Micato Musings

Peaceable Kingdoms

pinto-family_airstripThe phrase “The Peaceable Kingdom” best sums it up…

The dreamy Peaceable Kingdom paintings by Edward Hicks (1820-50s), with all of God’s creatures co-existing together on earth with a “serene and well-ordered heart,” is surely the closest allegory to what we’ve been experiencing on safari…. not only on Africa’s great plains, but also in Rwanda, the country next on our journey. Indeed, Rwanda is a magical, transformed land with a born-again citizenry of enlightened, beautiful people.

But I’m getting ahead of my story.

Our first Dispatch left us in the Maasai Mara at the highly unique stylish Richard Branson camp, Mahali Mzuri, which we greatly enjoyed. And, the game viewing?  Every safari and season brings different joys, but the game viewing this past month has been exceptional:  the Maasai Mara has positively teemed with multiples of every animal imaginable, inspiring the Peaceable Kingdom parallel.

It began with our bush plane’s landing:  from above we enjoyed splendid aerial views of tidy lines of migrating herds, and as we approached the landing, we were amused to find scores of grazing wildebeest and zebras dotting the grassy airstrip, serenely browsing.

line of migrating herds

Our trusty Grand Caravan flew low to disperse the grazing animals, who placidly stepped aside only to wander back moments later. Eventually, our awaiting safari vehicles traversed the landing strip a few times to scatter the animals for once and all. Lovely!  We felt like characters in an old fashioned adventure story before we even landed.

One morning we found ourselves in an exceptionally pretty location, drinking in an incomparable sight:  clusters of seven unique animal species in front of our eyes (imagine!) with members of an eighth species only a slight head turn away.

Central Casting couldn’t have queued up a more amazing sight:  a journey of a dozen giraffe gathered around an Acacia thorn tree, necks stretched skyward, delicately nibbling the tiny leaves from between the thorns;  a dazzle of a dozen zebras standing at attention as if guarding the plains with wildebeests close behind, looking ready to migrate;  a herd of Thompson’s gazelles, tails swishing back and forth like happy puppies, astride a herd of larger Grant’s Gazelles.elephant-solo

And, in the background of this wonderful scene was an “obstinacy” (amusing “herd” term) of Cape Buffalo mowing down the coarse grass, while in the foreground, a family of sturdy little warthogs, tails comical in the air, trotting quickly past as if late for an engagement. Finally, just outside the eye’s direct sight was a large parade of elephants, young and old, heading towards a river for a drink.

Our days in the Mara were a fruitful combination of “work” and pleasure.  I might as well admit that a Pinto day on safari is not typical:  while most travellers venture into the bush in early morning when the air is cool and the big cats are on the move, we Pintos remain long after the big cats have sensibly gone into the shade for mid-day siestas. In addition to the big cats, you see, we’re also on the lookout for interesting local markets and fabulous original experiences to add to our guests’ programs.  peaceable-giraffe-zebraLuckily, our teenagers are good-natured adventurers, accustomed to their parents’ inclination to inspect every lodge or camp within range! They’ll usually find a nice table in the shade, pull out a pack of cards, and challenge their grandparents to a rousing game of gin rummy—a favorite Pinto safari pastime.








line of migrating herds


The Great Migration has come early to the Maasai Mara the rains being so unpredictable for the past decade or more — and we loved seeing the gathering of the herds. We’ll return to the Mara at the end of our safari to try to catch one of the dramatic river crossings.  In the meantime, however, we culminated this visit with frolicking lion cubs at sunset, a leopard in a tree, cheetah on lookout mound, lots of cards, big meals, and a great deal of fun.

frolicking-cubsFrom the Maasai Mara, we returned to Nairobi for a few pleasant days of work, family and friends before heading to Rwanda for the experience of a lifetime… and here I’m referring to so much more than just the gorilla trekking.

We all know the tragic story of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide … but few of us know the incredible turnaround and achievements that have taken place in the last 20 years.

Legendary zookeeper Jack Hanna, director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo, was the first to tell Dennis and me some six years ago about the “new Rwanda,” but you really have to see it to believe it. Energetic, courageous and stunningly effective reconciliation practices have transformed the country into a remarkable success story that needs to be broadcast wide and far.


Outside the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre

Rwanda today is a vibrant and forward-looking country of united “Rwandee” citizens with no tribalism, zero tolerance for corruption, no crime, no slums, a vibrant infrastructure, stellar telecommunications, and conservation policies that are leading the way in Africa. Rwanda’s capital of Kigali is a city on the move. It’s one of the safest (and cleanest) cities in the world, with free public Wi-Fi everywhere, including the city’s public buses.

Suffice it to say, Rwanda is even more incredible than we could have imagined — a peaceable kingdom indeed!


Rwanda’s magnificent terraced fields

We look forward to telling you about Rwanda and more in the next installment of Bush Dispatches From The Pinto Family—along with a full account of our gorilla trekking.

P.S.  For your viewing pleasure…more big cats!








line of migrating herds



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    19 Responses to “Peaceable Kingdoms”

    1. Ina Ina says:

      To the Pintos,
      We are so excited to come and meet you Oct. 8, 2014. I have the calender count down going on.
      Then all of a suden, here comes this fabulus book, “Predator”!
      Thank you,
      Ina and Eric
      P. S. The popcorn was just right.

    2. Honey Moss says:

      I feel like I am riding along in your backpack …. I know you have had an incredible trip after all, it’s a Micato Safari. Thanks for sharing …

    3. Don Hobart says:

      It has been six years since we viewed those wonderful animals in person and I am so ready to come back and join you. Your photos and words are great and bring back wonderful memories we spent with Micato.

    4. Fran Meyer-Gebhardt says:

      Dennis and Joy, Did I ever tell you of the privilege and honour I had of meeting Paul Rusesabagina and his wife. I actually took them to Robben Island. Something I’ll never forget……He saved so many lives during the genocide. Have a wonderful time – would love to go there one day.

    5. Ray&Cindy Reinertson says:

      Brings back great memories of are trip last year We will be planning another trip in the near future to go visit the gorillas! Say hello to Tony we couldn’t have a a greater guide on are trip.

    6. Jeannette & Austin Kyles says:

      Your adventures that include such outstanding photos brings back such wonderful memories of our January 2014 safari. We visited many of the places you are and through your adventures it takes us back. Certainly a trip of a lifetime. When asked where I want to visit next, I say “I don’t really know. But I would go back to Africa in a heartbeat”. I can’t that you and your staff enough for such a grand experience. Can’t wait for more stories and pictures.

    7. Percy de Castro says:

      I am enjoying so much following you guys on your incredible trip.What a treat !!! Have a blast .all the best .Percy

    8. Gary & Debra Palmer says:

      Great, inspiring story!
      We head out on our first Safari with Micato in August. We are so excited. My camera is ready to fire!! Your story has started the engine or anticipation for us.
      Thanks, we can’t wait to go to Africa!

    9. kathy zimm says:

      We all travel with you during your safari’s. For those of us who have been to Kenya a few times we have such wonderful memories.

    10. Nancy Arens says:

      These photo’s and stories are the best. I have always dreamed of coming back, but have yet to make this dream come true. With your wonderful stories and photo’s you have helped this dream come alive! Thank you. I will treasure these always. Nancy Arens

    11. eleanor gallluzzo says:

      Thanks for the pictures, sure brings back such great memories of my safari back in 2006. A trip I will treasure forever. You are such a wonderful family, so lucky.

    12. John Klymak says:

      Wish January 2015 would hurry up. jk

    13. Joyce M. Bowers says:

      Thanks so much for sharing this trip. JMB

    14. Linda Rennick says:

      We miss our days with you in Africa and live vicariously through your postings as we plan our next sojourn. We hope to join you through South Africa on elephant back, then trek through Rwanda. I see Tonnie in a few of your pictures. Please give him best regards from Jamie, Sunday and Safari Mama…..2011 September, Kenya & Tanzania.
      Asante sana for the trip of our lives. Our photos float across our computer screens every day to keep the memories vivid.
      Tutaonana upesi,
      Linda Rennick

    15. Judy Litner says:

      I have never been to Africa on Safari, but your blog is making me feel like I’m there in the bush with you!

    16. Carole Scutt says:

      Dennis, how can I thank you for the many visits over the years. Right now you have a safari traveler I sent your way and from what I hear, it has been a successful trip for her.
      Thanks for these safari musings….they are being kept in my permanent computer file. I can’t get enough of it all.
      Carole Scutt

    17. Dan Nelson says:

      Obviously the Patriarchs have done a wonderful job. Your sharing rekindles so many fond memories of our trip with y’all in Sep-Oct 2005.

    18. Ruth Verbois says:

      I, too am jealous!! My husband and I were in Zaire and Rwanda in 1994 and are so happy to hear that the country is now doing

      Beautiful writing — you’ve taken us back to wonderful Africa, where we left a little of our souls, and need to return again and again. You’ve made it possible for us to relive the experiences we’ve had.

    19. Molly Besanceney says:

      I’m SO JEALOUS!

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