Bob & Gina Poole return to Naboisho Camp
By Bob & Gina Poole
In 2015 we spent three months in Naboisho Camp filming Little Giant, the coming of age tale about a baby elephant, affectionately named Little E. The show was for National Geographic WILD. Last year in November-December we returned to Mara Naboisho to shoot another film for WILD. This time we were working on a project for Big Cat Week that will air in early 2018. We followed a beautiful mother cheetah, Naborr, and her two young cubs; a story that reveals the extraordinary and challenging lives of these remarkable cats.
There’s something incredibly special about traveling the long distance from our home in the mountains of Idaho to the wild of Asilia’s Naboisho Camp, and upon arriving there to see familiar faces. It isn’t only the warm welcome from the camp managers, and the friendly staff. In this case it was an elephant! And one of my favorite characters who we met while filming Little Giant.
I was out with our producers from National Geographic who joined us at the beginning of our cheetah shoot. We were enjoying a game drive with our expert guide, Sammy, incidentally one the best birders around. We saw a small family of elephants and drove over to get a better look. As we approached I noticed a female with a young calf and she looked somewhat familiar. Then I saw I him. Nubbin! One year older, looking healthy. I’d written about him before, how he was the instigator of play and had a somewhat mischievous attitude. I longed to spend the day following him but our mission wasn’t to film elephants so sadly we had to move on. It was so great seeing him again, and given the pressure on elephants these days, it was a relief to know he was well, and thriving as was his mother and younger brother.
I often hear friends say a trip to Africa is on their bucket list. I say to them, go now as when you go the first time you will fall in love with Africa; its people, its landscapes, its wildlife and you’ll want to go again and again. We met visitors at Naboisho Camp who were repeat guests, who said to us that each time they came they discovered something new, and had a different experience and new encounters with the bountiful wildlife that inhabits Naboisho.
One thing that remains constant is the Camp itself. From dawn till dusk guests are treated with care and attention to every need by a dedicated team. As we
“lived” in the camp for long periods of time we were privy to the behind the scenes of camp life. We spent time in the kitchen watching the chefs prep and cook the delicious meals made from fresh, healthy ingredients. We filmed the room attendants as they went on their rounds cleaning and preparing the guest tents with such care. And in the mechanical area where the vehicles are meticulously cleaned and serviced to make sure every Land Cruiser is ready each morning and early afternoon for game-drives.
There is very little staff turnover and the camp runs like clockwork. We saw how various staff members were promoted from one year to another. For example there’s a lot of cross training, and a person who worked last year in the kitchen washing dishes is now serving guests and learning new skills. The employees exude a sense of pride in the camp. The majority are locals who live in Maasai land. Many of them know the landscape and wildlife like the back of their hand – it’s home after all.
We hope to return some day and continue filming in this very special place in Kenya. And when we return we know we’ll be met by a heartfelt Naboisho welcome and perhaps even by an elephant, named Nubbin.