man-eaters of Tsavo
Without another long weekend until Labor Day, we yearned to get out of Nairobi and do some exploring over the long holiday weekend. However, lacking a vehicle of our own, we were somewhat constrained in our options. We tried to interest our social sponsors in an overnight hiking/camping outing, but they were indifferent to the idea, preferring to spend the holidays working on their garden. We had begun to despair that we’d be stuck in Nairobi, but fortune smiled upon us. D was taking the shuttle to work, got to talking with one of our neighbors, and she agreed to organize a trip to Tsavo.
Lying midway between Nairobi and Mombasa, Tsavo National Park skirts the border with Tanzania. At nearly 12,600 sq miles, it is the largest national park in Kenya – so massive, in fact, that it is divided into East and West sectors that require separate admission. The scenery is breathtaking as far as safaris go, but the undergrowth is considerably higher than in the Mara, so it takes more effort to spot the wildlife, particularly big cats sleeping in the shade or out on the hunt.
We booked a three-day, two-night stay at Maneaters. This tent lodge takes its name from the famed man-eaters of Tsavo, two of the most dangerous lions in history. In the late 19th century, during the building of the Kenya-Uganda Railway, two maneless male lions terrorized the Indian worker camps. Dragging their victims from their tents at night, the two lions devoured more than 135 railway workers in less than a year. Eventually, one of the British engineers killed the two man-eaters and turned their skins into floor rugs. In the 1920s, he sold the skins to the Chicago Field Museum, where they are still on permanent display. Given our Chicago connections, Maneaters Lodge was the natural choice for our stay in Tsavo.
Safaris typically consist of early mornings, long drives on dusty roads, and hundreds, if not thousands, of photos snapped from windows (and, when possible, sunroofs). In addition to the myriad DLAs (deer-like animals) we saw on our drives, these are some of our favorite images from this trip: