Lake Navaisha and a little frustration

Thursday 29 to Friday 30 September

It was a long drive from Masaimara to Lake Navaisha, made worse because our tour company was drip feeding money to pay for accommodation and park entry fees. We lost 2.5 hours waiting for funds to come through for our hotel. Previous three days we had lost more than an hour each day. Although our driver was a great companion to us, with information and care, he too was frustrated by his boss. We had tried calling and texting the owner, but clearly that aggravated him and he ignored us.

We met another couple in the hotel who were also frustrated by lack of transparency. They were expecting to make a return flight to Zanzibar but he hadn’t booked their tickets although they had paid for them. Their driver was equally frustrated.

And the name of the company? Kenya Walking Survivors Tours and Mr Otieno – do not use them, we believe they have a serious cash flow problem, perhaps because it is the end of the tourist season and they haven’t properly managed their funds.

As we travelled long distances from one excursion to the next, we made comfort stops at curio shops. These are considered the most suitable as they have clean facilities. They also offer an extensive range of souvenirs and a sales person ready to pounce on you and make sure you purchase something. I was amazed at one stop by the number of safari companies who had posted their stickers on the wall. It seems that safari companies in Kenya are small enterprises run on a shoestring. That certainly has been our experience.

We were due to do a boat ride on the lake that afternoon, but by the time we arrived the afternoon rain had started.

Our hotel was right on Lake Navaisha, and we thought a long walk might be in order. In fact the edge of the lake was swampy and we were limited to a small area to admire the birds. At least we had good enough internet to catch up on some banking and communication.

The following day we were scheduled to walk around the Green Crater which is close by. Unfortunately, I suffered an ‘off day’ and found the walk too strenuous, but Bruce had a wonderful walk with our guide Anna.

Lunch at the crater was pleasant on a rather rocky boat house in the lake. The lake doesn’t support any fish as it is too salty. It is fed underground by fresh water from the surrounding mountains but there is no outlet, only evaporation. There was one wonderful April Fool’s joke in 1988, claiming the lake had its own Loch Ness monster.

The area around Lake Navaisha is famous for its flower farms, a major export industry for Kenya. Flowers are picked overnight and freighted to Europe to go to the markets the next day.

We did get our boat ride on Lake Navaisha – to see the bird life and the hippopotami. Water birds of all shapes and sizes were plentiful. Our boatman even had a couple of fish to entice the Fish Eagles to put on a hunting display. Hippopotami were in great numbers, but you’d often miss them as they sank into the water to feed.

Lake Navisha is one of seven major lakes in Kenya. They are landlocked in the Rift Valley, so the only outlet is evaporation. They exhibit various levels of saltiness. The water in this lake is the freshest of all the lakes, so the fish and bird life is abundant.

That evening I ate the local fish which was sweet, even if a little over cooked.