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  • Chris Swift

Daily update: climbing up Mt Suswa.

Yesterday our camel train to the coast passed under the Chinese-built railway to the coast. Our camels will take until Christmas whilst the train will arrive the same day. 140 years of progress.

The camels passing under the new Chinese railway to Mombasa

Climbing the hill above Suswa, we camped on a farm belonging to a very obliging young Masai called Tim. He was most hospitable, and after inspecting his cows and sheep, we had chai in his house.

Then, along with his children, we all helped push the camels back to our campsite.

Tim could not believe how they just homed in back upto where their loads and saddles had been taken off four hours earlier. They knew the game exactly helped by shouts from Bara Bara of “Go boy” and a bit of arm waving.

We all watched in amazement as they grabbed their final morsel for the night often consisting of a complete mouthful of thorny acacia twig or a solid bite off a prickly pear leaf thorns and all. Nuts.

On reaching camp, they are just like dogs on command. The boys come alongside the camel and say “Tu” and they sit. First back on their haunches then bending their front legs and finally carefully adjusting their large frames and humps. All this is accompanied by light head throwing and grumpy grunts. The camel lads then put the sisal rope around the two front legs and they are hobbled for the night. They sit chewing their cud, the darker Pakistani types fading into the rocky background before the lighter Somali breed merges just leaving the silhouettes of their heads against the night sky. The animals are then duly settled whilst the idle laughter and banter around the campfire bubbles on.

We are now just camped on the side of the inner Suswa crater which is extraordinary spectacular. Three miles across with a central volcanic plug covered in the most natural vegetation that man cannot cut down due to the 700ft drop-in and 700ft climb up onto the plug in the middle of the crater. A small relic of old plants once found throughout the Rift Valley.

Swifty on the lookout over Suswa’s crater

The Masai have just bought a sheep for tonight’s dinner, to which we have invited Tim and Keoni, the manager of Suswa Conservancy.

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