Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Into Africa - Part 2















Courting Giraffes
Sunday morning we were up early and ready to go. After being reprimanded by the hotel manager for taking coffee, bread and bananas to go (“That’s a full breakfast - you cannot return!”), we headed out in search of big cats. Unfortunately, we didn’t find any, but we had a lovely drive and came across some graceful giraffes performing a courtship dance. We didn’t stick around to see the results, but apparently many of the giraffes in the park are pregnant, so the dance is successful. We also spotted a jackal, and many other animals having breakfast.


Jackal


Upon returning to the lodge for a rest (snoozing by the pool), we picked up our box lunches and left the park and headed for Lake Naivasha. The Rift Valley is an example of diverging tectonic plates, where molten lava pushed through the earth’s crust separating into two plates. A lake formed in the middle and you can see the dormant volcano above the lake, as well as others throughout the valley. We were told we could take a boat ride to an island, walk among the animals and then we would head back to Nairobi. Once again, it all sounded a bit nebulous, but Michael knew what he was doing.


We arrived at the camp, ate lunch and then hopped into a skiff with Captain John. He immediately took us to see a family of sleeping hippos, and pointed out many different species of birds along the shore. A little further down the coastline, there was a large group of people picnicking. The lake area is known for its greenhouses, and these were the employees enjoying a day off with their families, friends, donkeys and camels. Some of the men were net fishing and we pulled alongside and, again after much negotiation, bought some fish to be later thrown to the Fisher Eagles.Sleeping Hippos / Local Fisherman


The next stop was Crescent Island. No longer an actual island, this piece of land was where the movie Out of Africa was filmed in 1985. Prior to that, there was very little wildlife there, but thanks to Hollywood and a Noah’s ark-like maneuver, the island now has large herds of wildebeest, antelope, gazelle, dik dik, zebra and giraffes. Our guide Simon explained that we could walk around the island without fear of being trampled by animals as they were “very social”. We took him at his word and started off.

The island was beautiful with gently sloping hills, lush greenery and animals everywhere. Some of them had had a better year than others, as one of the first things we came across was a buffalo carcass. We were able to get very close to a giraffe, and learned that, according to Simon, wildebeest are the most stupid of all of God’s creatures as they follow the same migratory path year after year, knowing that it brings them directly into the path of crocodiles, lions and cheetahs.










Wildebeest / Bad Day for Buffalo

After an hour or so of wandering among the animals, we got back in the boat to feed the Fisher Eagles. Captain John would spot them in the trees, whistle to catch their attention and then throw a fish in the water. Within seconds, the eagle would swoop down and pluck it out of the lake. It was very impressive.

Although we had exerted very little actual effort throughout the day, we were happy to return to the van and head back to Nairobi. We took the same route back, but a short way outside of Naivasha, Michael suddenly pulled the van over to the side of the road were there were dozens of people milling around. A boy jumped into the front seat and Michael explained that it was his son who was heading to the city. It seemed a bit random to us, but we were too tired to try to understand it better.

Fisher Eagle with Fish (really)

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Meet Melida said...

This is wonderful... I've suprised myself by being most excited that you saw that many flamingos! A sea of pink... Glad your journey was good and safe, I must admit I was skeptical when the scenario was described. Be well!