Why we love families at Laikipia Wilderness by Fynn Carey, aged 10, (and his mum)
I love it when we have kids to stay on safari. There are so many fun things to do in the bush and it’s boring doing them on your own! So when we have guests to stay with kids with me at Laikipia Wilderness it’s really exciting. There are lots of animals like lions and elephants but kids mostly get excited to do fun stuff like looking for scorpions with our special scorpion torch that makes them glow in the dark. We always have to have grown-ups with us and you have to be really careful! We are not allowed to pick up scorpions ourselves in case you get stung. My dad got stung once and went crazy it was so sore. We had to stick his hand in an ice-bucket and feed him whisky and a lot of pills. So we are extra careful!
We have this really cool rope swing down on the river and we take people there to swing into the river. Joseph climbed up the highest tree with the rope to hang it on a branch. It is so high, but he’s used to it as he is a Samburu honey collector. When he sees bees he goes mad. He follows them to their hive and gets the honey out. He doesn’t even mind getting stung. I have my own bee hives now but I have a bee suit and we bought one for Santeria who is the guy who helps me. He smokes the bees out with burning grass and sticks.
Fly-camping is really fun. The best place we go is this valley where there are a lot of owls and leopards. The campsite is quite open with a small dry river below and a thick bush full of animals. We cook beef fillet on the fire (sometimes I tell people it’s a puff-adder as it looks like a fat snake) and then we sleep on bedrolls around the fire. You have to have a rifle with you in case something comes close in the night and we park the car next to us and put chairs around us to make a barrier. We take our dogs with us and they sleep on the bedrolls. Some people sleep in see through tents, you can see the stars through them. It’s really exciting but it’s pretty safe. You hear hyenas and lions at night, and sometimes a buffalo making a grunting noise. That is an alarm call, like when they have seen something like a lion or a leopard.
If you are lucky you might see a snake on safari. If it’s a harmless snake like a spotted bush snake or a striped sand snake, we can catch it and you can touch it. If you are really brave you can hold it.
We go rafting in the river when it has rained and it is high enough. Sometimes you go past animals but we always get out before you reach a hippo pool. You can also go tubing in the river. Sometimes Boris (the dog) comes in the raft with us. He is huge, he weighs 40 kg and loves going down rapids!
This is my house. It’s made of chicken wire and mud and has a tin roof. It’s really noisy when it rains. We have funny pets at the camp like the vulturine guinea fowls. They got so tame they would come in the house and watch TV or in the kitchen and drive Godfrey (the cook) mad. They went wild when they met a wild flock and made friends with them slowly.
This is our pet owl. He was a greyish eagle owl whose nest got raided and we found him in a dry river bed. He was really tame and used to sit in people’s bathrooms. He even got in the shower with one of the guests and showered next to her, that was so funny. He used to jump on the computer and delete everything and play with the keys! He slowly went back to the wild and started catching his own prey until one day he was gone. So it’s sad when they leave but you are happy that they have gone back to the wild successfully.
Cowie is our pet calf. We rescued him during the drought this year. He was so thin he couldn’t walk and keep up with his herd so he was left behind and wandered into the camp. We fed him grass and rice and he is really fat now and so tame you can climb on his back.
My brother and I both love art. My mum does too, and her sister is a professional artist. Rafe and I like painting flowers, hills, and mostly birds. It helps you learn about birds if you paint them as you remember the colour of all their different feathers.
This is a drawing of king fishers by Rafe.
This is my older brother Tristan. We get into trouble for raiding the storeroom and eating things in the fridge that are meant for the guests. My mum goes mad and so does Godfrey the chef. Mum says it won’t be long before we are raiding the booze and then we will be in real trouble.
I love wild dogs. They aren’t scary and you can get really close to them, once one of them sniffed my foot. Recently a lot of them died as they got a disease called canine distemper but some packs have been seen around not far from us and they like our area because of the thick bush. It’s the best place to hunt dik-diks so we think a new pack will form and come and live in our area again soon. Their puppies are so cute.
Fishing is really fun and we go fishing with lots of kids who come and stay at the camp. Sometimes you catch tilapia which are really tasty but mostly it’s catfish.
This is Stephen, our Samburu guide. He is really kind and fun and knows lots about the bush.
We learn about tracks, this is a fresh lion track. It has three pads at the back, and dogs have two, like hyenas. You can see if a track is fresh as the edges are sharp and nothing has gone over the top of it.
Photography is really cool and lots of kids enjoy taking pictures of animals even if they haven’t ever done it before. Rafe and I take a lot of bird photos for our art so then we can copy them.
We have family tents so kids can share with their parents. Their parents go in the double tent and then there is a smaller tent attached to the side of that tent with two beds in it. A third bed can be put in the double tent for families with three kids. They all share one bathroom, but that’s pretty big – you can swing a leopard in them.
We have early dinner for younger kids in the car. So when the guests go for an evening game drive, they can take sundowners and a takeaway kids’ supper in Tupperware boxes like chicken strips and chips and raw vegetables. Or sausages and rolls and vegetables. Or pasta, whatever they like really. Then if the small kids fall asleep in the car on the way home they can be carried straight to bed. We also have people who can stay near their tents whilst the grown-ups are having dinner so if they wake up they can call their parents. But normally they sleep really well as we are so busy during the day and there is so much to do!
If you are interested in a family safari holiday to Africa get in touch and we will suggest ideas and itinerary options for all types of children and age ranges.