Written by: Simon OChen
“Yowzer!” I yelped as I leapt back from the electric fence. My attempt to get an awesome photo ended with a charge of finger-crippling voltage from the small cable separating Punda Milias Camp from the Soysambu Conservancy.
“Are you OK?” Rohini, the photographer that had joined my hitch-hiking ways, asked.
“Yeah. Fence works,” I grinned.
This region of Kenya is packed with wildlife. While hitching up on the A-104 highway, Rohini and I saw zebra, baboons, gazelles and elands grazing by the busy road. And all this just 2.5 hours north of Nairobi.
Danny and Queen, who operate the camp, took us through the conservancy in The Beast, Danny’s 1976 Range Rover.
As we drove through herds of zebra, elands and giraffes, Danny said, “We also have lions, hyenas and leopards.” We were on our way to Lake Elementaita – an alkaline lake home to pelicans, storks and flamingos. “It’s so shallow you can walk across,” Danny said.
It’s also so salty you can see patches of salt on the shoreline.
We explored the grounds, discovering a pepper tree with a caterpillar finishing its last meal before sealing itself shut into the intricate cocoon it had built, complete with tiny wood bits that seemed to have been cut at a carpenter’s workshop.
“Let’s head out to witness the sunset,” Danny suggested. We arrived at a large hilltop that lay south of the lake, its form reflected off the shimmering surface.
“If you turn your head to the side,” explained Queen, “you’ll see the old man sleeping.”
I tilted and my eyes widened with awe. “There’s an old man asleep there!” I exclaimed. I couldn’t believe it. It was as though nature had somehow sculpted a sleeping old man from a hilltop. Looking around, every peak began to resemble an old man or woman sleeping.
In my two years and a bit of travelling I never once thought to look at a distant hilltop or mountain peak with a tilted head.
Well now I might need to see a chiropractor.