Samburu to Nakuru

Another diary entry, so photos are first.

We took a long drive from our first Safari Park in Samburu, north of the equator, to Nakuru. We climbed mountains and drove across the Rift.

Saturday 24 September

We had a long day ahead, leaving the game park at 8:45am. Mwendwa had said that the shortest distance would be a difficult journey over unsealed road and he would take a longer but faster and easier route along sealed roads.

We had been talking about navigation and our GPS. We had also become concerned when Mwendwa appeared tired during the long drive to Samburu. So we suggested putting our Tom Tom on his windscreen. Of course it would also allow us to gauge how good Tom Tom maps are in Southern Africa. Mwendwa was so excited by the technology, what we now take for granted, was such a novelty for him. The distance and ETA, the speed. The planned route was along these unsealed roads however when we passed the turnoff, to continue on sealed roads, the map readjusted. He was very impressed. And even directing us around a roundabout was a new experience.

We stopped at the Thompson falls. Mwendwa told us that the English explorer and geologist Joseph Thompson didn’t discover the falls nor the gazelle, he was just the first white man to see them when he passed through is 1883. He does not have much respect for the explorers and colonists.

The Thompson Falls drop a height of 74m in the Nyahurur Altitude which is 2360m above sea level. They are fed by the Ewaso Nyiro River, and drain in the Iorian Swamps.

A young lady is a traditional costume insisted on introducing herself and give us photo opportunities with her.  Of course that effectively doubled the entrance fee, which converted to $2.35 for us both.

We entered the Rift Valley, or at least a part that passes through Kenya. The Rift Valley stretches from Lebanon to Mozambique.

This is Kenyan’s food bowl where coffee and tea had traditionally been grown. The government won’t buy the tea, so farmers are replacing the tea plantations with maize crops, which is a major export grain. It was humid as we drove into Nakuru, and that evening it rained, leaving us with bright but hazy skies next morning.

Sunday 25 September

Great confusion happened overnight. Our tour operator Mr Otieno had suggested we spend more time in the Masaimara and skip the Serengeti. We received his revised itinerary but there had been an administrative error on how it was constructed, leaving two days out. We expect that will be sorted out quickly.

And it rained overnight, cooling the air considerably. In true Camelot style it rained at night and was dry, humid and misty in the morning.

We were in Nakuru to visit the Lake Nakuru National Park. It included a crater lake sitting at more than 2000m elevation. Unlike Samburu, this park was green and lush. It sits in the Rift Valley.

The main purpose of our tour was to see a white hippo, but no promises. This is a seriously endangered animal and guarded closely.

As we entered the park we saw our first buffaloes, lazing in the grass. And then a lone Common Zebra. This is a shorter stockier zebra than we had seen in Samburu.

We drove up to the Baboon Lookout for a magical view of the misty Lake Nakuru. No baboons here, although we later saw many mobs of them. But there was a small mammal which Mwesdwe identified as a rock hyrax also known in South Africa as a dassie. I couldn’t help but Google this animal. Although small, only 6kg and rotund, it’s closest living relatives are modern day elephants and sirenians (sea cows such as dugongs).

And finally there were the white hippos, under a tree some 500m away. Seven of them grazing accompanied by a single buffalo. They had their fill. The youngest rolled on his back and then they all settled down to chew the cud.

As we continued on we saw Rothschild giraffes and many more zebras, impalas, buffaloes and baboons. There is a lovely waterfall which flows down the side of the crater and into the lake.

We had a long drive ahead of us to the Masaimara. Close to 5 hours on the better roads. The TomTom, which seems to have become a fixture in Mwendwe’s van suggested a quicker route, but Mwendwe said the surface was bad and if it rained you could end up marooned for days. We stopped at George’s resort and coffee shop for lunch. The simple buffet was delicious. I don’t know what the spices are but they are so tasty and the vegetables are fresh with lots of flavour.

A lot of Somali refugees. Noted one village with names like Jordan shop, Sudan shop, but the people didn’t appear to be Muslim. Mwendwe told us there are many Somalian refugees. They stay on a three-month visa then bribe someone to get residency. Their shops are bigger because the Somalians come with a lot of money. But many have Indian traits such as straight hair.

What we saw…

  • Water buffalo
  • Common zebra
  • Rock hyrax (small mammal at bamboo lookout) aka dassie in South Africa, rock badger, cape hyrax. Closest living relatives are modern day elephants and sirenians (sea cows such as dugongs)
  • Fish eagle on top of tree
  • White rhino & buffalo
  • water hog
  • Go away bird back lit
  • Baboons & Impala
  • Colobus monkey black & white in tree
  • Zebra again + crossing
  • Rothschild giraffes
  • Falls
  • Water buffalo & zebras
  • Female giraffe approx 20yo (live to 80) & baboons
  • Eagle
  • Sodom Apple plant