28/05/18. Impala sanctuary and the Maasai market
06:30 swim, peaceful, cocks crowing and gradually the sounds of the city waking up, no one around today to sort me out hot water. Breakfast again at 08:30, mix of breakfast goods and dinner items, sausages, boiled effort, sliced fried potatoes, stops of beef fried off with onions peppers, carrots and Chillies, pancakes, well it all just seems to work, although I’ve not worked out yet why the porridge is brown.
Car ordered and finally arrived, we’re heading for the Impala Sanctuary. As yesterday, we’re not far into our journey and the Calvin Tours vehicle pulls into a petrol station, after 20 minutes were becoming fractious and wanting to know what’s going on, the driver, Kevin, having wandered off. Eventually with just K$1000 worth of petrol pumped in we’re away. Driving across back doubles, bumping over tracks and then on what yesterday were Tarmac roads, today are construction sites with heavy equipment pushing soil around, no cones or traffic management here, may the bravest man win.
Pulling up eventually at the Impala sanctuary, the driver announces he’s coming with us. We explain that we are fine and don’t require him to accompany us, after some back and forth he returns to the car. At the pay desk we stand like lemons whilst a conversation is going on between 3 staff, eventually 1 deigns to speak to us, price for Kenyans Ksh22 any one else US$22. But we’re here and unlikely to be returning, no map very few directional signs and the man who’s just taken our money points a finger and says about the cages. I’m not sure about the others, but I’d been expecting in a sanctuary for the impala to be roaming free. The sanctuary covers around 48 ha of open grassland, dense woodland and walkways.
We set off and sure enough came upon the enclosures, the first on with a quite moth eaten Ostrich all alone. Next door a water buffalo and a couple of warthogs, then around the corner a leopard. Following enclosures house a solitary leopard, a couple of cheetahs and then 3 lions, all the cats sunning themselves under the clear blue sky. Separate cages housed a couple of species of baboon. Tim and I had by now moved ahead of Barbara and Elaine and as we rounded the next corner came face to face with a zebra. We snapped away discussing whether he’d escaped from a compound when having got fed up with our attention he walked off. As the ladies caught us up and we were relating our encounter, back he came with two others, more photographs before leaving them grazing in piece. Still no sign of any Impala. More walking, hundreds of butterflies, beautiful vivid colours, we came across a lakeside Eco lodge. Beckoned in we walked through over a log rope bridge into the main buildings, very pleasant. A couple of sodas and we resumed our quest for the Impala, which way to go 48 ha is a lot of ground to cover. Tim led us left and along a roadway between the dense woodland, 5 minutes on and he sshhs us , there ahead is a long antlered deer, Impala, we’re not sure. As we walk towards it, it starts moving away, just as we seemed to be gaining it turned left and was lost in the woodland, no photos by anyone. Walking on we’ve come to the far edge of the park and up against fencing for a water treatment works.
About turn and back to the Eco lodge, time to try another trial, a short distance on and we happen upon a giraffe at a feeding station, further still and a picnic area with more grazing zebra, but as yet the Impala are proving very elusive. Wherever there are small puddles in the pathway the butterflies are more prolific, time now for Barbara to own up and explain that she’s uncomfortable around butterflies and that her family will not believe she has been this close to so many. On we walk and then a lakeside picnic area and a small herd of Impala, an obviously dominant male and then all the hinds and young around, just how many photographs can you take? We took a goodly few and then leaving the animals in piece we followed the path to the exit, we had come full circle.
Kevin our driver was sat in the car in the car park, we loaded up up and then away, this time to the Maasai Market, the hotel reception had said this was a good area to visit to view African artefacts. We drove back towards the city and then appeared to head off at a tangent, to high rise buildings thinned and we were back into shanty town living. A sudden stop and the car reversed on the stretch of dual carriageway, we had just passed a small side track, wriggly tin shacks on both sides, but the area looked closed, tall reed matting across the front of each shopfront. We thought we had had a wasted journey, when as the car pulled forward into a side slip beside the main road, first one and then another of the mattings pulled away. Within minutes we are being beckoned into shop after shop, some so small that I couldn’t even get in alongside the displayed merchandise.
Lots of African pictures, carved wood, soapstone, jewellery, fabrics, all manner of things, each stall holder declaring they could offer better prices. We moved independently between the stalls bantering as we went, between us we’d purchased shirts, fabrics, jewellery and many articles various, all conscious that whatever we purchased was going to have to fit in our luggage. 30 – 40 minutes later, suffering from shopping fatigue we made it back to the car, sizeable sums expended. It was only as we were driving away that we came to the conclusion, not one of us had thought to take a picture of that amazing spectacle.
Back to the hotel, time for a drink and a snack, 3 plates of chips, Barbara had a Spanish omelette, I opted for the club sandwich, and hour before the food arrived, this is the one area that lets down the hotel, the lack of attention by the bar staff. We had to say goodbye to Barbara who was flying out a day earlier than the rest of us. Her car booked for 17:00, luggage in reception, she pace around waiting. The reception chased the driver, he was just 5 minutes away, 5, 10, now quarter past five, flight leaves at 17:55, gate closes 17:40, repeated calls to the driver who is just 5 minutes away. Then the front office manager approaches a man sat with a small group in the bar area, turns out he owns the hotel. A couple of minutes later, Barbara and her luggage are loaded into his land cruiser, his driver instructed not to slow down and they were off. Thankfully a text received to say that she’d made the flight. We advanced the arrival time for our car tomorrow by 30 minutes, we might not be as lucky.
Just the four of us now, down to dinner at 19:30, after our late snack with Barbara that was plenty early enough. A couple of bottles of red, some water and a selection of dishes from the menu. Finish our drinks outside and just before 22:00 it’s time for me to give up.