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bottle-feeding baby elephants

A couple of months ago, the CLO organized a newcomer’s cocktail on the chancery lawn. Local restaurants catered the event, whose purpose was to familiarize newly arrived families with all that Kenya has to offer. Travel agents and tour companies set up information booths and contributed prizes to a raffle giveaway. S grabbed us a pair of raffle tickets and wound up pulling out an all-expenses paid two night stay at lodge in the Taita Hills Wildlife Game Sanctuary, located not too far from Tsavo National Park.

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We went on a couple of short drives around Taita Hills and devoted a day to Tsavo, which boasts Kenya’s largest elephant population. In fact, the orphaned elephants we visited at the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage get reintegrated into the wild in Tsavo National Park. Because it takes up to 5 years to completely habituate an orphaned elephant, the Sheldrick orphanage operates a stockade in Tsavo. The elephants are taken for walks around the park and then brought back at night, where they are fed and sheltered. One of the perks of adopting a baby elephant, as we did on behalf of S’s sister, is that one can visit the stockades and bottle-feed the baby elephants, an opportunity that is not to be missed.

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Tsavo and Taita Hills are separated by 45km of horrendously pothole-filled road that reminded us of the African massage we received on the way to the Mara. Because the orphan feeding starts at 5pm, we were forced to navigate this road as evening descended. By the time we made it to the Taita Hills entrance, we had been enveloped by pitch-black darkness. As the Spaniards like to say, no hay mal que por bien no venga: as we slowly navigated the park roads, D spotted movement in the brush and we stopped to watch three lions who were frolicking by the side of the road. Lions tend to sleep through the day so this was the first time we had come upon these big cats on a self-drive safari.

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