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“Everything in Africa Bites, But the Safari Bug is Worst of All”

The quote belongs to Brian Jackman, and boy, was he ever right. And now, if you’ll allow, I’ll continue with day 2 of our adventure.
We turned in early the first night, but not before we spent a little time by the fire with a curious scorpion to keep us company. Thankfully, both Kevin and Katharine had good enough vision to spot the little bugger, so we all made it to bed unscathed. Our second day began early (we would soon realize that we didn’t have to waste anymore time thinking about our routine; it was all thought out for us), because Bobby possessed a singular (okay, obsessive) focus on finding the big cats. I should also mention that our wake-up calls consisted of our tent steward bringing caffeine straight to our tents. It really doesn’t get any better than that!
After a little breakfast (and more coffee), we set off in our respective Rovers. Our first stop was a hippo sighting down by the “river”. Hippo
She came out of nowhere, and we watched her move surprisingly fast through the mud. Just around the bend, still following the river, we came upon a HUGE family of baboons playing in the trees. We discovered that we could be content just to sit and watch the baboons all day. They truly are fascinating, and their social dynamics aren’t all that different from ours.
We began to spot something else moving in the tall grass by the river, and Bobby inched our Rover forward a little at a time so we wouldn’t scare anything off (plus, since he was obsessed and all, I know he was secretly hoping for a pride of lions). It turns out we needn’t have worried, because emerging from the brush was a HUGE herd of Cape Buffalo. There’s definitely a reason why these are one of the Big Five. These enormous creatures constantly look like they’re pissed off about life in general, but we never felt threatened by them, even though we were repeatedly warned that they have been known to charge. We watched them for a while, still a little sad to leave the baboons behind, and pressed on.
Cape Buffalo

We wound our way around between the desert scrub and the river; at this point, I think it should be noted that, because of the severe drought, the river was nothing more than a trickle in most places. I mentioned before that our party of five was split between two Rovers: Nic captained the Rover with Dad, Dana, Katharine, and Lepeta, and our chariot was driven by Bobby, and we had Robert as our Samburu guide. One of the most memorable images that we took away was the sight of Lepeta’s bright red blanket in the other Rover somewhere in the distance, and, on this morning, we spotted even more wildlife on top of the vehicle as we came upon another family of baboons and a mommy elephant with her newborn calf. Wildlife

Mommy, baby, and baboon

Bobby had promised us crocodiles, though, and he was eager to press on (especially since he still hadn’t spotted any cats. He was beginning to get twitchy). By this time, the sun had begun to peek through, and it was about time to stop and have a drink (no, not THAT kind of drink; it was still morning, so we opted for water). We pulled up to a riverbank, and Bobby shut off the Rover and said “Let’s hop out”, which, naively, we did. No sooner had we wandered towards the bank than we heard a large splash immediately to our left. A HUGE croc had just dived in the water, and there was another big boy directly in front of us.

Now, a Nile crocodile is certainly a sight unto itself; we saw about TWENTY. Some were sunning themselves on the bank, but most were swimming around in the river. The biggest guy we saw was somewhere around 15 feet long, and he just sat there and let us watch him. Never in my life did I EVER think I would get within spitting distance of a Nile crocodile, and, needless to say, I had a little buzz the rest of the day. Never Smile at a Crocodile
We piled back into the Rover and headed back out into the scrub. We saw lots of impala, more gerenuk, lots of Grant’s gazelles….and then we ran into ANOTHER large baboon family. This time, though, Big Daddy Baboon was having himself a snack….of a dead impala. Baboons do not normally eat meat, but again, the drought is so bad that all the animals are doing whatever they have to in order to survive. We watched this guy for a little while, and it was especially interesting to watch the pecking order in action. Big Daddy was clearly going to eat his fill before letting anybody else have a go. omnomnom
By this point, the sun was out in full force and the day began to really heat up. I can’t even begin to describe how dusty it was, either. There were several mountains nearby, and they were virtually undetectable when the sun started to bake the dry earth. The dust rose in huge, all-consuming clouds, turning everything into a pale rust color. You could actually taste the dust in the back of your throat. So, because we were hot and dusty, we headed back to camp for lunch. Nic and Bobby taught Katharine how to play backgammon, and even though Bobby cheats, she soundly beat them both.
bobby cheats
After lunch and our afternoon nap (seriously. We napped every afternoon. Naps in the afternoon, booze at sunset…yeah, now you’re beginning to understand why nobody wanted to come home), we set out on foot in lieu of a game drive. Now, there’s something to be said for experiencing Africa on foot, especially since, oh yeah, there is stuff out there that will kill you. Thankfully, we had armed guards with us, but honestly? I put WAY more faith in Lepeta and Robert. We encountered several giraffe, some zebra, the ant lion (one of the Little Five), and more than a few antelope. The giraffes, who couldn’t care less when we were in the Rovers, became extremely skittish when they saw us on foot. We gave them a wide berth and headed back to the top of Booze Hill. We had an amazing ivew of the shallow valley spread out below us, but the sun was beginning to sink rather rapidly, and even our Samburu guides were picking up the pace. Lions, after all, are nocturnal. We walked back to camp, and this night, instead of Mozart, we were serenaded by Lepeta’s and Robert’s quiet singing in Swahili and the wind in the acacia trees.
Samburu at sunset

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