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Digital Subscriptions > Travel Africa > January-March 2020 (89) > THE GREAT WALK OF FREEDOM


100 miles. 10 days. 1 park. With a guide who’s worked there for 40 years. Is this the ultimate way to explore a park and truly get in tune with nature?

Our Samburu tracker had seen the three bull elephants nearly a mile away, high up near the top of the Yatta Escarpment as they were beginning their descent down through thick vegetation towards the Galana River. It was a remarkable piece of spotting that even Iain Allan, the doyen of Kenyan walking guides, admitted he would not have made with the naked eye, for the elephants blended seamlessly. Knowing the decades-old trail they would follow to the river, he led us to within 25 yards of where they would cross our route and motioned for us to crouch low and make no sound. Soon after, the three bulls sauntered noiselessly past us, completely unaware of our presence, for the wind was blowing our scent back behind us. The oldest, whom Iain put in his mid-thirties, had massive tusks that almost touched the ground. “Ninety-pounders”, he estimated afterwards.

All fifteen of us – nine walkers along with Iain and his five-man Samburu team – watched transfixed. It was one of those magical bush moments, a real hair-tingler. We were the only people for miles, for the northern sector of Tsavo East National Park is accessible only with special permission from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). Iain receives that for his walks and specially-selected camps on the Galana River. Nobody knows Tsavo better than Iain, an honorary warden of the park. It would be an exaggeration to say he knows every inch of it, for it is just too vast at 22,812 square kilometres, making it the second biggest national park in Africa and 10 per cent larger than Israel.

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About Travel Africa

Namibia's winning formula - why you should make it top of your travel plans for 2020 • Walking across Tsavo • Where to stay in Ngorongoro • On foot in the Okavango • South Africa's best private game reserves • The anatomy of a bush camp... and much more!