The sun was setting behind the Siria Escarpment, as our wheels touched down on the grass runway. The doors opened and I set foot on the soil of Kenya for the first time. This was the beginning of my big adventure with Safaris Unlimited, to see the wilderness of Africa, which has enthralled me since my childhood.
Lit purely by lanterns, a glorious golden hue surrounded the private mobile camp. Our bags were whisked off to our individual tents by the charming camp crew, whilst cold refreshments and canapés were handed out as guests made their introductions to Gordie and Felicia. The black open sky enveloped us quickly, revealing bright stars, long forgotten having lived in the city for so many years. A delicious dinner was served by the campfire before heading to bed, which was already warmed up by a hot water bottle. As I lay there, I listened to the cool breeze, the rustle of the nightlife surrounding me and the distant roar of the lion, making it all too real the freedom these animals have to roam in.
After the first of many a peaceful night’s sleep, I was awoken by the smell of fresh Kenyan coffee in my tent. Over breakfast, Gordie and Felicia allocated our carefully chosen horse, suited to each individual’s riding ability. It is evident that each horse is cared for, and coming from a hunting background in Leicestershire, I was thrilled to see this. Chemilil, my wonderful steed for the trip, was tied up on the picket line along with the other horses. All were tacked up with perfectly polished saddle and bridle, their coats shining and their tales swishing with excitement.
Our line of horses, twelve ridden and one spare, trekked through long papaya grasses, following previously walked paths by the animals of the Masai Mara, all searching for new pastures as part of their migration. Over the course of nine days, we galloped across the vast plains, amongst Zebra, Giraffe and Wildebeest. Riding along rivers, up hills and through forests, we observed elephant, warthog and gazelle. The African food chain was as nature intended, as lion, leopard, cheetah and hyenas preyed on herds of animals grazing on the savannah. We were so far from the well-beaten tourist track that there was never a day when we weren’t exploring the most remote locations of this stunning region.
My ten days in Kenya was a one-off experience. Whether we were accompanying a Masai guide or riding out with Gordie through what I believe is the most breathtakingly beautiful scenery on earth, it was evident that both had one thing in common; they and their ancestors have grown up in this unspoilt land and have the knowledge to share with their guests. They respect their country and all who roam it, appreciating the importance to keep these landscapes a safe haven for their wildlife, which I can safely say is the reason my journey with Safaris Unlimited through the Masai Mara will be etched in my memory forever.