After meeting the other three people on our safari, we left the city quickly 🙂 and our first stop overlooking the Great Rift Valley was spectacular. Lake Naivisha a large freshwater lake in the Rift valley and Elsamere – the home of Joy and George Adamson of Born Free fame – was our first stop. The house is now a hotel, museum and charming restaurant right on the Lake. I read Born Free many times as a child and the museum was fascinating. After tea we had a boat ride around the shores of the lake. The lake itself is under a great deal of pressure from the large number of flower growing operations that irrigate using lake water. Lake levels are beginning to be negatively impacted. Turns out that a lot of flowers from here are sent to European middlemen who then distribute them. In all likelihood the flowers you think are from Holland may well be grown in Africa. Several hippo families live in the lake and we found three of them. Apparently they do not venture out into deep water, so we got fairly close as the lake drops off quite quickly in some areas along the shoreline. The boat trip was also an amazing first encounter with just a few of the thousands of bird species in Africa.
The Safari company we are with is a strong supporter of the East Africa children’s orphanage located near Nakura. We paid them a visit on the way to our lodge accommodation near Lake Nakura Park. What an inspiring place. It was started 20 years ago by a wealthy Australian couple who still live at the orphanage. At the moment they have 25 babies there, as well as dozens of older children. The property is remarkable, almost self sufficient in food, the children are educated to their fullest potential, loved and sent out into the world. We had a wonderful visit that ended far too soon.
The Sleeping Warrior Lodge near Lake Nakura was our destination for happy hour, dinner and the night. It is a private lodge with incredible views that was built by a retired French economist. There is about 200,000 acres here. The lodge is straw bale construction – I had read about that type of construction but never seen it before. The walls are about a foot thick and the lodge stays cool in the summer months without any AC. It is off the grid, using solar power. Water off the roof is filtered, stored and used for cooking. We were in individual guest house or tents away from the man lodge. Our shower was right out on the deck overlooking one of the game waterholes around the lodge. Showering watching the sun rise and animals at the waterhole was another uniquely Afican experience 🙂
Lake Nakura National Park is amazing. Lake Nakura itself is one of the Rift Valley soda lakes and is home to the famous Lake Nakura flamingos, as well as many other bird species. The park is a rhino breeding centre and we saw both the non-native white and the native black rhino. The male black rhino was busy marking his territory by spraying just like a cat does. Cape buffalo let us come up close to them, as did baboons, wart hogs, gazelles, elands, waterbucks, giraffes. It was like the wild kingdom 🙂 The sundowner that evening was on top of a small mountain overlooking the entire park and adjacent areas. A fire in the fire pit, full bar set up with appetizers and a red liveried server – all on top of a mountain. We felt like we were in a Karen Blixen novel…..