26-11-2019 by Giovanna Grampa
Will it be this a record season in terms of safaris in the park of Tsavo?
Judging by the turnout at the end of November, all the conditions are met.
For a few days now, dozens of Land Cruisers have been queuing up at the entrance to the Gate Hall every morning, pouring their loads of tourists who, full of enthusiasm and expectations, deceive the waiting for the formalities to be carried out by buying the classic safari hat, various handicrafts and watching voracious crocodiles on the banks of the river, foretaste of contact with wild Africa.
They are irrepressible and wander around on foot in a scattered order to take the first group photos, mostly with a mobile phone and the inevitable stick selfie, immortalizing the words "Tsavo East National Park".
For many it is the journey of life, for others it is a dream come true: to see the animals free in nature but above all the lion, the king of the savannah always ready to proclaim his power with deep roars. The lodges in the park are all booked long ago and on some days of the week it is almost impossible to find a room or a tent free. And we are not only talking about Italian tourism but also German, Polish, Spanish, French, American: a multinational tourism to which is added for the weekend a local tourism of rich Kenyans who flee from the increasingly chaotic cities and choose to relax with the family in the savannah.
Certainly the road that leads to the park, now entirely paved, has contributed, and not a little, to this not entirely unexpected development.
In just over an hour from Malindi or Watamu you can reach the entrance to the park in any weather condition, without the nightmare of merciless stretches of road through uneven terrain or totally impassable in the rain. Along with the completion of the asphalt road, tourism has also developed, including a one-day safari to the Tsavo. You enter early in the morning, have lunch at noon in a lodge inside the park and in the late afternoon you return to the coast. An offer dedicated to those who, having a few days of stay in Kenya does not want to give up the relaxation of sea life and decides to reserve a single day for safari or those who want to spend a smaller amount. It is not uncommon for some savannah lodges to have to cope with up to 50/60 seats more than their bookings. A tourism I would say hit-and-run that however increases the coffers of KWS (Kenya Wildlife Service) and contributes positively to increase the work and revenues of all related activities, from catering to the sale of souvenirs and not least of the various tour operators on the coast.
During this period, the park was dressed up almost as if to welcome its visitors with open arms and amaze them with special effects. Landscapes that know how to enchant because of those bright greens that fill the eyes while the savannah is framed by reddish browns like the mantle of an impala. Infinite and soft shades of color make it luxuriant like a cultivated garden that smells of fertile soil, the typical acrid smell of Africa. The rain that has been falling for about two months, with an almost daily frequency, has given rise to an incredible metamorphosis in the moment of maximum need, restoring life to a thirsty land. We must not forget that at the end of September everything was so sadly deserted and the animals lived in extreme conditions of survival.
Now the vegetation is so luxuriant that it is almost impossible to see what is under the trees and the felines that rest lazily during the day are sometimes difficult to find. In safari now the animals have to be "looked for": nature explodes and draws attention.
New grass attracts whole herds of impalas, gazelles and zebras. The elephants feed to satiety filling their mouths with generous handfuls of tasty grass, they swallow ravenous and all the animals are finally reborn to new life.
Everywhere there is water: small ponds, small rivers, entire flooded plains and even the Galana River has now returned to roar with its generous swirls and reddish with the dignity of a self-respecting river.
The November sky is often menacing and it rains even during the day: in a few hours the red slopes become unpredictable, in some stretches slippery like oil and with an unknown bottom. But tourism does not stop. It doesn't matter if the Land Cruiser slips in these stretches and breaks out swaying with the risk of getting bogged down: for tourists it's an experience that excites them, it's like living the adventure in the adventure, savouring the real Africa as a land of conquest, eager to escape from the wandering of their urban lives.
Observing wildlife is one of the most exciting activities and most tourists are so fascinated by the savannah that they fall victim to it. You can feel Africa inside in a visceral way, or it only touches you with margine.
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