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  • Chris Swift

Diary update: Day 16 walking at the base of Mt Oloorgesalie

Late yesterday afternoon after a long march towards the fag end of the day, Rory got stung on his finger by a small brown scorpion. Common in this hot dry terrain, it had found its way into one of the food boxes probably the night before. For Rory, it looked excruciatingly painful, but he was very stoic about the whole process. Fortunately, after phoning the expert Amanda, all the necessary medicine was in her snake bite dawa box. He then drank copious quantities of tea and after a couple of hours, the pain gradually receded back down his arm. She had said that camels pee would once again probably help.

Rory in pain after a scorpion sting

How can one ever envisage going on safari again without a camel to heal?

Our walk this morning south-east towards the dry Lake Kwenia passed through a most beautiful valley lined with red cliffs on either side, not overgrazed, not fenced and hardly a charcoal burner in sight. Such a natural classic example of this local bush.

The dry bed of the lake consisted of black cotton soil, which, in these conditions, was so soft and comfortable to walk across. Some parts were bare, and some were covered in dead grass.

Various game tracks were easily visible such as giraffe, zebra and eland and here we saw our first Grants gazelle. Peculiar to think Kenya’s other common gazelle was named after another Scot, James Augustus Grant from Nairn, discoverer along with Speke of the source of the Nile.

We then came across a massive new irrigation project where they had dug huge reservoirs in the black cotton, awaiting the predicted arrival of the El Niño rain. Evidently, there has been a drought here for the last two years, so they were hoping these huge floods forecast for this month actually occur and the dams fill up. They would plant the area with avocados and vegetables.

John was telling me that in his early twenties, he came down to these parts with his mate Barney who was about start a career as a junior manager on an avocado farm. They came down on John’s 350cc Norton motorbike, sharing a single helmet. Unlike a slow-moving camel trip, this fast-moving bike trip resulted in John getting a very irritating fly in his ear as it was his turn to be helmetless Barney who has about as much medical knowledge as my forecasting chum in Rongai said that oil was the best cure to ease the fly out.

By the side of the road, the only easily available oil was in the engine. Quick as a flash, Barney carefully inserted the end of the dipstick into John’s ear forgetting to remember that the oil was red hot. Apparently it did eventually sort the fly but was extraordinarily painful. Youth.

We have now shaded up under a lovely big old acacia here at the end of the lake whilst we wait for Susie and Rosie who are coming to join us tomorrow. Whilst clearing the rocks under the trees, the boys found another wee black scorpion so we had better have it all vermin-free by their arrival.

Left - right: Simon, Barabara, Mohamed, Chris, Tingean, Hassan, Karasha

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