Camping on Safari

Around noon each day, the group headed back to the river, where the vehicles waited on the other side. The four to five hours of walking was not too strenuous for anyone reasonably fit and the heat was not intense before noon.

After a good lunch, a siesta and a warm bush shower, we gathered again in the late afternoon for tea before setting out for the afternoon game drive. The Toyota Land Cruisers all have viewing hatches and we all had a seat near a window. It was dark by the time we returned to camp each evening where drinks were set out and camp chairs arranged around a roaring fire. Tropical Ice prides itself on the quality of the food served on safari. The menus are put together by Iain’s wife Lou, who trained Kahiu, the head cook. Lou told us later that if she had not decided to be a doctor she would have been a chef.

We were amazed by the freshness of everything and the quality of the food that appeared from the sealed tin boxes set on rows of coals. Bread and wholemeal rolls were baked each day and there were dishes such as spinach and feta pizza for lunch and pawpaw upside-down cake and hot chocolate pudding for dessert. Some nights we had delicious Indian food, and on one occasion, a golden roast turkey, served with perfectly cooked green vegetables. Eating roast impala (from a game ranch) and Swahili-style fish were new experiences.

After dinner and some interesting talk around the campfire, we would settle for the night with the sound of water over rapids and the sigh and rattle of wind in the palm trees near the river. Far away, lions roared and, closer to us, there were mysterious grunts, rattles and squeaks, but with the tent flap tightly zipped, mosquitoes repelled and the friendly camp staff and rangers as guardians, one felt secure enough to sleep soundly.

After we had settled into our comfortable tents, we assembled for tea and some instructions on camp life and our routine for the next few days. We were invited to help ourselves to beer, fresh lemon juice, wine or soft drinks at any time ­ they would always be cold as the 100-kilo supply of ice, stored in specially insulated wooden containers, lasts for five days.

The safari day began well before sunrise with the murmur of soft voices and footsteps approaching the tents. Hot water gurgled into a portable basin set outside each door. “Jambo” (the Swahili greeting) and the sound of clinking teacups persuaded us to rise from the comfortable camp beds. Excellent homemade muesli, fruit, toast and more tea or coffee set us up for the morning trek.

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