Walk on the Wild Side

Just over a week ago, Sept. 23rd, we headed out for a walk on the wild side!  In fact, just getting to Naivasha, a two-hour drive north of Nairobi in the Great Rift Valley, turned out to be a bit of wild ride. I’d reserved a minivan rental earlier in the week, and it was scheduled to be delivered to me at a nearby shopping center at 7:30 Friday morning. The driver who was supposed to drop it off called on Thursday evening to confirm. But, when he didn’t show up by 7:45 on Friday, I texted him: Would he be there soon? Yes, he replied, at 8:30. Okay …

8:30 came and went with Bronwyn and I waiting outside of the shopping center. While waiting, we met Robert, a taxi-driver with a minivan who lives next door to our church. At 8:45, I again texted the person who was supposed to deliver our rental. This time he called to tell me that he’d actually been in an accident en route to drop off the van, but, he assured me, the rental company was arranging another vehicle for us. So I called the company to confirm. Yes, they said, the van will be there shortly. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.

In the meantime, Robert offered to give us a ride to Naivasha. Waiting at the car park while we took our walking and boat safaris wouldn’t be a problem for him. Furthermore, he was willing to do it for the same price I’d committed to pay for the minivan rental (which was about half of what most drivers would normally charge for the trip!) – God is good! By 9:30, we’d stopped by the house to pick up Jody and the rest of the family and were finally on our way to Naivasha.

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Overlooking the Rift Valley

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We enjoyed the beautiful drive, as well as some roasted corn from vendors along the roadside – thanks for recommending it, Robert!  Our main destination was Crescent Island, a privately-owned game preserve on Lake Naivasha. Unlike the National Parks where we’d taken our previous safaris, which do not allow you to exit your vehicle (probably a good idea given that those parks have lions and other predators), there are no cars on Crescent Island. Nor are there lions, thankfully.

We arrived in time for a picnic lunch in the company of a curious, but shy-when-approached baby giraffe!  Then we spent several hours walking around Crescent Island with the giraffes, zebras, waterbucks, wildebeests, duikers, monkeys, and gazelles. It was a lot of fun to see how close we could get to the animals, especially the curious and adorable baby giraffe, whose mother always kept a careful eye on us. For the most part, the animals calmly watched us approach, but then were quick to trot off if (when) we got too close.

(Click any image to open slideshow)

In additional to the walking safari, we were also able to take a boat tour of Lake Naivasha. We saw an incredible assortment of birds as well as several hippo families. A highlight was definitely the baby hippo riding on its mother’s back.

On our way out of the park, we stopped at the owner’s house. She has several animal skulls on her porch, including the skull of a hippo that died in her yard. Hippos come out of the water at night to graze. During the dry season, when most of the other grass has died, hippos will come up to the house, where the lawn and garden is watered. The park owner said that she sometimes she would hear them just outside her bedroom window and that they’ve even crashed into the side of her house. Maybe that’s why many African houses are built out of concrete…

 

After a full day outside in the sun, it was great to stop for milkshakes in Naivasha town before heading home. It was a bit of a slow trip back due to heavy truck traffic on the narrow road, but Robert was an excellent driver.  We were thankful he had been available, because if we were driving ourselves in the rental van, our timeline would not have been so flexible, and we may not have been as comfortable arriving back in Nairobi well after dark, around 9pm. We were thankful God had him there just when we needed him, and we enjoyed getting to know a new friend – icing on the cake of a very splendid day out as a family!

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