Very few experiences can rival that of a safari and Kenya offers some fabulous opportunities to witness some incredible African wildlife amidst stunning sceneries. One such location is the beautiful freshwater lake Naivasha, teeming with life and a bird-lovers fantasy!
Hippo in Lake Naivasha
En route to Lake Naivasha, Kenya, we spot the first wildlife: zebras and impalas. The road is terrible and everyone shakes up and down regularly in the truck. The landscape is flat with mountains in the distance, a dry but fertile area. We set up our tents and after we finish lunch, go out on the lake with the boats.
Falling water levels...
Lake Naivasha is now about 170 square kilometers. In 1890 it was almost completely dry. In the next twenty years, however, the level rose and covered a much larger area. Lake Naivasha is home to an incredible amount and variety of birds, including osprey. Naivasha is a freshwater lake and therefore the local residents are very different from those in the saline soda lakes that are common in the Rift Valley. This is because the water here can be used for irrigation, meaning good agricultural opportunities. The flipside is that due to the very intense use of the water, the water level drops all the more steadily. Hard work is currently taking place to educate the local population about the restoration of the lake, but it's all a bit slow. The level of the lake unfortunately still continues to decrease.
Ospreys and kingfishers
We see many beautiful birds from the boat and take a zillion photos. When we come across a group of hippos, we stop again to observe. They find us interesting and don’t just ignore us. We sail on again. We see several beautiful ospreys and kingfishers in many different colours. Furthermore, ibis, cattle egrets and cormorants.
A pink perimeter
After a while relaxing in the boat, we go ashore for a guided bush walk. It is nice to be walking through the wild, just as the animals do! We see giraffes, zebras, various gazelles (both sexes have horns) and antelope (only the males have horns), monkeys and much more.
The walk is beautiful, but for some participants it is very hot, heavy and long. Yet everyone continues because we're approaching the flamingos in a soda (crater) lake near Lake Naivasha. Just a few weeks ago this lake contained millions of pink flamingos. Now it is more like thousands, lining the edge of the water, but because we are not accustomed to the difference, we still find it a beautiful sight.
We must return to the nearby lodge by boat. Approximately half the group decides to return to the boat by car and the other half, by foot.
Our guide Coen comes into contact with a herd of giraffes whilst walking. Ma and I go by car and find a herd of eland antelope. So we all have a great story to tell when we meet! We arrive back at the boats at about the same time. The trip back by boat is a little less fun. The wind has turned and we receive a bit of a splashing! Moreover, the sun has disappeared and it is now quite cold. We actually arrive back at the campsite in near dark. We must be careful because when the sun goes down, the hippos come to land to graze. If you get too close to these territorial behemoths they can be very unfriendly because they feel threatened (by us? We are but small in comparison to these huge animals). Fortunately everything goes well and slightly numb, we come ashore. We had a great day and have seen an awful lot.
The above extract comes from the diary of Marlies van Ham. She has travelled with our organization through Kenya and Tanzania.
You can also go on safari through Kenya and Tanzania with Shoestring! Interested?
Prices start at £1299/€1499 per person for 15 days. Extend your trip on the relaxing island of Zanzibar on our 22 day trip.