In my eternal quest for the perfect country,
the trip has reached Kenya. Here, in addition to the fantastic
climate, there is a wealth of exciting animals. After checking out
the entire travel industry, Africa Horizons special tour with
biologist Hanne Lindemann is by far the most interesting. Line has
long plagued me; she wants to go out and see the world. Jesper and
Morten are completely dismissive - until they have seen the material
from Africa Horizon.
Day 1. Fresh and rested after 8 hours of night flight, we go straight into our 3 safari vehicles. Remodelled HiAcer: Most of the roof is raised so everyone can stand up, there are only 6 wide seats, so everyone has window seat.
Our driver is called Komo, and is "birdie" by which he thinks he is birding. He speaks good English, has check on anything besides birds, drive well and has humour.
Our last two fellow tourists in our car is Erik, an old guy who is healthy, talks the fuck off, and is excited about everything he sees and hears. Inge is an art painter, and just like Erik; incredibly excited about everything she experiences. The other cars are filled with gray-haired billionaires, who take the next day's hardships with fantastic walking and energy.
We drive out through a corner of Nairobi and after an hour we reach Rift Valley, which is a 5-6000 kilometre long crack down through Africa. We admire the view from a high-lying terrace while the natives more or less in vain try to pry us stone and wood carvings working on.
Areas are cultivated, but Hanne says that the
valley was pure nature, when she saw it 30 years ago. Since then, it
has been divided into smaller and smaller plots. Maize is grown
regardless of whether the soil is suitable or not.
The landscape is slowly changing from green cultivated fields to drier grassland with shrubs. Here, like everywhere else we come, there is not the slightest trash in the roadsides. Not some plastic bags, cola boxes, car wrecks and a like, that you see in most other countries in the world. The few small towns we drive through are extremely primitive, without electricity and running water, but despite the fact that the goods in the square are wrapped in plastic, there is no garbage on the eroded earthen streets.
We stop at a large covered booth, far out on the savannah. Here, in addition to a huge selection of wood carvings, there is a toilet and the opportunity to buy drinks. I quickly learn that Kenyan tea tastes significantly better than their coffee.
At 1am we arrive at Lake Nakuru Lodge.
Like everywhere else we sleep; extremely luxurious, and with a large
flower-filled garden with a sea of singing birds.
The white cow herons flutter around among the buffaloes, a marabou stork stands quite still on one leg, small brightly coloured bee-eaters roam the low bushes, but are startled by one of the countless Defassa waterbucks. Holy ibis swoop down at the edge of a watering hole, where a warthog family roams. The giant big blacksmiths plowers, along with other waders, seek food at the water's edge.
In the bushes, along the edges of the terrace
there is a veritable myriad of small birds, of which I can only
identify a few: bul-bul, some pigeons, weavers, finches, singers,
thrushes and - well, animals with wings.
At the roadside, we scare a bunch of helmeted
guinea fowl, impalas walk and graze among the buffaloes, while the
adorable Thomson gazelles go out into the open areas.
Some huge silhouettes further out of the way
turn out to be intersecting white rhinos. They are huge! Together
with the other two cars, we see them continue beyond the savannah.
There are birds of prey in many tree tops.
Large white-breasted floodgates, glades, vultures and other
Far out on the plain are two bushes: one black
and one gray-brown. I guess ostrich, and quite right, two heads pop
Back at the lodge, the watering hole in front
of the terrace is lit. Deciduous frogs, common frogs, cicadas and
night birds mix their voices with the tiny little bats.
We get a drink on our private terrace, a quick
shower, and nicely dressed we take in the sumptuous evening buffet.
New drink on the terrace. A kneeling manatee is attracted to the
light, small house geckos patrol the walls and a lion lets his deep
roar hear from the savannah.
In the following, I will generally refrain from mentioning species of animals already mentioned. The species varied from area to area, but there were also many common ones from area to area, and from nearby areas. This means that game drives, where only a few animals are mentioned, have actually been saturated with expensive observations.
After sneaking down from the 1666 meter high plateau lodge, we are on a bush savannah. Suddenly, a lion couple pops up in a clearing. They seem completely unaffected by our appearance, completely occupied with each other. When the female lion is in heat, she and the pack's male pull away from the others, and mate every half hour for a day or two!
In one of the tall Euphorbias sits a Long-crested eagle; Lophaetus occipitalis. It has a top like a cocktail, just twice as long. A few writing antelopes creep frightfully around the bush, while long-tailed glittering starlings ignore us. At a watering hole, forest deer, wreaths, silver deer, shoal deer, stylers, small patch dives, variegated crows and cormorants are found.
In a small forest we come through, a lone
colobus monkey emerges. This beautiful black monkey with its long
white robe and bushy tail is rare as the Malays have used them for
traditional dance suits.
We eat sumptuous breakfast for an hour and
then drive towards Lake Baringo, 125 miles down the Rift
Valley. It goes through huge fields of wheat and small plots of
There are a veritable myriad of colourful little birds in the garden's many flowering shrubs. Sunbirds completely resemble hummingbirds with their metallic colours. Down at the small pier of the lodge there is one of the area's characteristic termite dwellings, with a 2 meter high "chimney".
Jesper, Morten and Line join my expedition. I
want to show them the crocodile, and just as we get down to the
water it slides up ashore, right in front of us. We see 4 Nile
monitors on the banks, where they are at risk for everything less
than themselves. An roadrunner disappears into the dense scrub, in
its search for insects and other bird nests.
Down by the shore and in the garden we can see leaf chickens, deer herons, sand geese (wicker), mourning pigeons, magpie starfish, white-gumped buffalo weaves, ox-hops, black-headed weaver, African whip-star, common bul-bul, triangular glossy teal, white-tailed sparrow weaver, green-tailed sparrow weaver kingfisher, paradise flycatcher, black-headed pyrol, watermelon and white-tailed turakos. In the garden itself, a dromedary first appeared and then a giant Galapagos turtle - unless it is from the Seychelles ?
There is a joint tour of the garden, accompanied by Hanne's lecture on garden life. We reach a desiccated river, some will turn around, and when I come to reveal I just saw a adder or snake disappear under the brink, everyone goes home.
The darkness comes quickly and after a much-needed shower, we head up to the lodge's café to drink tea and coffee before dinner. A couple, who came later were persecuted by a hippopotamus and had to seek asylum from it at an Italian couple, who was in the bath. During the night, armed guards walk around the garden. The lake's hippos are quite enthusiastic about the garden's large well-watered lawn, and sneaks among the luxuriously furnished cabins.
After dinner, there is a dance performance. We sneak away unnoticed, and discover a hippo between the bushes of the garden. Gently sneak us towards it, and get some good flash photos. We are going backwards from it, as it seems a little daunted. As we have doubled the distance to it, a guard comes roaring, saying we must flee, it is a very dangerous animal!
Jesper and Morten have been given a room far
away, around the kitchen, so we sit and drink on our terrace while
we you try to keep the mosquitoes away. At 22, it gets too much and
we crawl to bed.
The lake's fresh water itself is totally impervious gray. When the surrounding fields began to be cultivated, the clay was exposed and now flushed into the river. In 30 years, 3 meters of sediment has been deposited on the bottom. The lake is now 3 meters deep! As mentioned earlier, invasive sea cabbage has been exposed. These floating plants take the last light from the shore. What looked like totally unspoiled nature is rather a disaster.
We get to a small island, which is really just the tip of an extinct volcano. Here lives a fisherman with his family. In the open smoking area are chiliads, shells, moths and lungfish. Before the lake became so muddy, it was a major export commodity that the smoke-dried fish could last a month. While the others look inside the two cabins of the island, I explore the surrounding cliffs. Island lizards, fun trees and very scattered grass stalks on the dry soil. Line and Morten join the safari, which ends abruptly as Line steps up a 4 cm long acacia thorn into a heartbeat. The blood spills out, but stops quickly.
We climb aboard the waiting boats and sail along the steep coast of the island. Some distance away, a dead fish is thrown onto the water. A white-headed river eagle immediately emerges, dives, catches, and settles back into a tree to devour the fish.
On the return trip we can only add gulls to the species list. Lake Barinko Special at the bar and then we are ready for a 4 person city tour. We have heard there is a city nearby, we do not know how big or modern, so it must be investigated. On the way, we see bearded birds and brightly coloured agamas: blue head and upper body, red hindquarters, yellow stripe along the back and black tail. The female hardly so impressive.
The "city" consists of a 150 meter street with
very primitive shops: tailors, hairdressers, bars and a single
The lunch is taken with the birds. A
red-beaked rhinocerosbird shows up for a short second. Very
exciting. Later we curse them far away.
Along the banks of the great lake are about 1,000,000 pink flamingos, the largest collection Hanne has seen in 30 years. Words cannot describe it, it must be experienced! We drive along the lake and every time we round a corner, the flamingo intensity seemed to increase.
We also see red-billed ducks, tiny little
rockers (gazelle), big kudos (gazelle), dik-dig antelopes that are
just adorable. A bunch of hyraxs are seen far up on the hillside.
They look like big guinea pigs, but their closest living relatives
are the elephants!
Into the cars and on through corn, tea,
coffee, large green hills interrupted by wooded slopes. We ride the
equator, crossing 6 times during the day.
We continue on a very bad road. (That's the only thing I can deduce, from the unreadable notes.) In general, the dirt roads are better than the paved ones. The asphalt is only 1-2 centimetres thick and is destroyed after a year. The holes become very deep with sharp edges. The dirt roads also get holes, but they are more "soft". Small holes you drive over, big ones you go around and the really big ones (Kenya's size) you drive around in!
We see black striped snake eagle, blue kite,
cow antelope, moose antelope, steppe eagle and 10 giraffes.
There is an hour for unpacking, bathing and lunch. Then the game drives start. We are going to a huge enclosure where a large bunch of "cuddly" chimpanzees have been released. We also sail on the river, inside the chimpanzee enclosure. Here I see a muskrat.
We drive back through the national park. I'm just saying, "that's pretty dead", when a bunch of elephants break out of the bush, right in front of us. They are not so much bigger than the Indian ones, but here are also only females and cubs.
We see a couple of Big Bustards, which is the
world's largest bird (In October last year I saw the largest: Andean
condor, in January I saw the largest: Royal albatross, on Saturday I
saw the largest: African ostrich.) weighing up to 18 kilos, is
perhaps 1.10 meters high.
As we pass a narrow clearing, Inge sees a lone
lioness. We watch her (the lion) for a long time, as she passes the
car on the dirt road, sneezes and walks on. We get very close to a
couple of Crown Tranes, they are amazingly beautiful.
The darkness comes quickly, and we settle into the fireplace room to enjoy a cup of tea and talk to some of our fellow tourists. Then there's diner, and I'm disappointed once again by the tastelessness of the great dessert cakes. By contrast, the view of the illuminated watering hole is magnificent. Jesper and the undersigned see two lions. Everyone sees giraffes, élan antelopes, geese and other animals ~.
The next morning, Jesper and I can pinpoint
the tree stump where the lions were sitting next to.
White-tailed deer, spotted hyena, African
hare, elephants, giraffes, Thomson and Grant gazelles, and not
least; a family flock of lions. The male is incredibly handsome with
a huge mane. They lie and doze off on all sides of the car.