As we settle in for a late breakfast at Rekero Camp in Maasai Mara, a delightful spread of cereal, cupcakes, bacon, eggs, sausages, freshly baked bread and a yummy thingamajig involving potatoes which I unabashedly stuff my face with, a large herd of wildebeest rush to the banks of the river with all the pomp and dramatic flair of a performance for the president on Madaraka Day. Except, rather than watching it on Citizen TV, this is happening right in front of our eyes, so near enough that it feels as though if I cough I will spook them…and anyone around me who will think I have Coronavirus.
We are sitting on a slightly raised wooden deck in the mess area of the camp as the Talek River stretches before us, snaking across the plains and disappearing into the horizon. Guests need not even leave the breakfast table to tumble about in the back of a landcruiser chasing a crossing as it happens right in front of your nose. If you do wish to head out, the Mara River is close enough to check out other crossing points.
The wildebeest only flirt and tease us, though, getting us all excited, but refuse to cross. We therefore mill about the two main lounging areas of the property, revelling in the stylish safari outfittings and drinking in the idyllic location until it’s time to set off on a game drive. It’s a bloody clash of the scavengers when we chance upon a hyena sticking into the carcass of a wildebeest, really going to town on its tough skin while swatting away at the ravenous vultures encircling with drool on their beaks, I imagine, and talons ready to tear apart some flesh. Further out, behind a croton bush, a lion called Olepolos plays “hide-and-pretend-to-be-a-tree” when our car approaches. It is shy, I am told, and I can relate. Sometimes I wish I could hide behind a bush when I see people approaching too.
A coalition of five male cheetahs fondly called Tano Bora are on the prowl; they like to hunt together. Nearby, two crowned plovers loudly alert a bachelor herd of impalas to the presence of predators. I wish I had friends like them .
We had opted for the six hour drive to the camp from Nairobi, but should you wish to fly in, Ol Kiombo Airstrip is only 20 minutes away from Rekero Camp. At Sekenani gate, while our driver sorted out our tickets, Maasai women selling their signature colourful beaded accessories pounced on us, and they were such assertive sales people that I ended up buying two neckpieces. Turns out that the first, a large striking piece decked in cowrie shells, is often gifted to a bride by her mother-in-law on her wedding day. The second, easily wearable even while out and about in Nairobi, was quite the ice breaker with the staff at the camp. I liked that, because beyond their politeness and the personalised attention to detail given to guests at high-end boutique properties such as this, our conversations went deep.
In the evenings, I would unwind on a swing hung up on a tree by the banks of the river, dumbfounded by the sunsets, idly watching baboons and elephants on the opposite banks. Everytime the hippos grunted further upstream, I would think there was a speedboat starting somewhere. When it got darker, I would sit so close to the bonfire that it’s a wonder my hair wasn’t singed. “Can I top up your wine glass?” a waiter would ask. A man after my own heart.
One of only nine tents (including two family tents), ours with its ensuite bathroom, lounging area, dressing space and indoor shower sat on a bit of a cliff overlooking the river. The hot water bottles in bed made it cosy, like I was being engulfed in a really warm hug. The croaking of toads and grunting of hippos was almost drowned out by the rushing of water which lulled me into a deep slumber. As the camp is unfenced, all kinds of game would wander past, and walking outside at night would require an askari.
At Rekero Camp, breakfast gave way to lunch, to afternoon tea complete with cake, to a delicious three course dinner, and although my jeans fit a little snug around the thighs on our last day, it was all happy weight.
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