I met this leopard on my first day on Safari in the Samburu National Reserve. I began my trip to Kenya in Nairobi- visiting the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Tsavo East. The trust cares for orphaned baby elephants– hand feeding them bottled milk and walking them in a herd with keepers who share sleeping accommodations with each elephant…eventually releasing the babies out into the wild when they are ready.
From Nairobi, I flew to Samburu and stayed at the Samburu Serena Lodge– a rugged haven where your trips to the game reserve are handled ahead of time. This leopard walked within inches of our open-top Landcruiser. In the moment, I was completely unaware of the danger. Instead- I was drawn entirely by the beauty of this animal– watching him stroll by with such grace and power, then climb up this tree and rest.
One of the highlights of my Kenya stay was a second trip to the Game Reserve where I stumbled upon a ceremony for Samburu Warrior adolsecents. They danced in an almost hypnotic state for hours- some collapsing in front of me. It was a “coming out” ceremony of sorts for these boys who were celebrating a graduation into “Senior Warrior” status. The elders celebrated as well, sitting under a nearby tree, eating raw meat and drinking calves’ blood — staples in the diet of these nomadic men who are also herders.
A Kenyan safari is a magical experience and I recommend visiting Tsavo, Samburu and The famous Masai Mara. I was also unexpectedly invited to visit Galdessa Lodge by the Italian owner of Alfajiri Villas— in Diani Beach (near Mombasa). Alfajiri enjoyed a moment of fame when the international media found out that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt vacationed there before their affair became public. The owner allowed me to film a story on his property- then whisked me away on a 4- hour drive to Galdessa. It is absolute luxury. The private, semi-tented, thatched-roof bungalows make you feel like you are actually in the middle of the Bush. I woke up one morning to the sound of a Rhino grazing just outside my room and watched a herd of elephants cross the nearby river. This area has the largest elephant population in Kenya and the Masai Warriors on-site can sense when there are animals in the vicinity. The Masai provide security on location–walking guests to and from their suites during the evening.
I can’t wait for my next safari.