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  • Chris Swift

Daily update: the trek to Mt Suswa.

There is very little to compare our safari through central modern-day Kenya with that of the great Scottish explorer Thomson, whose travels through this same region ensured he gave his name to both the gazelle and also the beautiful Laikipia waterfalls.

Arguably it could be said that we both have to deal with the Masai on a daily basis and we both travel “on footing” as the onlookers describe our camel train.

This makes us quite a slow and easy target for inquisitive locals.

Interestingly we have just completed our first 150kms over the last 10 days whereas Thomson was knocking out 50Ks a day and then finding time to hunt a buff or rhino to provide scoff for his crew in the evening

Thomson always endeavoured to build his thorn boma for the night away from the Masai kraals so that he was not too harassed by the young Moran demanding beads, copper and other tradable items. This bargaining would go on the night before he was allowed to pass on the next day. Things often got so bad that he would of occasion have to fire shots into the night to discourage any intrusions.

Yesterday we fell into the modern day equivalent by erroneously camping next to a Masai village. After some discussion and agreeing where we were to pitch out tents we stopped and unloaded the camels and prepared the camp.

Error.

We had not confirmed the camping fees and so then had to deal with the owner in a drawn-out discussion effectively with our shreddies around our ankles, knowing that reloading the camels and moving on would take another couple of hours in the hot midday sun.

Eventually, Rory played a blinder and we settled for a quarter of the original asking price.

The next part of the game was when two Masai elders arrived mid-afternoon to say they were co-owners of the campsite and needed a fee.

These discussions continued until well after dark when by then the 7th co-owner departed without any additions shillings.

That heralded the start of the next pantomime with the young blade’s motorbike driving past, headlights full ahead and a flashing rainbow light show on the handlebars along with loud disco music. The last drive past was 2.30 am and then eventually it was peace and quiet.

So after a sleepless night, the first glimmers of light appeared and I could hear the distant howl of a hyena probably laughing at our Masai dilemma or was it Thomson himself?


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