"something of an extraordinary nature will turn up..."

Mr. Micawber in Dickens' David Copperfield

Kit Foster's



April 11th, 2011

Land Rovers on safari

A few weeks ago, I told you about our summer sojourn to Kenya. As you might suspect, we did not go solely to look at cars. About a week of our trip was spent on safari.

We started with a top-down view, wild animals as seen from a hot air balloon. Rising before dawn, we were collected in a Land Rover and driven to the launch site in the Masai Mara reserve, whence we ascended at daybreak, thanks to plenty of hot air. We were not alone, as three other balloon parties drifted with us. During the hour-long flight we spied wilbebeests, elephants, impalas and zebras. The excursion ended with a terrestrial champagne breakfast.

Once earthbound, we went in search of animals close-up, happening upon an accommodating cheetah, who posed for a photo op. On our day we met ostrich, zebra, baboon, elephants, sun-bathing hippos, giraffes, more impalas and a pride of lions. Wildebeests hobnobbed with the zebras when not making their own migration. Despite the sage advice not to venture on foot, we alighted briefly at a pillar marking the Tanzanian border.

The Land Rover is, of course, the quintessential safari vehicle. Outfitted for animal-spotting, they are ubiquitous in the bush, though increasingly being supplanted by Toyota Land Cruisers. Some safari operators take a less expensive route, with sightseeing adaptations of the familiar matatus, the Toyota vans used as communal taxis in towns. Long-haul safari cars are called “overlanders.” These are heavy trucks outfitted for passengers. At night they pull into campgrounds and disgorge their passengers for supper and, eventually, sleep. We shared a campground with several overlanders, though in more comfortable-looking huts that concealed rustic tents.

Our safari car was our daughter and son-in-law’s Toyota Land Cruiser Prado, a sport utility not sold as such in the United States (a less rugged V8 version is sold as the Lexus GX470). With all creature comforts and a 4-liter turbo diesel it conveyed us throughout the preserve, while GPS kep us from getting lost. Even in the bush, Kenya is tech-savvy, with cell towers aplenty, albeit sometimes in disguise.

A sure tip-off to the presence of wildlife is a gaggle of matatus. By waiting our turn we were able to move into position to snap some awesome photos.

Serendipity: n. An aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.
“They were always making discoveries, by accident and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of.”
Horace Walpole, The Three Princes of Serendip
© 2004-2018 Kit Foster
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