The noise from the planes engines that have droned in our ears for the last two hours now silences, and our pilot informs us, jocularly, that he isn’t driving anywhere until he’s had some lunch. Disembarking, our Land Cruiser is waiting to take us to camp and with our luggage piled in with us, we set off desperately retrieving our camera equipment out to snap our first wildlife encounter en route.
Within ten minutes of setting off we’ve already seen our first water buffalo, the iconic Lilac-breasted Roller (the national bird of Kenya), and numerous Warthogs (referred to by locals as the Kenyan Express… or possibly lunch!). Now there’s nothing I enjoy more than standing up in one of these land cruiser 4-by-4, allowing me 360 degree visibility of the landscape and it can pay dividends. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted movement amongst the grass which must have been around 2ft tall… my immediate thought from the small snippet I’d seen was a wild dog, but with a better look my excitement (which was quite high already at the thought of seeing Wild Dogs in the wild) increased when I realised I’d just spotted two baby cheetahs, my favourite of the big cats. Reversing back to where I’d spotted the two young cats, they’d already dissolved into the tall grass, however undeterred we maneuvered off the track and circled where we’re seen them last. Despite our attempt, the cubs natural survival instinct took over and they remained hidden despite our attempts. It was then time to head for camp, and within twenty minutes we were passing through the barriers to gain entrance to the place we’d call home for the next four days. Porters were waiting to assist us with our luggage to reception where warm (or should I say scolding hot) towels and a cold drink were waiting to greet us. As we were filling out the registration forms I glanced up at the manager and realisation dawned on both of us that we’d both “been here before”. A warm welcoming handshake and pleasantries were exchanged and then we were being led to our tent… well, I say tent, it certainly had canvas walls, but there aren’t many tents I know with two four-poster beds in them, electric lighting and sockets, a fitted wooden wardrobe but most of all a brick walled toilet with shower, sink and toilet. LIke I said, not exactly a tent.
Having had such an early start, we unpacked quickly and made our way to the restaurant for some much needed sustenance before our first drive of the day, the curried okra was particularly good (the food is always excellent at the Fig Tree Camp, as is the service). Refreshed, we assembled our camera gear and made our way over to meet our guide and driver for our first real sojourn out into the wilderness.. but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to hear more about that.