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  • Chris Swift

Daily Diary: The Travelling Circus is back together.

Back on the road south down the Rift again. Still crossing the Kwenia Lake dry bed made up of very cracked, soft black cotton soil. What a joy with camels, and walkers making good time with the dust kicking up off our feet.

I thought about the first time I had encountered this soil in the Selous when I was running the Beho Beho camp as a young loon.

It was Christmas Day, and some guests wanted to go on a game drive before their Christmas lunch. The short rains were just finishing, and the conditions were pretty damp. Needless to say, having seen three of the big Five, including elephant, buffalo and the daily sighting of a black rhino, we were heading back.

As luck would have it, I got badly stuck in some black cotton soil. The rest of that Christmas Day was spent lifting the big green Landcruiser up and down on the old red Tanganykia Jack. We spent more time going up than going forward.

Lunch ended up being postponed to dinner as we arrived back all jet black and filthy and some slightly disappointed punters.

Back in the Rift, the heat was really building up again as we got on a new road and met up with Amanda, her wee cat Tat and Matura, the dog.

Some circus now.

Amanda said she knew an old bush pilot called Pat, who always reckoned that a new road never did anyone any good. He certainly had a point as I looked at the new piles of cut wood in the virgin bush ready for charcoal. It does not take man long to start moving in, and new manyattas go up.

A small party of 5 giraffes appeared to watch us rather anxiously over the top of some bush. The sceptic in me wondered if they were being slaughtered for bush meat as relentlessly as the reticulated giraffe in northern Kenya. A fast, empty road opens up all sorts of unpleasant possibilities.

So here we are, in gorgeous thick bush, hunkered down after a jolly afternoon chatting up the old Mzee Masai owner over cups of Chai Kenyenji and sorting out a very fair camping fee. Crackerjack.

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