31st May 2007 – 1st June 2007
There is no time for a sleep in when you go on a game drive holiday! Animals are at their busiest from first light until mid-morning when the heat drives most of them to find shelter. So, by 6:30 we were on our way into the park. Tsavo East is one of the oldest and largest parks in Kenya at 13,747 square kilometres. It opened in April 1948 (nearly as old as me!). The buses had their side flaps rolled up and the roof rolled back (although we were told not to stand up with our heads out of the roof unless given permission by the driver). As in all places of potential danger, the driver’s voice was law!
On that first visit; on my first visit to a really wild place, I was amazed by just how many different animals we saw. There were dik-dik, gerenuk, giraffe, impala, waterbuck and a pride of lions! A herd of elephants crossed the road just behind us and, although we stopped to gaze in awe, our driver had to keep his eye on the matriarch because she was very nervous and flapping her ears. We arrived back around 8:30 and then it was off into the bush for our breakfast, which seemed very exciting. I made my first visit to the pool and the water was perishing! During lunch we were visited by a herd of elephants which came down very close to the waterhole. After another spell by the pool it was time for the afternoon game drive from 4pm until dusk at around 6:30. There were more new animals this time – buffalo, zebra, ostrich, mongooses (who were living in a pile of stones near the road), warthog, hartebeast and elland. On arriving back I noticed the waterhole was again being visited by a huge herd of elephants.
What I didn’t know at the time I’m but I’ve learnt since because I’m such a passionate viewer of nature programmes, is that the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has successfully reintegrated over 100 orphaned elephants, raised at their centre in Nairobi, back into the wild herds of Tsavo National Park. More than 25 calves have been born to orphaned elephants which are now living back in the wild.
And this was the pattern of the days when we stayed close to Tsavo East. Sometimes we saw lots of animals, sometimes not so many. They don’t come out to order! I filled the time between the game drives with visits to the pool, reading or going for a massage which was very cheap (about £5) and very good!
Impala, which are sometimes known (rather unkindly, though for obvious reasons), as “nature’s McDonalds”!