Wednesday, September 9, 2015

We Are All Animals - Naivasha and Hell's Gate National Park

Over the weekend a group of us hired a taxi to take us to Naivasha National Park. The park is a 3-4 hour drive from Edloret. I was joined on the tour by Amy, Mi, Tiffany(another Berkeley grad. Go Bears!), Issac and a couple other Pharmacy students. We all piled into a taxi Matatu and headed off to Lake Naivasha with a short coffee and lunch stop in Nakuru and a stop at the Equator. At the equator a nice man showed us how the water spins in opposite directions on either side and straight down on the equator.

We arrived at lake Naivasha at 2pm after the long ride. As soon as we off-loaded from the matatu we were handed bright orange one-size-fits-all life jackets. We jumped on to a wooden power boat and headed off into the lake. The boat tour was 1000 KSH ($10) for one and a half hours per person.

It was a eere feel as we headed into the lake. The gray rain clouds loomed over us and dead trees stuck out of the like arms grabbing up to the sky. The dead branches were covered by various large birds. They looked down at us as we passed under them.

Lake Naivasha

Lake Naivasha is home to over 400 species of birds, fish, hippos and giraffes relocated to Lake Naivasha for the Out of Africa Movie. We drove the boat over to a small family of hippos. We got pretty close to the hippos, most of them were asleep, which I was glad about since hippo is one of the most dangerous animals (after mosquitoes and humans). We headed around the lake to find the giraffes who wandered through the eerie scenery, their bright orange color contrasting with the grey of the dead trees and sky.

As we drove the boat around the lake we came across two fishing eagles. The boat drivers had fish which they used to bring the eagles closer. They threw the fish into the water and the large eagles took to flight finding the fish instantly. The guide says that they could see up to 4km away, I wish I could see 4km. I think I was an eagle in a past life.

After the boat ride we piled back into the matatu and headed to the camp site. We were introduced to our tent, a beautiful huge white military stile tent with thick mattresses situated only 100 meters from the lake. Perfect for hippo sightings at night when then wander on land to graze and get it on with other hippos. It was 1200 KSH ($12 USD) per person for the camping, although if you brought your own tent it would only be 600 ($6).

Our Tent at Camp Carnelley's

We had dinner at Camp Carnelley's restaurant. The food although over priced (200 KSH for a chai vs the hospital at 20 KHS, 1000 times markup for muzungus) was amazing. We had the cheesy nachos, spicy crayfish, fish fillet, and grilled veggie salad.

After the food we headed to the bar to mingle with the other muzungus. Most of them were in the British Army stationed in Nairobi, but frequented Carnelley's on weekends. Others came from the States and New Zealand. Amy and I received a couple free drinks and we had fun talking and reminiscing about our gap yah (year). We were torn about whether to go out dancing with these nice young chaps but instead we ended up walking around the campsite in the dark and admiring the stars. Luckily we did not encounter any hippos, although I would have liked to see one up close. We slept well in our luxury tent on our two inch thick mats. We woke up refreshed and ready to head to Hell's Gate National Park and enjoy our bike safari.

We again piled in the matatu and headed to Naivasha for a safari on bike. We paid 700 KSH for park entrance with our pupil passes and our resident cards and 500 KSH for our bikes. Renting them outside the park is better because the bikes are better quality and have mostly working breaks, its 50 KSH more to rent those bikes.
Kissing zebra butt

We jumped on the bikes and headed off on the mostly flat dirt road. As we road we passed a huge pointy rock called Fischer's Tower, which you can rock climb around midday for 500 KSH. We passed the rock and headed towards Hell's Gate Canyon. Along the way we passed zebras, warthogs, water bucks, antelopes and giraffes. Amy tried to make friends with the zebras but they were all scared of her, mainly because they heard she wanted to ride them. We reached the end of the road and parked our bikes to head off into the canyon.

Our guide took us down into the canyon, parks of which we had to scramble up and down rocks. Many parts required us to use ropes to climb up and down rock faces, get on our butts to slide down steep rock crevasses. We descended lower and lower into the canyon. We spotted "Emergency Exits" which we laughed about, but if there was a flash flood in the canyon we would not be laughing at them anymore. We came upon the devils bedroom and then visited his bathroom, which was marked by incredibly hot hot-springs. Our guide dared us to hold our hand under the hot water for at least 10 seconds, no one could. It was too hot.

We climbed out of the canyon and back to our bikes. Nice and tired we mounted our bikes again and headed back the 8km we had biked before to the entrance of the park. It was much hotter and the "flat" road seemed a little more uphill than previously thought. After a couple water breaks, sunscreen re-applications and rock hyrax sighting we arrived at the main gate.

We piled back into the matatu and headed back to Eldoret. I definitely fell asleep in the van, and the next day my shoulders were so sore from using a bike that was much to big for me.

 Fischer's Tower
Overall the weekend was amazing and I had such a good time in Naivasha and with all my new friends, including the zebras who were a bit anti-social. I would definitely do it again.

Check out Amy's blog here:  A Walker's Adventures

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