My first morning back in Nairobi was spent with baby elephants and an awful lot of very red, sticky mud at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org) where orphaned baby elephants and rhinos (most orphaned through poaching) get another chance at life before being re-released into the wild. A fun visit!
I then had to buy food supplies for the walk. I was buying for four people for up to a month and so basically didn’t have the slightest idea how much food to buy. I did though know that normally when walking I tend to get a sugar craving just before lunch and need chocolate to get me up that last hill. So, I bought some chocolate. Quite a lot of chocolate. The conversation in the supermarket went something like this: « Hi, Do you have any chocolate bars? », « Yes, we have some boxes of chocolate here »? « Great can I have the Snickers please » « How many bars? » « All of them please. And all of the Twix bars. And, hmm, can I have all the Mars bars as well please » « All of them? Would you like all the Bounty’s as well? » « Erm, no, that would just be greedy. But I will have ten packets of biscuits as well ». And so that is how I now have 76 bars of chocolate in my bag….
And now I’m off to Loita Hills!
Almost exactly a year ago I was in the Mara North Conservancy having a cup of tea and a homemade scone (yes really!) with the manager of one of the safari camps there. We got chatting about hiking and he told me how just that morning he’d walked for miles through the conservancy. This was a revelation for me. My experiences of bush walks in much of East Africa were generally confined to very brief strolls close to the safety of camp. And now here I was being told it was perfectly possible to hike for hours, or even days, across these wildlife filled savannahs.
That evening, back at the camp where my wife, children and I were all staying, I told my wife about the conversation I’d had earlier in the day and how great I felt it must be to walk long distances here. Distracted by the children throwing their dinner at one and other she didn’t say much about it and the conversation moved on, but then, much to my surprise, a few minutes later my wife casually mentioned how perhaps I should come back to the Mara area one day and “Spend a while staying in a Maasai village and then write a book about it”. It was at that moment that the idea of the Walking with the Maasai project was born.
Fast-forward a year and here I am. Bags – lots of really heavy bags – packed, children and wife kissed good-bye, Maasai guides, Josphat Mako and Patrick Koyati, waiting for me and I’m on my way to Nairobi. Excited? Oh yes. Nervous? Not as much as I thought I would be (one sneer from a lion should change that though). Now, all that remains is to buy a cool box full of gin and tonics and we’re ready to go….
I’ll try and update this website (and the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds) with on the road updates and photos whenever internet and phone signals allow (which probably won’t be a lot for the first week or so while I am in the Loita Hills, but will be increasingly frequent after that).