PART 3: BEING A TRAVEL CONSULTANT: FIRST TIME AS A DRIVER GUIDE - I GOT LOST IN THE MARA FOR 7 HOURS WITHOUT GUESTS KNOWING. (Cont'd)

April 29, 2020
PART 3: BEING A TRAVEL CONSULTANT: FIRST TIME AS A DRIVER GUIDE - I GOT LOST IN THE MARA FOR 7 HOURS WITHOUT GUESTS KNOWING. (Cont'd)
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“Boss where are you going?” “Interpids Camp..” I said and explained to him that am new even my co driver was also new. He was a good man and directed me to turn back and follow number 24 the way we came to the end. He cautioned us that we may be late and we needed to try and go faster.

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The guests were happy to see many Elands and Ostritches on our way back and I tried to be more lively as I realized I was getting scared and silent at the same time. I came to a small bridge and decided to take a left to avoid a bad section of the road. I drove on for like 30 minutes until I realized I was lost again. The roads seemed the same everywhere. The time was moving fast. Shosho started noticing I was disturbed and silent… I drove on round a bush only to see another bush ahead… I came to a big river crossing (Kivuko ya balloon) and thank God it was not passable. I turned back and drove on a road I didn’t know where it was going… am now at a place called Vichaka za round heading towards fig tree lodge. This is like you are at Haille Sellasie roundabout heading towards valley road when you are supposed to go to westlands... Time was 4.30pm and the weather was turning dull and cloudy. Fear was all over me. I felt like going for a short call but nothing was coming. I drove on.

There was a big river depression ahead; I tried to work may way around it hoping to see a bridge or a road to cross when suddenly we came face to face with a family of 5 cheetahs laying in open grass! What a luck! The 5 Musketeers! We took 10 minutes watching them before I realized we had no time. I informed the guest that’s was what I was looking for and they were really impressed by my abilities.

“Wow! How are you able to do this?!!” They asked.

“How do you know your direction around? I can’t even tell how we came!”

 “WOW!”

ME: “You just get used to it… we follow the sun and the hills as land marks…”

Time: 6pm

It started to get dull and dark. I was so shaken and afraid of what will happen. I was driving fast sometimes ignoring them when I hit a bump and they complain. I went round and round the bushes again… I was feeling a bad headache… I was thirsty… hungry… I was feeling like opening my google map for help… I finally saw a town in a distance and I knew that was Talek center. I drove on all road leading towards the center at some point cutting shortcuts to join the roads. I got to the gate at 6.30pm and I was so relieved; little did I know that the lodge I was heading was also quite a distance from here…

I befriended one of the guards at the gate and took him aside as the guests used the washrooms. He gave me the directions and I zoomed off in no minutes… The second Van and all Kenyans exept ‘the bride’ alighted at a hotel at Talek shopping centre and I was to take the VIPs to Interpids lodge… I was alone now with only the 4 guests. We drove and drove through valleys and open grasslands. Elephants and Buffalos scattered all over… Lions in a distance… It was now getting dark and drizzling. I was so afraid of everything and I was sweating profusely… I drove on.

Your first time driving in the Mara the distances will seem so far and the roads will be so confusing as some are just paths overgrown with grass…

Time 7pm:

I could no longer see far on the road and I wasn’t sure where I was going.

“Benard, how far are we?” – One of the guests asked as we were now all frightened.

I ignored… I drove on… Silence…

Descending a steep muddy valley my car swerved badly and slipped in a ditch. I tried forward, backwards, low gear, high gear… we were stuck.

The guests were silent and stiff scared. I was scared the most. We couldn’t get out of the van since we didn’t know which animal was there. There was no signal and phones were useless. I tried and tried… I tried and tried again in Vain… I switched off the car and took my phone hoping it will have internet and maybe call someone.

“So what will we do now Bernard?!”

Nothing was on sight and it was getting darker… Silence… a hyena laugh could be heard a distance away… Zebras Neigh nearby… Flies swarming on the headlights…


I was not getting any signal and I decided to try raving through the mud. After 1 million tries with the tyres smelling burnt, we were still not able to get off the ditch and I was now very tired. All the ideas of the guest had failed and I was also now an empty head.

“So now what happens?”

What do they expect me to say? How should I know what will happen? Am not Houdini!! We are in this together!

“Is this the right way Bernard?”

“Yes it is… it’s only that the roads are so bad coz of the rains...”

9pm.

The rain subsided and I decided to try more times… I gave up. I informed the guests that since the lodge wes expecting us, they should send somebody looking for us and we should stay calm and relaxed until helps come: the reality was, if nobody doesn’t show up, we will have to spend the night there on an empty stomach. The shock on their faces illuminated in the dark. The Kenyan lady was really mad at me for no reason and his fiancée was visibly shaking… but there was nothing much I could do, was there?

I switched off the van, put on the hazard light, took out my Masai Shuka, leaned back the car seat and called it a night. The guests also covered themselves on their seats and we were all silent… The Kenya lady kept on fumbling and fidgeting on her phone in desperation and anger…

 Crickets and frogs sung the lullaby.

10pm.

“Bernard is that a vehicle coming!?” I was awakened by the guests pointing towards the light.