Julia Becker is the younger sister of Kaitlin and a relative of the Rimpa family. She visited the estates after finishing a study abroad experience in Spain. She’s a sophomore at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa (Roll Tide!)
Growing up in the United States, I had certain expectations about how farms are run. The cows are milked early in the morning using big machines and they spend the rest of their time left alone to a nice big pile of grain and green grass. Each cow has a name and gets pet when you walk past them. Rimpa, and Kenya, has a different approach.
The cows are still milked at very early hours but lovingly by hand (which is much harder than you think, I tried!) After all the girls are milked, herders move them out to the vast expanse of fields where they spend the day munching on grass and I spent a good amount of some of my days following them in hopes of making a friend so I could finally pet one. The calves were especially cute with their big brown eyes looking up at you. I loved walking past them each day on my way out to the reserve, even if they didn’t want to be pet.
I encountered something new on the reserve each day. Kenya has such a variety of plants and animals, most of which I’d never seen or even dreamed could exist, that I was never disappointed. Of course for the first few days, I was focused on all the animals. On a typical day, I saw over 100 zebra, all divided into their own herds, small bands of hartebeests, who were always snorting and flicking their tails at me for being there, and my personal favorites, the Thompson’s Gazelles. Cute little things, they hopped around, clearing tall grasses as if it were nothing. I followed them on some occasions just to how far they traveled and it became clear they enjoyed the full range of the reserve and lived peacefully.
On a few occasions, I was fortunate enough to see the family of giraffes which had had a recent addition. The two youngest were nearly able to disappear in the bushes while the adults watched me carefully. When I got too close, they snorted at me and walked away in a single file line. Even from a distance, they were magnificent.
Once I got over the original shock of these incredible animals, I started to notice more. The flora on the reserve is fascinating. Some bushes grow thorns or small seed-like balls with porcupinesque prickles that dare any animals to eat them, though it doesn’t seem to bother the giraffes! I was there in the dry season but there were still plenty of new plants for me to see. If you looked closely, you’d also notice some of the most beautiful birds you’ve ever seen. Iridescent blue-green wings flashed as they bounced around in the bushes.
The reserve is as large and as beautiful as some of its inhabitants. I spent a week on the property and feel as though I barely scratched the surface of things to find.
Ps. While in Kenya, I got a chance to see a hyrax….and fell in love. They are super cute little rodent/guinea pig creatures of cute! They are soft and fluffy like rabbits!