A CLOSE encounter with a buffalo, taking medication that can cause insomina and halucinations and having someone use a machete to clear a path for you doesn’t sound like your average kind of week but it’s one that Berwickshire RDA member Anthea Drysdale recently experienced and thoroughly enjoyed.
Anthea journeyed to Kenya in the middle of last month for a six day charity trek through the famous Rift Valley as one of a 23 strong party all raising money for the same cause- their RDA groups.
And speaking to ‘The Berwickshire News’ a week after returning home, Anthea said even though she had never met any of her fellow trekkers before she travelled to Africa, the times she shared with them would be something that stayed with her for the rest of her life.
“It was quite simply amazing; I met some wonderful people and had a wonderful experience,” she enthused.
“I didn’t have any preconceptions about what it would be like or the people I’d be trekking with but I couldn’t have asked for a better group. Our leader Miriam remarked that we were the nicest group she’d ever taken charge of.”
“The group ranged in age from 25-75 and some people were fitter than others. For some the challenge wasn’t so much the walking itself but the intense environment and being in such proximity to others but everyone quickly became very trusting.”
The very mention of Kenya conjures up images of many species of animal roaming freely, amazing sunsets and sunrises and Anthea said being so close to nature was both surreal and overwhelming.
“Each day was so different,” she continued.
“On the first day we went to a 10,000 square kilometre game park which although an amazing place where we got to see amongst gazelle, waterhogs, monkeys and wildebeest to name just a few, was a bit strange in the fact that all of the animals had been purposely put there.
“The park has been used for films such as ‘Out of Africa’ so the animals aren’t strictly in their natural habitat. It was still amazing for us though; unlike many people who do safaris now we didn’t stay in a nice hotel or get taken around in land rovers we were as close as being across the other side of Berwick high street to the animals.”
Being in such close proximity to wildlife we only get to see in zoos in this country wasn’t always such a pleasant experience.
“I don’t think we all fully appreciated that we were in fact in danger quite a lot of the time.
“Some buffalo got a little too close for comfort at one point.
“A storm was brewing so we went up into the trees but so did the buffalo. I was walking close to the guide and he noted there were some fresh tracks in the ground.
“He instructed us all to be quiet and continue walking, look confident and make ourselves look big. Sure enough this worked as when the buffalo saw us they just left us alone.”
In terms of the walking itself, Anthea said that rather ironically it was the final day, anticipated to be a gentle day’s walking to end the trek, which proved to be the most difficult.
“The paths we have to go through on the last day were extremely difficult to negotiate,” she explained.
“We had to go up a gorge and were completely cut off from any form of communication.
“It was quite un-nerving and two of the guides had to use machetes to clear the way. I think we were all glad to make it out of there!
“We were looked after so well the whole time. The tents we shared were very small but fortunately I managed to sleep like a log; I think a few of the others were quite jealous.
“We had to take malaria pills which can cause insomina and some people really suffered with that,”
Understandably after having such an amazing time in Kenya, Anthea is keen to share her enthusiasm with everyone she meets and she has decided thay to raise even more money for the RDA- she is currently on £1,800- she will make herself available for talks to local groups in return for a donation.
Anyone wanting to book Anthea or make a contribution to her fundraising should email firstname.lastname@example.org