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African Safari in Shimba Hills

I love Africa and I love to see wild animals, but there's nothing quite so dull as driving around all afternoon in the heat, in the company of people who seem to have lost the plot!.We had taken a last minute holiday to Mombasa in Kenya and after a week or so, decided to drag ourselves away from the pool and the beach to venture into the wild.The safari minibus duly picked us up at the appointed hour for our afternoon safari.

As is the way of these things, we had to go to three other hotels to pick up the rest of the passengers. It turned out, we had already met, or should I say, seen, one of these when we arrived at the airport.He was the archetypal British tourist in Africa, dressed in khaki shorts, bush shirt and hat, proclaiming at the top of his voice "It's hot here, isn't it?".

Well what does he expect on the Equator in October?.He climbed on board the minibus, festooned with cameras with telephoto lenses and the biggest pair of binoculars you've ever seen, and proceeded to regale us all with tales of the two weeks he'd just spent on safari further north. Yes, this madman had already spent a full fourteen days bouncing around in a safari bus and now he was spending a further afternoon in an effort to spot yet more game - well you can't criticise his enthusiasm, just his dress sense perhaps.Off we went to the Shimba Hills National Reserve, 74 miles south of Mombasa.

The Reserve reputedly is home to leopards, elephants, giraffes, zebras, antelopes, ostriches, lions (occasionally), warthogs, monkeys and the indigenous Sable antelopes.Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of our friend with the huge binoculars, who kept shouting to the driver to stop because he'd seen elephant (stationary rocks), lion (stationary patch of grass) or giraffe (stationary tree), we only saw buffalo and warthogs. Never mind, we were kept amused by the, somewhat inaccurate, commentary.The warthogs were rather interesting, running around with their tails straight up in the air.

They live in family groups, like humans, a male, a female and youngsters, whom they will protect ferociously against predators, using their curled tusks of up to 12 inches in length. They live in burrows in the ground and either of the adults will remain outside the burrow until the rest of the family are safe. They will then retreat backwards so that they can spring to the attack if necessary.

That was the total of our afternoon's game viewing and as we bounced towards the exit of the Reserve, over the ruts in the red earth, I fell asleep.

Michael Russell
Your Independent guide to African Safaris

By: Michael Russell

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