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I had no idea what danger meant

Jonathan van Bilsen



July 29, 2021

I had no idea what danger meant

Most people have been quite frustrated when it comes to the inability to travel, but fortunately, there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel (although I have been saying that for a few months now). It seems countries are starting to organize by putting strict policies in place for visitors, regarding proof of vaccination, etc.

There are several destinations on my immediate list, but in searching through my past travels, I came upon a number of photographs and videos from various trips, which made me reminisce about some of the fun adventures I have had. One particular, which came to mind, was an escapade in the northern area of Kenya, during a trip taken a few years ago.

This particular trip was to northern Kenya, an area, which at the time was a bit dangerous; however, I had no safety concerns whatsoever. The Samburu Region of the country was spectacular. I love Africa, especially the wildlife, and Samburu has its fair share. I did however experience an interesting event, during my stay.

Kenya has a number of beautiful lodges available for visitors. They tend to be well planned out and quite elegant, and have all the amenities one would want while travelling. In Samburu, I stayed at the Samburu Sopa lodge, which was a series of beautiful cabins, each with a fireplace and internet. There was a main building, used as a lobby and the dining room. My chalet was at the very end of a path, which was amazing, as the Serengeti surrounded me on three sides.

I had settled in and decided it was time for dinner. I was told upon arrival, to call for a porter, who would walk me to the dining hall, as it was quite dark in the evenings. I have travelled a fair bit, and certainly did not feel I needed someone to walk me down a path, in order for me to have dinner.

Stepping outside the room, I realized there were no lights, however, it was nearly a full moon, and there was enough light to see the path. I began to walk, feeling quite confident in my decision. On my right side were chalets, each, like mine, made of stone with thatched roofs. On the others side was a giant hedge. All was well, until I suddenly heard some nose beside me, on the other side of the hedge. I saw nothing but black foliage and slowly ever so gently continued to walk.

It did not take long until I realized there was definitely something walking just on the other side of the hedge. I had visions of lions or hyena, ready to pounce on me at any moment. After, what seemed like forever, I saw the lights of the dining room, and as I approached, two porters came running over with sticks and started shouting. I froze, as I thought they were yelling at me, but that was not the case. On the other side of the hedge, which had just ended, was a massive elephant, not more than 3 metres away from me. He (or she) had walked with me all the way from my cabin. I stared at it and it at me before it wandered off, irritated by the noise the porters were making. I was told not to venture out on my own, and I certainly learned my lesson.

As if that was not enough entertainment for one evening, I sat quietly enjoying my dinner, which I must say was quite tast, and afterward went outside to an area where they were going to feed the crocodiles. I was expecting a cage, but realized when I was standing at the edge of the riverbank, that three hotel staff were carrying a large carcass of something or other, and that this was the wilderness.

I was told to stay back and watched intensely as a massive crocodile came out of nowhere. He began to devour the meat in front of him. Crocodiles have difficulty eating something large, as they cannot easily rip it apart. Either they wait for another one to come along and the two have a tug of war, or they simply wait for the meat to rot so they can break it up.

It was an interesting event, and I was about to head back to my room when I heard a number of people yelling. Porters were running past me, up the path toward where my room was, and everyone was scurrying as if the world was ending.

I managed to stop one and ask what the problem was, and he simply said ‘fire!’ I froze in my tracks as I looked to see which chalet was the source of the problem. Could it be mine, I thought? Surely not. I do not remember plugging anything in, but I immediately thought about my camera.

As I neared my cabin, I saw a dozen or so hotel staff passing water-filled buckets in a row toward a smoky building. I walked closer and thankfully realized it was not mine. It seems the residents of the bungalow next to mine, had left a water-heating element plugged in and the cup had boiled dry. It had cracked, igniting the surrounding area.

Fortunately, there was little damage and my unit was fine. Finally, I was allowed to return to my room but falling asleep was a very difficult task. Walking through the jungle next to an elephant, seeing a crocodile ravenously attack a piece of meat, and being caught up in what could have been a major disaster, was not what I expected when I was initially told the Samburu Region was dangerous for tourists.

Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel TV show can be watched on RogersTV and YouTube. To follow Jonathan’s travel adventures visit

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