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Nairobi Tented Camp is an authentic tented camp in the Nairobi National Park. It's the first accommodation of any sort to be allowed in this unique safari destination and the first tented accommodation in Nairobi. There's nowhere else quite like it in the world...

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Nairobi Tented Camp – first adventure

Nairobii National Park.  August 2010

I don’t do mornings. It’s 5.30, AM! Still dark and I have been chomped on by all sorts of insects. I’m having a cup of tea and a biscuit by candle light with Nairobi Tented Camp guru, Will Knocker  and my other half, Nikki. I’m in my trail wear, dusty boots, dusty hat, dusty sox and so on. Willy is in his trademark shorts, floppy hat, sporting splendid feathers.  No idea what Nikki has come as but seems to be set for any eventuality including Monte Carlo by night.

Any way we are off at first light and all the pain goes away. Straight away we see eland, impala, gazelle and lots of zebra. We have been on a couple of drives already and used up the zebra jokes but can’t resist it. Look at that zebra crossing, stripy donkeys, and the only prey with its own bar code – I’ll get my coat. Then we pull up at a watering hole and the zebra are wading across with that confused look that the one in Madagascar (I) has on its face all the time. Two male impala are chasing each other and boy can they move, the acceleration is better than the Veyron and this is right next to us! One slip and they will be through the windscreen but they have great handling so disaster is diverted, basically diverted all over the place, they are going beserk.

Then Willy sees something in the distance, I’m sure he has a bionic eye. It’s a bloke walking through the park collecting firewood. We drive over to see what the story is and just round the bend we spot two dark ears in the grass close to this crazy guy. Not one but two lions are watching him, around 20 metres from him. Willie pulls up and yells at him in Swahili. Now I don’t speak it but I think he was mentioning Simba. Willie says we’ll get him in the truck and as he ambles over Willie gets out to open the boot and asks us to keep an eye on the lions. No problem. Only then do I consider that I don’t have any idea what to do if they do attack.  Strongly worded letter to the Times I guess.

We get him in the car and, despite my limited Swahili, I figure out this firewood bloke isn’t all there. I’m sure you get the gist. Willie gives the guy a sweet and the lions, satisfied that the potential lunch is no longer loose, get up stretch and saunter off in search of a Thompson’s gazelle burger. We drop the lucky firewood collector at the gate, give him a few bob and head off to Willy’s fantastic new eco venture -  Nairobi Tented Camp.

Turning off the main drag through the bush a giraffe legs it across the path. Blimey they are tall close up and I’m not sure who is the most surprised. Anyway we miss it and park up in what Willy refers to as the car park. We embark on foot down to the main camp location. We are deep in the bush now, can’t see more than about 10 metres, it’s a great site. Willy starts whooping at the top of his voice to scare away any buffalo. For some reason best known to her, Nikki does her imitation of a motorbike! Then Willy explains that the problem is that the old buffalo around here are deaf. Hearing this I maintain a dignified British silence and resolve that if I’m charged I’ll send a strongly worded letter to the Times.

The camp site is great, totally remote and totally immersed in the bush. Breakfast will be superb oasis from modern day life, listening to the animals and recounting the noises from the night before..

We set off again on our game drive and almost run into that death wish giraffe. They are so well camouflaged you can’t see them even when stood right next to the trail. He saunters off and looks back in disdain at the short necked interlopers.

We can’t possibly have any luck left but then spot two black rhino, a mother and calf. Willy has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the flora and fauna here and tells us all about the difference in white and black rhino.  He says as they spot us they will go off out of sight and as we get nearer they simply carry on eating breakfast – always make liars out of you eh Willy?

Round to the next watering hole and Willy stops to point out a sleeping hippo. We can’t see it. We take turns with the binocs but no use. Then Willy shows us a huge black expanse of leather right in front of us, that bionic eye is fantastic. Can’t hear the snoring but it is soundly asleep.

We have seen everything we could possibly want to & that was in just 5 hours!  Willy is the uber guide and we set off back for coffee and breaky. What a trip – thousands of photos and lots of stories. By the time I’m back in the office Willie and I have rescued the firewood guy from the jaws of the lions.

Willy – thank you very much for a fantastic drive and a great holiday. Your knowledge and enthusiasm is fantastic, and infectious (bit like my mozzy bites) and your generosity knows no bounds. Get Willy to show you around and you will have memories to tide you over the long English winter and to encourage you to put pen to paper.  See you next trip to Bwana, kwaheri!

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