“If one happens to die, the other one, out of stress will die too,” Chris whispers as our cameras shutter for the spectacle. Lying under shrub are two dik-diks, they seem to be in deep conversation about the changing dollar currency and the rise of ‘Trumpency’.
As our tour guide drives closer, they stand up almost instantly, in unison like skilled morans. Their hind limbs are slightly shorter and their movements are faintly stifled by slight gait as they walk. They are tiny, almost thirty centimetres high with short cute horns to show and speed of God to escape the constant dangers of lightning cheetahs of the savannahs.
“These two are a couple for life,” he comments with profound finality. Their story is genuine native love story made and cultivated in the wild. A story deeply rooted in the bushes of Samburu, a story of soulmates who are likely to be dinner to hungry carnivores of plains, AS A COUPLE.
The beauty and sadness of the dik-diks story is evident as we meander down the dusty road. We meet over ten couples almost always resting under a shed of a tree near the gravel roads in the park. No hiding of love seems to be their motto.
This might sound like some tale, but yes take a flight from Wilson, see for yourself- There’s an airstrip there for your landing!
It’s interesting to note that dik-diks do not feature in the special five Samburu animals: Reticulated giraffes, the gravy Zebras, the elegant fringe-eared Oryx, blue-necked Ostrich and the gracious Gerenuk.
On our first round of the game drive, we meet two of the special five: The reticulated giraffes, and the gravy zebras.
This is our first day of Tembea Kenya, Samburu edition.
Don’t drive any closer!
The game drive later that afternoon bore fruits. We get a new tour guide/driver whose Samburu name has an Italian vibe to it. Domicano is his name, no kidding! Our tour van trailed that of the other group and at one point we separated from each other.
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As we drove past a herd of gerenuk, we spotted giraffes grazing on top of the acacia trees and beside them, a pair of elephants on an evening graze next to the dry river banks. “I don’t think we should get close,” I cautioned the tour guide.
I‘m not sure if he did not hear what I said or if he simply ignored my concerns. As he drove closer to them I held my breath uncomfortably. Then a radio call came to my rescue.
He quickly reversed the van and drove fast down the slope.
Turns out a leopard had been spotted hunting in the western side of the park. By the time we arrived, the leopard had already made the kill and was having his meal under a shrub. He seemed unbothered by our presence as we took pictures.
The game drive would not be complete without hunting performance from speed gods of the plains- cheetahs and close range of a lone elephant.
That was exciting, scary and nerve-cracking I should I say: First he strolled towards our tour van gently as he held a twig playfully with his trunk. There was jarring silence and tension as the mammoth inched closer.
He made a gentle turn about a metre away thudding right beside our van. Had I stretched my hand, I would have definitely rubbed his stomach, but no, immobilized by the rare sight. I was stiff scared, I thought my hair turned white.
I was so tensed that I totally forgot to take pictures of the monster. As he walked away, I realised that everyone in the vehicle had actually gotten into tension mode including our tour guide. “Only in Samburu baby!” Someone in the van next to us said with a sigh.
The Samburu Sundowner
It’s almost six o’clock now and we are yet to get to the sundowner point. We’ve met the game now it’s time to see the sun disappear behind the hills.
For a while, we drive between two hills on the meandering gravel road on the far western side of the national reserve. The grass is almost yellow and soft on hands thanks to the shadow from the hills. The giraffes here graze in peace, ignoring our entourage as we sped up the reserve road. The Oryx, the gems of Samburu care less as we diesel past a herd of them
It’s a long way to the sundowner viewpoint but with every passing kilometre, the savannah surprises with changing landscape and the defiant ‘growing’ hills and rocks.
We finally arrived. Almost immediately I am caught by the scenery. The view from the Sundowner spot is incredibly fictitious to the eye. The sun is brick red but faintly lights up the western hemisphere. The rumours of clouds at the far west create stretched shadows, as a beautiful spectacle curve out of the natural almost extra-terrestrial evening. The white rocky hills turn to dark shadows as they bow to the exit of the sun.
The serenity and beauty is so astounding that you can touch it- two game rangers appear in distance with guns; the mooing wild animals hymn to the sun one more time; a bartender mixes the cocktails on a temporary outdoor bar.
We entertain ourselves with some well-cooked meatballs and beef sausages. The chili is hot, but a few cocktail drinks soften the landing for the evening bites. Kagz, our colleague makes the sundowner better with her expertise on Long island cocktail. The refreshing drink with a Coke twinge to it sets the tone to front row seat as the sun unveils its final performance of the day on the plains of Samburu.
As darkness descends, the cocktails tasted better, the conversations became thicker but we had to head back to the camp.
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The serene wild nights
Nothing feels good like some good food and warm shower after a long day in the scorching heat. The Samburu Intrepid campsite is quite a catch. Perfect for honeymoon and family, the resort provides serene environment to cool off after a long day in the wild. “There are several other resorts in the reserve that are equally good,” Charles tells me.
Talking with Festus a guy I met at the resort, he mentions that Samburu would work more for honey moon because Wild love is legit and you create a bond almost as compact as that of little dik-diks!”. How cheesy can we get!
And yes as I made an entry into my tent for the night, the story of dik-diks start to make sense.
The Samburu could be a place to share a story of love together as a couple, you know. Think of it this way, the beautiful park, the airstrip makes Nairobi closer, and beautiful resorts in the area offer comfort after a day of site seeing. If you went to Mombasa last year for holiday, Samburu should be part of the plan this year for you and your bae!
The tents are prime, self-contained and have been designed with traditional touch and indigenous wood used to craft the furniture. It provides the much-needed rest after the game drive at national reserve.
As I seat on my balcony (yes these tents have balconies) in the morning, the monkeys swinging and chanting on the trees outside my room create an almost wild environment. I cannot tell whether to rush inside or just keep cool and let the primates welcome their new neighbour.
They come close curiously looking to see if I was on any meal. A little gesture and they jump on hanging branches chanting-ridiculously but to my relief and to anyone watching me from their balconies.
In my life, I haven’t heard that chance to wake up to the alarm of chanting monkeys.