How wonderful is it when a family member or friend moves abroad for a job opportunity? Suddenly, questions about where to go for the next vacation are resolved and that exotic destination becomes much more affordable (because you “live like a local”). Well, I have been living in Kenya for almost seven years and my parents finally took advantage of the situation 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 traveled from the US 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 plan a wonderful day of walking safaris and a boat ride – perfect activities for the perfect weather in Kenya. However, it was November, when Kenya has less than perfect weather, and it became prudent to plan an alternative for a rainy day. 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 good weather destination!
We agreed to decide which itinerary to follow when we met that day and surveyed 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 that the sky was clear. So we took the opportunity and headed to the lake.
Hell’s 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 by bike, Hells Gate has spectacular scenery and rock formations to marvel at. And animals of course – saw antelope, antelope, zebra, buffalo, a secretary bird, impalas, Thomson’s gazelle and so many warthogs.
After the early start and 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 that they could try a little of everything. We had beef stew, chicken, fish from the lake (Tilapia), rice, chapattis, ugali, wikiand kachambari.
After the party it was time to walk again. This time we drove around the lake to the Wileli Conservancy where there are many more animals than Hells Gate. There are not many predators in the Naivasha area, so herbivores can graze in relative peace and humans can mingle with them… to a certain extent. In addition to zebras, elands, and impalas (which were getting boring now), the family saw giraffes. It’s so impressive to get up close to giraffes when you’re on foot. You can see exactly how tall they are, but so gentle and graceful.
As we drive to and from the Wileli Conservancy, we pass through a wildlife corridor, which has to be my favorite kilometer of road in all of East Africa. And this day was especially amazing! We saw lots of animals as we passed: giraffes, impalas, elands, zebras, and warthogs. And the incredible thing was that they were all grazing together in a Garden of Eden-style setting. You usually see groups of similar animals together; it is less common to see many species together.
The grand finale of the day was a boat ride on Lake Oloiden. This small lake is adjacent to Lake Naivasha with a 5 meter inlet/outlet separating them. The fun fact about these lakes is that Naivasha is sweet 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 spending 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!