God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Samburu National Reserve

Finally, after six hours of less than luxurious travel, we arrive at the Samburu Game Lodge—tucked away down dry dusty rutted roads in the midst of the reserve. This is not the lodge where we were supposed to stay but a horrific flash flood in March wiped out several camps and research facilities as well as overpowering many animals and, more tragically, some people. This lodge had suffered some damage but was able to reopen rather quickly.

As we drove into the lodge area, our safari began. There before us, welcoming us or so it seemed, stood a herd of elephants—mothers, babies, teenagers—refreshing themselves in the river. We knew the adventure was beginning.
One of the Families
When we arrived, we had not eaten since our early breakfast in Nairobi so were quite hungry. Although, it was late in the day for lunch, the lodge was prepared and had some nice menu choices waiting for us. At this point, I should explain that food on safari is outstandingly good. We found that to be the case in Tanzania and it was just as true in Kenya. If it weren't for all the bouncing around on the non-roads, I am certain that gaining weight would be a problem.

The dining area at the lodge is completely open and thus invites vervet monkeys to scavenge for crumbs and any morsels unthinking guests might want to throw them. To deal with this, the lodge employs Samburu tribesmen with slingshots meant to discourage the invaders. The show is quite comical at times as the monkeys are very adept at eluding and reappearing. It seems as if the men are having as much fun as the monkeys.
Casey with the Samburu Slingshot Artist
You might think that the Samburan's dress is for atmosphere and show as it might be in a venue in the Europe or the US. But such a thought would be inaccurate. Tribal people often dress like this in everyday life--walking through the bush, in their villages, etc. Necklaces, earrings, chest decorations, head bands, bracelets and color are a part of their pride. 

With that said, it is true that western clothes are also worn. Many of the young people have two identities. The one that is their cultural which is clung to and provides self and the other which is learned in school which begins the bridge between tribal life and the larger world. Heritage and tribe are fundamental to the people in the bush and so, even with a western style education, the return to the village calls.  

Facing the Lion: Growing up Maasai on the African Savanna, a book I bought for Casey but which we all read, gives an understanding of this. It is the story of a Maasai man who moves between the world of his heritage and the world he lives in now as an educator in the United States. The longing for the village, the tribe, his home never leaves and so he travels back sometimes to live the life of the Maasai warrior and cattle rancher.

After lunch we took our first game drive which was just OK. Animals seemed to have taken off to other parts of the reserve and left just a few teasers behind. 

And yet, as with every day, there was a highlight which made the scarcity worthwhile. As we turned down one rutted path, there to the side of us, was this gorgeous creature who obligingly sat and posed for several minutes before ambling off. We simply did not exist for him.

This was one of our "moments."

We spent another day and a half here before we headed on to Sweetwaters Camp which was a stop over on our way to the Mara. During this time we saw an amazing number of species of animals. We just didn't see them in large numbers--except for the small, adorable dik-diks which were innumberable.

As with each area we visited, there were some species that are only found in Samburu--such as the reticulated giraffe and giraffe gazelles.
 The Reticulated Giraffe has very pronounced and distinct markings.

One of the highlights of our time in Samburu was a visit to a Samburu village where we were warmly welcomed by Peter and Ben who are well-educated and have dreams. They so typify the conflict between desiring college and exercising their intelligence and the almost unbreakable bonds with their tribe and way of life.

At the village the pre-schoolers sang for us, the men tried to teach Casey how to start a fire with sticks, Ben took us into his home and explained it to us and we bargained with the village chief for a slingshot for Casey. It was a very eye-opening experience for Casey.

This little slideshow gives a glimpse into our time in Samburu.

From Samburu we left for Sweetwaters Camp--coming next. Look for Casey's camel ride.

Link to Flickr Kenya Collection: Kenya Photo Albums


Sandrac said...

Wonderful photos, Jane. Someday I would love to see elephants, in their natural environment.

Mindy said...

Jane, I love this post and your photos. The markings on the giraffe are so precise and distinct...truly God's work!! I laughed about the slingshots and trying to keep the little pests away, LOL.