Tuesday, 27 September 2011

High Plains Drifters

Mother and two children, in Samburu Park, North Kenya
The real high plains drifters


Beautiful drive today through the Aberdaires of Central Kenya.  The high plains country, the mighty Mustang drifting along winding valleys at over 8,000 feet.  Fine driving.

It's green lush country, farmed extensively.  This is where they grow flowers for European markets.  Some greenies in the west complain that shipping flowers by plane contributes to global warming.  But I've seen stats that growing flowers in heated hot-houses in the UK produces even more carbon emissions, so either no flowers, or let Kenya earn some money from trade.

Stands of Aussie gums and Casuarinas, remind us of Oz, the Atherton tablelands maybe. We're so high it's cool, even though we've passed the equator at midday and are at just one degree north even now.  Right at the equator (here 6,843 feet), there's a gaggle of stands selling all the usual curios, and a guy that shows you the Coriolis effect: water going down the drain clockwise north of the equator and anti-clockwise south: except it's a con, of course, and we know how he does it....  Ended up with yet another Masai cloth and yet another necklace, which tried to fit on Gordie, but his neck too big...

We're now at Samburu Lodge, in the Samburu Game Park.  We're about 25km on an atrocious road off the road... the worst we've had so far -- apparently there's several hundred more kms waiting for us in the next few days.  

On the way in, Gordon spots a cheetah, and then we see two more. It's a mum and her two children.  These are the real high plains drifters. They gaze out at the semi-arid veld, looking for afternoon tea, we hope, but then settle down to an afternoon nap. The photo above was with my little water-proof Olympus.  Not Nat Geo, to be sure, but not too shabby either.  Tor, our new addition (with wife Sarah), in the Peogeot 404, who's in the Game Touring business, tells me that the problem for cheetah is the loss of habitat and the reduction in their gene pool.  We may be without these elegant beasts within 50 years.  For us, lucky: we've seen them twice in the last two game parks.

We also saw: elephant, oryx, duk-duks, giraffe, et. al.  The lodge is Masai-hut inspired rondavels, blending well in the country.  We're surrounded all-round by the veld -- "bush" for Aussie readers -- as far as the eye can see.  It's now 7:30pm, and apart from the singing and dancing of Samburu tribemen, all is silent...  Gorgeous views to the far translucent pastel mountains.

Welcome to new readers: Ron and Wendy Kombi and new Nairobi to Cairo additions -- Ian Garbett and Neil Vincent now joining David Hall in the sweep car, the Pajero.  Ian's a paramedic based in the UK.  His last foray in Africa was a drive from Portsmouth to Accra in Ghana in aid of the Sabre charity: building schools in Africa.  Neil's a flight engineer from Ascot and frequent flyer to Africa.  
Welcome to those new readers.