Monday, 8 September 2014

Rhinos at Lake Nakuru

Lake Nakuru

We travelled from Samburu to Nakuru by road, passing through villages and towns that were very poor. Everywhere was dirt except for the road, the shops dotted along the side of the road were just small brightly coloured buildings mostly without windows. The shop names are all in English. Educated Kenyans are taught two languages at school, Swahili and English, so along with their own dialect, most of them are fluent in three languages.

Lodgings and Restaurant

There were many farmers looking after their herds of cattle, goats or sheep that were grazing on the side of the road as they have no land of their own to graze them. At night they take them home again and keep them in an enclosure. The more cows you have, the wealthier you are. Cows are given special status and they would never be used to plough a field, so this task is done by hand.

Eco transport!
There were many speed humps along the highway, from single ones to a group of 3 or 4 smaller ones, that really slowed you down – no need for speed cameras here! Commercial vehicles are not allowed to travel more than 80kph, they have a speed limiter that is connected to a GPS to monitor speed and if you exceed this speed the engine has a bit of a hiccup. There were many police checkpoints, sometimes they would get us to stop, sometimes not. Two racks with viscous spikes are placed on the road and we had to weave between them, so you have to slow down to a crawl. In one town there was a council worker collecting taxes from truck drivers depending on what load they were carrying, unfortunately these taxes never did contribute to the maintenance of the roads. A couple of the roads are very good, which have been constructed by the Chinese.

Farm, a lot of these are ploughed by hand

It took us 6.5 hours to do a 4 hour trip, the last 53 kms took two hours as the roads were heavily pot-holed. There were many vegetable market stalls on the side of the road, most had little stalls with roofs over them, the last town’s was in the open sun. The produce was the same as home: potatoes, onions, tomatoes, cabbage, bananas etc.

We arrived just in time for a very late lunch at Lake Nakuru Lodge which is inside the National Park.

African Spoonbill

We had come to Nakuru specifically for black and white Rhino, Flamingos and the Rothschild Giraffe. Other species here are the African Spoonbill, Yellow-Billed Duck, Egyptian Goose, Thompson Gazelle, African Cape Buffalo, Hippopotamus, Water Buck, Guinea Fowl, African Eland, Agama Lizard, Baboons, Warthog...


We went straight down to see the flamingos at the lakes edge. They were so far out they were only dots and I was very disappointed. The level of the lake has risen over the past couple of years and the road that normally goes further around, where we could have got closer, is now under water. Apparently this isn't the best time of year to see them. Ye of little faith.... wait until tomorrow!

On the way down we saw our first pair of white rhino. Not being able to go off road, we could only marvel at them from a distance, but close enough for Lindsay to photograph.

White Rhino
There are many herds of Thompson’s gazelles here. A group of gazelles will comprise of one male with his harem of girls. All the spare males then form a bachelor herd.

Thompson Gazelles
There was a Dung beetle, laboriously rolling a ball of dung down the track….

Dung beetle doing what dung beetles do
It was quite luxurious to be somewhere with solid walls after being in a tent.

Lake Nakuru National Park has a lot more vegetation than Samburu, lots of bushes and high grass. Finding game here is going to be difficult unless it is out on the open plains.

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