Travel

A bit of 4×4 time

This was not the plan.

The plan was a picnic.

The idea was to drive around, spot some animals, have a drink and a bite to eat and go home at sunset.

Kyle wanted an adventure. I think he got more than what he bargained for.

Adventure number 1:

The roads were dry and we were told the lions were around 26A (I think). Kyle, the photography/ adventure enthusiast was snapping photos and scanning tree branches, whilst I was avoiding holes and staring intently into the dark shadows underneath the bushes, longing to see a flick of a tail to catch that not so smart lion.

A car appeared behind me and stuck on my bum. I pulled over and let him go ahead. 5 minutes later he stops the oncoming car as he drives past, and the next minute he is reversing towards me. I stop him. “Lion under the bush” he says. We crane our necks trying to spot this lustrous creature and then find ourselves reversing trying to catch a glimpse of her as she rushes across the road behind me to the other side. We wait, concentration at max. And then we see her. She has somehow without us seeing, crossed the road behind us and is now 2 meters from my open window. I want to close it, but I want to capture her. Do I risk my safety to get the picture? I managed both. She gave us a small photo opportunity before running across the road in front of us and disappearing into the thick bush.

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Adventure number 2

We got hungry. I found a side road where the week before a mini bus had to be towed out, but I figured I had a 4×4 and there would be less traffic on this road for us to to able to stop the car, stuff our faces and pop open the wine. It lead us to a waterhole and a clearing, surrounded by buck, zebras and warthogs. It was picturesque, albeit the fly’s were a pain I was in and out the car stretching my legs or going to the boot to take things out the cooler box. Not long into our lunch one of the bucks stared to make this funny sound- it sounded like a warning sound, and he was on edge- but I couldn’t see anything. With the door wide open, we continued our lunch.

A land cruiser approached, and after 5 minutes of staring at the game, Kyle heard them shout  “lion, lion, lion”. Sure enough, about 20 metres from where I had been standing, with doors wide open was a lion. Very happily minding her own business and #trying to have her afternoon siesta.

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Adventure number 3

Having grown up here and been on many safaris, and having heard lots of horror stories, I am weary about crossing rivers. This is the first time I have been to Nairobi park when I have been the driver, that it has been so wet. Many roads which are normally dry, were under water and a now had a gently flowing river covering the crossing. So. What is the logical thing to do? Walk across it. (Kyle has this on video unfortunately). It turns out I am not as brave as I thought. Very slowly, step by step, I waded across- convinced that a crocodile was going to appear or the road would disappear. Lucky for me, neither happened and the road was only covered in a couple of inches of water.

Unfortunately this was not the only road under water. I crossed 2 or 3 more crossings barefoot to make sure they were passable.

Adventure number 4

Also known as  ‘Michelle delves into 4×4 rally driving’.

Terrifying. Adrenalising. Fear consuming. Exciting.

I’m not sure exactly how to fully describe what I felt. I thought I had driven through some bad patches, and they progressively got worse. The sun was going down, the thunder, lighting and rain was threatening, and it was getting darker and darker by the second. (When you see a tractor who’s driver tells you which way to go and that he is there to pull you out should he need to, you know it’s got to be bad).

We made some ‘friends’ who were in the car in front us. We watched them tackle these sections of chocolate mess. We watched them slip and side, wheels spinning, mud being thrown everywhere; we watched them sink, reverse, change tactic and eventually come out the other side. I had to follow. My heart was racing. I was shaking.  I didn’t want to do this but there was no turning back. Kyle was a calming presence. He told me I could do it, to not to be afraid. Not to let fear drive me like it did the driver in front. He reminded me that the worse that would happen is we would get stuck and that wasn’t that bad as we could be towed out.

We fastened our seat-belts, I put my car into low ratio and engaged my 4 wheel drive.

Section after section.

My spotlights came on.

Lighting every few seconds around us.

The sounds of the wild surrounding us.

Flat ground. Tarmac. We made it!

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When’s the next adventure?

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