Out of the ordinary things impress me. They excite me actually. A little more than they do the average person. Which is why I’m always looking for the next sunset. The next lake. The next forest. The next good view. The next hill.
And this time, my search found me in my most loved national park in the country. Tsavo National Park. The West specifically. I’ve been here countless times. Yet each time, especially in my adulthood, I see things anew.
We entered the Mtito Andei gate at around 3.00pm. And the place looked like it had really gotten the beating of the year from the current drought. Everything spoke of dryness. From the nonexistent grass to the thoroughly dried up trees.
For the first-time visitors we had, they were quite disappointed, considering we almost drove for an hour without seeing wild animals. For them, especially those who had been to Maasai Mara, they couldn’t fathom what’s the fuss people make about Tsavo if they can’t spot animals.
I wanted to tell them about the Tsavo I know. The park that as a kid, fascinated me to no end. How back in the day, we used to start seeing herds of antelopes at the gate. Followed by quails, almost a decade before Kenyans heard of their eggs. How elephants dominated those plains in their hundreds. How warthogs were found on the road. And the naughty monkeys of Mzima springs.
But things come to an end. Even for the largest park in Kenya and maybe Africa. And maybe the world. But is this the end for this world famous park? Well, only the rainy season will tell .
As I was saying, one can go to a place for a hundred times, and have a hundred different perspectives of that same place.
Tsavo does that to me each time. Its that old friend who you always know afresh each time. Tsavo chronicles my life so beautifully. How wide eyed I was as a kid. And how that greatly influenced what I saw.
The last two times I’ve been to Tsavo West, one thing I can’t get over is hills. I don’t know what’s my craze with them, but I just couldn’t help but ogle at them. Maybe its the way they stand tall. Undefeated. Almost taunting me to try them out. If only I could hike among lions. Or maybe its the way they look untouched. No human contact, like there are no paths at all in all those hundreds of hills in Tsavo. And maybe I admire that. That purity from humans. That being as you were, as you are supposed to be. Some of us are trying to get home, to who we are without human interference, with little success.
Those hills, unlike the flat areas are green. And I just couldn’t get over them. For the first time I have gone into a park and I have more pictures of hills rather than animals.
But what stole the show this time, was Mzima Springs. Some places are totally underated in Kenya.
Its arguably the purest water around. Apparently, the water flows from Kilimanjaro through underground rivers ( one can see Mt Kilimanjaro from Tsavo West) , bubbles up in Mzima Springs – you can actually see where it spurts out from the ground, it flows for a few meters, before forming a small ‘lake’, inhabited by hippos, fish and crocodiles before flowing for a kilometer or two, then sinking back to the underground to do the rest hundreds of kilometers to coast, where its a major supplier of their fresh water.
What tugged at my heart was how unworldly it looked like. So damn pristine. Yaani it makes the environment around it change for a moment. You feel as if you are in a rainforest, or a tropical forest all mixed in one. I’ll let the pictures do it justice.
When I was young, the only thing that fascinated me in Mzima Springs was this hut in the middle of that kalake. It has glasses through which one can observe fish moving underwater and how huge hippos are underwater. It felt like watching Nat Geo live, watching fish swim so near the surface of the water and play around. One gets this idea that they are getting a 3D experience of nature.
And now, what calmed at my heart, was how pristine that place looked like. Its impossible to stare at such beauty, and your heart be worried about anything. For a moment, one is placed in front of something bigger than themselves, and not literally. You feel weird realizing that in the middle of the mess that we are, heavenly beautiful places exists. And they don’t just exist, they thrive. For a moment, one sees nature at its finest. I got this feeling that on this one, nature was showing off. How else would you explain that pure green magic in the middle of dryness all over it?
I don’t know what will take my breath away next time I’m there, but for this one, Mzima Springs brought me home.