Students at Bridgeworld College “enjoyed” a reading/study break last week as they prepared for this week’s final exams. The break allowed our family to enjoy a road trip over Ryan’s birthday.
Evance, our very personable driver, picked us up shortly after 7am on Tuesday, November 1. We traveled north of Nairobi to Lake Nakuru, stopping to enjoy the view of the Great Rift Valley en route. After checking in at the camp, eating lunch and enjoying a quick swim in the pool, we took an afternoon game drive around Lake Nakuru. One highlight was seeing a white rhinoceros, which we had not yet seen in the wild, cross the road in front of our van.
As always, click on any picture below to open slideshow.
Another highlight (and lowlight!) was having a very large baboon climb into the safari van through the open roof as we stopped at the Baboon Cliff lookout point. Unfortunately we were too busy getting him (and/or ourselves!) out of the van to take any pictures. Torin later assessed this event as the best and worst thing that happened that day. Shortly thereafter another vehicle arrived at the lookout point. The driver forgot to put up the windows and the same baboon quickly returned and stole a bag of chips out of the car.
We spent the night at Flamingo Hill Camp in Lake Nakuru National Park, where our family was able to rent the family tent. Wednesday morning, we enjoyed an early game drive before breakfast. Highlights include a seeing a large herd of Rothschild giraffes and a group of white rhinos. We also caught a glimpse of some flamingos, and many other shore birds, including large white pelicans. Lake Nakuru is famous for enormous flocks of flamingos, but because of high water levels (and therefore changes in the available food for flamingos) there are far fewer flamingos at the lake now than even a few years ago.
After breakfast, we left Lake Nakuru and drove around the Aberdare forest and mountain range. The geography was quite different from the other places we had visited in Kenya. Along the way, we saw some of the tea and coffee plantations for which Kenya is well-known. We also stopped briefly at Thompson Falls. We arrived at Naro Moru River Lodge in time for a late lunch.
After lunch we drove into Nanyuki, a town located on the equator. There we visited the Mount Kenya Animal Orphanage, where we enjoyed feeding many of the animals, including the monkeys. It was Ryan’s birthday, but we didn’t bring any party hats. Having a monkey on your head is definitely the next best thing! We stopped at the equator on our return trip to the lodge.
On Thursday, our family hiked on Mount Kenya with Julius, our friendly and capable guide. We walked 9 kilometers (about 5 1/2 miles) from the park gate at 2650 m (8700 ft) elevation) to the first base camp at 3300 m (11 000 feet) elevation. (From the camp, it is another two-days climb to summit Mount Kenya.) The climb took us through tropical rainforest, where we saw colobus monkeys in their natural habitat. In the rainforest, the vegetation was incredibly tall, lush, and dense, and it was interesting to notice the changes in plants (and temperature) as we hiked higher, eventually arriving above the tree line.
It had been quite a trek up to the first base camp, so we were very glad to meet gentlemen with a pickup there who kindly gave us a ride back down the mountain. The return trip to Nairobi took us through a very fertile section of the highlands, where we saw a lot of cultivated land. We also passed one of Del Monte’s large pineapple plantations, and many, many pineapple stands. It is fun to see these fruits like mango, banana, and pineapple, as well as crops such as sugar cane, coffee, and tea growing as commonly here as the corn and soybeans we are so used to seeing back in Iowa. It was also great to see our home and our beds when we arrived back in Karen Thursday night.