I'm sitting in the departure lounge waiting for VS672 back to London. That has got to be the easiest & quickest international (economy) check-in I've ever done - even Nairobi airport is better than Heathrow! The security in triplicate did seem to be a bit of overkill though. After the excitement & all the travel of going to Uganda last weekend, this week has been pretty lazy really - sitting around resting my shoulder (which is much better, thank-you) & slowly ploughing through "The State of Africa" by Martin Meredith. It is a pretty dry & long history book about Africa since most countries were granted independence around fifty years. The words dog and show go a long way to summing it all up - it was all pretty depressing; the detailed explanations of what happened in Rwanda and then Liberia & Sierra Leone in the nineties were particularly grueling reading. I eventually finished it - so the challenge is still there, Carmen.
Friday afternoon, Adrian knocked off early & the three of us (Kimberley included) jammed the Suzuki full of camping gear & food & headed off to Nakuru National Park for the night. The great advantage of Nakuru is that is only a relatively easy two-hour drive from home (not that I did any driving, thanks Adrian). I was also assured that I would see plenty of rhino - the only of the Big Five that I did not see in the Mara. Lake Nakuru was disturbingly low, but it did mean we got to walk over the salt flats to try & see the flamingo - apparently, there weren't all that many, but still more than I had ever seen at once. Shortly after, we did see my first rhino in Africa (this one had a young one with it) & then we found three more making there way across the dry part of the lake bed.We managed to get to the campsite & pitch the tents & get the fire going before it got too dark. It was so great camping out & when the clouds cleared quickly, there was of course a great sky to look at. As we were chowing down on some quite wonderful steaks & the rest of our dinners a very large herd of buffalo made their way down the ridge next to our camp for a drink. Later on at about 10.30 well after the rest of the herd had made their way back past; alone buffalo, who was pretty damn big, wandered over a lot closer - thankfully he was just curious & not the slightest bit shirty. After a fitful sleep (for me at least) we were up before six to go on what turned out to be a fantastic game drive.
I'm not so good at describing game drives - but as always it started off slow & then we saw a whole heap more of rhino (they are frigging massive - in both senses of the word; but no great surprises there), including this rather cute pair. Down at a water hole there were a lot more buffalo & as we were next driving aimlessly around (or so it seems when you are looking for game), Adrian was very interested in what had a herd of impala rather spooked. Eventually he & Kimberley spotted a leopard slinking through the bush - I was in the back, so couldn't see it as much as I tried. After waiting around for quite a while wondering where it had gone, it eventually crossed the road right in front of us - what a beautiful animal. We tried to find it on the other side of the bush it was walking through, but had no luck there - we traded sightings with another van (they found our leopard & we found their group of seven lions later on). The said lions were happily resting near the road & we quite easily watched them for ten or fifteen minutes. By this time it was going on for four hours of driving & no breakfast, so we started heading back to cook brunch & decamp. On the way back it was quite neat to see a small group of giraffes near the road & then cross right in front of us.Upon our return, we discovered that the pesky baboons had gone through our fire lighting material & decided a bottle of kerosene was the only thing worth taking. Needless to say, that made lighting the charcoal a bit harder; but with a lot of fanning of flames, bacon & scrambled eggs & toast was finally cooked & devoured before we decamped & hit the gravel roads for another few hours. Exploring some different areas of the park, we didn't see a whole heap (except some more magnificent giraffes) before we headed up to Baboon Cliff for a great panorama of the lake. The resident baboon up there must have been fed previously as he was mighty bold, jumping on the car as soon as we stopped & tried to get in the window. A swift punch in the face & much throwing of rocks from Adrian saw him off; that was until he came back to jump on top of the next van that came up & try & get in the open top - completely freaking out the child inside.On the way out of the park, it was back to the group of lions we had seen earlier - they had moved a whole five metres to the shade of a different tree, so we quite happily watched them while we had lunch. Just before we left the park, we stopped & watched a wonderful black-maned lion & lioness lazing around between attempts at expanding the Nakuru lion population; pleasantly, it started to hose down while we were there - the park definitely needs a lot more rain. So it was back home to pack (for me), eat & sleep. So that is the end of my Kenyan adventure for this time - I sure am looking forward to getting back to London & having a decent sleep without being woken up at all hours by crazy dogs. I'm not looking forward to the winter however - the Kenyan weather has been fantastic. In the air now & just crossed the equator for the fourth time in three weeks - plane is a lot better & less cockroach infested than the Akamba bus. Less than six weeks to Canmore, Alberta! Hope my shoulder is up for skiing.
6 hours ago