It is late March and the first surprise after leaving Diani, with its white sandy beaches and blue warm water on Kenya’s South Coast, was the mist covered peaks of Shimba Hills.
Shimba Hills National Park is famous for being the only home in Kenya for the Sable antelope, which are on the decline with as few as 50 from a high of 300 in the late 1950s. The park also has elephants and other big game and is listed as one of the top 25 biodiversity hotspots in the world for plant life.
But time is not on our side so we hasten to Tsavo West due to the 7pm curfew in Kenya.
We’re the first visitors to enter through the Tsavo Gate by Tsavo River. A stunning scarlet-chested sunbird has us enthralled as we wash our hands before driving in. Under a cloud-filled sky, the rocky crags give way to the wide stretch of the Ngulia escarpment, which is home to tens of thousands of southward-bound migrating birds from Eurasia flying over the escarpment.
We drive via the Roaring Rocks not far from the Rhodesia bridge built during the First World War over Tsavo River. It gets less dense and the grass plains open to the lava flow of Shetani from the Chyulu hills. In the morning, Kilimanjaro makes its appearance with its snow cap, which hasn’t been seen in decades. We make it to Nairobi just as the lockdown is announced on March 24.