Walking with elephants at Kuro

I am, once again, sitting in my tent at Kuro. I am writing by lamplight – again. Not only can I hear lions tonight, but I can make one of them out through the side gauze of my tent. Having perked up upon my exit from the shower, he is making his presence felt. Luckily, lions won’t attack through the wall of a tent and, indeed, hardly ever attack humans. Even so, since the only thing protecting me is a piece of fabric, can you blame a chap for being a little terrified?

Today was a perfect balance of activities and downtime. I have just completed the customary camp feedback form, on which I am often ruthless, but after a good long think, I honestly couldn’t fault the place: the guides, the chefs, the camp staff, all as friendly, knowledgeable and generally adept at delivering a first class act as the next person.

We started the day off with a couple of site inspections of other properties. To say I didn’t like the others would be unfair, they were certainly well-kept and not a twig out of place, but perhaps this was just it; Kuro’s magic lies in it’s off-beat, middle-of-the-wild feel, with dense scrub dominating, anything could be lying between you and the next person’s tent.

Following lunch we had a lazy afternoon, sleeping and reading under the shade of Kuro’s deck area, receiving intermittent G&Ts and basking in the glorious heat of the day. After being well rested, fed and watered, we once again gathered forces and, with Nathan, our trusty friend and guide at the front and a scout with a rifle for protection at the back, we headed off for a walk through the bush. This was the perfect opportunity to try out Journeys by Design’s new camera.

There were a lot of elephants about and, to top it off, at one point, we got charged. This was a tense moment. The dust that flew up was incredible. The prefect photo; I just couldn’t help stealing a couple of well-aimed shots as the group of ten-tonne giants hurtled towards us. The group was subsequently assured that we weren’t in any perilous danger. Apparently they had smelt us long before they actually knew where we were, so, while actually trying to run away, they ended up running toward, until they were close enough to realise and turn tail. This is how I defended myself against the group once safe and sound anyway.

I seemed to have some strange affinity with the tsetse flies this afternoon and got bitten relentlessly, while the rest of the group escaped fairly unscathed. It turned out the reason was my entire outfit was tsetse’s favourite colour: navy blue. I knew this before, but had escaped my memory, as it seemed to everyone else’s (!). A bit of advice: don’t wear navy blue.

We emerged into an opening where a table with a vast array of drinks had been prepared for us and a line of chairs in front of a beautiful sunset – a sort of backwards version of The Lion King’s opening scene. The sun rises and sets quickly on the equator, due to the outside of our spherical earth travelling faster than somewhere closer to the poles. We savoured it for everything it was worth and, after finishing our drinks, drove back for a delicious dinner.

The rest of the evening was spent around the campfire about 50 yards from the lodge listening to the not-so-distant roars of lions and discussing the different customs of our various homes around the world – KwaZulu Natal, Sydney, Singapore, Zimbabwe, Arusha and England. It’s not often you can get such a diverse and interesting group of people together that click so well. Kudos to Nomad for their exceptional organisation on this and so many other fronts.

So here I am, tentatively going to sleep with my feline friend keeping watch outside. Tomorrow we’re up at 5.15 for Nomad’s new camp, Entamanu, at the Ngorongoro Crater. Lights out.

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