Another day, another adventure. We left Amboseli and drove in the direction of Tsavo West National Park. Since we had never visited this park before during our previous trips through Africa we were really excited. We were less excited about the road though. We could only enjoy 5 minutes of the tarred road before getting on to another bumpy dirt road towards the Tsavo West gate. Before we got to Tsavo West we were stopped by another gate. We thought we could just continue but were stopped by some soldiers. Decades ago an incident with some tourists had occurred and ever since they let you drive in a convoy now and then. We’ve driven thousands of kilometers in Africa but never experienced this before. Well, guess the only thing we could do was to wait…
Convoy to the Chyulu Gate
At 11 AM the gate opened and we drove in our first-ever convoy at a speed of 50 kilometers per hour (which is pretty fast on a road this bad). There were two cars in front of us and one behind us. The biggest difference between us and them? These tourists had their own drivers and a soldier equipped with a rifle. After about half an hour we arrived at Tsavo West’s Chyulu Gate. Lennart bought the gate passes and we were chatting with a really nice guard at the gate. He mentioned that our car was leaking but a little research made it clear that it was just the airconditioning.
Thirty minutes later we finally got into the park. Unfortunately, the road didn’t improve that much. We crossed some steep sections of the Chyulu Hills when we heard a rather strange sound. Turned out that this was the side of our car that got loose. The step up to get into our car had broken off but we managed to temporarily fix this using our washing line. We still had to drive about 60 kilometers before we got to our camp.
The black landscape of the Shetani Lava Flow
Although we had a rocky start, Tsavo West truly is a wonderful park. Since it had been raining the days before we got there, the landscape was lush and green. After we’d passed the hilly section we got the Shetani Lava Flow. This unique formation formed hundreds of years ago and is really impressive when you’re driving there. Some trees and scrubs found a way to survive amid these lava rocks.
A bit further down the road, our camp was waiting for us. We drove into the grand entrance of the Severin Safari Camp around lunchtime. This was our camp for the next two nights. Several lovely tents were positioned around water pools.
Philip the mechanic
In the afternoon we had another mission: fixing our car. The reception directed us to the ‘staff village’ where Philip lived. Philip was a local mechanic who could weld our car. When we got there Philip was lying underneath another car. He told us to come back in an hour. We came back and after a short wait, Philip started on our car. Without any protective clothing or welding glasses, he started to weld. We spend the rest of the afternoon in the pool. Since the camp is owned by Germans we even had a ‘fondue’ at dinner. This must be the only place in the middle of the bush in Africa where you can do this :).
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Mzima Springs is an oasis of green
We had arranged a game drive the next morning since Lennart’s parents celebrated their 41st anniversary together. Our ranger Ernest drove us to the finest spots in the park. Mzima Springs was our first destination. It is at this place where the water from the Chyuli Hills flows towards the springs. You can get out of your car and another ranger will show you around. It also happens to be a favorite spot for hippos and crocodiles. A mega pipeline from the springs to Mombassa provides this coastal city with plenty of fresh water. At the end of this lovely morning, we even saw some red (due to the dust) elephants crossing our path.
A slippery afternoon drive
After lunch, a dip in the pool and a massage we jumped back in our own car for a late afternoon drive. It started to drizzle and the roads got a bit muddy and slippery. We also saw another ranger who got stuck in the mud but luckily there was someone else helping him already :). We finished that day with a drink on our own terrace in front of our tent overlooking the water pool.
The Castle of Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge
The next day we took a detour to our next camp, the Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge. As the crow flies it was only 20 kilometer but we drove the whole morning to get there. Unfortunately, the welding of the previous day was made undone by the bumpy roads just before we got to our lodge. Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge has got a completely different feel to it, more like a hotel. The best spot in this lodge is the main restaurant which overlooks a huge water pool where animals frequently come to visit.
That afternoon we were on the lookout for another car mechanic. This time Christopher was the go-to guy. When we met him he mentioned that he had seen our car already. After explaining the issue he suited up and connected the welding machine to the power supply. He didn’t mind that the power cord was running through the water of someone who was washing his car. Christopher really had a passion for welding. He thought it was a great challenge and he even welded two extra bolts through our car. We really had to stop him from welding our complete car. Everything was rock solid again and we thanks Christopher multiple times, what a great guy! With that taken care of we chilled a bit alongside the pool and played a game of ‘hearts’ while keeping a close eye on the water pool in front of us, life could be worse… At night the elephants paid us a visit which made that the experience even better.