Walking with Beasts

Hakuna Matata
The cat’s out of the bag

What luxury! Breakfast at 9am. How indulgent. Today we had a choice of activities – another game drive in Solio to search for the elusive big cats (again) or something called The Giraffe Walk. No-one seemed to know much about the giraffe walk, except that it was a walk, and there were giraffes. Jan & Rex, and Keith & I thought a walk sounded appealing after a few days of driving on those bumpy roads. Jess came with us & we headed for the Aberdare Country Club. We were expecting a kind of theme park or zoo, I think, but what we got was something else entirely, and we loved it.

The Country Club was very English, a relic from the time that Kenya was a British colony. A lovely verandahed stone building, big leather armchairs, and a manicured garden. Quite incongruous really. We were met by Daniel, our guide, and headed off on our “nature walk”. There was no evidence of cages, and we trekked for a while along a dirt road and across grassy fields. I was trying not to think about the possibility of snakes, but Daniel assured me it is too cold for snakes up here. Suddenly we were in an open clearing and spotted some impala, eland and zebras. We were able to approach quite close to the zebras before they ran off, and we were pretty excited. But the best was yet to come.

As we strolled over the rise, there they were – a group of 5 giraffes, including a baby. They were quietly grazing, looked briefly at us and then carried on, minding their own business. We approached quietly and slowly and were able to get within about 8-10 metres. It was such a thrill – and did let us get some pretty cool photos too. We stood there for ages, surrounded by animals, listening to Daniel tell us stories about animal behaviour. What a privilege! Eventually the giraffes wandered off and completely disappeared in the surrounding scrub. It was amazing how something so huge can so easily vanish. Daniel said that sometimes he takes guests down to the meadow and there are no animals there, so we were very fortunate to have so many.

It was only after that that Daniel mentioned that a guest had been killed 5 years ago by one of the giraffes!! But he promised us we were in no danger, as long as you know what to look for and don’t take unnecessary risks. Apparently, you are in trouble when the giraffe stops chewing. And they can kick in any direction with each leg. Also there are leopards in the park, but they sleep all day and anyway are not interested in humans (they say). We felt quite safe but possibly should not have!

I can’t really put into words how exciting this was. We have seen amazing sights from the cars, and have got incredibly close at times to wild animals, which is exciting enough. But there was something special about walking amongst such magnificent creatures. I would not have missed it for the world.

On the walk back to the club we saw the former football field. The goals were all bent because the giraffe kept knocking them over – not a problem most clubs have!

Lunch today was pizzas – African style. Lot of toppings, not much cheese, home made crust, extra delicious.

After lunch we had the luxury of a whole afternoon off. The few hardy ones went back to Solio – still no sign of the cats – but the sensible among us stayed at Rhino Watch. It is so lovely here, with the view, and the garden, it was nice to relax & enjoy it. We looked at our photos, drank tea and chatted. It has been so much fun and so much excitement, it was good to take a breather. And it rained again, as it has every afternoon here, so we were very glad to be warm & dry.


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