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  • Chris Swift

Diary update: the trials and tribulations - Soysambu to South Coast

For the last two weeks, 17 camels have carried all the supplies, bedding and tents for 9 of us and on average 0.5 dog and 0.5 cat.

Four camels carry two 20 litres of water on each side. That 320 litres last us three days. If you like a long bath in the evening, this safari may not be for you.

Six camels carry 12 boxes of supplies. The remaining seven carry tents, bedding, tables, chairs, gas if there is no wood to cook on, etc. One younger 5-year-old is just coming up to full training. Two have gone sick and sat down, but with a variety of magic potions and just carrying their empty wooden saddles, managed to walk off their lurgies (wish my sheep would do that instead of rolling over and sticking their legs in the air.).

A camel can go comfortably without water for up to 14 days, depending on the workload and availability of green browsing vegetation.

On this safari at Loldia on Eburu mountain, after the first three days, the camels turned their noses up at the water as it was too cold.

In the Suswa crater, they had just overdosed on succulent prickly pear the day before and would not touch the water.

Then, this afternoon, they barely drank at the water trough despite all the noise of the Masai bringing their animals in for a drink.

You can take a camel to water….

It transpired this was free government water, so the leading bandit changed his aggressive demand for money once we found that out. He then said that one of his goats had been kicked by a camel at the water trough, and he showed us a goat with a broken leg. We then had to negotiate some compensation but did not take the goat.

These boys are very good. No chance goes past them, and any parents wanting to get their children a bit street-wise should send them to a Masai manyatta for a couple of months to broaden their education.

So that was the dip in the day that started so well, following old, old game trails slowly up and over the lava flows.

Krasha, our Masai guide using his panga (machete) to good effect so the camel's loads were not damaged as they squeezed through bushes and the legendary “wait a bit” thorn.

We found some old elephant dung, probably a solitary animal walking one way six months ago and then more poo a week old; maybe the same elephant coming back.

Lava flow trails and tracks

We were well off piste down these rabbit runs and popped out by a Manyatta with a hyena trap outside its boma. It consisted of a small ring of thorn bush loaded with snares inside and above which a piece of meat was hung. I think any self-respecting hyena would find an easier meal elsewhere rather than that.

We have now moved on to a cracking spot that all the local boys say is full of kali (aggressive) elephants and so are frightened to come in here. There are masses of very fresh signs, and it suits me down to the ground to have my elephant friends rather than kali locals raising the anti around about.

This afternoon, “feet up” being gently disturbed by a troop of baboons picking some fruit in the surrounding trees. Barks, grunts, shrieks in fact the full baboon orchestra. The Walt Disney sound effects crew would do well to emulate this jungle choroid. Some party.

Will just have to wait for the lights out for the racket to stop.

Just to add to the ambience, Barabara has walked past the tent to put up some jumbo defences for tonight but I think that a bit dramatic. Will tell you in the morning.

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