A walking safari with Naboisho Camp manager Roelof Schutte
In January 2016, we had the pleasure of staying at Asilia Africa’s Naboisho Camp situated in the 210km² private Mara Naboisho Conservancy in Kenya, during Make It Kenya’s #KenyaLive campaign.
Our aim during our stay in the conservancies, was to show the world what a safari to Kenya is like via a series of live web broadcasts on Twitter’s Periscope app from 7-18 January 2016.
My first impressions of Naboisho Camp with its nine luxury safari tents (they’re actually fully-fledged suites with massive verandah for relaxing and watching the passing wildlife), was summed up in two words: wild and tranquil.
One of the highlights of our two-night stay at the Naboisho Camp, was undoubtedly a walking safari led by Naboisho Camp manager and professional walking safari guide, Roelof Schutte.
It was late afternoon, probably 4pm when we parked our safari vehicle 3-4km from our camp. We grabbed our broadcast gear and cameras from the vehicle, and started walking through whistling thorn scrub in a (roughly) westerly direction. Seven of us: silently stepping in single file.
After about 20-minutes, we reached a lookout point over a narrow valley. A trickle of adrenaline had started flowing through my body.
From this vantage point, our guide Roelof Schutte spotted a herd of five or six ‘ellies’ across the valley. He suggested we try “get a little closer”. We descended the 150-200 metres to the bottom of the valley before approaching the herd from below on the other side.
We were probably 100-150 metres from the herd, when Roelof suggested we backtrack a little and approach them from the side rather than from below. “The wind is swirling here, so they may catch our scent if we carry on with this approach.” he advised.
Quietly and quickly, Roelof led us back down along the game path, across the valley for a hundred metres or more, and then back up the hillside — approaching the herd along a contour this time.
We stopped our approach with a great view of the elephants about 80-100m away from us. We were partially obscured by the thickets surrounding us, yet we had clear line of site of the elephants. We setup our mobile satellite dish and prepared for our very first live streaming broadcast while “on foot” in some of Africa’s wildest terrain. It was thrilling.
Thrills aside, my nerves were kept at bay by Roelof’s calm and “in control” manner. He constantly kept an eye (and ear) on us, our subjects and our surroundings. He was satisfied with our position for the broadcast, saying “It’s unlikely the elephants can see at this distance. The light cross-wind blowing down the slope is definitely in our favour”.
As we started the live stream, with Carel and Roelof narrating the exhilarating experience, the herd kept grazing slowly in our direction, eventually stopping about 40 metres away from us. It was at this point that we noticed there was a young calf with four cow elephants.
The presence of the youngster could pose a risk, but without much ado, the elephants carried on grazing and eventually carried on up and over the hill. They were either blissfully unaware of us, or untroubled by our presence.
This was definitely one of the most incredible live experiences we shared with Periscope viewers during the safari portion of the #KenyaLive trip. And we’re absolutely thrilled to share this short video with people who’re curious — but perhaps a little cautious — about doing their own walking safari.
Want to experience a walking safari for yourself? Come and stay at Naboisho Camp and join Roelof Schutte, one of Africa’s most experienced professional walking guides, on a walking safari.
Andre Van Kets is co-founder of DiscoverAfrica.com the safari company behind migration tracking app HerdTracker. In September 2015, HerdTracker broadcast the great migration river crossings to the world for the first time ever. During the #KenyaLive campaign (once again via Periscope) the HerdTracker crew showed the world what a safari in Kenya’s Mara Conservancies is all about.
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