Monday 25th July 2011
Straight after breakfast we departed en route for Lake Nakuru in the Rift Valley. When we got to our vehicle we found a large brown and buff coloured butterfly on the rear window. This beautiful creature was a male Orchard Swallowtail butterfly.
Orchard Swallowtail Butterfly (Male)
A road safari takes its toll on the vehicles, and while the drivers work very hard to keep the vehicles as clean as they can, it is inevitable that they rapidly acquire a coating of dust! Before we set out it was too much temptation for us not to customise our vehicles, writing, appropriate words in the dirt on the spare wheel covers!
Customising our vehicle
Setting out, our first stop was Thompson Falls, just before reaching Nyahururu. Standing at 243 feet in height, the falls are located on the Ewaso Ngiro river as it drains from the Aberdare mountain range. In 1883, Scottish explorer and geologist, Joseph Thompson was the first European to walk from Mombasa to Lake Victoria. As he made his progress across Kenya he reached the falls and wrote of what he found… …”I was impressed mightily by the stupendous thundering of the waters which in magnificent mass plunged down several hundred feet into a fearful gloomy gorge. The crevices give support to a splendid drapery of creepers and bushes, the spray from the waters yielding the necessary sustenance. Among other plants, wild bananas are to be seen.“
After viewing the falls we continued on our way, arriving at Lake Nakuru Lodge in time for lunch. Like many of the Rift Valley lakes, Lake Nakuru is located in the bottom of what was once a volcanic crater. The lodge sits on the crater’s edge, above the lake, with views out across the surrounding area. We were slightly disappointed this time, compared with our previous visit, as there was quite a bit of building work going on within the lodge grounds, but as we were only stopping for one night we did not worry too much about this.
Our afternoon game drive took us down to the lake shore, where we were able to get out of the vehicle and walk. Just a matter of feet from us were Pelicans and Rhinos, who were quite unconcerned by the presence of the Homo sapiens. A large group of Pelicans were perched in the top of the tree – we didn’t know what type of tree it was, but from that moment on it was dubbed “the Pelican tree”! Out on the lake, the Flamingos were gathered in their hundreds, creating a pink vista.
Pelican in flight
The Pelican Tree
Lake Nakuru’s “pink fringe”
As we headed back to the lodge, with night rapidly falling; to the west as the sun set, clouds were gathering and we could hear the distant rumble of thunder. Tomorrow we drive south to the Masai Mara.
The gathering storm
Tuesday 26th July 2011
A lie in this morning as we are driving south to the Masai Mara. After breakfast we met Nicholas at the vehicle. Before we set off he advised us of the length of the journey and then asked if we would like to make a small diversion to Lake Naivasha and take a boat trip on the lake. We all agreed, even Sandra who is not the best of sailors! On our previous visit to Lake Naivasha we had seen a fairly large boat tied up at the Lake Naivasha Country club, so we envisaged that we would be in something of that size. Oh, how wrong could we be!
On arrival at the lake, Nicholas went off with our boat fares to make the arrangements and then led us down to the lake shore, where we found that our “boat” was glass-fibre dug-out canoe with an outboard engine on the rear! Oh, well, we’ve paid our money let’s have our adventure! Having helped us aboard the boatman started the engine and we gently made our way across the lake.
What an experience, well at least I thought so, as unfortunately Sandra was concentrating on keeping her breakfast! Here we were at water level, eye to eye with Hippos (yes, an animal more dangerous any other African animal and responsible for more deaths than any of the big cats!); floating gently past as Kingfishers watched us silently from their perches on the bank.
At the far side of the lake, the boatman cut the engine; stood up and reaching for a fish from a bucket at his feet, started calling. As we watched, an African Fish Eagle took off from a tree and with a few flaps of his wings swooped down to water level, as the boatman threw the fish into the water.
This was one of those ‘Wow!’ moments, as this enormous bird of prey swooped down, grabbed the fish from the water, and with the minimum of effort, flew back to its perch with its catch. Such was my awe at this spectacle that at first I considered my photographs to be less than satisfactory, but later on reflection I feel that they reflect the power of this avian giant. The boatman repeated the spectacle once more before he started the engine again and we headed for Crescent Island.
Here we disembarked from the boat and walked amongst Giraffes, Zebras, and a variety of antelopes. What were these animals doing here? This is where some of the scenes from the 1985 film “Out of Africa” starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep were filmed. The animals were brought here for the filming and have remained here ever since, contentedly living out their lives, their days enriched by the occasional boat load of tourists dropping by!
Walking with the animals on Crescent Island
Boarding our boat again, we returned to shore to be reunited with Nicholas and to continue our journey to the Masai Mara. Was it worth the diversion to Lake Nakuru? Absolutely – this wonderful country just continues to deliver amazing wildlife experiences at every turn!
On the road again it didn’t take us too long to reach Keekorok Lodge in the Masai Mara, where we had stayed on our previous visit to this part of Kenya.