Iced mangoes in the desert

[words by Mark Eveleigh / photograph © Narina Exelby]

Paradise just got better.

I’m sitting on the Land Cruiser roof, watching elephant and zebra jostling at a waterhole and I’ve just remembered that the fresh mangoes we bought in Voi market yesterday must be chilled to perfection by now.

Their icy juiciness is seriously messy here, among the swirling red dust of Tsavo National Park. I’ll probably end up just as red-stained as the two-month-old baby elephant over there under the shade of his mother’s belly. Tsavo is famous for great herds of elephants – the largest population in Kenya – that are perpetually stained red from their day-glo laterite dust-baths.

We’re coming to the end of the dry season here and it’s a good time for wildlife spotting. Few animals (whether predator or prey) can risk drifting too far from the shrinking waterholes. Rippled sand spreads outwards all around us, speckled only by a few stunted acacias. At first glance this is a desiccated desert wasteland. But when unaccustomed eyes adjust to the aridity you can see that there is wildlife all around. There are zebra – here often tiger-striped in black and orange – and long-necked gerenuk antelope wherever the trees have a hint of greenery.

Twenty minutes ago Katie-P, our old Toyota jalopy, was rattling alongside the little luggah (dry ravine) that in wetter times actually merits the name of Voi River. On the far bank, at a single glance, we can see elephant, impala, hartebeest, ostrich, giraffe, waterbuck and warthog.

We have several more hours of driving before we can pitch camp for the night and break out the sundown G&Ts. We have a lot of ground to cover but I’m just happy to be in paradise…and to realize that there are still two more iced mangoes in the fridge for tomorrow.

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