On the Road is a weekday feature spotlighting reader photo submissions.
From the exotic to the familiar, whether you’re traveling or in your own backyard, we would love to see the world through your eyes.
I’d long wanted to hike in the Tsavo National Parks of Kenya and finally booked a two-week trek for August 2020. Which was postponed till 2021. > After our side trip to Maasi Mara (described in a previous OTR series), we flew back to Nairobi and met the guide and fellow trekkers. I’ve organized a series of eight OTR submissions more or less chronologically rather than by theme, so they may seem to jump around a bit.
We caught an early flight from Nairobi south to Finch Hatton’s airstrip after a brief stop at the Amboseli airstrip. We were met by a safari vehicle and driven to a lodge for breakfast… The dining area looked out on a spring-fed watering hole that attracted an amazing variety of animals. Quite stunning. After breakfast, we drove a couple hours to Mzima Camp at the west end of Tsavo West Park, just east of Mt Kilimanjaro.
The next morning we were awakened to ‘Jambo’ at 0600, had breakfast & headed out at 0700 sharp. We hiked 10.6 miles past Rhodesia Hill to our second camp, Kudu, stopping every hour or so to rest. We scrambled through a narrow canyon, fortunately no hippos in sight, and tracked along with a herd of buffalo which were thankfully spooked by our scent. Photo of the lunchtime dining tent overlooking the Tsavo River.
Photo of some of the support vehicles. The one on the left is our field vehicle—with hatches that allowed us to sit on top as we rode along. Better for spotting animals. On days when we moved camp, the crew had to dismantle the tents, box up the kitchen, and sometimes drive a long way round to the next camp.
Collecting water for showers…
Another long hike (10.7 miles) following elephant trails through brush & acacia bushes (which have long thorns by the way) with Kichwa Tembo peak in the distance. We walked in silence to better listen for nearby animals and stayed single-file, close together to provide less vulnerable targets for predators. Passed WWI fortifications as the Tsavo River was a battle front between German and British troops. Albeit many troop deaths were from hippo attacks.
Most days, we’d finish hiking by lunchtime, cross back over the river to be met by the field vehicle or arrive directly in camp—which had leapfrogged ahead of us. After lunch, a siesta till 1600, then a ‘game’ drive on the look out for animals feeding in the late afternoon.
My ecologist son had asked for photos on unusual trees…
Our hiking party, besides the other trekkers, consisted of the guide, a riflemen in front, two more riflemen in back, and two spotters or trackers who happened to be brothers. All bushmen from the Samburu tribe. The riflemen & guide carried elephant rifles, the spotters carried machete & spears. I became very tuned to how the riflemen carried their guns as we waded through dense brush. At ease: down at their side; alert: across their chest; ready: across their chest with a finger on the trigger. The second two options had me swiveling my head, thinking an extra pair of eyes can’t hurt…
What an amazing trip! The colors in the Afternoon Drive photo are unreal, and the sunrise photo is amazing!
What are the riflemen for? Hippos?
only in Kenya… ;-)
Thank you so much for these photos! I went on safari to Kenya twenty five years ago, these posts take me back.
Dorothy A. Winsor
Thanks! These are great. I like especially the photos of the Dawn, & the Tree
Beautiful photos. I visited both parks in 1983. When I sent the tape recording back to my friends, I talked about how we were at a salt lick when a herd of elephants, including a newborn, visited, but of course one of my cheeky friends went on and on about how I said the highlight of my trip was “when the elephants came.” OK, we were in our 20s, what can I say?
Nice! Alway enjoy these safari posts.
J R in WV
Don’t think even an elephant gun would help against a Hippo raging.
Can any of these safari trip be done with a minimum of hiking? Semi-disabled person asking for a, well… for me…
@J R in WV: Lots of safaris mostly involve sitting in jeep-type vehicles. There are usually walking safari options available instead of some of the game drives but they’re optional.
Love the last two especially much, but the whole set, along with the story, brings a sense of a kind of adventure I’ve never had. Thank you!
Tsavo East is my favorite national park in Kenya. It is enormous, the size of Wales, the second largest park in Africa, next to Kruger National Park in South Africa. The reason I like it so much – I have been fortunate to have had two safaris in it, a few years ago-, compared to other national parks such as Masai Mara, is that, it is not filled with jeeps with tourists, just waiting around to see the animals, and getting in each other’s way. You can drive pretty much the whole day, in a beautiful rugged landscape, without seeing any other jeep or humans and it has the largest assortment of red elephants in Africa, lots of majestic giraffes and zebras and even a few sleepy lions.
@J R in WV: the guide did mention a trip where the guests didn’t want to hike, so stayed with the camp crew, moving with them. Not sure how that worked out…
@J R in WV: Agreed. Better to avoid encounters. No shots fired on this safari. And the guide said if he ever had to shoot at an elephant, he’d quit these safaris.
p.s. sorry for the slow response. I’m staying with a friend in Jamestown RI with only an ipad…