Nick Hammond On Safari – Kenya Pt I
I’D FORGOTTEN what it’s like to truly revel in the moment, if I’m honest.
Over the last couple of years, my travelling muscles had atrophied to such an extent that I’d sort of forgotten how to do it.
I made such a fuss about arranging my PCR test, packing a suitcase; I used to fly home one night sometimes and jump aboard another plane the next morning without thinking much of it.
But now, having just got back from an incredible trip to Kenya, it’s like the lights have been switched on again; I have more vim and vigour and my mentality has completely changed direction. If I didn’t realise many of the benefits of travelling before (and I did, actually) I certainly have had some very plain evidence before me over the last few weeks. The torpor of the Covid years has been thrown off at last.
I was travelling back to Kenya – for so many years, my dream destination and which came a reality for me and my new bride on our honeymoon more than 20 years ago. Since then, I’ve travelled back to Africa many times, but never back to Kenya itself. Then I was introduced to Ed and Moon Hough.
This young British couple have launched a new type of safari camp in the heart of the pristine Lolldaiga Hills conservancy – a whopping great 80,000-acre cattle ranch replete with wildlife galore, a vast territory of mountains, valleys and gulleys and, best of all – they hold the only operating licence in the place.
Add in the lure of old Land Rovers which guests can drive themselves, the opportunity to get out on foot and truly explore and the added bonus of mobile camping, and I was hooked. I secured a commission from a major national newspaper to write up the piece and all was on for a pre-Christmas extravaganza. Omicron took centre stage about three days before I was due to fly and the whole plan was kiboshed – until February.
Armed with the very same old safari bag I took on my honeymoon and a very cool Xikar ‘suitcase’ humidor stuffed with smokes from Sautter, I was finally on my way. An eight-hour flight with a mask as my first real piece of travel for literally years was a baptism of fire and I had definitely lost the knack of a couple of my old routine travelling habits.
Usually, I’m asleep on the plane before the wheels are up, but on this flight, I was unable to do more than shut my eyes for increasingly frustrating periods of time. It was a noisy flight, too, so I gave up and just tried to enjoy the fact that I wasn’t looking at the same for walls of my office for a change.
We landed at a pre-dawn Jomo Kenyatta Nairobi Airport at about 5am and after the usual shemozzle of customs and bag collection, I was out on the tarmac and watching the sun rise over the palm trees that fringed the airport frontage. My taxi driver and I made contact – and I was on the road and heading for the bush.
To be continued…