Category Archives: Literature

For the Traveler

Every time you leave home,
Another road takes you
Into a world you were never in.

New strangers on other paths await.
New places that have never seen you
Will startle a little at your entry.
Old places that know you well
Will pretend nothing
Changed since your last visit.

When you travel, you find yourself
Alone in a different way,
More attentive now
To the self you bring along,
Your more subtle eye watching
You abroad; and how what meets you
Touches that part of the heart
That lies low at home:

How you unexpectedly attune
To the timbre in some voice,
Opening in conversation
You want to take in
To where your longing
Has pressed hard enough
Inward, on some unsaid dark,
To create a crystal of insight
You could not have known
You needed
To illuminate
Your way.

When you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.

A journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.

May you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;
That you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the way to transform you.

May you travel safely, arrive refreshed,
And live your time away to its fullest;
Return home more enriched, and free
To balance the gift of days which call you.

~ John O’Donohue ~

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“For mine is a generation that circles the globe and searches for something we haven’t tried before. So never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite and never outstay the welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience. And if it hurts, you know what? It’s probably worth it.” — Alex Garland, “The Beach”

Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story

The day had begun well. My friend and I were in Tsavo National Park, among the tangled vegetation and wild herds, searching for Eleanor. I was eager to find my most treasured orphaned elephant. Over my many years of involvement with elephants, there was no doubt about it: Eleanor had taught me the most about her kind. We had been through many ups and downs together. She was my old friend.

Finding her was not an easy task. Tsavo spreads over 8,000€€€ square miles. We were looking now in the place where I had heard she had been just the day before. There had been many occasions in the past when, suspecting that Eleanor might be among a wild herd, I had simply called her name and she had turned quietly from her group and come to me. We had shared many tender moments, her massive trunk prickly as she wrapped it gently around my neck, one huge foot raised in greeting for me to hug with both my arms.

I had known Eleanor since she had become an orphan at two – now she was in her forties, almost the same age as Jill, my elder daughter – and there existed between us an amazing bond of friendship and trust that had persisted beyond her return to the wild. At last – in the right area – we spotted a wild herd. From a distance it was never easy to identify Eleanor among a milling crowd of her fellow adults, and I had never felt the need to do so, certain that she would always know me. Unlike the other wild elephants of Tsavo, who had no reason to either like or trust humans, Eleanor would always want to come when called, to greet me, simply for old times’ sake. I have come to know a lot about elephant memory and how very similar to ourselves elephants are in terms of emotion – afterall, greeting an old friend makes you feel good, remembered, wanted.

There stood a large cow elephant drinking at a muddy pool, her family already moving on among the bushes. From this distance, it didn’t look much like Eleanor, for although as large, this elephant was stockier. I told my friend as much.

“How disappointing,” he said. “I was so hoping to meet her.”

“I’ll call her,” I replied, “and if this is Eleanor, she will respond.”

She did. The elephant looked up at me, her ears slightly raised, curious. She left the pool and walked straight up to us.

“Hello, Eleanor,” I said. “You’ve put on weight.”

I looked into her eyes, which curiously were pale amber. I had a fleeting thought that Eleanor’s eyes were darker, but I dismissed this instantly. This must be Eleanor. Wild elephants in Tsavo simply did not behave in this way, approaching humans so trustingly. The Tsavo herds were now innately suspicious of our kind, having been relentlessly persecuted in the poaching holocaust of the 70s, 80s and early 90s.

“Yes,” I said to my friend. “This is Eleanor.”

Reaching up, I touched her cheeks and felt the cool ivory of her tusks, caressing her below the chin in greeting. Her eyes were gentle and friendly, fringed with long dark lashes; her manner was welcoming.

“She’s beautiful,” murmured my friend. “Stand next to her so that I can take a photo.”

I positioned myself beside one massive foreleg, reaching up my hand to stroke her behind the ear, something that I loved doing with Eleanor. The hind side of an elephant’s ear is as soft and smooth to the touch as silk and always deliciously cool.

I was totally unprepared for what happened next.

The elephant took a pace backwards, swung her giant head and, using her trunk to lift my body, threw me like a piece of weightless flotsam high through the air with such force that I smashed down onto a giant clump of boulders some twenty paces away. I knew at once that the impact had shattered my right leg, for I could hear and feel the bones crunch as I struggled to sit up. I could see too that I was already bleeding copiously from an open wound in my thigh. Astonishingly, there was no pain – not yet, anyway.

My friend screamed. The elephant – I knew for certain now that this was not Eleanor – rushed at me, towering above my broken body as I braced myself for the end. I closed my eyes and began to pray. I had a lot to be thankful for, but I did not want to leave this world quite yet. Inside I began to panic, jumbled thoughts crowding my mind. But suddenly there was a moment of pure stillness – as if the world had simply stopped turning – and as I opened my eyes I could feel the elephant gently insert her tusks between my body and the rocks. Rather than a desire to kill, I realized that the elephant was actually trying to help me by lifting me to my feet, encouraging me to stand. I thought: this is how they respond to their young.

But lifting me now could be catastrophic for my broken body.

“No!” I shouted, as I smacked the tip of the wet trunk that reached down to touch my face.

She gazed down at me, her ears splayed open in the shape of Africa, her eyes kind and concerned. Then, lifting one huge foot, she began to feel me gently all over, barely touching me. Her great ears stood out at right angles to her huge head as she contemplated me lying helpless, merely inches from the tip of two long, sharp tusks. I knew then that she did not intend to kill me – elephants are careful where they tread and do not stamp on their victims. If they do intend to kill, they kneel down and use the top of the trunk and forehead. And it was at this moment – with an astonishing clarity of thought that I can still feel within me to this day – I realized that if I were to live, I needed to fulfill the debt I owed to Nature and all the animals that had so enriched my life. For even as I could feel the broken bones within my crumpled body, feel the fire of pain now engulfing me, and even though it was one of my beloved creatures that had caused me this distress, I knew then and there that I had an absolute duty to pass on my intimate knowledge and understanding of Africa’s wild animals and my belonging to Kenya.

I thought: if I survive this, I will write. This will be my legacy. I will set down everything I have learned in my efforts to contribute to the conservation, preservation and protection of wildlife in this magical land.

It was as if the elephant had heard my thoughts. There was a tense silence as she took one more look at me and moved slowly off.

I would live on. In a state of some distress, my friend managed to find his way back to our driver to fetch help.

After many hours of lying beneath that boulder, experiencing agonizing pain such as never before, I was rescued by the Flying Doctors. My ordeal was far from over. I was to endure endless operations, raging infections, bone grafts and a lengthy convalescence in which it took me months of learning to walk again. But I was alive, still here in Africa. I had survived because of elephants’ extraordinary ability to communicate very sophisticated messages to each other, messages that often go against all their natural instinct. For we discovered that Eleanor knew Catherine – as we subsequently named my wild attacker – and had somehow told her that I was a friend.

As for my epiphany – the certainty that I had to write about my life and my work – here it is, some years down the line. This is the story of my settler ancestors; of growing up on my parents’ farm; of safaris and nights under the stars; of my soulmate David, my daughters Jill and Angela, the birth of our elephant orphanage, my life lived – all interwoven with spellbinding stories of the many different animals that have immeasurably enriched my life, animals I have reared and loved and come to know as a surrogate mother.

Set against the majestic land of Africa, the birthplace of mankind, my story begins.

Dame Daphne Sheldrick. My hero.:

Elephant:

For over 30 years, Dame Daphne Sheldrick has pioneered the hand-raising of orphaned elephants. Here she is with Eleanor, now a fully wild orphan who was rescued in 1960. Read more about Eleanor at http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/asp/orphan_profile.asp?N=21:

Excerpted from “Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story” by Dame Daphne Sheldrick, published in May 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Copyright ©2012 by Dame Daphne Sheldrick. All rights reserved. All photos are courtesy of David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

Hemingway in Africa

The legendary American writer Ernest Miller Hemingway (1899-1961), winner of the Pulitzer and Nobel prizes,  was probably the one introducing the word ‘safari’ to the English language. Hemingway traveled in East Africa two times in his life and the experiences gave him material for several short stories and novels. The remarkable personality of Hemingway also contributed to the image of the Great White Hunter. He was probably not the greatest of hunters but he had a true love affair with the hunting experience, the nature and wildlife of Africa. Without learning the Swahili language he also managed to have some understanding of the Kenyans, which was far from common at that time.

“All I wanted to do now was get back to Africa.  We had not left it yet, but when I would wake in the night, I would lie, listening, homesick for it already.”

First Safari

From early in his life Hemingway traveled more than most people at that time. He had an enormous appetite for adventure, war and danger. That gave him a chance to show of the macho image he was creating for himself all his life. The first visit to Kenya and Tanganyika was in 1933 with his second wife, Pauline. He was probably a bit bored at the time seeking out new inspiration. Early on the safari Hemingway was sick with dysentery. He stayed several weeks in Nairobi where he met other adventure seeking men from Europe and America. One of them was Bror Blixen, the husband of Danish writer Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen). After continuing the safari and returning home Hemingway started writing the travel description “The Green Hills of Africa”. The book did not sell well at first, which depressed Hemingway, but his two major African short stories were quickly recognized to be among the highlights of his writings (The short happy life of Francis Macomber and The snows of Kilimanjaro)

The second safari

In the winter 1953-1954, Hemingway set of for Africa again. A bit older and changed – drinking far too much. Now traveling with his fourth and last wife, Mary, to enjoy another safari. He also wanted to visit his son, who was living in Tanganyika (Tanzania). The visit was in the middle of Kenya’s Mau-Mau rebellion ignited by later president Jomo Kenyatta. The rebellion against the British colonialists was very violent. Hemingway almost lost his life on this journey, but it was not as a victim of the Mau-Mau. As a matter of fact, it happened 2 or 3 times that Hemingway was declared dead (only the last time, of course, was it true). In January 1954 he had the rare chance of reading his own obituary notice. On the journey from Nairobi to Bukavo – Congo, he and Mary had several emergency landings in the small airplane together with the pilot Roy Marsh. They had two serious crashes near Entebbe in Uganda. They were alive, but wounded after the plane disappeared in flames. They decided to return to the luxury of New Stanley Hotel in Nairobi.

Hemingway wrote about this second safari and his flirt with a young, wakamba girl. The book is written as fiction, but most of it can be read as the diary of Hemingway. ‘True at first light’ was published posthumous in 1999. The unfinished manuscript was completed by his son Patrick. Ernest Hemingway shot himself on July 2nd 1961.

Things you may not have known about Ernest Hemingway…

1. He was a failed KGB spy

In the last few years of his life, Ernest Hemingway grew paranoid and talked about FBI spying on him. He was even treated with electroshock therapy as many as 15 times at the recommendation of his physician in 1960. It was later revealed that he was in fact being watched, and Edgard Hoover had personally placed him under surveillance. In 2009, the publication of Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America, revealed that the FBI was in fact right to spy on Ernest Hemingway, the Nobel prize-winning novelist, because he really was on the KGB’s list of its agents in America. Based on notes from a former KGB officer who was  given access in the 1990s to intelligence archives in Moscow from the Stalin era, the book reveals that Hemingway was recruited in 1941 before making a trip to China, and was given the cover name “Argo”.

According to Soviet documents, he met with Soviet agents during the 1940s in Havana and London and “repeatedly expressed his desire and willingness to help us”. In the end, Hemingway turned out to be of little use to the Soviets  however, as it’s claimed he failed to give them any political information and was never “verified in practical work”. By the 1950s, “Argo” was no longer an active Soviet contact. Some project that Hemingway’s escapades as a KGB spy were more likely all part of an elaborate charade by him to gather literary inspiration. Others suspect his paranoia over being watched by the FBI may have led him to take his own life.

2. Ernest Hemingway survived through anthrax, malaria, pneumonia, skin cancer, hepatitis, diabetes, two plane crashes (on consecutive days), a ruptured kidney, a ruptured spleen, a ruptured liver, a crushed vertebra, a fractured skull, and more.

In the end, the only thing that could kill Hemingway it would seem, was himself…

“In 1954, while in Africa, Hemingway was almost fatally injured in two successive plane crashes. He chartered a sightseeing flight over the Belgian Congo as a Christmas present to Mary. On their way to photograph Murchison Falls from the air, the plane struck an abandoned utility pole and “crash landed in heavy brush.” Hemingway’s injuries included a head wound, while his wife Mary broke two ribs. The next day, attempting to reach medical care in Entebbe, they boarded a second plane that exploded at take-off, with Hemingway suffering burns and another concussion, this one serious enough to cause leaking of cerebral fluid. They eventually arrived in Entebbe to find reporters covering the story of Hemingway’s death. He briefed the reporters and spent the next few weeks recuperating and reading his erroneous obituaries.”

3. Ernest Hemingway was charged with war crimes under the Geneva Convention when he took command and led of a group of French militia into battle against the Nazis.

Hemingway as a young soldier

Serving as a war correspondent during WWII, he had removed his non-combatant insignia and posed as a colonel. In the end, he was not convicted and claimed that he only offered advice and any titles given to him by the men were simply signs of affection. According to Hemingway himself, he and his unit were the first to enter the city during the Liberation of Paris, when he and his unit retook the Ritz Hotel, and more importantly the Ritz Bar, from Nazi control a full day before the Allied liberation force entered the city!

4. Ernest Hemingway killed himself with his favorite shotgun bought from Abercrombie & Fitch.

The suicide of his father haunted Hemingway until the day he followed his example. Indeed, depression and suicide plagued the Hemingway family: His grandfather committed suicide. two of Ernest’s sisters and his only brother, Leicester also killed themselves; two of his three sons received electroshock therapy for emotional turmoil; his granddaughter Margaux, a supermodel and sister of actress Mariel Hemingway, died in July 1996 in what was deemed a depression-related accident. Margaux and Mariel’s father, Hemingway’s eldest son John, now 75, has said with grim humor: “My brothers and I are determined to see just how long a Hemingway can live.” (Neil A. Grauer, Remembering papa)

source; crawford, MessyNessy

Honouring the Father of Lions; George Adamson

Conservationists from all over the world will next month converge at Kora National Park to commemorate the 24th anniversary of George Adamson’s death and to honor his work.

George Adamson is one of the founding fathers of wildlife conservation in Africa.

During his lifetime, Adamson mainly rehabilitated captive or orphaned big cats for eventual reintroduction into the wild.

Adamson’s interest in conserving wildlife earned him the name ‘The Lion Man Of Africa’.

The event is organized by the Kenya Wildlife Service with support from other stakeholders.

The George Adamson commemoration weekend in the wild will run from Friday -August 31-to Sunday -September 1.

August 20th will be exactly 24 years since Adamson’s demise, hence the need to visit where he used to work, live and eventually buried.

The primary objective of the event is to build on the foundation laid by George Adamson’s conservation of lions in both Meru and Kora ecosystems.

The people in attendance will be involved in many activities including camping at Adamson’s Camp, climbing the Kora Rock, visiting George Adamson’s grave among many others.

Corporate organizations and individuals have also been invited to participate by sponsoring corporate teams or contributing towards the George Adamson Fund.

A participation fee will be charged as a package with an individual participant paying Ksh 4,000 and cooperate bodies paying Ksh 50,000 – a team of not more than 10 people.

The Kenya Wildlife Service has waived park entry categorization for visitors between the 30th August and 1st September, 2013.

– See more at: http://www.medinaresidences.com/blog/?p=925#sthash.cDhqbVN1.dpuf

A few weeks back, conservationists from all over the world converged at Kora National Park to commemorate the 24th anniversary of George Adamson’s death and to honour his work. The commemoration weekend took place in the wild from Friday 31Aug – Sunday 1 Sept.

Participants of the event engaged in a myriad of activities that included;

  • Camping at Adamson’s Camp and Tana River Campsite
  • Climbing of Kora Rock
  • Visit to cultural manyattas and exhibition of cultural artifacts from different cultures surrounding the Park
  • Cultural night on Saturday
  • Watching of George Adamson films and Gallery Exhibition – in the Adamson camp
  • Visit to Kora Rapids
  • Visit to George Adamson’s grave and main speeches during the visit to the grave
  • Entertainment by neighboring communities at the grave side and also in the campsite

Organized by the Kenya Wildlife Service with support from other stakeholders, the event’s primary objective was to build on the foundation laid by George Adamson’s conservation of lions in both Meru and Kora ecosystems.
1239764_10151880825502904_1932516448_nKWS Director Mr.William K. Kiprono at Kora National Park(The Last Wilderness) during the George Adamson Anniversary weekend.
This man George Adamson
George Alexander Graham Adamson was born in Etawah, India (then British India) on 3rd February 1906 of English and Irish parents. At age 18, George made his way to Kenya to work on his father’s coffee plantation. His adventurous spirit did not however allow him to stay in the plantations for long as he shifted gears and ventured into many other different things including gold prospecting, goat trading and safari hunting. George Adamson’s life as “Baba ya Simba” (father of lions) began back in 1938 at age 32 when he joined Kenya’s Game Department as a warden.
GeorgeAdamson_InCampWithSweater_VM_SmGeorgeAdamson_Color_Medium_TUGeorgeAdamson_SafariJacket_620ClFamed as the ‘Lion Man of Africa’ and regarded as one of the founding fathers of wildlife conservation, George Adamson is best Known from the book and award winning film ‘Born Free’ which features the story of elsa, an orphaned lioness that he raised and released into the wild together with his wife Joy whom he had married six years after joining the Game department. Elsa the lioness would not only come to change George and Joy’s lives but through subsequent books, movies and films, she promoted an enormous interest in conservation with the general public. At about age three, the Adamsons embarked on a feat that had not been attempted before i.e to teach Elsa to hunt and introduce her back into the wild.
article-1265013-090D059E000005DC-663_634x366The Adamsons, as Joy feeds a lion
VirginiaGeorgeBillJoy_BW_BFStill_884TUVirginia McKenna, George Adamson, Bill Travers and Joy Adamson
Virginia and her real life husband Bill Travers played the roles of Joy and George in the award winning movie BORN FREE.
George AdamsonGeorge and Elsa at the river    George_Elsa_Mak31eCrjpg  GeorgeAdamson_2LionsRubChin_400

“No one better knew the language and lives of lions – or loved them more – than George Adamson.” – The Christian Science Monitor

“The Adamsons gave us truths about the species that cannot be found in a biologist’s notebook…Their efforts at reintroduction and rehabilitation taught the scientific community invaluable lessons and the conservation community will forever be indebted to them…” – George Schaler

GeorgeAdamsonStandingWithElsa_OfferingABird

GeorgeAdamsonStandingWithElsaLookingAtBirdOffering_KenyaMuch as her chances for survival in the wild were slim, Elsa succeeded and remarkably continued her bond of trust and affection with the Adamsons. She remained their beloved friend until her unfortunate death believed to have been brought about by a tick disease. Elsa died with her head in George’s lap. She is buried in Meru National Park near the river and to this day many visitors to Meru pass by her grave to pay their respects. Read more of the Adamson’s and Elsa’s story here: http://www.fatheroflions.org/George_BlogArticle.html

GeorgeAdamson_AndElsaSleeping_Full_BW_BF_SmElsa and George Resting Together

Elsa_George_SleepingInTent_BW_350_75

My Elsa gone. Gone the most wonderful friend and part of my life which nothing can replace. Why should it be? Something which has created nothing but good will and love in the world.” George Adamson.

George retired from his position as senior game warden of the Northern Frontier province of Kenya, presently around the Meru National Park area in April 1961. This move would enable him to devote himself fully to working with lions. In 1970, he moved to the Kora National Reserve in northern Kenya where he worked with Tony Fitzjohn as his right-hand man. Together, they continued the rehabilitation of captive or orphaned big cats for eventual reintroduction into the wild.

Adamson_Lion_AtTentOrigBigCrGeorge with boy lion

GeorgeAdamson_Boy_RestingUndTree_LAF_040_CrGeorge Adamson and Boy the Lion taking a nap in the shade of a tree.

George Adamson narrated his many adventures in his double titled biography, ‘Bwana Game’ (European title) and ‘A Lifetime with Lions’(USA title). His publishing ‘My Pride and Joy’ is equally another fascinating autobiography. Although many people feared that living with the lions could pose a danger to the Adamsons, it became apparent that their  worst enemies were of their own Kind – Humans. In 1989, George Adamson was murdered by Somali bandits as he attempted to rescue a young European tourist and one of his assistants at the Kora National Park. 20th August this year, marked 24 years since his demise. He is buried at a site known as Kambi ya Simba (lion’s camp) in the Kora National Park beside his brother Terrance Adamson, Super Cub and his beloved lion friend, Boy. George died at the age of 83.

Lion_GeorgeGraveDayAfterA young Lion, holding a twig in his mouth, visits George’s Grave the day after his burial

Boy_Lion_RestingPlace_Kora_680Boy the Lion’s final resting place

There will never be another person like George Adamson. His was a rugged lifestyle, in a bush camp with only a few modern conveniences. He lived in harmony with nature and he shared a truly beautiful and almost unbelievable friendship with his beloved lion friends. He was truly a unique and wonderful gentleman who devoted his life to helping wildlife and to protecting the unique environment in which they lived.

He was a Hero to the end…giving his life to save another! http://www.fatheroflions.org/GeorgeAdamson_Information.html

“Who will now care for the animals, for they cannot look after themselves? Are there young men and women who are willing to take on this charge? Who will raise their voices, when mine is carried away on the wind, to plead their case?”

George Adamson 1906-1989

GAdamson_NO_HampshJoyNig_1972_Head1

Related article

The moving story of Christian the Lion whom George helped to release to the wild: turbotalkblog.wordpress.com

Photo credits; Fatheroflions.org
 

Conservationists from all over the world will next month converge at Kora National Park to commemorate the 24th anniversary of George Adamson’s death and to honor his work.

George Adamson is one of the founding fathers of wildlife conservation in Africa.

During his lifetime, Adamson mainly rehabilitated captive or orphaned big cats for eventual reintroduction into the wild.

Adamson’s interest in conserving wildlife earned him the name ‘The Lion Man Of Africa’.

The event is organized by the Kenya Wildlife Service with support from other stakeholders.

The George Adamson commemoration weekend in the wild will run from Friday -August 31-to Sunday -September 1.

August 20th will be exactly 24 years since Adamson’s demise, hence the need to visit where he used to work, live and eventually buried.

The primary objective of the event is to build on the foundation laid by George Adamson’s conservation of lions in both Meru and Kora ecosystems.

The people in attendance will be involved in many activities including camping at Adamson’s Camp, climbing the Kora Rock, visiting George Adamson’s grave among many others.

Corporate organizations and individuals have also been invited to participate by sponsoring corporate teams or contributing towards the George Adamson Fund.

A participation fee will be charged as a package with an individual participant paying Ksh 4,000 and cooperate bodies paying Ksh 50,000 – a team of not more than 10 people.

The Kenya Wildlife Service has waived park entry categorization for visitors between the 30th August and 1st September, 2013.

– See more at: http://www.medinaresidences.com/blog/?p=925#sthash.cDhqbVN1.dpufG

Conservationists from all over the world will next month converge at Kora National Park to commemorate the 24th anniversary of George Adamson’s death and to honor his work.

George Adamson is one of the founding fathers of wildlife conservation in Africa.

During his lifetime, Adamson mainly rehabilitated captive or orphaned big cats for eventual reintroduction into the wild.

Adamson’s interest in conserving wildlife earned him the name ‘The Lion Man Of Africa’.

The event is organized by the Kenya Wildlife Service with support from other stakeholders.

The George Adamson commemoration weekend in the wild will run from Friday -August 31-to Sunday -September 1.

August 20th will be exactly 24 years since Adamson’s demise, hence the need to visit where he used to work, live and eventually buried.

The primary objective of the event is to build on the foundation laid by George Adamson’s conservation of lions in both Meru and Kora ecosystems.

The people in attendance will be involved in many activities including camping at Adamson’s Camp, climbing the Kora Rock, visiting George Adamson’s grave among many others.

Corporate organizations and individuals have also been invited to participate by sponsoring corporate teams or contributing towards the George Adamson Fund.

A participation fee will be charged as a package with an individual participant paying Ksh 4,000 and cooperate bodies paying Ksh 50,000 – a team of not more than 10 people.

The Kenya Wildlife Service has waived park entry categorization for visitors between the 30th August and 1st September, 2013.

– See more at: http://www.medinaresidences.com/blog/?p=925#sthash.cDhqbVN1.dpuf

Out of Africa

If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the ploughs in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Will the air over the plain quiver with a colour that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?

karenblixen_late

I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills. The Equator runs across these highlands, a hundred miles to the north, and the farm lay at an altitude of over six thousand feet. In the day-time you felt that you had got high up; near to the sun, but the early mornings and evenings were limpid and restful, and the nights were cold.

The geographical position and the height Of the land combined to create a landscape that had not its like in all the world. There was no fat on it and no luxuriance anywhere; it was Africa distilled up through six thousand feet. like the strong and refined essence of a continent. The colours were dry and burnt. like the colours in pottery. The trees had a light delicate foliage, the structure of which was different from that of the trees in Europe; it did not grow in bows or cupolas, but in horizontal layers, and the formation gave to the tall solitary trees a likeness to the palms, or a heroic and romantic air like full-rigged ships with their sails furled, and to the edge of a wood a strange appearance as if the whole wood were faintly vibrating. Upon the grass of the great plains the crooked bare old thorn trees were scattered, and the grass was spiced like thyme and bog-myrtles; in some places the scent was so strong that it smarted in the nostrils. All the flowers that you found or plains, or upon the creepers and liana in the native forest, were diminutive like flowers of the downs – only just in the beginning of the long rains a number of big, massive heavy-scented lilies sprang out on the plains. The views were immensely wide. Everything that you saw made for greatness and freedom, and unequaled nobility.

56IMG_5538-

The chief feature of the landscape, and of your life in it, was the air. Looking back on a sojourn in the African highlands, you are struck by your feeling of having lived for a time up in the air. The sky was rarely more than pale blue or violet, with a profusion of mighty, weightless, ever-changing clouds towering up and sailing on it, but it has a blue vigour in it, and at a short distance it painted the ranges of hills and the woods a fresh deep blue. In the middle of the day the air was alive over the land, like a flame burning; it scintillated, waved and shone like running water, mirrored and doubled all objects, and created great Fata Morgana. Up in this high air you breathed easily, drawing in a vital assurance and lightness of heart. In the highlands you woke up in the morning and thought: Here I am, where I ought to be.

Karen Blixen

There is something about safari life that makes you forget all your sorrows and feel as if you had drunk half a bottle of champagne — bubbling over with heartfelt gratitude for being alive. One only feels really free when one can go in whatever direction one pleases over the plains, to get to the river at sundown and pitch one’s camp, with the knowledge that one can fall asleep beneath other trees, with another view before one, the next night. I had not sat by a camp fire for three years, and so sitting there again listening to the lions far out in the darkness was like returning to the really true world again, where I probably once lived 10,000 years ago…

Out on the Safaris, I had seen a herd of buffalo, one hundred and twenty nine of them, come out of the morning mist under a copper sky, one by one, as if the dark and massive, iron like animals with the mighty horizontally swung horns were not approaching, but were being created before my eyes and sent out as they were finished. I had seen a herd of elephant travelling through dense native forest, where the sunlight is strewn down between the thick creepers in small spots and patches, pacing along as if they had an appointment at the end of the world.

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It was, in giant size, the border of a very old, infinitely precious Persian carpet, in the dyes of green, yellow and black brown. I had time after time watched the progression across the plain of the giraffe, in their queer, inimitable, vegetative gracefulness, as if it were not a herd of animals but a family of rare, long stemmed, speckled gigantic flowers slowly advancing. I had followed two rhinos on their morning promenade, when they were sniffing and snorting in the air of the dawn, which is so cold that it hurts in the nose, and looked like two very big angular stones rollicking in the long valley and enjoying life together. I had seen the royal lion, before sunrise, below a waning moon, crossing the grey plain on his way home from the kill, drawing a dark wake in the silvery grass, his face still red up to the ears, or during the midday siesta, when he reposed contentedly in the midst of his family on the short grass and in the delicate, spring like shade of the broad acacia trees of his park of Africa.

The natives have, far less than the white people, the sense of risks in life. Sometimes on a Safari, or on the farm, in a moment of extreme tension, I have met the eyes of my native companions, and have felt that we were at a great distance from one another, and that they were wondering at my apprehension of our risk. It made me reflect that perhaps they were, in life itself, within their own element, such as we can never be, like fishes in deep water which for the life of them cannot understand our fear of drowning. This assurance, this art of swimming, they had, I thought, because they had preserved a knowledge that was lost to us by our first parents; Africa, amongst the continents, will teach it to you: that God and the Devil are one, the majesty co-eternal, not two uncreated but one uncreated, and the natives neither confounded the persons nor divided the substance.

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The natives were Africa in flesh and blood. The tall extinct volcano of Longonot that rises above the Rift Valley, the broad mimosa trees along the rivers, the elephant and the giraffe, were not more truly Africa than the natives were, small figures in an immense scenery. All were different expressions of one idea, variations upon the same theme. It was not a congenial up-heaping of heterogeneous atoms, but a heterogeneous up-heaping of congenial atoms, as in the case of the oak leaf and the acorn and the object made from oak. We ourselves, in boots, and in our constant great hurry, often jar with the landscape. The natives are in accordance with it, and when the tall, slim, dark, and dark eyed people travel, always one by one, so that even the great native veins of traffic are narrow footpaths, or work the soil, or herd their cattle, or hold their big dances, or tell you a tale, it is Africa wandering, dancing and entertaining you. In the highlands you remember the Poet’s words: Noble found I ever the native, and insipid the immigrant.

There was a place in the hills, on the first ridge in the game reserve, that I myself at the time when I thought that I was to live and die in Africa, had pointed out to Denys as my future burial-place. In the evening, while we sat and looked at the hills, from my house, he remarked that then he would like to be buried there himself as well. Since then, sometimes when we drove out in the hills, Denys had said: “Let us drive as far as our graves.” Once when we were camped in the hills to look for buffalo, we had in the afternoon walked over to the slope to have a closer look at it. There was an infinitely great view from there; in the light of the sunset we saw both Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro.

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Perhaps he knew, as I did not, that the Earth was made round so that we would not see too far down the road.

Here in the early afternoon they brought out Denys from Nairobi, following his old Safari-track to Tanganyika, and driving slowly on the wet road. When they came to the last steep slope, they lifted out, and carried the narrow coffin, that was covered with the flag. As it was placed in the grave, the country changed and became the setting for it, as still as itself, the hills stood up gravely, they knew and understood what we were doing in them; after a little while they themselves took charge of the ceremony, it was an action between them and him, and the people present became a party of very small lookers-on in the landscape.

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Denys had watched and followed all the ways of the African Highlands, and better than any other white man, he had known their soil and seasons, the vegetation and the wild animals, the winds and smells. He had observed the changes of weather in them, their people, clouds, the stars at night. Here in the hills, I had seen him only a short time ago, standing bare-headed in the afternoon sun, gazing out over the land, and lifting his field-glasses to find out everything about it. He had taken in the country, and in his eyes and his mind it had been changed, marked by his own individuality, and made part of him. Now Africa received him, and would change him, and make him one with herself.

After I had left Africa, Gustav Mohr wrote to me of a strange thing that had happened by Denys’ grave, the like of which I have never heard. “The Masai,” he wrote, “have reported to the District Commissioner at Ngong, that many times, at sunrise and sunset, they have seen lions on Finch-Hatton’s grave in the Hills. A lion and a lioness have come there, and stood, or lain, on the grave for a long time. Some of the Indians who have passed the place in their lorries on the way to Kajiado have also seen them. After you went away, the ground round the grave was levelled out, into a sort of big terrace, I suppose that the level place makes a good site for the lions, from there they can have a view over the plain, and the cattle and game on it.”

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It was fit and decorous that the lions should come to Denys’s grave and make him an African monument. Lord Nelson himself, I have reflected, in Trafalgar Square, has his lions made only out of stone.

Exerpts

(by Karen Blixen)