Sunday, June 20, 2010

A great time in Nakuru

This weekend was mine and S’s anniversary, so to celebrate S booked us into the luxury Sarova Lion Hill Lodge, which is situated inside Lake Nakuru National Park. Nakuru means ‘place of the waterbuck’ in Swahili, and we saw plenty of these furry antelope as we circulated the reserve. In the centre of the park is an enormous shallow soda lake which is full of literally thousands of pink flamingos. Apparently at one point, it was home to over two million flamingos, which is one third of the world’s population. It was an incredible sight to look down at the lake and see a large flurry of candyfloss pink where countless birds searched out for spirulina to eat; the blue green algae is cultivated by their own droppings!

Our main viewing highlights included seeing over a whopping twenty rhinoceros- including the white and black variety- both of which are endangered. Incredibly we got remarkably close to these huge creatures, and saw many baby rhinos with their parents. Another highlight was at about 6.45am when I thought I saw two big rocks in the road, and we realised as we approached that they were in fact four sloped backed spotted hyena. We got so close that we could have stuck our hands out the window and stroked them. We watched them bathe in the early morning sun before, further down the road, spotting two speedy black backed jackals pacing over the plains. We were really lucky to see these animals as they normally hide before the heat of the day. We also got to see some fresh kill- lions had attacked a buffalo during the night next to the lake and by the time we arrived, it was swarming with white backed and Rupels vultures and marabou storks that feasted on its innards and worst of all- picked out its eye ball from its eye sockets! We left before I had to watch them try to get at its tongue! Its hard to describe the excitement and anticipation of a safari in a new location or the feeling when you first spot an animal you haven’t seen before- each time we see new animals its like adding something to our collection, and its even better when you know you can get a great photo!

We also got up close to some non-menacing baboons carrying their tiny babies on their backs and under their bellies through the long grasses, extremely close to the incredible long legged secretary bird and also managed to snap some great shots of the beautiful lilac breasted roller bird which has the most amazing colours- turquoise, hot pink, green and royal blue. I am not surprised it is considered to be the national bird- its something to be proud of! We also saw enormous herds of mighty buffalo throughout the conservancy, plus the not so great privilege of seeing warthogs mating with two male gazelles fighting behind them.

The scenery of the park was breathtaking. We scaled up a large hill to Baboon Cliff which has awe-inspiring views of the entire park. We visited an impressive waterfall, and the rest of the land was a range of purple flowered meadows, acacia filled forests, wide open plains and salt flats. Everywhere we went we came across towering giraffe, grazing zebra and antelope. The variety of birds was also fantastic with African Hoopoe, Anteater chats, Ground Hornbills and Spoonbills along with the other birds that I have mentioned.

The lodge that we stayed at was glorious and such a treat. Quite a contrast from the Somalian mud huts we stayed in Nanyuki! We arrived on Friday night after a three hour drive, and were jovially welcomed to the sounds and traditional dances of local people, and then presented with a delicious dinner. The food could not be faulted and we enjoyed mighty feasts for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day. There was an outdoor swimming pool and a massage tent- and I paid for both S and I to enjoy a massage between morning and afternoon game drives. I also had the luxury of soaking in a hot bubble bath in our room-something I haven’t had the chance to do for a long time! The location of the lodge was perfect- situated neatly and inconspicuously on a hill side with stunning views of the lake. It was great to be able to wake up so early in the morning already in the park, and we ventured out on safari as soon as the gates opened. It was dark and misty, which gave the park a magical and eerie edge, but the sun soon rose and the heat warmed us up.

We were extremely pleased with our new red Suzuki that coped very well with the Kenyan roads and dust tracks- S is becoming a very skilled driver, carefully manoeuvring us across holes and ditches!

Only one weekend left before we come home to England and less than a month until our wedding- there is much to be excited about!!

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