For many of us, the adventure of tracking and encountering wild gorillas on foot in their remote, African forest habitat, is a dream experience. The phrase ‘bucket list’ somehow doesn’t do it justice. In fact, it was staring off into space and daydreaming about gorillas that inspired my own move to Africa, though I was six years on safari before I laid eyes on a one of these magnificent apes in the wild.
On our recent exploration in central Kenya, we had the good fortune to spend an extended period in several of the stronghold conservancies, that have quite literally resurrected the two African species in East Africa. It was a return to the heady rhino viewing of those first years in Kruger and gave us a rare opportunity to observe both species, revived, relaxed and in close proximity.
In early May of this year Jana and I had the immense good fortune to undertake a little exploration in Zambia. It was a fact finding mission visiting three national parks over fourteen nights and unwittingly, during the adventure, we fell head over heels in love with the Lower Zambezi National Park.
I have just returned from a magnificent fifteen nights guiding a wonderful family from California through my very favorite parts of Kenya and Tanzania. The expedition was extremely varied in landscapes and experiences and incredibly joyful throughout. For me, our grand finale in the Mahale Mountains National Park was the highlight of all.
Nyuki grew up near the Kakesio village, south of the Serengeti National Park and north of lake Eyasi which is exactly where we travelled to hang out with him in January. He speaks no English and very little Kiswahili, not that the latter would have helped us much as my own Swahili has tarnished beyond recognition during a recent absence from Tanzania.
I’m a child of the eighties born into the western developed world and named after a ridiculous pop star with a regrettable haircut. This means that in my lifetime I will eat about two and a half tonnes of chicken, perhaps the same amount of beef (though hopefully less). I’ll drink around 15 thousand beers (that’s probably too modest, I’m British). I’ll brush my teeth with one hundred and fifty toothbrushes and I’ll sing horribly in about thirty thousand showers sending 2.6 million litres of water down a drain.
Njile, Gongo and Tabo are Hadzabe. This means they won’t.
Perched upon a little stool and bathed in the rosy tones of a late East African afternoon, we find a man feverish with concentration and excitement. His head and shoulders remain quite still as his quick fingers grab, knead, pinch, pull and press the modelling clay on the table in front of him.