dog day afternoon
After climbing Mt. Kenya, it made sense to choose a safari destination near the mountain, so we decided to explore the Laikipia plateau, which has become a highland haven for rhinos and elephants after the establishment of various conservancies to protect these animals from poaching. We spent two nights at the porini camp inside the Ol Pejeta Conservancy near Nanyuki before traversing the plateau to spend the last two nights of our travels at the secluded Loisaba Wilderness lodge. We saw a lioness on our way into the park, but that was the only cat we’d see in two days of cruising all over Ol Pejeta. Instead, this turned out to be a canine safari.
Jackals and hyenas, which we kept spotting with clockwork regularity, we had seen before. The real treat was coming upon a pack of African wild dogs. The species is endangered, with only 3,000 – 5,000 left in the world, primarily in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and one game reserve in Tanzania. In the Serengeti, it is estimated that there is only one African wild dog per 80 square miles of territory, and in Kenya, these animals are so rare that our guides in Ol Pejeta – the only conservancy with a known population of wild dogs – said they hadn’t seen any in over a year.
Living and traveling in Africa, it is easy to develop safari fatigue. There are only so many antelopes one can see before the mind completely loses interest and apathy sets in. The breaking point arrives earlier for some than others – we’ve met people who had never been to Africa before being posted to Kenya and who well before the end of their two-year tour profess no desire to ever set foot in a safari vehicle again.
Ten months in, we have yet to tire of going on safari. It’s not that we aim to visit every single national park and game reserve in Kenya; although it is true that the animals differ somewhat depending on the park one visits. It’s just that each safari experience somehow winds up being unique. One never knows what sights nature will offer on any given day, and we’ve seen something different on every trip. Our enthusiasm for safaris is probably a good thing given how many people intend to visit us this year.