In May, the mornings in Taita Hills are cold; thick mists pour over the rolling green hills and hover above huge herds of buffalo. The long grasses hang heavy with dew drops, but the skies are clear, and the rising sun reveals the silhouette of Mount Kilimanjaro 120 kilometers to the west. The dew twinkles in the sunlight as it evaporates, the grass lifts its seed ladened stems upright like a peacock spreading its plumage, and the whole savannah turns a lavender pink.
As the sunrises, the grass deepens its purple hue, and the Tuscan red earth under it begins to bake. Flocks of hundreds of little red and yellow headed, seed-eating quelea birds dart between the trees like schools of sardines, tracked by the big yellow eyes of the Martial eagle, which seem to be full of moonlight.
The grass serves as both a haven for the hunted and a hide for the hunters. The grazers feast on the grass, and all look fit and energetic, melting into it to rest. However, the grass seems specially designed for the sleek cheetahs, just peaking at their shoulders, so they can slip through it unnoticed, yet also peak above it to scope the plains.
The crescent curve of the elephant’s tusk brushes the grass as it walks, as if the herds were sweeping the savannah. Each elephant is caped in red volcanic soil, appearing as if it applied blush for the lavender landscape, and they feast endlessly throughout the day, sending sound waves of ripping roots all around them.
Jackals and hartebeest follow game trails through the grass, and spotted serval cats hunt little reptiles and birds on the banks of small streams. Ancient termite mounds create bald spots in the grass, which predators and prey mount, like sailors climbing a mast to scan what may be hidden in the waving oceans of grass.
In the afternoons the rain clouds can roll in, bringing rainbows and sending spur fowl scurrying for cover. Bats begin their hunt in front of a lavender sunset, and the green hills of Africa fade into moonlight.
Nights are spent in the unique candle shaped cabins of the Sarova Salt Lick hotel, overlooking the savannah bloom and the salt lick in front of the bar. The Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary is not as well-known as the national parks, which means it is easier to get lost in the lavender light on your own, and I highly recommend you do so.