Thought I would continue where I left off with our Africa travels…. wanted to name this post ‘GI JANE CADET TRAINING’ as Cat so aptly summed up my entire experience but decided to just stick to my original header.
We were off to a pretty late start on our walking trail at 9.30am when the sun was slightly up. We kinda held the group up as we woke up pretty early (5.30am to be precise) for the airplane ride. Thereafter, we had breakie and then went back to our hut to pack up. The late start made our guide a little grumpy as we did have loads of ground to cover by mid-day. Well, how was I to know? Before we started on our hike proper through the Lewa Conservancy, Kitonga (our guide) went through a couple of ground rules. Rule no 1: always stay close to him. Rule no 2: do not run unless it’s absolutely necessary or when he says so. Rule no 3: keep hydrated throughout the walk. I was all geared up for I’ve never gone hiking in my entire life before this trip. Actually, the entire Africa trip had many firsts for me. I got chided not long after for wearing white. Apparently, one of the basic rules for Safari is not to wear white. Most animals are colour blind and white and black will stand out very clearly in their eyes thus making you a striking target from far. Well, had I known that, I wouldn’t have brought so many white tees for the trip! Sigh… so I was off to a slightly wrong footing with the guide. Darn..
Kitonga was full of energy as he explained to us the different animals that roamed the conservancy. We also learnt how to identify the different animals from the dung that they left behind. That’s right, I can now identify dung from the elephants, zebras, impalas, etc. That must count for something right? After a couple of animal sightings, the excitement eventually waned off as the sun was way up high and I was feeling faint from the scorching heat. B was trying to be the hero and he ended up carrying a heavy camera bag that weighed close to 5 kg through the 7 hour hike. As I walked though the hills and the winding trails that was laden with animal dung, I wondered what in the world made me agree to come to this? I should have just joined the rest of the camels and enjoyed the scenic route that they probably have taken. This was not what I signed up for. The itinerary specifically wrote this :
The trail is hosted by one of the guides from Wilderness Trails. Each night is spent in comfortable fly-camps, operated by a full safari crew. Accommodation is in walk-in mosquito net dome tents, furnished with comfortable bedrolls consisting of a mattress and linen. Bucket showers and a long or short-drop loo will be located behind the tents. There will be a central dining /lounge area with a mess tent erected for protection. All equipment is moved by a train of camels. Walking is essentially unlimited, although each day will involve a morning walk to reach the new camp which could take between 3-7 hours.
Yes, I know that we are going to be walking but how was I to know that the walk was so tough. No one said anything about going through the hills and the mountains. Where did all the straight roads go? Well, I guess we were really slow and we took all of the 7 hours! By 1pm, I was a real grouch and constantly bugged B with the eternal ‘Are we there yet?’ question. The only reply that we got from our guide was ‘Yeah, we will eventually reach there after those 2 hills, a couple of plains and then across another hill and viola!’ I seriously felt like a fugitive that just broke out of prison in search of the promised land. The journey to our campsite was treacherous and the downhill was a killer for me. The shoes I had was rather ill-fitting and my feet was wobbling as I went down-hill. I just felt like crying everytime my foot slipped off the rock. I was tired, grumpy and these random thoughts just kept playing in my head ‘Just shoot me! Kill me! What am I doing here?’ After almost 6 hours of walking, we eventually reached our campsite. The meaning ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ never felt more real to me that moment.
We ended day 1 with another hike around the campsite. We climbed up a hill and just sat there to admire a family of elephants feeding their young. It was almost surreal for me as I never imagined to be so close to nature like this. Of course, the other surreal experience was the sleeping in a tent experience as I never did camping in my entire life The showers and the toilets were also (to me) out of this world. B said I should be thankful that at least we had proper shower and toilet facilities. Yes, I was thankful for that. But still! It was definitely a challenge to do any kind of business with the make-shift toilet. I was also grateful for the warm water that I could enjoy at the end of the day. Lastly, I must say that the food that we had during the walking trail was AMAZING.. The crew whipped up a fantastic feast and I truly looked forward to lunches and especially dinners under the stars and a cold can of Tusker beer in tow.