Our next stop after Nairobi was Lake Naivasha, north west of Nairobi in the Great Rift Valley. James arrived to drive us the 180kms and once again loaded all the bags into the car. He wasn’t going to keep them yet, as we were planning on doing some hiking and needed the boots and maybe some of the warmer clothes as we were heading north again.
We headed out of the city onto quite a good road. This was the main road to Lake Victoria and to the border with Uganda where much trade was conducted. We saw our first accident, and it was chaos. No traffic direction, cars, matatus, boda bodas and large lorries carrying all kinds of goods, all jostling to get past the pile up. After much horn honking and shouting, we made our way through and climbed the Uplands. We were at 9000ft and James stopped by the side of the road where we stood at the edge of the escarpment and looked out over the Great Rift Valley. The sides of the escarpment descended quite steeply and then leveled out a little, where the fertile soil was being farmed by small individual farmers. This strip of land then descended steeply into the valley whose floor spread out towards the horizon, arid and dusty, with some vegetation hiding the animals that we knew were down there. To the north, in the distance we could see Lake Naivasha and Mount Longonot, an active volcano that James told us he had climbed on several occasions. After taking some photographs, which cannot capture the height and expanse of this vast landscape, we set off on the last leg of our journey. As we approached Naivasha we passed the Delamere farm. This is one of the largest agricultural farms in Kenya, originally started by Lord Delamere in the early 1900s and is still owned by the same family. Much of the produce found in British supermarkets is grown here. We passed the customary herds of goats and cows, but also herds of zebras, grazing at the side of the road. I was surprised there wasn’t more ‘roadkill’, the cars and lorries thundering past these beautiful animals which seemed oblivious to the dangers of modern transport.
We arrived at the house, which happened to be on a golf course. We chose this house as it had a wonderful view of Lake Naivasha from the upstairs balcony. We were not disappointed, even though the house was too large for us, and the kitchen lacking in a few items, the view was amazing. We arranged with James to collect us in a few days time and after a short rest and a drink, he was on his way back to Nairobi.
After settling in, we explored the golf course. We commented on how in Florida we had cranes and crocodiles roaming the fairways, and here zebras and gazelles grazed on the greens. There was a hotel on the golf course and we ventured down to see if there was any food available. We sat and had a cocktail and ordered food to be sent to the house. The restaurant was not busy and we wanted to relax on the balcony and enjoy the view.
After a good nights sleep we took a walk and had a tasty buffet breakfast at the restaurant. There was a conference being held there, so it was quite busy, the staff laughing and smiling. We organized a trip for Sunday to the Erubu forest and enquired about visiting the lake the next day. We spent the day relaxing, and enjoyed our view. We were quite a distance from the lake, but with the binoculars we were able to spot elephant and giraffe in the conservancy below us and I’m sure I spotted some hippos in the lake, but couldn’t be quite sure.
The next day we asked if there was a taxi to the town, so we could get some supplies. One was arranged for us and a young lady who worked at the hotel kindly took us to the town. Once again this was a busy thriving town, chaos ensuing at all times, dust flying, horns honking, people laughing and shouting, the bright colors worn by the African ladies dazzling in the sunshine and the pungent smells of roasting meat, spices mixed with the raw smell of animals walking the streets and the occasional waft of trash, putting all your senses on high alert at all times. We asked if she would be able to take us to the lake so we could see the hippos, but she advised it would cost more money, was another 20km to the hippo sanctuary, and seemed quite reluctant to arrange this for us. We decided to just visit the supermarket and head back. We spent a pleasant afternoon walking and relaxing, taking in the birdlife and watching the geothermals rising in the distance. A short, sharp shower and a spectacular sunset finished off the day.
The next day, we were off to the Eburu forest. Once again, our lady driver picked us up and we headed out. It was only 7km away and we thought we would be there in a short time. However, the road was so badly cut out of the hillside, with large rocks and deep ruts all uphill, it took us almost an hour to reach the forest, passing through small villages, past young children playing, and more herds of goats. The earth was steaming and we were fascinated by the water system they had thrown together. Pipes were pushed into the sides of the hill where the steam rose and was captured in the pipes. The condensation then ran down the pipes and was collected in barrels where it was then distributed to the villagers. It was hot! The first real hot water we had experienced in Kenya! Our driver said we should have brought eggs to cook on the rocks!
Finally we arrived at the forest and was greeted by our armed ranger. He advised that buffalo could be in the forest, and we might see monkeys. We headed out into the virgin rainforest, lush green leaves and hot steam rising from craters. We kept a look out for monkeys or any other wildlife, but they were being elusive today. Our ranger took us off the path and we descended down the side of one of the craters and stood in the steam coming out of the ground. It was our private outdoor sauna! I thought it would have had a Sulphur smell to it, but we couldn’t detect any odors and stood for a while enjoying the experience. Needing to cool down and move on we climbed back up the side of the crater and back to the path and further into the forest. We came to a clearing and looked out across Lake Naivasha, from a different angle to our view from the house. Binoculars at the ready, I scoured the landscape, looking for the hippo. Alas, they were nowhere to be seen. Our guide was anxious to return before the rain came at 3pm and I looked up at the deep blue sky, with the brilliant sunshine making me squint, and thought he was just making an excuse to get back. We turned and made our way past the crater again, no buffalo, although lots of poo; no monkeys, although we could hear them in the distance, and we were a little disappointed that we had not seen any wildlife. But that’s nature for you, unpredictable! Our driver was waiting for us at the entrance and we paid our dues, said our goodbyes and started our journey down the hill. As we passed through the villages once more, the rain started. I looked at my watch…3pm.
The next day, James arrived as scheduled and we loaded the car and ready to make our way across the country to our next stay – Mount Kenya Wildlife Estates.
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