The adventure in Africa continues from the snow white beaches and turquoise waters to a dramatically different atmosphere and vista of the Tsavo national park which is Kenya´s largest national park spreading across 22 000 square kilometers. The park is divided into two parts; the drier Tsavo East and the lusher Tsavo West. We spent two nights at Tsavo East which is a mere 14 000 sqare kilometers in size, just imagine the magnitude of that area. Savannah as far as your eyes can see and far beyond. The vastness of space was hard to grasp even being there.
We slept in tents at “Bigi’s Camp” by the Galana river where you could see hippos and crocodiles. Bigi, the Kenyan-Italian owner of the camp has been at Tsavo East for 15 years. The camp was truly not luxurious (it is clean though) but more of a summer camp with good Italian food and wine. The camp was much deeper in the bush I could have ever imagined and Bigi told that for the past ten years they have had two orphaned elephants come by the camp almost daily. I waited for the elephants every day but unfortunately this time we missed them.
I was thinking to myself, how can anyone live so completely isolated in the middle of nowhere. So far from anything and everything that even a Finnish cabin fan cannot imagine such remoteness, unless you happen to live in the deserted tundra. How was it even possible to keep the camp running? Twice a week food supplies are brought in from Nairobi and all the vegetables and fruit are brought from a near by organic farm (the food was excellent and the tomatoes at least as good as in Italy!). After spending the first day in the bush under the enormous African sky I lost all sense of time, a day felt like a week. Actually the thought of spending a year or even a couple of months so far from civilisation feels quite intriguing. I could become a giraffe researcher.
My hopes for the safari were not too high. Since a little girl I have dreamed of seeing giraffes and when the dream became so close to realising I didn´t want to hope for too much, because I didn´t want a disappointment to my otherwise best trip of my life. I thought the animals would be very far, so far that you had to get super lucky to even see one giraffe without binoculars. I was about to pee my pants when I saw the first giraffe right next to the road munching away leaves from the tree, watching our nosy heads with the side of his eye. Excuse me, but who designed the pattern on the giraffes? How can it be so perfect? How can an animal look so gentle? And when a giraffe springs off to run, it´s not even running, it´s more like a Unicorn galloping in slow motion in a surreal movie.
The zebra´s stripes spiked an almost competing awe in me as the giraffe´s pattern did. Looking at their perfect symmetry I was about to have an epileptic seizure. The zebras are much more skittish than the other animals, so while sighting them we had to immediately turn the car down otherwise they would gallop away faster than the camera´s shutter would close. Next time I go on a safari I´m packing along a camera with a lens suited for long distance shooting and the best possible camera body I can find.
Elephant poaching is still a sad fact in Africa and Kenya even though there´s a continuing battle against it. The view is looking a bit better though with the number of elephants on the rise and now at 11 000 in Kenya. You could see elephant manure everywhere so obviously they were around, just really good at hiding in the bushes. I think we saw three herds of elephants during our safari. They bathe in the red dirt and look like walking termite colonies.
I did not think I´d see lions at all. I thought they´d be lazing behind the bush just showing the tips of their swaying tails. But we ended up seeing lions several times and very close by! The female lions did not seem to mind about us, just royally gazed towards our direction and leisurely strolled to a distance to continue their siesta under the blazing sun.
The fierce gaze in the male lions eyes was a whole different deal from their female counterparts. A couple of times I wondered if they will suddenly jump inside our car being just a couple of meters away from us. We were not allowed to exit the car on the safari other that at specifically designated spots. I was thinking if I´d dare to go on a walking safari. On a walking safari the animals literally come up to you out of the bushes, totally unexpected. From these pictures you can see how the lion´s coloring blends into the colors of the savannah. Actually the colors of all the animals, even the zebra´s and giraffe´s blend in a surprising way with the nature.
The hippo´s were super shy and at the slightest sight of a human they would slip under the murky waters of the river. The easiest way to see them was to take a seat at the river at our camp and let them come out. Unfortunately I did not get a picture of them on film, just in my memories.
We were extremely lucky safari adventurers since we ended up seeing so much more animals than I could have ever hoped for. The most surprising animal to me was the hyena. They look so mean! We were lucky to see water buffalos, antelopes, gazelles, monkeys, wild bore ( baby wild bore are the cutest creatures I´ve ever seen) ostriches, eagles and several bird species unknown to me.
Even though you wouldn´t see any animal on a safari, which I highly doubt, gazing at the nature is amazing at it´s own. The scenery can change with a flick of the finger form white sand to rugged vegetation to fiery red dirt and absolute greenery. Far in the horizon you can see the mountains and by the rivers the lush greenery is incredible. The nature itself makes the energy of the savannah impressing in a way that goes straight to your heart and leaves a mark forever.
The sun sets on the safari were a feat of their own. The sun goes down incredibly fast and the evening light paints the whole scenery into an entirely different reality. The darkness is absolute only with the stars above shining their sharp little light. But there is no silence on the savannah. If you plan on camping at a safari I suggest you pack a good pair of ear plugs with you. It´s good to have all kinds of little things with you which I will be writing it´s own post on shortly.
Lovingly thinking of these memories. <3
Photos Katja Kokko
Translated by Mariko Pajalahti