As a first impression of the Kenyan charm and beauty, Rusinga was an unmitigated success, and I was sad to be moving on when we left for Nairobi airport to squeeze into a tiny chartered flight to our next destination, a camp located in the middle of the Maasai Mara. Reachable only by private airstrip, Porini Cheetah Camp is run by Gamewatchers Safaris, a company who split their interests between looking after their guests and protecting the local Maasai communities and wildlife. Our small but luxurious camp of just five tents was run by Jui and Nirmalya Banerjee, who decided to give running it a go after their son left for university. My parents got a divorce when I went off to uni, but the Banerjees went a different way. I’m glad they did because the Porini Cheetah Camp is spectacular. The tents themselves are nicer than some London flats I’ve lived in, but I barely spent any time in mine as our itinerary was sufficiently packed with interesting things to do, like driving around in a truck looking for animals. The rangers are all local tribesmen who grew up in the area, and who have gone through extensive education to reach their positions. On one of our days at the camp, we venture out to one of these schools to meet with the next crop of rangers who will be out in the field by this time next year. The graduated rangers speak with confidence not just about the wildlife but about life in general on the conservancy, and this was mirrored by the pupils who are all passionate about showing off the amazing country in which they’ve grown up.
The male seemed far more interested in the lioness than in his next meal, but she clearly wasn’t in the mood, carefully tracking the wildebeests for about forty minutes before giving up and falling asleep in a bush.The rangers have a network of scouts who roam the camp, and on one of our drives our guide Nelson received a text from a friend informing him of the location of some lions. Racing down some valleys to find them, we stopped just a few metres away from a lioness and her partner carefully surveying some wildebeests nearby. The male seemed far more interested in the lioness than in his next meal, but she clearly wasn’t in the mood, carefully tracking the wildebeests for about forty minutes before giving up and falling asleep in a bush. The excitement over, Nelson prepared our daily sundowner. This is basically a little boozy picnic out of the back of the truck as the sun slowly sets and a selection of drinks and snacks appears from a cooler. These sundowners are among the things I miss most about my time in Kenya, and I’m considering importing the tradition back to London. As we sipped our drinks, our host shared a story about one American tourist in particular, who got the hump because his request to see “a lion killing a big giraffe” had not been fulfilled. I must admit I had come to Kenya with similarly grand expectations, but I soon learned that the people walking about on two legs were far more interesting than anything knocking about on all fours.