Most people want to visit Africa and see the wildlife at least once in their life – and being a keen naturalist, I was no different. In 2013 I had the opportunity to spend 6 weeks exploring the Serengeti, the Masai-Mara, and the Ngoro Ngoro Crater. One of the highlights for me was the 3 weeks I spent glamping at a safari lodge in the lesser known Tarangire Wildlife Park, which boasts one of the highest concentrations of elephants in Africa. Only the week before a group of Americans had left Tarangire in a great huff because a lion was seen at the base of the Lodge’s steps……I would have loved to see that!
I was with a group of 6 artists who were intent on observing, photographing and sketching the wildlife. During this trip we set up an organisation to raise funds to train and employ rangers to protect the wildlife from poachers. As a founding member of “Artist Ambassadors Against Poaching” I tried hard to come up with a sexier name, but it alluded me, so we are known as AAAP…. Oh well….
The trip was organised round our stay at Tarangire, as our task was to produce artwork while we were there which could later be sold to raise funds for the elephant orphanage. I have been a dedicated supporter of this orphanage and also AAAP over the years, as the issue of poaching is very real and continues to motivate me to help. I have painted a number of pieces for their fund raising efforts.
The Masai River marks the border between Kenya and Tanzania and also divides Kenya’s Masai Mara from Tanzania’s Serengeti Park. The easiest way to get from one to the other is by plane as the roads are abysmal and only the crazy go by road. … So of course we went by road….Hours of bouncing around in a truck with no springs as we tried to dodge the larger potholes made me wish I had more padding on my behind! Some hours into the journey our guide asked if we wanted to see the wildebeest crossing the Masai River on their migration. If we had known it added another 5 hours to the trip we wouldn’t have been so excited. Especially when we got there to discover we were a few days too early and there was nothing to see!
My most memorable moments include my first sighting of elephants (Tarangire) in the early morning with dawn just breaking over the plains; my first lion (Serengeti); and the huge numbers of birds everywhere.