This photo records my first close encounter with lion-kind. I still find it hard to believe I was there. I’d not long arrived in Kenya, not so much tourist as camp-follower to Graham who was out there on a short-term consultancy. He had recently returned from Mexico where he’d been studying the habits of the Larger Grain Borer (LGB), a tiny maize-devouring beetle which had been imported into Africa from the Americas in a cargo of food aid. The alien beastie had by the 1990s spread across the continent along the lines of rail and road and was busy infesting grain stores in Taita near the Tanzanian border and also in Ukambani in southern Kenya.
Graham was there to provide technical support to a British funded project that was planning to introduce a predator-specific beetle to control the LGB spread. For several months we had no home base. Instead there was an endless back and forth along the Mombasa highway between Nairobi and the coast, Graham spending two or three days at a time at research sites in Kiboko, Taita Hills and Mombasa. I went along for the ride.
At the coast we stayed in beach cottages. At Taita there was a rest house in the hills, but when it was booked up, we stayed at the extraordinary Taita Hills Hilton, a four-star safari lodge in the middle of nowhere. It came with its own private small game reserve, a former colonial sisal plantation run back to bush. (For anyone who’s read William Boyd’s An Ice cream War this was the territory – between the Mombasa railway and the Taveta border).
And so, one Saturday afternoon when Graham had finished working, we took ourselves for a game viewing drive around the Taita reserve. Left to our own devices we would not have seen the lions. But some rangers on patrol stopped us. ‘Have you seen the lions,’ they said. No? ‘Come. Follow us.’ They hived off into the bush in their sturdy truck. We followed (carefully) in the works’ Peugeot 307 saloon (!) And there they were, two lions under a thorn bush. Who’d have thought it!
29 thoughts on “Lions Resting Up”
Glad you had rangers with you, as can’t quite believe you were exploring in a Peugeot 307!
We got a Land Rover later. But yes – Peugeot was rather too exciting when we nearly drove into a solitary buffalo, also hiding in a bush.
I should probably say that lions tend to ignore vehicles – so long as you don’t hang out of one.
That’s good to know!
What a magnificent adventure you were on! The lions really are majestic!
They certainly are majestic 🙂
What fun! And what magnificent lions – and beautifully brown too!
They are a very beautiful brown now you mention it.
Good shot. I have many more females than males.
We found that later. The males did seem to be very good at lurking in the grass or under bushes.
As I’ve said before, I always enjoy these forays into your pass, Tish, and that lion shot is just great. Although I have to admit the Hilton is quite something also.
The lodge was pretty amazing. You could stand on the bedroom balcony and watch giraffe at the bottom of the garden. Or if you went up on the roof you could sometimes see elephants crossing the railway line.
Yes we learned to keep our arms inside our vehicle for protection. Kenya is an amazing place to visit..we loved our time there being on Safari.
I like that architecture!
It’s a very extraordinary place.
It sure looks like it. I will check if it is still open & maybe stop there once
In the next door reserve there is also a very extraordinary lodge – lots of ‘high-rise’ conical bandas on concrete pillars, the structures built of what look like piled up sand/cement bags, but said to be inspired by traditional Taita semi-fortified settlements.
Truly they are.
How thrilling that first sighting must have been, Tish. They are such gorgeous animals.
it was thrilling, Sylvia. Still is 🙂
How fabulous. That must have been so exciting!
It truly was, and no zoom lens either just my little Olympus-trip!
Reblogged this on Hutts Ultra Blogging World.
So beautiful ❤️!