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  • Chris Swift

Travel Diary: crossing the Malepo hills.

Heading south for Bisil through the Malepo hills and down the Malep river. This early morning op turned into such a sweet navigational exercise, slicing through the limestone saddle of the hills along a very camel-friendly track.

Saw three lots of eland, desperately trying to make them Kudu but they were too big too brown and no white stripes. Charlie, our pal at Bisil, assured us he always saw kudu there but, it was not to be.

Reaching a large dirty water hole full of Masai cattle and goats we came across a tree recently pushed down by elephants in the last couple of days along with plenty of dung. The local boys said that there were about 50 in the area and they were moving between the Mara, the Ngurumans and Amboseli by skillfully moving between all the new fences following their old game trails as they sought out fresh green foliage and water.

Hiding up during the day in this dense cover alongside the road was also attractive to us as a possible concealed campsite.

Enquiring from a young man at the next corner he said we were welcome on his patch. As a good host, he showed us a lovely shady spot under the trees well off the road and later came back for a cup of tea.

His most endearing comment was that he was concerned that his family name would die out so had already taken two wives, one who had had 7 children and his younger wife just qualified from high school had already borne him 3.

Being a man about the bush, he helped the Canadian girls put up their very practical lightweight tents and was intrigued by their mobile solar panels attached to their day rucksacks to power night torches.

Not showing any signs of weariness after their first day walking behind camels, the two girls accepted his offer of a game drive, jumped on the back of his motorbike band, and disappeared off on an elephant hunt.

Evidently, after three hours of creeping bravely around the bush following fresh elephant spoor of every kind, they were unable to get a sighting of these grey ghosts despite the best efforts of their intrepid tracker and returned in the gathering darkness to camp.

It is now 5 a.m, the boys are stirring with their head torches on saddling up the camels who complain gently with murmuring groans whilst I lie under the mosquito net with a beautiful starry moonless night above considering my last days walk into Bisil.

Cracking safari.

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