Shaking and rattling along the long road of “nothingness” in the searing heat together with Marius Coetzee (Oryx Photography) and 4 strangers… to a place called Lodwar, then onwards to Lake Turkana, Northern Kenya…. looking out of our open air, 4×4 Mercedes truck, drinking about my tenth bottle of water, I wondered what on earth had possessed me to make this decision……
As the journey continued, a complete feeling of peace, calm and relaxation started seeping over me …. there was nothing but dry, hot, dusty ground with thorn bushes dotted here and there, coupled with a long, never-ending road ahead to our camp…..on the shores of Lake Turkana.
There was a challenge on this adventure …. a dune lay between us and our camp. The dune soon became our friend after a couple of hikes with backpacks bulging with cameras, in 40 degrees celsius ….sometimes we drew off each others humour other times silence as we navigated as quickly as possible to hide in the vehicle or escape to our tents. The dark mornings were also interesting as all the sleepy heads trailed up this wall of sand for ‘wheels up’ before dawn….some of the forerunners getting us lost in the Palm Grove until a bright spark decided to draw arrows ‘survivor’ style and all humour was regained. What a magnificent group of people to share this adventure with….
Why I had chosen this trip, in particular, was for the camels. Not knowing much about the area other than having been to the Omo Valley, Ethiopia which is a little further north and I was keen to meet the Turkana tribe. They are direct descendants of the Nyagatom tribe in Ethiopia and the Omo River feeds Lake Turkana. The Turkana people are very friendly, welcoming and always colourfully dressed. The women wear colourful beads around their necks and the men always have the most brilliantly coloured fabrics draped around them.We had so many wonderful opportunities and lived the Turkanan life…. We were the only ‘tourists’ amongst the Kenyan people for a solid week and it was pure magic being totally off the grid, mingling with the kids on the shores of the lake, visiting their villages, school, and having songs sung to us, kids chasing the vehicle with their ‘wheelies’ and generally everyone laughing and having fun….what a joy! Photography apart from this was amazing.
However, photographically all I could dream of was finding these camels and for two days we drove the dusty roads, high and low with many a Turkana pow wow and a language spoken so fast it lent a dramatic effect to the expedition…..I was beginning to despair….
BUT then eventually late into the second afternoon of searching, out of the bushes, way in the distance, we spotted them not one, not 10 but a couple of hundred……I could barely breathe…..We lay down in the dry riverbed and waited and low and behold they progressed towards us with their herders. They kicked up the most amazing dust. We kept ahead of them and had a most exhilarating afternoon to remember.The young herders ‘totos” were fascinated by the cameras and loved seeing their pictures, most of them for the very first time! They are very peaceful people and I was so humbled at their kindness, patience and generosity of spirit….what a fabulous example and I relive it every time I look at my images.