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  • Chris Swift

Travel Diary: end of leg 1 into Bisil.

Started my last morning on the walk with a classic adrenaline rush when a nearby charcoal burner came into camp just as all the camels were loaded up saying the elephants were close by.

Dressed in a fur coat, baggy trousers and having a mass of wild hair, he looked just how I imagined a Mau Mau resistance fighter would have looked. Hard as nails.

We all followed him down into the lugga with Krasha in his red Masai dress and Barabara also in front periodically checking that we were downwind, by letting handfuls of sand drop to the ground and watching the dust blow back passed us.

As we got closer, holding our breath and creeping forward, the boys pointed excitedly ahead and into the thick bush, much of it shredded by elephant, but I could not see or hear a thing.

Suddenly, with batted breath, we watched as a large head glided across an opening less than a hundred yards infront of us and back behind a tree.

Amazing. There were others with it and Krasha said he got glimpses of 7, just ears, just bodies, just shapes moving away upwind of us.

The elephant knew we were there, and so we respectfully let them move on up through the lugga and it’s myriad of deep channels and thick cover.

Sadly, the boys said that one of the elephants had a spear wound a result of the ongoing conflict between man and animals. Obviously frightened, this individual will now be a much bigger problem for the Masai as the poor beasts continue their route march through their decreasing shared territory.

There’s nothing like stalking elephants on foot in thick bush to fine-tune all one’s senses.

As we retraced our footsteps back to the road, we came across several elephant tracks which were obviously from last night as they moved down their last remaining links from one safe haven to another.

At midday, we had reached Bisil, the last town that straddles the main international highway between Kenya and Tanzania. Stopping an Arusha bus loaded sky high with baggage, our camel train crossed over and we pressed on south.

Bisil or Becil as Thomson described this small settlement on the banks of the seasonal Il bisil river was reached in 1883 on the 3rd of August.

Now a thriving 21st century town, it hosts the largest livestock market in East Africa. We were aware market day was on Fridays and glad to pass through a day later.

To have been caught up with up to 500 trucks collecting the cattle, many of which have been walked up from the Masai lands in Tanzania to trade in the stronger Kenya currency would have caused quite a circus.

At this point, I am handing over the baton and updated reports to Kathy and Bev who are due to complete the rest of the camel safari to the coast. Exciting.

We have done a little over 400kms so far from Soysambu, had plenty of adventures and will leave Rasta, Mbogo and the rest of the boys to carry on gently through Masai land.

Did not realise we had travelled that far.

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