Our fingers are crossed that the Long Rains have begun.
Today we went deep into the Aberdare National Park. It was terribly dry. The November short rains failed. We aren’t certain yet if the long rains will, too.
In this part of East Africa there are normally two rainy seasons: the short rains begin by mid-November and continue through the end of the year. This year they lasted for only about a week to ten days. The long rains should begin, now, and continue through May.
We entered the Aberdare National Park at the Nyeri gate through the Moi Tea Estate area. The tea looks good; there’s been decent rain, here. The tea workers are back, after the horrible events of December, 2007, that sent them running away in fear.
We had a wonderful game drive. The rains have begun in earnest, but so far only in the very narrow strip of the path of our game drive, a path that transects the Aberdare Mountains diagonally from Nyeri towards Nakuru. It was beautiful and green and fresh smelling. We encountered very happy and very clean buffalo, healthy bushbuck and several big families of elephant.
When we arrived at the end of the day at The Ark, there were 20 elephant around the waterhole, which was refilling quickly. Later we would see giant forest hog, lots of bushbuck, buffalo and hyaena. According to The Ark log, rhino was a regular visitor throughout the week of March 9.
But because the short rains last November/December had failed, many of the fig trees and other fruiting trees had little to harvest. The hornbills population is way down as a result, and turacos, too, have suffered. Colobus numbers seem reduced. Everything depends, now, on whether this season will develop as hoped.
The economy has hit this industry hard. There were only 9 of us at The Ark on Saturday, March 14. We had a super time! Great wildlife viewing and superb service from the staff. But as selfish as I might wish to be, one wonders what will become of Kenyan tourism if business doesn’t improve quickly.