We were there, looking each other in the eyes. I fell. In love.

She gave a look down at me and she walked away. Without looking back.

I was prepared to fall in love and be rejected. It didn’t matter. My love is unconditional, and it will last forever. I will always remember with deep emotion the eyes of that Giraffe, in my eyes.

I was in Crescent Island at that time and it was probably the first time I stand close to an animal in the wild. The reality is that I’ve always loved giraffes because they’re so beautiful and so elegant without even trying. It was not a surprise for me to fall in love with the first one I saw (outside of a zoo).

Crescent Island is on lake Naivasha, Kenya. I got there while backpacking through East Africa overland, starting my trip in Ethiopia and planning to reach South Africa in around 3 months.

Naivasha area is a great spot for low budget travelers. You’re not going to be able to spot all the big fives, but it’s an excellent “quality”/price compromise. Wildlife is there, more accessible to your pocket than Masai Mara or the beautiful National parks in Tanzania.

There’s also another big advantage to explore reserves and national parks around Naivasha: as there’s no predators there, it’s allowed, and totally safe, to enjoy walking safari. You just cannot compare the experience of spotting a wild animal from a 4×4 and the magic of an encounter while standing on your feet, being able to walk slowly towards it and look it in the eyes.


After this unforgettable moment with my favorite giraffe on Earth, and a bike safari at Hell’s gate park, I continued my journey to Uganda where safaris are cheaper, due essentially to cheaper park fees. I enjoyed my first game drive there and I was happy to be able to spot some of the big fives, but my favorite moment was during my very special Boda boda safari.

Boda boda are the local moto-taxis. They are everywhere, and they can go anywhere! The great thing about Uganda is that some of their national parks are crossed by roads accessible without paying the park fee. Basically, you can cross the park for free! This is the dream for an independent low-budget broken traveler!

I decided to go to Kihihi and cross the Queen Elisabeth National Park by public transport. Public transport are super over-crowded shared taxi: 1 car for 10 people. It was uncomfortable but, as I shared my seat with the driver, I had a perfect view of the savanna. Unfortunately, as we started our journey only once the car was filled it up (to the brim!) with people, it was already late in morning when we drive through the park, it was already too hot, and so animals didn’t show up for me.

When I arrived in Kihihi I decided to give the park another chance to enchant me. I would pay the fee to get in the lions’ sectors and finally be able to see the King!

As usual I looked for the cheapest option to get there and I choose the Boda Boda. I asked the Boda Boda guys if we were allowed to get in there on a motorbike. They say “Yes, sure!” It seemed just perfect! I choose my guy, I bargain a lot, we closed the deal and decided to meet quite early in the morning.

The next morning, I got on the bike and after a short but beautiful ride we arrived at the gate where we discovered that they couldn’t let me in. The problem was that in the lions’ sector, the beautiful lions enjoy spending their day resting on trees and so, they can easily jump on a motorbike if they want to! The park is not going to put the life of a tourist at risk – even if locals are allowed to enter on a motorbike. I was sad, I tried to argue but I got the point. No lions for today, we need to go back to town.

I thought the day was over when the Boda Boda stops as we spotted a beautiful elephant. There, in the high grass, staring at us. Our eyes met.

I fell in love. Again.

P.S. Do you want to know if I finally managed to spot, and fall in love with a lion during my trip? No, it didn’t happen. The only lion I was able to see was in Zambia, it was very very far from me and I didn’t have a binocular with me to look him in the eyes!

About the Entry

  • Blogger name | Antonietta Luciani
  • Site name | Shego – Sharing experiences on the go
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