Paradise exists here on earth, in so many places. And my beautiful Kenya is no exception! Full of love for the wild, so many in our country fight so hard to protect those whose voices cannot be heard – the herds of the wild.
Many who know me know my great love for elephants and my distress at the way they are being killed for their tusks, for the material pleasure of people around the world who don’t care if the generations after them never hear of the word elephant. I am an especially huge fan of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust , an organization that has dedicated itself to saving elephants, rhinos and other animals in the wild.
Whenever Sam and I celebrate a birthday, we like to do something to give back. So what better way to celebrate his birthday (and also do our wedding photo shoot!) then spending a weekend at Ithumba Camp , a very special very private place owned and managed by the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust as a means of income for the work they do, as well as to give elephant foster parents and others the chance to get up close with these gentle giants, most of whom are orphans who have been reintroduced to the wild.
Ithumba is in Tsavo, and takes a bit of a drive from Nairobi (about 6 hours!). All worth the drive though. Joined by our photographer friend Rahim Kara from Megapixel Productions (whose amazing images grace this post!) , Sam and I drove into Ithumba luxury camp, and were welcomed by very cold towels to freshen up our hot, dusty faces!
We took our own foodstuff , but the chef crew at Ithumba made magic at every single meal! Despite the heat, we explored the 4 rooms of the camp – which were at our full disposal….after much indecision, Sam and I decided to take the boulder room, named ofcourse after the big boulder it is built around!
And the pool! What a treat! After lunch and lazing about, we went to see the baby elephant feeding at 4pm – when the ellies are 2 years old and ready to be relocated, they are moved from Nairobi to Ithumba.
They are kept in safe enclosed spaces while the older orphans who have reintegrated come to eat as well – so that they can get used to each other. We sat there as about 60 elephants surrounded us, happily munching away at the grass, and some of the adult ex-orphans even came close enough for a nuzzle! We didn’t want to leave!
At night, we bathed by the moonlight in the pool, then went off to bed after such magic!
In the morning, we were welcomed to an amazing breakfast, after which at 11am we went to see the ellies bathing at the waterhole – what an experience! Nothing prepares you for such a spiritual experience! Again , we were surrounded by all the orphans and ex-orphans! Every single day, the Trust trucks thousands of litres of water for the elephants to drink and be merry, from quite a few kilometres away, and never even once are the keepers ever frustrated at this!
The wild elephants in this part of Tsavo also come to drink, and have gotten used to being around humans, especially the ‘elephant whisperer’ head keeper, Ben, who speaks to even the wild elephants! At one point he told us to just sit down amongst them, and I was scared, I must admit! My heart leapt in my throat when the biggest elephant I have ever seen, wild, walked towards me! Ben just walked in front and told him, ‘these are friends, do not come closer’, and the elephant listened!
We sat there for hours, and watched the elephants frolick in the water, play around, and be merry…to think many of these would have lost their lives if it hadn’t been for the Trust…when it was time to go home, I had tears…of joy…for being blessed to be in this space.
We spent the whole rest of the day in the park, and the next day, left after breakfast.
Will I be back? Definitely! Will you join me?
For more information on Ithumba camp, contact the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. The area is only mostly accessible by 4WD vehicles, and you need to enter a park gate, so make sure you have your entrance fees on hand!
Don’t forget your cameras!
*All the amazing pics are by Rahim Kara at Megapixel Productions. Some are mine, but his rock!