Following our jaunt to the coast which now seems like it was an age ago, Mr Nomad had been toiling away and an escape for a weekend was sought. Whilst we always crave adventure and seem to constantly have itchy feet, we decided to go to a place we had never been to previously which offered a slower pace, a chance to unwind but would not take us too far away from home.
So we set off to a ranch called Suyian Soul which is to be found in the middle of nowhere where there seemed to be no real signs of civilisation for miles and miles. This ranch is around 44,000 acres in size in north west Laikipia and the epic Ewaso Narok river runs through the land, forming the property’s eastern boundary. The roads reaching Suyian were challenging, having been ravaged by the recent rain fall and the tarmac swiftly ran out only around 15 kilometres from home. It took us approximately 3 1/2 hours to reach our destination deep in the African bush, attempting to navigate our way from a hand drawn sketch.
The landscape that we travelled through was typically Kenyan made up of thick bush in places, and rolling plains in other places, frequented by a rich diversity of wild life, plant life and bird life, with many pastoralists to be witnessed floating through with their cattle, sheep and goats.
There were many impala, gazelle, zebra, warthog and giraffe to be seen on the way and as we got closer to the ranch itself, we were lucky enough to interrupt a herd of elephants who hurried past us, protecting their young, rushing away from us as if startled by our very presence. These elephants were most definitely not as habituated to our vehicle as perhaps other elephants were, such as those found at Ol Pejeta or the bigger conservancies.
They seemed much more timid and nervous and we gave them a wide berth so as not to upset them any further. It is always a privilege to see such creatures but to know that they are truly wild and simply not used to human presence is just as pleasurable, so we are always anxious not to disturb them in their natural habitat. After all, this is their home and we are intruders on their land.
We were delighted to see so much wild life before we had even reached Suyian so by the time we arrived, we were ready to relax and settle into our surroundings. The landscape was stunning, with views of the ever pervading Mount Kenya and our accommodation was to be found on the outskirts of a natural salt lick under a dramatic rocky escarpment.
Suyian Soul prides itself on being environmentally friendly and we were amazed to find that our bed for the next 2 nights was in a thatched cottage or banda with open walls. This was to be a surreal experience, where the entire camp was completely natural and the animals free to roam amongst us. At one point over the mini break, we were in fact, dive bombed by bats while still sitting in the room. We felt a little closer to nature than we had before!
The cottages had been built by locally sourced materials and the furniture was made from old cedar fence posts which had previously littered the ranch.
The lighting and electricity was entirely solar powered and so as to preserve water, the showers were ‘safari’ showers, which also means that the shower was outside, out in the open and we could cleanse ourselves under the stars. The toilet was a long drop but the presence of an additional pipe took away any odour so there was little offence caused by these organic bush loo’s. It was fabulous to be somewhere so rustic, a million miles away from the trappings of a westernised first world. This was exactly what Mr Nomad and I had sought – solace from the rat race!
After our arrival and introduction to our new albeit temporary home, and as we had already had an epic game drive while trying to find our way to Suyian, we decided to take an afternoon stroll to acquaint ourselves with our new surroundings. We were accompanied by a guide called Francis and our very own Samburu ‘spotter,’ Joseph armed only with a makeshift axe, to ward off any untoward attention. Whilst throughout the duration of the weekend we did not see any big cats, or larger predators, we heard hyena baying close to our quarters, and on the drive back to camp following the sundowners, we saw the outline of a lumbering striped hyena; a rare sight but not a creature that I wanted close to me.
We sauntered around the salt lick and caught sight of impala who mixed happily with a couple of Grevy’s zebra. This was a lovely walk out with no noise pollution, just able to get lost in our thoughts and take in the sights and sounds of the bush.
At dinner, we were amazed to see the most beautiful Genet cat grace us with its presence, its magnificent fur glistening in the dimming light. The staff explained that this place was so peaceful and tranquil that the wild life ventured into the mess building most nights to join any guests. The Genet cat lapped up a saucer of milk and then went on its merry way. Not long after the appearance of the Genet, a white tailed mongoose snuck in, curiously foraging around for any left over morsels.
We had been lucky enough to take a jaunt out into the ranch itself, travelling along deserted and barely there tracks, to take the first meal of the day on the vast plains where the land was as flat as a pancake and rolled on as far as the eyes could see.
We tucked into a hearty breakfast whilst watched avidly by a handful of zebra.
Later in the day, as the hot temperature cooled, we slowly drove around the ranch along side the mighty river in the hope of seeing hippo but they eluded us on this occasion. We did spot other wild life such as Grevy’s zebra, giraffe, elephants, impala so we were in no way disappointed. We could never be disappointed in such a glorious place.
Notwithstanding this, the landscape was epic, mountainous and rocky, and we snaked our way along the banks of the powerful river, carefully taking our car along tracks where the grass was so high, we couldn’t see the actual road. After crawling our way along, we stopped momentarily to take in some roaring water falls. It was a breath taking sight and had the heat of the day not subsided, there was a temptation to get in the cooling water, particularly as there was a definite absence of hippo.
We continued on, eventually alighting the car to scramble up onto some rocks to enjoy sundowners and the vista was simply awe inspiring. It was a bit of a hike up the rugged mountainous rocky crag but the view was worth the exertion.
Back at camp, we were delighted to see that crumbs and fruit were put out on a table and as had happened the previous evening, furry and feathery creatures came to join us. A pesky squirrel scampered up onto the table and it was joined by numerous birds, namely a red-billed hornbill, a few Goaway birds and other smaller birds who managed to grab the odd titbit when not being harangued by the larger birds. Mr Nomad and I were in our element, being surrounded by so much wild life and just as captivating was the presence of Dik Dik.
This tiny species of antelope was usually timid and flighty but at Suyian, they were bold and cheeky and frequented the camp as much as the birds and the other furry creatures. They were even brazen enough to approach us when we were lounging on the giant sofas in our room, almost brave enough to wander in to see us.
Suyian was clearly not visited by many other humans and we were enchanted by the scenery, including the salt lick at the camp which attracted the wild life as if it were a Disney film all of which could be viewed from our bed (if we had chosen to lay there for any length of time that is).
We had been lucky enough to see towering giraffes at the salt lick which was only metres from where we had been sitting, although they had fled when Mr Nomad had clumsily tripped through the bushes when we tried to get just a bit closer to them.
It was wonderful being in such a remote place but completely immersed in nature, with a beautiful back drop and the warmth offered towards us by the staff at Suyian made sure that there were no feelings of isolation. The location is well known for being a yoga and a holistic retreat and we certainly felt at peace, our soul cleansed of the rigours of life.
It had been an incredibly relaxing weekend, if indeed too brief, but the real world was calling us back to reality.