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Pole to Pole

Day 98: The Masai Mara

Michael Palin - Pole to Pole'Safari ants,' says an Englishman cheerfully. 'Touch them and they bite.'

As a large number of them are halfway up my trouser leg and the ground is full of reinforcements this isn't particularly helpful, and trying to extricate myself from them is like a coping with a series of very light electric shocks.

Eventually the towering balloons are ready and we climb into our baskets. Each one is traditional, made of wood and cane, and divided into partitions, so once inside we must look a little like milk-bottles in a crate. Most of my co-passengers are American but the pilot is very British.

'My name is John Coleman and I'm your pilot this morning. As you can see I have three stripes on my epaulette - one for each laundry.'

He keeps up a steady stream of such observations as we rise slowly into the sky above the murky treescape below.

'If you feel a little frightened, don't worry. I get scared whenever I fly. Chicken in the basket.'

The Americans are a bit bewildered by all this and also a little disappointed at the lack of wildlife talent this soggy morning.

Still, they point in hope.

'Hey, look at that bird!', 'Look down there, there's one of those things . . . '
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 98
  • Country/sea: Kenya
  • Place: Mara River
  • Book page no: 216

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