The same week I experience my first safari, I had the opportunity to embark on two more. The first was in Lake Naivasha and was another unique safari because we were on a boat scouting for hippos. My zeal for adventure and thrills must have a direct correlation to wild animals, especially the dangerous kind, because since arriving in Africa I have put myself in situations that are very up close and personal with some of the more dangerous. Much like the hippo.
We set out on our boat in the quite morning and by little I mean a wooden canoe. The guide said to keep on the lookout for hippos, but they may be hard to spot (the previous group didn’t see many), but within minutes we were right up close to several hippos. They seemed lazy probably due to being nocturnal, but rather docile as they bobbed in and out of the water. Very peaceful.
We floated along the river and saw more exotic species of birds than I could name or count and it started to seem like a lazy river cruise safari on the look-out for birds rather than hippos. Our guide couldn’t have been more wrong this morning because as soon as we circled another bend we encountered another family of hippos. I do feel he was purposefully getting closer, and I happened to be on the front of the canoe, which made my nerves jolt slightly. No big deal right? Several tons of aggressive animal with HUGE tusks right there, several feet in front of me as we drift closer, just a little more and I can reach out and say I pet a hippo. Maybe next time..
As we were making our final circle around the lake we two more families, and one was basking in the early daylight out of the water. It was incredible, the hippos were resting on each other and had a little baby and fully emerged from the water. Definitely very cool to see. For my second safari, I was very satisfied with the calm and relaxed boat ride and the abundance of wildlife. Can I go back and pet the hippo?
The final safari I took while on this vacation was a little less adventurous, but only because we had to remain in our vehicle the entire time, mostly. Lake Nakuru is considered a premium park and is just the next town over from Naivasha. This park boasts all of the big 5 on a good day, but also requires a vehicle to get around. We didn’t have a 4×4 safari truck or anything, we had a simple little taxi of a car with no 4×4 and there had just been a huge rain the night before.
Our “guide” (taxi driver) was more than enthusiastic to take us around. We followed a bus for some time and saw a lot of baboons before we came across what people really come to see in Lake Nakuru : flamingos. But, before we saw the flamingos our guide stopped the car and pointed out several rhino that were napping under a tree. Rhino! After, we drove to the lake and there were hundreds of flamingo creating a blanket of pink over the shore. While herd of zebra with babies grazed off to one side and water buffalo on the other.
I had done a little research about the park prior so I had a slight agenda of what was worth seeing, in the hopes the rains did not flood the areas out. The first stop was the lookout which was a long drive up a very steep hill. Along the way we spotted a waterbuck (which looks like a llama donkey) and some buffalo that were within fingers reach of our windows. Someone alerted us to a statue up ahead, and it took all of us a moment to realize it was not a well-placed and replicated statue but in fact a giraffe! In fact, there were 4 of them and they all were so close to us that I got all excited and climbed out of the car window and leaned over the roof to get a better glance. They said don’t get out of the car, right? They said nothing about windows…loophole. The drive ended when the car could go further up the hill without aid from 4×4 drive. But we were high enough up to experience a view that was equally breathtaking and stunning. You could see the entire lake from there.
There are a set of waterfalls that are supposed to be beautiful, but unfortunately the road was blocked by fallen trees from the previous storm. So, we ended our little impromptu safari at Baboon Cliff and witnessed a boxing match between lizards and more stunning views. One animal that was not shy about being seen during the entire safari were baboons.
They are everywhere and not people shy at all, in fact there were people feeding them! Don’t they know about the signs zoos post about not feeding the animals? Well I feel that is even more important in the wild. I watched a monkey climb into a bus and steal the driver’s sandwich, true story.
I am happy with all the wildlife we did see because the flamingos and rhino were unexpected, but I do wish we would have found the lions the park rangers were pointing us in the direction of. We followed the road for a few miles before deciding to turn back, we assumed they migrated elsewhere. I have yet to see lions or any big cats, but there are still more safaris planned during my time in Kenya and the next one on my list is the Masai Mara (my sources tell me you see everything there).
Onto my next great adventure and adding #2,11 on my list!