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Camping under the stars in Kenya

7

There’s something quite special – and just a little surreal – about camping under the stars… in the jungle… in Africa but that’s how our experience in Ngara Ndara forest in Kenya began. The RAW Africa ecotour staff had everything sorted for us. Tents setup, fire ready and lunch on the go, when we arrived. In fact we were all pleasantly surprised by how tasty the meals prepared by the guys were, given they were prepared in a makeshift camp kitchen.

It was beautiful sitting by the fire at night, listening to the sounds of the African wildlife, drinking hot chocolate and coffee and reliving the days activities. On arriving at our campsite we sat down to lunch before heading out to walk the treetop fly (a suspension walkway through the treetops of the forest).

Even those in our group that weren’t to sure on heights were captivated by the serenity of walking high-up through the forest canopy. After that it was a short drive through the forest to see what wildlife we could find. Before long we were surrounded by dozens of forest elephants. It’s amazing how silently these enormous mammals move through the trees, until they decide one must come down, then things get a little noisy. Seeing elephants in such a different ecosystem was quite surreal.

The next morning we were up and after a hearty breakfast were driving through Borana conservancy, a local privately owned conservancy, toward a local community school. Although not there for game driving, we couldn’t help but stop and admire the many giraffe we came across on our way.

The school was a real highlight for our group and we all fought back tears as we were treated to a welcome song. It was great having the chance to connect with local kids and see them learning. The school is sponsored by the Il’ Ngwesi lodge that we would stay at a little later, and it’s great to see tourism having a positive impact on the local community. After the school visit we were off to meet some local ladies who made beads and Masai adornments and we all enjoyed the opportunity to buy goods from the ladies who made them.

Back to the campsite for lunch then a hike through the forest to a swimming hole. It was a beautiful spot, and while not that hot, too good an opportunity to pass up, especially after the walk. One word for this little spot – serene.

Our next day the guys from RAW packed up camp and we moved into the Il’ Ngwesi conservancy for our final two nights camping. From a forest environment to a dryer, arid landscape, our camp was located on the edge of a river in the conservancy. This was the familiar rich sunsets and acacia tree landscape of Kenya that we know.

As we hadn’t seen a male lion yet, our RAW Africa guide Jaros, organised for the group to go lion tracking in Borana then enjoy an amazing pizza lunch from Borana’s woodfire pizza oven. The lions weren’t making it easy and we were getting close to lunch and still the pride remained elusive. We did however come across a great black rhino sighting and he didn’t mind posing. But moments later we were able to locate the lions hiding under thick bush. In fact so well hidden that I think we could have walked within metres of the bush and not realised that there were 15-20 lions lying under the bush. After lunch as we drove back to camp we came across a large herd of elephant. All in all, a great day of game driving.

The next day, our four nights of camping over, we were off to 5-star luxury at the Il’ Ngwesi community lodge. The camping was a fantastic experience- there is nothing quite like being so totally immersed in nature.

*This trip was part of a tour I hosted with Australian solos tour company Two’s A Crowd.