|Hemingway with his fourth wife, Mary Welsh, on safari in 1953-1954. (Photo from here)|
I needn't have worried. Actually, our first lodge on Mount Kenya was a good indication of things to come. It only got better. After our long morning drive to the Shaba Game Reserve, we ended up at another spectacular lodge.
|"Karibu" means "Welcome" in Swahili. (Photo by JKM)|
The typical protocol when we arrived at a lodge was to be met by a team of porters who unloaded our luggage and delivered it to our rooms. A lodge employee was usually standing in the lobby with a basket of cool, damp, rolled up washcloths anointed with a touch of eucalyptus or lavender oil, and these were offered to us with tongs. Often there was also a person with a tray of cold juice making the rounds. Yeah, I could get used to that.
The buildings in each of the lodges we stayed in were always unique and tried to be organic with the environment.
|The Sarova Shaba dining area and lobby, seen from behind. (Photo by EDT)|
Most of the nice lodges in Kenya are owned and operated by Indians. There has been some criticism of the lodge system on African game reserves for the reasons I mentioned above and because so much of the big money is being made by foreigners, but the developers of these high-end tourism sites have offered a lot more to Kenya and Tanzania than just the income that comes to those working in the industry and the taxes paid on their businesses. For example, Gurcharan Singh Vohra, the founder of the Sarova chain of which this lodge is one, funded several conservation projects, including the planting of trees in the Masai Mara Reserve and Lake Nakuru National Park. He also was instrumental in preserving the Nairobi National Park, and he worked to raise the awareness and prevention of elephant poaching.
|(Photo by EDT)|
The rooms of the lodges we stayed in were well-appointed and spacious, and the staff took good care of us. At the Sarova Shaba, the staff drew the mosquito net curtain around our bed for us in the evening, but it was really not very necessary, at least in mid-May when we were there. I came home without a single mosquito bite.
This part of Kenya is a completely different ecosystem than what we saw at the Mount Kenya Game Reserve; it is at a lower elevation and is much hotter and dryer.
However, in spite of the electric fence, there were still some critters that managed to pay us a visit.
The book itself came out in 1960 (the same year as To Kill a Mockingbird) and quickly became a New York Times Bestseller. It is the story of Joy and George Adamson's experience raising three lion cubs in Kenya in 1956 after George (the senior game warden in Northern Kenya) had to kill their man-eating mother. After some months, the two larger cubs were given to the Rotterdam Zoo, but Joy had grown very attached to the smallest cub, whom she had named Elsa, and kept her as a pet until she was grown.
It eventually became apparent that Elsa could not be kept as a pet indefinitely, and George and Joy worked to reintroduce her to the wild, something that had not ever been done before.
While the book was very popular, spending thirteen weeks at the top of the New York Times Bestseller list and almost a year total on the list, the 1966 movie based on the book was even more successful, garnering two Academy Awards (Best Musical Score by John Barry and Best Song--"Born Free" by John Barry) and four Golden Globes (Best Motion Picture Drama, Best Actress--Virginia McKenna, Best Original Song, and Best Original Score). If you don't want to wade through the book, the movie is available for free viewing if you have Amazon Prime.
Coming next: Our first official safari drive in the Buffalo Spring Reserve.