We come to Kenya to realize a longstanding wish: see the free-ranging wild things of East Africa before that dream dematerializes. We want to fill our eyes with the fabulous creatures elsewhere confined to zoos and documentaries, foremost Africa’s fabled Big Five — the elephant, rhino, buffalo, leopard and lion — but also others on our private Top 10: the giraffe, hippo, zebra, gazelle and, especially, the cheetah. To ensure such sightings, we book a 12-day safari with a top-rated operator, Abercrombie & Kent, which since 1962 has pioneered game tours in Kenya and neighboring Tanzania.
Another breaded sardine leaps off the brightly patterned ceramic plate, destined for the floor. Though it’s the second one (so far), two women seated well within range at the next table pretend not to notice, and the waiter — in the act of replacing the depleted bread basket — politely looks away.