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Pole to Pole

Day 98: The Masai Mara

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleOthers of Patrick's illustrious companions were not as naturally gifted. President Tito generally had to be assisted. 'We had some problems . . . he doesn't shoot on the best part.' Prince Charles, whom he accompanied on a camel safari up to Lake Turkana, wasn't interested in the hunting but was himself nearly hunted.

'He stepped on the back of a crocodile thinking that it's a stone, or a log lying by the sand. Then this crocodile started moving - he was frightened!'

I have the impression that Patrick preferred the old days, when risks were greater but groups were smaller, when you ate what you hunted and slept in the open.

Now that tourism has taken a firm hold here it seems that safaris have become a parody of themselves. We dress like white hunters. We are treated like white hunters, brought whiskies at sundown and bacon and eggs for breakfast, yet we hunt with Canon cameras from within solid vehicles. Maybe one day visitors will be able to see, enjoy and learn about animals in the wild without having to go through the pretence of being latter-day Hemingways.

But for now we remain pleasantly cosseted. After a farewell barbecue dinner of impala and hartebeest, the staff bring in a cake for us and dance around the table singing 'Jambo Bwana'. It may all seem a bit colonial, but they have made us very happy here and I don't think they've hated it any more than we have.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 98
  • Country/sea: Kenya
  • Place: Mara River
  • Book page no: 218

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