How wonderful is it when a family member or friend moves abroad for a job opportunity? Suddenly, questions of where to go for the next holiday are solved and that exotic destination becomes much more affordable (as you “live like a local”). Well I’ve been living in Kenya for nearly seven years and my parents finally took advantage of the situation just last year. Freda, on the other hand, is currently doing a four-week residency at a hospital north of Nairobi and her mother, sister and brother-in-law made the trek from the USA last week to visit her and experience Kenya.
But it wasn’t Freda who organized the day trip; her sister, Novem, connected with us. We planned a wonderful day of walking safaris and a boat ride – perfect activities for perfect Kenyan weather. However it was November, when Kenya has less than perfect weather, and it became prudent to plan a rainy day alternative. It would also be an interesting and entertaining day, but with activities that would be bearable in a drizzle (but not a storm!). Kenya is definitely a fair weather destination!
We agreed to decide which itinerary to go with when we met on the day and would inspect the clouds together. The forecast said there was a 100% chance of rain in Naivasha, but our local guide on the lake shore assured us the sky was clear. So we took the chance and headed to the lake.
Hells Gate National Park
The first stop was Hells Gate National Park. The group opted to walk instead of embarking on the more popular cycling adventure. On foot or on a bike, Hells Gate has some spectacular scenery and rock formations to marvel at. And animals of course – they saw waterbuck, elands, zebras, buffalos, a secretary bird, impala, Thomson’s gazelle and so many warthogs.
After the early start and the hike, they were definitely ready for lunch which we enjoyed at a traditional restaurant in one of the lakeside villages. The chef had prepared a selection of dishes so they could try a bit of everything. We had beef stew, chicken, fish from the lake (Tilapia), rice, chapattis, ugali, zikuma wiki, and kachambari.
After the feast it was time to walk again. This time we drove around the lake to Wileli Conservancy where there are a lot more animals than in Hells Gate. There are not many predators in the Naivasha area, and so the herbivores can graze in relative peace and humans can mingle with them… to an extent. As well as zebras, elands and impalas (which were getting boring now) the family saw giraffes. It is so impressive getting close to giraffes when you are on foot. You can see exactly how tall they are, but so gentle and graceful.
As we drive to and from Wileli Conservancy, we pass through a wildlife corridor, which must be my favourite kilometre of road in the whole of East Africa. And this day was especially amazing! We saw a lot of animals as we passed by: giraffes, impalas, elands, zebras and warthogs. And the awesome thing was they were all grazing together in a Garden of Eden-style setting. Usually you see groups of like animals together; it is less common to see many species all together.
The grand finale of the day was a boat trip on Lake Oloiden. This little lake is adjacent to Lake Naivasha with a 5 metre inlet/outlet separating the two. The fun fact about these lakes is that Naivasha is fresh while Oloiden is salty. This is the boat ride you take if you want to see hippos, which they certainly did.
Novem, Chris, Freda and Lek, it was wonderful to spend the day with you. And a few days later in Nairobi National Park. We hope to see you again… for a longer safari next time!