10-Mar-2006 -- Hakuna Matata!
Continued from 2S 36E.
With an early start to avoid the rush hour, three couples (my brother, our spouses, his neighbors) headed southeast on Highway A109 (the Nairobi – Mombasa road) for a three-day weekend. After considering visits to Amboseli National Park and Tsavo East National Park, we had settled on renting three bandas on the shore of Lake Jipe in Tsavo West National Park. Following a leisurely three-hour drive, we arrived at the Mtito Andei gate.
Within the park, road intersections are numbered, with signs and directional arrows mounted on a stone base. We passed numbers 1, 2, 2A, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 on the way to a lunch stop at Mzima Springs. Here water gushes forth to create a wonderful little oasis in the middle of what is generally a rather harsh landscape. At the lower pool over two dozen hippos bathed quietly in the clear water. In the upper pool, steps into a submerged tank led to an underwater viewing window where an occasional hippo and many fish swam past. A crocodile sunned himself on the far shore, as numerous vervet monkeys scampered along the walkways.
In our obsession with Kenya's unvisited Confluences, we had largely ignored those previously documented. However, when the lunchtime conversation turned to our exciting adventures three days earlier seeking the Shompole confluence, it led to a full explanation for the neighbors of the Degree Confluence Project. We pulled out the GPS for a demonstration, and in so doing discovered 3S 38E was less than 3 km away! We convinced the four Kenya residents this was too perfect an opportunity for a first confluence visit for them to pass up.
From Intersection 10 we proceeded to 11A, 30, and then at Intersection 36, we took the left fork clockwise around to within 70 meters of the point. Already technically within the legal visit distance, and only two days removed from his cast for a broken ankle, Brother Bob wisely chose to remain with the Land Cruiser. Along the way from Mzima Springs, we saw giraffe, zebra, and two good size buffalo, so we purposely kept up a loud conversation on the short walk through The Bush. The weather was gorgeous, and we had a great visit. When our party of six is added to the six members of the Dornseifer group who visited this point in August 2002, 3S 38E easily becomes the most visited confluence in Kenya! (This visit also makes my husband's fourth confluence within a national park.)
Even though recent rains had enabled big game such as elephant to disperse from their former groupings at waterholes, and thus become harder to locate, we did have great birding at Lake Jipe, and at night were treated to hippos grazing within four meters of our beds. All in all, a great trip. We have tales of being almost stuck in the mud on a road you couldn't see outside the park gate as dark was falling, and a simultaneous blowout and puncture of the left rear and spare tires, but describing these adventures will have to wait for a later time...
Continued at 1S 38E.