure to step across the famous imaginary line.
Our hotel in Nakuru city was comfortable… though it seemed that there were three times more employees than clients (we didn’t see any other guests).
Since we had to leave early for the game reserve, Saturday morning, our breakfast was waiting for us in cardboard boxes at the reception. They contained a cold sausage, a few fruits, a little pastry, a hard-boiled egg, two dry slices of bread, a pineapple juice, and a plastic bag of jam to share. Our utensils : toothpicks. Charming. And very funny.
We passed through the gates of the National Park at 7h40 AM and left only at 5 PM. It was a most satisfying day.
Plump zebras played around; those who teased the others received a kick as a warning, which made the hyenas snigger loudly. Warthogs trotted proudly with their tails straight up like a banner. Girafes looked down on us, then, judging us unworthy of their presence, moved away with a slow-motion grace. Colossal buffaloes ruminated deep thoughts. Flamingos swarmed on the shore to talk about the latest gossips concerning the other side of the lake and flew away if we came too close with inquisitive eyes and ears. Bird-lovers clutched at cameras so big that they probably needed their own suitcase to be carried.
Spot the cars, spot the lions; that’s game watching. Indeed, a crowd of halted vehicles is often a promise of a great cat nearby. The pride of lions we first saw was barely visible amongst the shrubs. A ticking ear or a tail moving surreptitiously were the only things that could betray their close-to-perfect camouflage. Suddenly, impatient cubs rose to their feet and came closer to their mother, who was basking in the sun with four enormous paws in the air. She would not give in to their desire to play, so the cubs contented themselves with some more rest and, laying down once again, disappeared in the golden grass.
I was not quite satisfied with this brief glimpse of the kings of the savannah. As for Dominic, he would have prefered to see a leopard. Our luck was a compromise : in the afternoon, we saw a lion climbed in a tree – which is rather unusual, since leopards are the ones who usualy rest on branches. Without a doubt, this young male felt the urge to sit on a throne to assert his might, since his mane was barely a tuft and could not yet be considered a worthy crown.
The sun decided to quit his job earlier that day. At the end of the afternoon, the sky gave free rein to it’s stormy temper. Impalas started seeking a shelter beneath the trees, but baboons did not care about the shower and carried on with their family dinner, helping themselves in their neighbours’hair.
Anthropomorphism spices up our lives. And when your wildlife course comprises fine bird wings with impossible colours, a tangy bite of mythical carnivores, a sweet selection of the greatest game on the planet served on a bed of acacia and other exotic plants, accompanied by a glass of rainwater and lightning at the end of the meal, the result can only be a treat for the eyes, a feast for the traveller’s heart.
This kind of experience will stay with me for the rest of my life, makes me feel grateful for the opportunity I have to explore another country, and whets my appetite for a rediscovery of my own land’s marvels, which I will want to protect and share with the rest of the world.
Geneviève C. L.