Sunday July 13 2014

Rubbing shoulders with danger

bull race



Many years ago, we set out for a safari in the Kenyan side of Mount Elgon National Park. We were young and new to Africa. My late mother- in- law had prepared all kinds of food and drinks, my father- in- law prepared camping facilities and my husband made sure the four- wheel drive car was in good condition. I double checked that I packed my mosquito repellent and hiking shoes. All seemed set for a happy Persian family to go on a safari in the African wild.

At the entrance of the National park, we paid the fees and were asked if we needed a guide, the reply was “No” from the men in the car. We know everything and need no guide, or so they thought.

Lost in the mountain
To start with and with no map or guide book we got lost while driving through the mountainous place, randomly looking for animals that would cross our path. As we were descending the mountain, it started raining, then pouring; the loose pebbles on the unpaved steep road started slipping away from under the car tyres and with it went my heart. I could hear it beating and almost jumping out of my chest. I closed my eyes and started praying till we safely reached the bottom of the mountain.

Fortunately, we found a camping place and settled in before it got dark. Early next morning I woke up to the voice of my mother- in- law asking my husband to keep away from the ‘wild cows’ that were coming closer. I looked with indifference at this situation as he was sending the ‘wild cows’ away. I too got close to them while minding my own business, as if they did not exist. I even managed to take some photos of them, just in case we did not meet any other animals to prove we were on a Safari.

Dining with a friend
A few days later, we were invited for dinner at a friend’s house in Nakuru (Kenya), a well-known and respected doctor who had resided there for many years. We took with us an album of our safari pictures.
As the album went around, the room became quieter and the guests were murmuring while looking at the picture of my husband standing so close to the ‘wild cows’. The good doctor asked him if he knew how dangerous it was to get so close to Buffaloes?

And with everyone now listening to this conversation, we realised that the wild cows were actually the mighty and deadly buffaloes, the most dangerous animal in Africa. The doctor told us that a few days ago a buffalo had attacked a French tourist and severely injured him. That was close.
What is interesting is that, unlike us, European tourists do study, examine and plan every step of their Safari. With our ignorance, I guess we were only lucky.