My recent trip to Kenya took me out of Nairobi and on the Nairobi Kampala road towards the Great Rift Valley. Traveling on the smooth highway in fast flowing traffic took us past many small towns with their unique street markets:
The road to the Rift Valley Lodge veered off the main highway and rapidly turned into the kind of dirt road where you do NOT want to be following any other vehicle. Along the way we saw a marked contrast of marginal land on one side and some obviously rich white large estate on the other (who knows – maybe even Lord Delamare’s estate? But more on him and his shenanigans in another post!). The Rift Valley Lodge is tucked up on the crest of a mountain and looks down into the valley:
Here you have all the comforts you do not usually have at home – great food (lots of meat for the carnivores and an Indian spread for the vegetarians), Glenlivet and other libations including Talisker, a nine hole golf course, tennis courts, and luxurious rooms. But the real reason to come to Naivasha is not the lodge but rather its proximity to Lake Nakuru National Park. Right upon entering into the park we were mobbed by a herd of monkeys – quite like the Indian langoor – ready to pounce on our picnic lunches and waiting for any open door or window to sneak in!
The real reason to come to Lake Nakuru is this:
The brine shrimp in the lake are the preferred feed for a large bird population, the most spectacular of which are birds you usually see in plastic in front gardens in urban America!! Pink flamingoes, thousand upon thousands, turn the shore of Lake Nakuru pink. They cohabit with pelicans (above), storks and other birds and provide a breathtaking spectacle!
Not much disturbs them and one can get quite close to the lake shore as the water recedes quite a bit in dry weather. But here I managed to capture a fight between zebras that did startle a bunch of the birds into taking off!
Lest you think zebras are cantankerous fighters, let me assure you that they are mostly peaceful, mate for life, and stay together like this couple!
Lake Nakuru Park offers a bounty of wildlife and what is there is NOT shy! One could almost go through a catalog and check the animals off. In my past visits to parks in Africa I have seen almost everything except getting a good look at rhinos. And Nakuru came through! They have white rhinos – mostly gray looking and extremely lethargic beasts. Here you can see one almost as though carved out of the mud he lies in, and in the background there are warthogs – the cutest (and most difficult to capture on film) animals!
Of course we saw lots of buffalo – one of the BIG 5 game you are supposed to look for in African parks, and a few giraffes! Giraffes walk with the two legs of the same side moving together – and are quite graceful for all their awkward height!
Atop a hill in the park – we stopped to picnic but were forced into our vehicle for fear of being mobbed by baboons, on the ready to steal any food they can. Also spotted an incredibly colorful gecko!
There were lots of animals in the deer family but my favorite are the waterbucks – they always favor wet regions in any park, have very furry skins and beautiful eyes.
By the evening we had seen almost everything except the big cats – and they were all hiding in the heat. We left Nakuru with this amazing vista indelibly stamped in our memories – a baboon silhouetted against the vast lake with the flamingoes all along the shore!