Why bushwalks are better than game drives

At the Rhino Grave in Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Nanyuki. PHOTO | POOL

With the move to go green, travellers are finding ways to enjoy eco-friendly activities.

Tourism alone is responsible for eight per cent of the world’s carbon emissions and increases as more people travel.

One of the activities you can engage in if you are eco-conscious is bushwalking.

While most game drives are usually done on four-by-four trucks, walking alongside the animals is an intimate experience.

Abraham Chege, a ranger at Jambo Mutara camp which is situated in Laikipia. PHOTO | POOL

One or two rangers keep a watchful eye on the surroundings to trace if there is any danger. They also carry a rifle.

In addition, one is more likely to come across wildlife in complete silence than during game drives where vehicle noise disturbs the animals.

I had this experience during my stay at Jambo Mutara Camp in Laikipia. It takes around six hours by road to get there.

We arrived just in time for lunch. The view of the waterhole from the restaurant was spectacular, even with the blessing of the rain, which meant that we had difficulties with photography.

After a tour of the rooms, it was time to have the bush walk.

Ranger Abraham Chege accompanied us during the walk for safety.

The rain also made the walk bearable. The weather was calm, and the green grass was a sign of new life.

Bush walks makes one connect with nature, and it’s an incredible experience interacting with nature on foot.

You also explore the finer details that you overlook in a game drive. Bird calls, insects, plants and spectacular landscapes can be ignored in a game drive.

For instance, during this trip, I learnt so much about ants, thanks to our ranger, who was like an encyclopedia on wildlife and plants.

“There is a symbiotic relationship between a whistling acacia and ants. While the acacia produces the specialised structures to shelter and feed the ant colony, the ant, on the other hand, defends the tree against herbivores,” he explained, pointing at the acacia tree as we made a stop to look at it further.

An elephant during a bushwalk at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Nanyuki. PHOTO | POOL

On the other side, we spotted a giraffe looking curiously at us as if begging us to take a photo.

We stopped for a while to take a picture before proceeding to the next point of learning.

While it’s relaxing to explore the bush on foot, it allows you to slowly absorb the surrounding smells, sights and sounds, it can be exhilarating watching animals close by.

That is why one must be accompanied by a ranger during a bush walk as they will let you know what to do should anything happen.

In our case, noticing that the elephants were close by, Abraham stopped to check the direction of the wind before proceeding to the next route.

“Always be alert of where the wind is blowing since it will carry your scent to the animals and that’s dangerous. They will see you as an enemy and attack,” he said.

A herd of buffaloes too was present at a distance. Everybody was scared.

“If you were to meet an aggressive animal what would you do? Make sure that you don’t turn your back on any animal and move away as much as you can. If it’s not seen you just walk away. You should be alert enough to spot the animal first before it spots you,” he explained as he directed us away from the scene.

You can also clap with your hands should you meet a herd of buffalo and they will feel insecure and run.

All this was easier said than done because the sight of the herd scared us and all we desired to do was get to the camp.

Our ranger laughed at our cowardice and told us not to be gripped with fear since he was around.

Refreshing sundowner

Since one of the benefits of bush walks is learning a new skill, it was awesome learning how to track wild animals on foot and trace their footsteps too.

It is always awesome ending such an experience with a refreshing sundowner. After two hours of walking, having something to cool off the fatigue was a great idea.

The warmth of the fire was great as it kept us warm from the cold breeze.

“The bush walk is either short or long, depending on the guest’s expectations,” said Ila Keveke, sales and marketing manager, during the sundowner.

Jambo Mutara Camp has a dam where families can kayak and have a barbecue over lunch with a view of wildlife and breathtaking landscape.

Spending time indoors is another choice since nine out of the tents at the camp overlook the waterhole where wildlife frequently quench their thirst.

Six tents are exposed to the savannah, while one has an outdoor jacuzzi, which is suitable for honeymooners or just solo travellers who love enjoying life.

A giraffe during a bushwalk at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Nanyuki. PHOTO | POOL

Being close to Ol Pejeta Conservancy means that if you are a guest at the camp you can also have a game drive.

Other activities include dog tracking, horse riding with rhinos in the endangered species enclosure and lion tracking.

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