By Actress Rula Lenska
I have been lucky in my life to travel far and wide…..India, Nepal, safari on elephant back, Tibet on a pilgrimage, deepest China writing for a magazine, Peru, the amazing Amazon, the Galápagos Islands, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and New Zealand, white water rafting, hot air ballooning and many other exciting, intrepid and extraordinary adventures. So it was a huge privilege to be invited as the first guests at Saruni Rhino…… I can truthfully say, that the rhino tracking experience at Saruni Rhino in Samburu, Northern Kenya was the most exciting and adrenaline-coursing experience I have ever had.
The small camp is exquisite. Hidden perfectly in the palms using natural materials, it blends in unobtrusively with nature. The staff mostly dressed in colourful Samburu traditional costume were enchanting warm and welcoming. The accommodation was comfortable and cosy with views over the ‘lugga’ (dry river bed). And within easy viewing distance of the small water hole visited by elephants both nights we were there.
The evening meals served by strategically-hung hurricane lamps on the dry river bed were delightful. And I don’t think I have ever slept so well in the bush as here. The drives to the rhino sanctuary – though bone rattling – were expertly driven and we saw many animals to and from the sanctuary gates as well as colourful locals. Our guides and trackers under the expert tuition of Pietro Luraschi (of Asilia) were truly wonderful; knowledgeable and caring.
Once the tracker had located the whereabouts of the rhino who have had chips inserted into their horns, the journey on foot through quite difficult terrain was spell binding. We were very well schooled in bush discipline; hand signals and talking to a minimum etc and total trust in the boys with Pietro still taking the helm. On the first day we had excellent sightings though fairly distant. But there is something about being on foot in the domain of these huge powerful prehistoric beasts that lends an added thrill to the walk itself.
On the second morning came the adventure of a life time. We had been told there were 4 maybe 5 rhinos in our vicinity, therefore progress was extra careful and we hung carefully onto every sign and direction given to us by the trackers. Though rhinos have very poor eyesight they make up for it with super excellent hearing and smell and the guides constantly made certain by dropping very fine powder to make sure we were down wind of them. Suddenly we were motioned to move super quick behind a large fallen tree intertwined with huge thorny bushes. The next thing we saw was this thundering rhino at full speed hurtling towards us, literally yards away, huffing and puffing like a steam train.
Pietro and the boys started yelling and throwing stones and at the last moment the rhino veered off to the left away from us. When we all got our breath back and my sister had recovered from uncontrollable giggles, we were assured he was actually trying to get at another rhino below us, but we were in his way… Oh boy, it was indescribably heart-poundingly wonderful. And once again for me it reiterated how small and puny we humans are in the land of the animals…an unforgettable adventure. Pietro and the boys were wonderful and it was an honour to have had the experience of being so close to these extraordinary threatened beasts. If you are of an intrepid adventurous nature, I cannot recommend Saruni Rhino more.. It is an exclusive experience and never to be forgotten…
THANK YOU Saruni Rhino… Rula Lenska
PS. While you are there don’t miss The Singing Wells… another extraordinary and humbling experience. Hundreds of cattle, camels, goats and donkeys being watered at this string of underground-connected water wells accompanied by rhythmic chanting perfectly tuned in with the bells hanging round the animals necks. Truly special.