I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today.
William Allen White
Today was not like any other day, I was in Africa, Kenya to be exact. We left the bush camp late that day for another exciting game drive. Our guides, Patrick (a Samburu) and Letutu (a Maasai warrior) know where to find the adventure we’re looking for. They talk in Swahili, discussing where we should go, I wish I had been more diligent and learned more of the language before I came.
We turned off the gravel road onto a dirt road and drove up along side a small lake. They were looking for something and then I spotted it, a hippopotamus on the opposite side of the lake. A young male hippo was happily munching on grasses, I took a few pictures and then just sat and watched. Suddenly he started to run, threw his head in the air side to side.
I was frantically taking pictures but he was moving so fast and it was really quite hilarious I just wanted to watch. Then he went splashing into the water, it was like he was showing off for us. He submerged in the water then resurfaced showing us only his ears, eyes and nostrils. Then he started to roll, he rolled onto his back so that his little hippo legs were sticking out of the water, it was unbelievable! It is such a privilege to observe wildlife this way. Patrick and Letutu are talking faster and faster in Swahili, stopping every now and then to explain what they thought was happening. He just keeps rolling over and over feet sticking out having a great time.
Too bad it is getting so dark, it’s hard to get a good picture. He starts to swim to the other end of the lake, so we follow him in the Landcuiser. He is going to look for a friend, that’s what the guides say. Its dark but we can make out another figure, it’s an elephant, not likely the friend he was looking for. He disappears into the darkness, time for us to head back to camp.
We make our way across the fields and find a gravel road. As we round a corner up ahead we see a huge herd of Cape buffalo the most unpredictable and dangerous of the BIG 5. Even Letutu can’t tell what they are up to. I ask Patrick if there is another way into the camp, answer no there is not. Can we wait them out? No they might not move. So we move slowly into the herd and buffalo are all around us. I can smell them, I can feel their breath, I can see them looking at me. They just stare, the Landcruiser is completely open, no doors, no top. I keep thinking about what I’ve heard about the Cape buffalo, and how dangerous they are. But our fearless guides wouldn’t drive into a herd of buffalo if they were scared, would they?
Suddenly Patrick starts to make this hissing sound through his teeth. The buffalo look startled and then they start to freak out and run away. Patrick repeats this sound a few more times and all the buffalo have moved off the road. Apparently this is the sound a dominant male makes before he starts fighting. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be that close to a cape buffalo, let alone a herd of them. It’s these moments in life when you really feel alive, maybe because you are still alive. And maybe luck was on our side because the night before we saw an Aardvark, it was too dark to take a picture unfortunately but we will still have good luck for the rest of our lives according to African folklore.