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Pole to Pole

Day 96: Nairobi to the Masai Mara

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleThe entertainment goes on. Giraffe glide with effortless grace through the pale gold grass. Hartebeest and Thomson's gazelle graze beneath the predatory eye of vultures, kites and buzzards. A black-tailed mongoose scuttles across our path. As we climb the western wall of the Rift Valley we come upon a flock of fifty or sixty goats who have mounted the bank at the side of the road, nuzzling the earth and sticking their heads into a honeycomb of small holes from which they are trying to extract salt.

We are now running west, back a little way towards our thirty degree meridian. At Narok we leave the metalled road again and are soon bouncing our way over mercifully dry tracks, past tall, long-striding Masai, usually wearing red cloaks or blankets across one shoulder. Their villages, enclosed by a stockade fence, are known as manyattas. The men maintain the fence leaving the women to the less glamorous job of coating the stick-frame houses with dung.

By late afternoon we have covered about 145 miles from Nairobi and are crossing into the Masai Mara National Reserve. Unlike the Serengeti to the south, the Mara is not a National Park and the Masai farmers are allowed to graze their flocks here. This mixture of the wild and the domestic, cows and sheep grazing alongside giraffe and elephant, gives the Reserve a special Noah's Ark quality.
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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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