Were we a part of a stampede? Were we to witness a kill? What would we do if the predator came after the easy kill…us? The herd was running head-on towards us.
‘Bis, Turn around!’ Shannon called out to me, adjusting his camera towards the galloping zebras. Most of us stood unprotected at the edge of Lake Nakuru, our safari Jeeps were parked metres away from the muddy shore.
No sooner had the Zebras were a few hundred metres away from us than they turned right. None of the famous cats were in pursuit. We sighed with relief and disappointment.
‘They must have smelled something in the air.’ Shannon looked up at the overcast August monsoon sky.
Moments back, it was all about the expansive stretch of candy floss pink and a dark blob of a solitary male buffalo. He sat in the water not fazed by the cacophony of duck-like quacks of otherwise graceful flamingos. Thanks to bird droppings, the lake-shore smelled like a chicken coop.
Along with multitude of Greater Flamingos and Lesser Flamingos, Lake Nakuru also has numerous pelicans, herons, stilts, storks, cormorants, ducks, sand pipers and many more. The place is also famous for Big Five – African Elephants, White or Black Rhinoceroses, African Lions, African Leopards and Cape Buffaloes – and significant herbivores like impala, water-bucks, zebras, etc. Lake Nakuru is an amphitheatre, with life’s dramas unfolding in its realm and beyond.
The radio transmitter of our Jeep buzzed. A ranger had spotted a Leopard with a kill. Soon, we were heading towards the eastern side of the lake. We wanted to witness Africa of our dreams- a big cat with its prey.
Alas, we were not alone! Many other guides had received the message. We found ourselves in bumper-to-bumper traffic in wild Africa. On reaching the spot, we fruitlessly stared at Africa’s largest forest of candelabra cactus. Elvis had left the building! Need I mention that leopards are shy and hate dinner guests?
We continued our drive. Suddenly, a big male baboon strolled in front of our vehicle. Brakes screeched. Our car stopped. Flashing his canines, he gave us a death stare. ‘ How dare you?’ He sauntered off the road in a deliberate stroll. We realised that a baboon troupe was nearby.
Adult baboons might be vicious but their babies are as cuddly as any other baby on Earth is. There is something about watching primate mothers and babies. We spent a while admiring the toddlers and their dexterous, yet silly acts of jumping, climbing and falling.
At a few secluded spots, we sighted both black and white rhinoceroses but they were not even a quarter as entertaining as their primate neighbours. They are known for their erratic temperament, hence we maintained our distance.
Later in the evening,we retired to the comfort of our Flamingo Hill Camp. We were unprepared for the cold night in our otherwise comfortable tent.
Our trip to Kenya was planned around the savannah of Masai Mara and lush green sights of Lake Nakuru of Rift Valley was an unexpected bonus. For the next few consecutive days we spotted rainbows in the sky. Once, we got wet in a downpour. Every time, I inhaled the rain-washed rustic air, my heart sang Hakuna Matata…I love you Kenya!