Lake Nakuru National Park: February 25th, 2016
We all get out of the jeeps for a stretch at the gate of the park while our entrance fees and admission applications are being taken care of. First thing I notice is the heat. We make small talk about the heat here compared to Samburu. We are informed that Lake Nakuru is about flamingos and waterfowl.
Ken and the guides all return to the jeeps with our clearances to proceed into the national park. The ecology is wetter, with tall tree cover and high grasses. Same lovely animals. Switch-backing across the countryside, the impalas and zebra are plentiful. despite the grass being long, Eric’s eagle eyes catch the slinking of a big cat cutting a path through the undergrowth. We pick up his trail, and nudge the jeep along with him. He sprints for the wooded area, leaving us behind. This is the first leopard we have encountered that seems skittish of us. I suspect it is because this is a national park and not a private reserve or a conservation area. Here the animals are truly wild.
The leopard’s speed left me unable to get a decent picture. However, with our collection of cape buffalo, lion, rhino and elephants from this morning’s drive out of Samburu, we now have all of the big five and it isn’t even lunchtime yet.
We are welcomed to Lake Nakuru Lodge by a friendly staff. It is a beautiful new resort on the top of the hill, with a view to the lake below. Ken, our lead photographer, is apprehensive. He believes it is too far from the action, that we will waste more than half an hour driving down to the prime photography areas.
Monique and I love the look of this place and we decide to skip the late afternoon game drive. to go hang out at the pool.
We read our books, drink beer under a huge shade umbrella and feel like princesses. Other guests splash all around us. The server opens the outside bar so we can order refreshments and it is a pool side party atmosphere.
A young man who works for the hotel, comes over and chats with us and showing us a YouTube video of an ad for the lodge. He got the job of lead singer. He beams with pride as he says, “I am going to be famous.” He is already being hit up by agents. We wish him the “best of luck.”
Beads of sweat are forming on my brow from the humidity and I sit on the pool’s edge and dangle my feet into the the shallow end. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see large dark clouds forming and within moments huge droplets start splattering the ground. We grab our drinks and head into the lounge.
With no other occupants, we have the place to ourselves. I bring out my tablet, hook up to the WiFi and start to play Toto’s Africa. We sing karaoke into our beer cans while the rain pelts against the window panes. We still can’t believe we’re really in Africa.
The rest of the group returns from the game drive and taunts us about the blue-eyed leopard we missed. We smile and nod, saying nothing, because we know they missed something special too.
February 26th, 2016
The jeep creeps slowly forward, half sliding, half driving. The road is washed out after the heavy rain. I have on my seat belt to keep from being tossed to the floor. Eric spots some baboons and careens to a stop to let us get pictures. I roll down my window and a large male is directly across from me. I snap a quick picture and within a bat of an eye, he has lunged out and his snout is in my camera lens. I’m convinced he is hanging off my window and is going to bite me. I try to escape but I am lashed in place by my seat belt. “Get the “f#%king seat belt off me!” I screech. Monique and Eric can’t move, they are rolling with laughter — by this time the baboon is nowhere in sight.
I recover from my fright and we carry on further down the road. Up in the far branches is a black and white Colobus monkey. I had never heard of this type of monkey He moves away fast and I get marginal photos of him; such a shy handsome fellow.
“Can we get out Eric?”
We are sitting in the jeep staring at the waterfall. There is a baboon resting on the sign and Eric refuses to let us out till he moves away. So we sit patiently (sort of). Within five minutes that baboon leaps down and scoots away.
We get the “all-clear” to walk below the falls and listen to the water spill from high above. Eric does the honours with the camera, taking pictures of us. We linger just a little bit as there is a aroma of carrion in the air. We find the source of the smell as we drive across the wooden bridge — the remains of a kill partially submerged in the water along bank of the stream. I turn my head and look away from its still-open but clouded eyes.
This is the first actual mature forest we have seen. Well spaced but full canopy cover. The zebras and gazelles forage, baboons groom each other and warthogs knuckle in the dirt.
We come across a zebra struggling to move. His hind leg is swollen and he can’t put weight on it. Monique and I, with our horse backgrounds, want to bandage his leg and help him out. Eric states the reality is, he has fallen behind the safety of his herd and he most, likely will not live the night. This is the law of the land, survival of the fittest. Fortunately life is prolific here and the cycle continues in its mysterious ways.
Seeing two males sparring tells me dominance and strength prevail to ensure the preservation of the best for the next generation.
We emerge from the forest onto the estuary of the lake. Our entire group congregates in the parking area. We welcome a chance to walk the shoreline. The lake is filled with waterfowl and pink flamingos. Unfortunately they are far away and my photos of them are grainy.
On our return to the lodge we make a pass of the area where the movie Out of Africa was filmed and stop for final photos. As if on cue, a pride of lions comes out of the grass to explore the porch of the building. they letting us get some amazing close-ups.
Knowing this is our last full game drive here, I rubber-necking out the window, trying to soak it all in. Where else can you see forests filled with zebras, gazelles, giraffes and lions? The animals are all so visible, so close. This many animals together would only be akin to a pasture with cows at home, but here in this meadow they live in harmony. They can roam unimpeded by fences or property lines.
Tonight we dine and go to bed early. Tomorrow is a long drive to Lower Masai Mara. Please join me on my continued journey around Kenya. If you missed any of my adventure here are the previous parts:
Happy Travels from Maritime Mac
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