I love celebrations. So when a suggestion was put forward for a day out to celebrate our friend Mwarv’s winning a photography award, I was all in. It’s been a while since I attended a photographers’ hangout. Quite a while. They’re usually enjoyable: being with friends, eating and of course shooting. And shooting means learning something new in the process.
Planning for the hangout was done through Whatsapp, and some dormant- I mean silent- group members came crawling from their hideouts. Food draws people out from anywhere.
As the plans became more concrete, the excitement began to build – for me at least. We planned to have lunch at Nairobi National Park then go for a game drive. Nature just does it for me so this was an absolute win. The day approached slowly until…shocking messages appeared on the Whatsapp group. The organisers were pulling out! The originators of the idea! I had to read the messages several times to make sure it wasn’t a mistake. Funny how often this happens in life. The organiser of a reunion goes silent on the material day. The Chair to a meeting arrives very late-or fails to show up! But I digress.
But as I said in an earlier post, I’m a very determined person. Bailing out was not an option. After getting over the disappointment, it was time to head out. The sun had come out to play (contrary to Kenya’s July winter) which was a great relief. The journey was the complete opposite. It took me 2.5 hours by public means. Aaaargh! Yet if I had a car it would only take 40 minutes. The difference is that stark.
By the time I arrived Mwarv and his pal Wamae had already eaten their meal. Hungry as I was, I opted to skip eating and we headed straight for the game drive. This actually paid off, as you shall read shortly. Off we drove into the distance. I was riding in Wamae’s car while Mwarv was alone but would pick his sister and her children later on. We had our eyes glued to the windows searching for animals. Hardly any were in sight and rightly so- they come out when temperatures are cooler.
I hadn’t carried my long lens due to the weight of my bag contents (another reason why I need a car!) so I settled for some landscapes. The Park offers some amazing views, with Ngong hills on one end and Nairobi skyline on the other. We’re truly blessed to have a wildlife park within the capital.
We drove along for a long time as the sun scorched seriously. Then Mwarv received a call from his sister who had just arrived at the park so we parted ways as he went for them. Hunger was now making its presence undeniably felt, accompanied closely by thirst. I had began to despair at the hope of seeing any animals until… “A giraffe!” exclaimed Wamae. We both grabbed our cameras which were on standby. Two shots in, a vehicle comes blazing from behind and scares the giraffe from the road. Oh no! But he was feeling photogenic today and posed by the side, enjoying his lunch.
He granted us audience for about 4 minutes then walked majestically into the savannah. What beauty. What grace. What elegance! I think if I was an animal, giraffe would be it. They’re so cool.
Shortly after that we spotted a male Masai ostrich far away. So far I couldn’t get him clearly with the lens I had. Note to self: when going out in the wild, ALWAYS carry a telephoto. Always. God favoured me a few minutes later though- we came across a pair of female Masai ostriches near the road. One of them seemed to be approaching the car as we were shooting. The thought of being attacked wasn’t funny! These are really big birds. They had no beef with us and walked away slowly to the other side.
Things got even better with the sighting of a herd of impala at the same place. Such beautiful creatures. They were relaxed but alert, ready to sprint away at the first sign of trouble. A longer lens would have enabled me get some head shots but I made do with what I had.
On our way back we came across the ostrich pair again, as well as two male impala with their impressive, large horns. A flock of Speckled mousebirds provided comic relief as they ‘bathed’ in the soil. The sunset delivered one of the most beautiful light displays I had ever seen.
Darkness was settling in and it occurred to us that we were late. The Park gates close at 6pm. We still held on to the hope of seeing lions. As we approached the gate we found some people stranded. They had gotten a flat tyre. The 2 children in the group seemed unbothered-running around playing games. Wamae hopped out of the car and helped them figure out a solution. I got out as well and…the view was amazing. The sun had already set but the clouds showed off some cool colours.
After jumping on the wheel spanner, fighting with rusty bolts and exchanging stories, the tyre was finally fixed. We were glad to be out of there before the lions came out! After a long game drive it was time to head home. Extremely tired but very satisfied. Those who failed to come totally missed out. I have to head back there soon!0