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Welcome My name is Tess. I'm a 9-5 New Yorker and traveler. My hobbies include destroying suitcases, photo-bombing tourists in Times Square, and taking long romantic ADHD walks around the globe. Welcome!

Jan 21, 2013

Dear East Africa - Safari Park and Hungry Lions

....Turns out that those rifles on the park rangers were not just "accessories," they mean to shoot sh*t out here!""

Cape Buffalo with his feathered companion.

Dear Kenya - Who lets people into a REAL safari park alone and in the dark?!

OK so we lied to park rangers to enter a national safari park full of wild animals who have free range over several thousand acres of land. But we had driven for two hours in a rented hunk of junk that smelled like a bag of armpits, and we were not about to turn back.

Therefore we had no one to blame when we found ourselves alone and surrounded by a pack of lions inside Nakuru National park waaaay after dark.

When your tongues is that long, you don't let anything go to waste

 Dear Nakuru - You treat people like animals! 

...but in a good way!  Like Nairobi National Park, Nakuru also allows visitors to tour the safari park in their own vehicles at their leisure. However when we arrived, the park had just closed.  After the long drive, there was no way we were heading back to Nairobi. So we devised a plan.

I pulled out my iPhone & googled lodging inside the park, while my friend, Moshi, explained the situation to park rangers, I texted my findings and within 20 minutes, we convinced rangers that we had reservations at Sarova Lion Hill Lodge or The Lake Nakuru Lodge.
 After reviewing our documents & collecting our fees the head ranger told us, "Whatever you do, stay on the main path."

Many of the baboons came close to the roadside
out of a mutual curiousity. Some hopped onto the car hoping for a treat or possibly to mangle us to death.  Don't be fooled. These darn things are deadly and have been known to shred lions to pieces!

The sun had set  and a shroud of darkness fell upon the entire park. The car headlights could barely cut two feet into the thick brush on either side of the main road.  Could anyone save us if something went wrong?
There were no lamp posts, no concession stands or rangers patrolling the park after hours.  To the animals, unaccompanied tourists cruising in the dark are idiots "meals on wheels," and you are never, ever, ever, supposed to exit your vehicle.

Morning at the watering hole

Dear Nakuru - The yellow brick road is filled with maneaters!

We had no idea that the park covered over 116sq. miles (guess I should have Googled that) but we did know that at 10 miles per hour, this was the longest drive in the dark ever! As we crept along the grovel road, I could hardly contain my excitement. Had they really just allowed us to enter a park full of man-eaters after hours AND in the dark AND un-accompanied at that? Of course I was hoping to see some action. But I was not ready....

They are huge, dangerous, scary and vegans

The first flicker of light came from the bushes.
Me: Is that an eye in the bush?"
Moshi:. "No it looks like a bicycle reflector,"

Clearly he was more scared than I to think that someone would be peddling through a safari park on a shwinn cruiser in the damn dark. Then suddenly, as if on cue, a massive Cape buffalo broke through the dark and rushed across the road  disappearing into the brush.  Had we been driving any faster, there would have been carnage! But what the heck spooked a 2000lb buffalo?  

This Thompson's Gazelle was on to my paparazzi act.  There is typically one stud with a harem of females.
This holds true for zebras and other game animals. Bachelor males hang out in packs waiting for their turn to....knock boots with ladies.

Dear Nakuru - So what you mean is, this is like, a REAL safari Park?

We were 3 miles in, and trying like hell to stick to the main road. I rolled down the window to read direction posts, trying to find the first lodge. Perhaps this wasn't such a good idea. I cracked open a brand X beer and kept my eyes peeled. That's when I saw it.

   "Is that a body in the road?"

 As the car crept closer the high beams revealed the hind parts of a male lion walking casually in the middle of the road. He turned back, gazed into the headlights,  licked his chops and kept his stride. I fumbled for my camera and as the  flash went off, the lion dashed into the bush. Still in awe I would've been satisfied if that had been our last animal sighting... but it wasn't.

Egyptian Herons practicing for the Lake Nakuru talent show.
 This was one area where you're allowed to exit your car and walk about. but being in flip flops surrounded by 3 inches of bird poop and mud - that ain't gangsta

Dear Lake Nakuru - The truth hurts, especially when you lie!
After several more miles we found Sarova Lion Hill Lodge. We passed a Maasai tribe performing a tribal dance for the guests and headed for the front desk. We told the receptionist that we had a reservation booked from several months ago. "We are completely full, we have no availability." she said, without even opening the reservation book. "You cannot have a reservation here."
She was harsh, she was stern, but most of all - she was absolutely right. We got back on the road.

A young safari goer is shown the terrain by his doting dad.
In Swahili POA means "I'm cool"
In response to the question of "Mambo"which means "What's up?"

Dear Lake Nakuru - I think I just peed on myself...just a little:

We crawled along Simba Road looking for light or any sign of civilization. We were getting anxious and started to believe we were lost.

 "Jezus is that another lion?!"
The high beams hit the back of a lioness walking in the middle of the road.  She looked back into the head lights and then plopped down in front of the car. The road was too narrow to go around her without running into the bush. Then, I heard a low  roar. It sounded like a lion hacking up a hair ball.

I turned to my window and was greeted by a full-maned male lion walking alongside our car; a  female followed closely behind. As I tried despreately to close my window, two more lions leaped across the path in front of our car while the lion sitting in the path didn't budge a muscle.

Was this really happening? Were we were caught in a hunting pattern and surrounded by the entire f*ckng cast of The Lion King?? We revved the car engine and tried to trip the car alarm.... This never happens on T.V. and then the random thoughts began.....
  • How's my family supposed to explain that I was mauled and eaten by Mufasa in Africa?
  • I cannot believe they let us drive into a friggin safari park after dark, and alone!!
  • This only happens to white people
  • Was this no-frills beer and rice cakes gonna be my last meal?
  • Do my bra and underwear match?

I'm scared, certain I've just lost control of my bodily functions and I'm about to run wheels on Simba's mom, yo!

Lake Nakuru  Lodge

Once we arrived at Lake Nakuru Lodge
. Another park ranger brought us to the reception desk where we were warmly greeted.

"Hello Diane, we are so glad you could make it. We have been waiting for you."

< I had no idea who Diane was but once I realized she had a reservation I quickly assumed her identity >
"The rangers told us told that you were on your way. We didn't think you were coming." We grabbed cups of fresh fruit juice from the tray they presented. "Your room will be ready shortly we just need your passport information."
<<<I realized I would be heading back to the lion pit & gulped down a second cup of fruit juice>>>

Dear Nakuru - Saved by the race card? In Africa?

Inside the Zebra suite.

 The jig was up!  I was not the supposed guest. "I'm sorry we have no availability," said the receptionist. We spent 20 minutes insisting they had somehow lost our reservation. After several side conversations (in Swahili) between staff members, we knew we had a situation. Then the safari guide that greeted us at the gate jumped in and began talking.

 Gumba -  the safari guide who
ensured that I had a warm bed inside the lodge
He was generously tipped for his quick thinking
 * "Come on you guys, give them the room. It is late and also obvious that the other guest is not coming." You are going to send them back into the park at this time of night? It is not right. If they were white people surely you would've have accommodated them."

And Boom.....15 minutes later, we ended up in the Zebra suite... and how sweet it was.
What did you expect?
I mean c'mon who doesn't have a cell phone nowadays!

After a tasty buffet and a double dose of rum & coke, The staff members advised that we retire early to prepare for our 5a.m safari adventure. We obliged, although clearly we had already had all the adventure we could stand for one night!

Being hunted does wonders for your confidence.

 Now, when I'm in an uncomfortable situation I repeat these words to myself, " You been surrounded by lions, son! You culda died being ripped to shreds by an effing pride. This sh*t right here, this is nothin'!  I am man-eater-flee-er.
Shake it off and man up tha f*ck up!!!"

Aksante sana, sana, Nakuru!!!
  and thanks also to simba and his effing clan!
Entrance to the Lodge - The lodge accomodates 163 persons at a time

Zebra making way for our vehicle. They are skittish and will stampede in seconds

Nakuru Lake where hundreds of thousands of flamingo's flock to annually.

1 comment:

  1. Damn Globetrotter, you be trotting the globe. Where are the Lions, Tigers, and Bears? Oh my.....


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