Saturday 10 February - Lake Naivasha, Crescent Island, Joy & George Adamson Museum, Elsamere near Nairobi

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February 10th 2018
Published: February 13th 2018
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Saturday 10 February, Day 3 Nairobi –

The arrangements with Douglas, my guide from the previous day, was for a driver to pick me up at 6.00am. Meanwhile, after waiting until 7.15am and after calling the Safari Link Africa office I eventually met Chris the driver along with 4 women from Chicago who had booked the same tour. The only advantage of waiting all that time was that I saw a magnificent sunrise!!!

As usual, after fighting the Nairobi Saturday morning traffic, we eventually were driving on the very rough, pot-holed road which carried massive numbers of trucks going from Mombasa to Nairobi, to all the other more northern African countries.

First stop was the Rift Valley which provided some of Kenya’s most dramatic scenery, with sheer cliffs, algae-rich lakes and desert expanses dotted here and there with fertile farming land.

We then arrived at Lake Naivasha. Situated at an altitude of 1884 meters, Lake Naivasha is a freshwater lake in Kenya located around 100 kilometres northwest of Nairobi and near the town of Naivasha (formerly East Nakuru). The lake is part of the Great Rift Valley and its name comes from the Maasai word, Nai'posha – which translates as "rough water" – because of the storms that can suddenly arise here.

Next was Crescent Island where a speed boat was waiting for us for ferrying to the island. There were thousands of birds to watch, animal grazing by the banks of the lake, and snoring heads of huge hippopotamus. The pilot firstly threw a fish into the Lake and the 2 Fish Eagles sored down to catch it. John our guide/pilot was young but very knowledgeable. During the first 5 minutes of our boat trip, we saw a group of about 15 female hippos. We floated around the group taking photos but keeping our distance. About 50m away we saw the male hippo by itself. The boat trip to the island took about 45 minutes – very pleasant.

Our guide took us through the island on foot and showed us animals and vegetation. From the top of the hill was a 360-degree view across the Lake from Longonot to Hell’s Gate to the Mau Escarpement to Eburu and onto the Aberdares. We learned that there are more animals per acre than any other Kenyan Park, hence many film companies have been to the Island to film the herds of Wildebeest, Waterbuck, Zebra and Gazelle. There are no fences, to allow the wildlife on the mainland to come in as they lose their habitat to development and the ever-increasing population. Hippo graze all over at night then sleep under the acacia but most we saw were at rest in the water by day. The giraffes who were born on the Island return to give birth. Hyena come to hunt at night but are not resident on the island. Our guide told us about the many python on the Island, but we didn’t see any. Groups of Buffalo come and go but they are always monitored. We also saw lots of aardvark holes but no site of these nocturnal animals.

It was then time to go back onto the vast Naivasha lake which is surrounded by a swampland and fringed by papyrus plants. The water level was low as it was the dry season and so the island is really a peninsular as there is not enough water to cover some of the higher ground.

Among the residents of the lake are over 400 species of birds, including fish eagles, ospreys, lily-trotters, black crakes, and herons, and it’s also home to a large community of hippos. A number of other mammals are also drawn here and it’s not uncommon to see zebra, impala, buffalo, giraffe, and kongoni grazing in the areas surrounding the lake. We saw a number of monkeys also.

It was time for lunch at the Naivasha Lake Camp ….. along with the monkeys who were steeling food from plates left by tourists.

One of several private conservancies in Kenya, the Elsamere Conservation Park which is located on the southern shore of Lake Naivasha in the Rift Valley. This was our next stop.

It's here that conservationist Joy Adamson nurtured some of her orphaned big cats -- including the most famous: Elsa. This orphaned lion cub was hand-raised in the 1950s by Joy and her husband, George, and released into the African bush. The book Joy wrote about the experience, "Born Free", was made into a movie.

The area is still a haven for wildlife, with its own small troop of black and white colobus monkeys in the acacia trees. Fish Eagles can be found on the lakeshore, and hippos, eland and zebra graze on the lawns at night. More than 260 species of bird including rare species such as the Verreaux's Giant Eagle Owl have been spotted.

Friederike Victoria "Joy" Adamson was a naturalist, artist and author. Her book, Born Free, describes her experiences raising a lion cub named Elsa. In 1956, Joy's third husband, George Adamson, in the course of his job as game warden of the Northern Frontier District in Kenya, shot and killed a lioness as she charged him and another warden. George later realized the lioness was just protecting her cubs, which were found nearby in a rocky crevice.

The house/museum we visited was Joy & George’s retirement house and the banks of the Naivasha Lake and was furnished with the original furniture. No photos were allowed. The walls were covered with Joy’s paintings of the 42 Kenyan tribes which she had researched and written a book on all the tribes. We had coffee and ‘high-tea’ and started our trip back to Nairobi. Wow, was the road busy with trucks from Kenya, Uganda, and other northern African countries.

We arrived back at the hotel at around 6.00pm, so other than me leaving my fleece in the van and causing Chris, our driver to have to bring it back, it was a very successful and interesting day.

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