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Published: June 11th 2013
Our visit with King Kong’s cousins finished, we headed back into Kenya to see some more sights and to say goodbye to a couple of the guys on the trip, Joey and Clemens.
We stayed at a farm campsite, where once again we would witness the might of Zane at a competition sport: ping pong. Whilst none of us quite achieved the legendary status of Forest Gump, from the film, erm, Forest Gump, we did do our best in what light we had to keep the ball on the table and not on the floor. A few drinks followed, and Clemens and I discussed life late into the night, interrupted only by our stargazing friend.
Lake Nakuru. Famed for its pink flamingos, rhinos and great scenery. We went for a game drive and saw all this and more, zebras, buffalo, hippos and baboons. Oh, baboons, how we hate you… Lunch was had at a viewpoint, cunningly called Baboon Cliff. It should have been a clue. More than a clue, it should have been a warning... Placing our bags on the picnic bench, we tucked into our sandwiches like kids on a school trip, ate our snacks and our chocolate.
And then, amidst a lull of chomping, came a shout from someone else on the cliff. We turned as one to see a baboon, as big as a furry mini-me, bounding towards our table, bold as brass and balls swinging (sorry, mum). And then we made our choices. Some took an inward gasp of breath. Some moved swiftly from the table. Some grabbed their bags. I did none of these things. I stood, transfixed, held rigid by the sight of the would-be thief heading our way at speed, and I did… absolutely nothing. I still don’t know what went through my head. Normal people would have done something, but I literally stood there, as if in a trance. Yes, my friends, it turns out I would be useless in any kind of ‘on-the-spot’ situation. Sorry about that.
The baboon managed to snatch one of the bags on the table. Thankfully for us, it was the rubbish bag, and no more harm was done. We laughed, a little nervously at first but with proper amusement afterwards, while around us people searched for the baboon and scared it off when it again attempted to come close again. We left the cliff
soon after and later that day we headed to Lake Naivasha.
The obvious thing to do when told about a great national park is to find out if you can mountain bike around it. I mean, why not, it’s a sensible option, right? Biking with no protection and no real speed to get away from any of those large, wild animals that those kinds of parks contain. Bonza idea. Especially when the park is called Hell’s Gate and the park map has a picture of THE DEVIL, no less. Thankfully, as you can tell by the fact that I am writing this, I made it out alive. Phew.
In fact, it was one of the best parts of the trip overall. Our guide led us around the park from one end to the other, mostly flat which was grand, with no flat tyres, maulings, or other mishaps on the way. We stopped many times to see the various flora and fauna, including a herd of zebras crossing the road in front of us which was pretty cool, and we ended up at a gorge where we left the bikes for a good hour or so and made our
way down into its bottom (ooo-errr) where we walked along it for a wee while. There is a place there where the water, admittedly a fairly small trickle and puddle down a rock face, is heated by thermal activity, and was warmer than a hot water bottle. Toasty.
We biked back out of the park, seeing giraffe at the water hole on the way, before speeding down the track. That afternoon (at least I think it was, my brain and my journal are both conspiring to confuse me) we took a boat ride out on the lake to see hippos. Unfortunately our guides must have translated this to intrude on hippo’s territory, as we were rather close to the first group before making a hasty retreat to safer waters. Hippos may look like gentle giants, but I have been informed, many times, that they are very territorial and aggressive animals. One of the people on the trip had actually been swallowed whole by a hippo a few years ago and they had to burp the hippo for an hour before they were sicked back up. True story*.
After seeing these lovely beasts in their natural habitat, we went
on the search for African Sea Eagles, finding several pairs, and our guide managed to tempt them to catch the dead fish he threw into the lake. Pretty awesome, both in their grace and accuracy. The birds, that is, not the dead fish. Dead fish have neither grace, nor accuracy. Nor a pulse, in fact. We, on the other hand, had grace, accuracy and beers. Yum.
We were then dropped off at the house of Joy Adamson, of Born Free/Living Free fame. Her and her then husband befriended Elsa the lioness and the pictures of them with her and her family were quite incredible. Unfortunately, it turns out Joy was something of a bitch and was murdered by her staff for not treating them well and, I believe, not paying them. Foolish lady.
That night, we listened to music, played pool and put a fair dent in the campsite’s alcohol supply. We behaved like the true travellers we were, and were proud of it too. Mostly proud that is. I was the unfortunate victim of the common ‘oops I’ve had a bit much’ disease that is common to campsites across the world. Clemens and I ventured to the
onsite camp ‘nightclub’, where I immediately got the homing instinct and left in disgust, only to return five minutes later unable to work out which way the tent lay, convinced that it was miles from where we were. Turns out it was only five minutes’ walk. Class.
And then came the goodbyes. First of all we had to say cheerio to Zane and Claudia, who left us at a hotel on the way to another campsite. What a place as well. Several of us popped in to use the very swanky bathroom and left it smelling slightly less swanky. At our next campsite, the very one we had first been at when we started the trip, we went for Ethiopian food and to meet a couple of friends of Joey and Clemens. For those of you who haven’t had proper Ethiopian food, go and do it. As soon as you can! We had several big plates of mixed meets and treats, all of which you mop up with your hands and rolls of a type of bread that looks like a face cloth but is definitely not to be mistaken with one. It was lovely. And a great end
to the first leg of our trip.
Somewhere in all this we also went to visit an elephant sanctuary. I'm not even sure when we did this, only that it must have been in Kenya at some stage, but it was also very good, seeing the young elephants get their bottle feeds and playing, kicking a football around and splashing mud wherever they could. I'm sure there must be more to write about it but you will have to make do with some pictures 😊
Saying goodbye to Zane and Claudia, then Joey and Clemens, was no fun at all. Though we’d only spent a limited amount of time together, you grow to know people very well when spending nearly 24 hours a day with them. But, we had to move on with the second leg of our trip; new people, new places, new adventures. After we said our goodbyes, it was time to meet the new recruits and drive out of Kenya to our next destination, Tanzania.
*Note: this is not a true story.
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