Category Archives: Maasailand weather report

The day the sky turned brown

In an attempt to solve the mystery of which lone female lion had left tracks below Safaricom Hill, Lion Guardian Pilenanka and I drove to the top of the hill for some telemetry tracking. From our vantage point and one of Mbirikani Group Ranch’s stunning locations, we could see patches of rain falling in the distance and were excited at the prospect that relief from the long drought might finally be on its way.

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Signals from our collared lions, Selenkay and Narika, whom are often found in the area, indicated that they had moved onto Olgulului, a neighbouring Group Ranch, so we returned to the car with the intention of heading back down the hill to continue with our detective work.

However, instead of roaring to life, the car refused to start. So absorbed in trying to get the car started, we were completely oblivious to the storm clouds forming over the Chyulu Hills. As our mechanical skills lacked the finess to solve the starting problem and our strength combined proving inadequate to push the car for a push start, we took a break to contemplate our next move. Only then did we notice an ominous cloud like no other, travelling at a great speed in our direction!

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We both watched in wonderment as the cloud closed in, never having witnessed anything like it before. We watched as it turned from grey to brown, increasing in volume as it raced towards us. As we waited in excited, but slightly nervous, anticipation, the breeze turned into a gale, and the energy in the air intensified. Then it came over the top of the hill – a massive wall of dust!   

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Still mystified, Pilenanka took refuge in the car and watched in fascination at the advancing wall, perplexed at my lack of concern and unwillingness to heed his advice to get in the car and lock the doors! I waited until the very last moment before leaping into the car, just seconds before the sky turned a rusty brown as we were engulfed by the mighty dust cloud, followed by the first rain in many, many months.

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The storm passed over the hill reasonably quickly, ravaging the lands beyond in the direction of Stephanie and Leela in Eselenkei! We were lucky to be rescued by two Ol Donyo Wuas Lodge guides (thanks Edwin and Jackson!) and Lion Guardian Mokoi whom had fortunately been not so far away in Mbirikani town. Not wanting to risk further engine starting problems we headed back to camp – our detective work put on hold for another day!