I woke up, in my very own log cabin on the edge of Amboseli National Park, to the sound of faraway trumpeting from a passing herd of elephants. They were taking part in their morning trek, as I would later find out, from their home to the nearby swamp lands for a day of playing and cooling down in the muddy water.
For once, I didn't have to be up at the crack of dawn. It was to be a relaxing day, with a new guide but no new group.
I rolled around in bed for a while, simply because I could, looking at the ceiling through my heavy-duty mosquito net, glad that it had successfully kept away the creepy crawlies last night.
Thinking back over yesterday, I realised what an amazing day I had had. From the cycle through Hell's Gate, to the welcome surprise of my new, and fairly luxurious, accommodations. I even had time for a quick swim in the pool before dinner last night, at which I consumed a few of the local beers - the aptly named Tuskers.
But now it was time to start the adventure of a brand new day.
I rose, used my very own en suite bathroom - no communal hole in the ground for ME today - and went to eat one of the nicest breakfasts I've ever eaten in Africa. It. Was. Divine.
To be fair, I should probably mention the name of the hotel since it was so amazing, in case anyone else wants to stay there. It was the AA Lodge in Amboseli National Park. It's technically in Kenya, though it's only a few hours drive from the border with Tanzania.
After breakfast I left with my new guide - Cyrus. I didn't know it at the time, but he was to be my favourite guide of the trip. We became fast friends, and I didn't mind at all that it was just the two of us for that day and the next. It was fun, actually! I got to ride up front in the safari jeep to keep Cyrus company, so it felt like it was just two friends hitting the open road, tracking some game.
Trundling along in the jeep, Cyrus told me all about his life, past and present. He told me amazing stories about wildlife encounters, including the story I relayed to you, reader, in a previous post - the story about how his vehicle was charged by a startled rhino, and how he used incredible intelligence and quick thinking in order to get away.
Another story that sticks in my mind is from when Cyrus told me about something that happened to a friend of his who is also a safari driver guide.
His friend was driving along when, up ahead, he spotted a snake on the road. A big one. The snake disappeared, however, and he couldn't see where it went. So the driver kept going, slowly, up the road. Unfortunately, the jeep rolled over a hole - the same hole that the snake, which was an extremely big Python, as it turns out, had crawled into. The snake came out, slid up and into the exposed safari vehicle, and attacked the driver, biting him in several places.
Thankfully, Pythons are not venomous. So while the driver was hurt and startled and bleeding as a result of the bites, he wasn't in danger of dying. Unlike my other friend Erick, who I mentioned before had been bitten by a Black Mamba - an extremely venomous snake, and one of the most dangerous creatures on the planet.
As I listened to Cyrus' stories, we passed what felt like hundreds of Cape Buffalo, milling about in the mud, cooling down in the midday African sun.
While they look like big, horned cows, Cape Buffalo are actually pretty dangerous. You don't want to get too close to one in case it gets angry and charges. They're strong as hell and pack a huge punch.
Today, however, was a little different. Our vehicle was on a raised dirt track, while the Buffalo were in the sticky mud below. So we could actually get fairly close to them today with no repercussions. If one got angry and tried to charge, we would be well away by the time it could unstick itself from the mud and climb up onto the road to get us.
It was mostly Buffalo and birds that day, though we did spot a herd of elephants, possibly the very one that woke me up that morning, and a couple of ostriches in the middle of a mating dance.
While Amboseli is very near to Tanzania, meaning you can actually see the famous Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance, today it was covered in cloud. A pity, really, because it was a landmark I had always wanted to see.
As we made our way back to AA Lodge, for a little more swimming and a lot more Tusker beer, Cyrus told me not to lose hope. He said Kili is always covered in clouds during the day, but for a small gap in the very early morning it is usually clear. We would get up at dawn tomorrow, he said, and we would see it.
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