Plains at sunset over Lake Nakuru National Park

Nakuru

This morning we left town for Laura and Kahenya's town of Nakuru. There is a good road all the way, although it should be noted that Kenyan drivers are absolutely nuts. Passes happen at any time. Potholes are avoided by any means including driving on the shoulder or into oncoming traffic. Robert handles it all with skill though.

From Nairobi, the road goes up until you hit the edge of the Rift Valley. The Rift is a many kilometer wide valley created in some past geological action. Now, the valley is stable, but there remains a lot of evidence in the form of big escarpments on both sides and numerous volcanic craters. There are many lakes in the valley, but most are soda lakes not fresh water.

Rift Valley overlook

Rift Valley overlook

Nakuru sits in the heart of the Rift Valley; a town of a few hundred thousand.

We got a flat tire as we came into town, but Nakuru is small enough that we could walk to our destination: Cafe Guava, a western style cafe with good coffee that's run by an Australian woman. We met Kahenya there for lunch.

After a quick stop at Laura and Kahenya's house, we headed up to Menengai Crater. Menengai is another volcanic remnant in the Rift Valley. You can drive up to the rim (if you have a good 4x4) and look out over the edge. There is a nascent Chinese geothermal project going on on the floor. Kahenya's aunt would never visit the crater because she learned as a kid that vents of steam coming out of the crated floor were devils playing.

House outside Nakuru

Laura and Kaheyna's house

View of Menengai Crater outside Nakuru

Menengai Crater

Coming down from the crater, we set out for the day's highlight: a game drive around Lake Nakuru National Park. Lake Nakuru is a soda lake just outside of town. The park surrounds the lake. Soda lakes support lots of algae growth, which in turn supports tons of flamingos and pelicans.

We got up close and personal with the flamingo, pelicans, and Maribu storks on the lake shore. I don't think a single flamingo we saw moved a muscle.

Maribu stork in Lake Nakuru National Park

Maribu stork in Lake Nakuru National Park

Birds in Lake Nakuru National Park

Pelican and Flamingos

Birds in Lake Nakuru National Park

Pelican and Flamingos

We proceeded to drive around the lake, having tons of close wildlife encounter. We saw white rhinos, cape buffalo, impalas, Thompson's gazelles, Grant's gazelles, zebras, tons of baboons, a fish eagle, water bucks, and finally big male lion. Nakuru NP is known for its leopards (which we never found), but rarely does one see a lion there.

The other safari vans were treated to a spectacle of us changing a second flat tire on the side of the dirt road. Bad luck.

Antelope running in Lake Nakuru National Park

Impala

Pair of rhinos in Lake Nakuru National Park

White rhinos

Rhino in Lake Nakuru National Park

Rhino on the shore

Cape buffalo in Lake Nakuru National Park

Cape buffalo

Zebra and rhino in Lake Nakuru National Park

Zebra and rhino

rhino in Lake Nakuru National Park

Rhino close-up

Lake Nakuru National Park

Lake shore

Baboon in Lake Nakuru National Park

Baboon yawning

Fish Eagle in Lake Nakuru National Park

Fish eagle

Puncture in Lake Nakuru National Park

Flat tire

sunset in Lake Nakuru National Park

Sun setting over the lake

Lone acacia in Lake Nakuru National Park

Lone acacia tree

Sunset plains in Lake Nakuru National Park

Sunset over the plains

Lion in Lake Nakuru National Park

Our first big cat

After the game drive we met Kahenya for dinner at a nyama choma place. Nyama choma translates as “grilled meat.” Essentially, you go there and order some type of meat, they throw it on the coals, and then you chow down with a bunch of traditional sides. We had 2½ kg of goat ribs, with fries, roasted potatos (which are actually fried), a pico-de-gallo-like salsa, and some really tasty kale. We also had ugali, a king of wheat porridge with a really thick consistency (play-doh). It was a very traditional meal, and quite tasty.

When we got back to the house, we found out that it had absolutely no water. Their storage tank was dry and nothing was coming from the city's pumps. We ended up going downtown and getting a hotel for the night. It turns out that the Avenue Suites in Nakuru is one of the noisiest hotels in the world. We tossed and turned all night to the sound of motorbikes and car alarms.

Cold Tusker beer in Nakuru

A cold Tusker after a long day