One of my favorite things about traveling is meeting other travelers and hearing their stories. We’ve been on several short safaris in Kenya, and have met interesting people from around the world.
Here are some of the craziest characters we’ve met so far:
- A woman who brought not one, but two cell phones on a game drive, and took several calls instead of ogling the lions, zebras, giraffes, and wildebeest.
- An Australian couple taking a two month round-the-world trip that had already included running a marathon in Berlin, glacier trekking in Norway, and watching the Olympics in London. We never figured out how they could afford the time off or the cost of this luxurious trip, considering they were quite young and worked as a personal trainer and legal assistant, respectively.
- An American couple living in Bahrain, who hate it there, hence they were taking a weekend trip to Kenya, just to “get away”.
- A British undergraduate student who was doing research with the Masai people, but who spoke neither Masai nor Kiswahili, and was staying in the fancy lodge where we were staying.
The most fascinating man we met introduced himself as “Simba,” which is the Kiswahili word for lion. Simba told us that he had been living in Kenya for 7 years, and that he is the only Chinese wildlife conservationist in all of Africa. He told us that he doesn’t have any training in wildlife conservation, nor does he get paid for his work, but he is very passionate about it.
Then he asked if we knew of Yao Ming (the Chinese NBA basketball player). When we said “yes,” Simba told us that Ming had visited him recently and sought his help to document the rhino and elephant poaching crisis. (Ming even mentions “Simba Zhuo” on his blog!)
Finally, Simba invited us to stay at his house outside of Nairobi, and then left us to give a lecture on conservation to a group of Chinese tourists.
After a day of watching exotic animals, it was neat to hear from a man who was so devoted to wildlife conservation that he even named himself after the lion. As for the other crazy characters, I just wonder what they thought about us?