Walking with Camels
A walking safari in northern Kenya gives Alice Gully the chance to explore a remote patch of Kenya in glorious isolation.
One of the highlights of my recent trip to Kenya was the four days I spent walking in northern Kenya with guides Kerry Glen and Jamie Christian, the husband and wife team who run Karisia.
Karisia is a true mobile operation, similar in style to those we often describe in Botswana – where you walk from place to place, sleep in simple bush tents and eat out under the stars. Essentially Karisia will take you anywhere in Kenya, although their passions are the Masai Mara and Laikipia areas, where they delight in showing their guests the real unspoilt Kenya.
As ever it is the guides who make trips like this special, and these two are superb. Kerry is a born and bred Kenyan who knows the bush like the back of her hand, while Jamie has strong links with Kenya but was educated in America – his particular knowledge is of the birds and smaller animals.
Every day after an early breakfast we would head off with Kerry and Jamie, a Samburu guide, two camels loaded with all our kit, and amble (there is nothing stressful about this walking) through the bush, stopping to survey the surroundings for any activity. Over the four days, we had good sightings of elephant, giraffe, hyena, gerenuk, Grevys zebra, eland and many other herbivores. The bird life is good and nothing got past Jamie without being identified.
As well as carrying guests’ kit, the camels will give tired clients a ride and make for amusing walking companions with their air of sullen, moody, and quite undeserved superiority.
Whilst we wandered through their corner of Africa, a team of Samburu staff would break camp and load up 15 camels with tents, kitchen equipment and take a direct route to the next night’s spot.
We would arrive after about four or five hours walking (having covered about five miles) to find the camp all set up with beds made, the ‘dining room’ ready, and drinks waiting. Afternoons are spent however you choose, either with a book under a tree or another short walk.
Each evening with a beer in hand, we saw the sun go down while watching a troop of baboons settle down for the night or some rock dassies trying to capture the last warming rays of the sun.
For me the thrill of this safari was having an area of Kenya all to ourselves – we were the only guests, you couldn’t hear another vehicle or see any headlights. There is something very rewarding about walking and taking exercise so you can justify the incredible meals that were produced. If you like a little bit of adventure it makes a great addition to a Kenyan itinerary.