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Pole to Pole

Day 96: Nairobi to the Masai Mara

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleWe climb to the top of the eastern wall of the Rift Valley, about 8000 feet above sea-level. There is an almost dizzying view of a great expanse of sunlit plain dominated to the north by the grey, deeply fissured walls of the extinct volcano Longonot.

The valley floor is rich ranchland, and when in the film Mogambo, Clark Gable looks out over this same view and shouts 'Gorilla!', every true Kenyan cracks up. The nearest gorilla is at least 500 miles away.

Our reverie is broken by the roar of a Mack truck on its way from Rwanda in central Africa to the port of Mombasa. It barrels dangerously down the hill, sending up a shower of dust and stones around the words on its tailgate: 'Praise the Lord. He is Merciful'.

We stop to buy a late breakfast of fresh-grilled corn cobs from some children at the roadside. A troop of baboons is scattered across the road, extracting bits of corn and wheat grain that have, literally, fallen off the back of a lorry. Some have their young slung beneath them, where they remain until five weeks old, after which they're transferred onto mother's back for three months and only much later allowed to run and play on their own. Wendy says that most safari tours miss all this. They are air-lifted straight out to the Mara.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 96
  • Country/sea: Kenya
  • Place: Nairobi
  • Book page no: 208

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  • Wildlife-watching
  • Day 49 
  • Sahara

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