Raymond Glover’s Diary
Tidal Forests of Kenya

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July 31, 2009: Our day off

Sheldrick falls After the early starts and hard work of the last six days, today was our day off. We had decided earlier in the week to make a group visit to the Shimba Hills National Reserve. We set off at 6 am for the one-hour drive to the reserve. After lots of form filling by the driver at the entrance, we entered -- although without the guide we had intended to hire -- as, due to low tourist numbers many of the guides are not working. Despite this, within a short time we had or first sighting of the day, three elephants. We also saw warthogs as they crossed the road in front of us. There were colobus monkeys high in the trees (Colobus monkeys do not have opposable thumbs like other primates). We also had a brief glimpse of some antelope before they scurried deeper into the reserve. We saw several groups of buffalo, one of which was sat on the track so we got a good close look as we waited for it to move. Further into the reserve there is a waterfall called Sheldrick Falls. It is a 2.5km walk through the bush forest. You can only visit the falls if you are accompanied by an armed park ranger and are physically and mentally fit (as stated on a sign at the start of the walk). We were joined by several other groups on the walk. On the way to the falls the ranger pointed out some leopard footprints on the path from earlier that day, and there were signs of elephants that we were careful not to step in! At the falls it was possible to walk behind the falls or as a lot of the school group did splash aroundPark ranger  underneath them. The climb back up the path was tough in the heat, but it was well worth the walk. As we continued our drive in the reserve the number of sightings diminished as the animals rested from the heat of the day. We did manage to spot a giraffe grazing on the tree tops. From the resort we drove down to Diani beach, a well known holiday area. We relaxed on the beach with the many holiday makers from the hotels along it. There were several Maasai tribesmen selling trinkets and other people trying to make a living through some quite dubious means. As we relaxed with a cool drink we introduced our Kenyan teammates from Gazi to the delights of pizza, which created some amusement. We returned to Gazi for dinner and had fun chatting about the day's activities. After washing up we paid a visit to the cinema in Gazi. It was not what you would imagine, no big screen surround theatre with comfy seats, but a small hut with wooden benches and a TV and a video/DVD player. It is a popular meeting place in the village and shows a variety of African films. As we entered, the owner wanted to move the people in the front so we could have the best view of the film, but we insisted we would be fine in the spare places. A film was already in progress, but within minutes this was stopped, and changed to a film called "My Sin" with English subtitles. We later found out it was one of their favourite movies. I will spare you the details of the film, but there were some great moments when our reactions to the film sparked some amusement among the regulars. After a long but very nice day it was time to retire to my mosquito net.

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