Tuesday, September 20

Rift Valley, Kenya

Brett: From Suam, we headed to Eldoret and did the usual new country tasks; drawing local currency, buying local sim card, replenishing groceries etc. We arrived at the Naiberi River Campsite ($5pppn) which had been recommended to us by the 2Turkeys, and pretty much headed straight down to  underground bar/restaurant via the awesome tunnel. It is a big, interestingly designed place with very friendly and enthusiastic staff and the food is amazing. We feasted on Lamb Nyama Choma and garlic chips at the fire - at 2,300m above sea level, it was colder than we were used to. In the morning, we met the owner Raj who is really cool – he very kindly organised the lovely Daisy, who runs the on-site farm, to give us a tour of the vegetable patch, letting us pick whatever we wanted for a huge salad. The farm is really impressive, with a fish farm (Tilapia, Nile Perch and Goldfish) and massive fruit & vegetable garden. Mary was very inspired and we walked away with a huge bag of fresh salad ingredients for lunch. After a cold swim, we washed the car for the first time in ages to prove that it actually is white (even if it’s short lived). We just couldn’t stay away from the restaurant so we went back for more Nyama Choma, garlic chips and some curry for dinner and got chatting to Raj. He is also a director of Ken-Knit, and organised a factory tour for us in the morning. The factory makes Masai shukas, blankets and jerseys and has cool 1940’s machines and 1,500 staff. We were shown round by one of the friendly managers who reminded Mary that she needs to make sure I am properly fed as this will improve her status in the community! 

We headed down into the Rift Valley (which we confirmed on Wikipedia runs all the way from Jordan to Mozambique) and then up, then down then up then down, each time changing altitude by 1,000m. The roads were slowly being reclaimed by rocky river beds from earlier floods. Our first stop was Robert’s Camp ($5pppn + $5 entry into the area) at Lake Baringo where we bumped into our “South African colleagues” from Suam border. We parked right on the waters edge next to the “Beware of Hippos” sign and collected wood for a campfire. As Mary was cooking dinner, two massive hippos came out of the water within 8m away and wandered along the lake shore. We went to bed early & slept in as we both caught colds in Sipi Falls.

Mary: Next we headed towards Lake Bogoria ($25pp entry) which is famous for its flamingos. We weren’t expecting much, but had decided to go there rather than to Lake Nkuringo as it is a lot cheaper. We surprisingly saw very few other tourists, and had the place pretty much to ourselves – it was awesome! The lake has thousands of lesser flamingos and many bubbling hot springs. We took our time travelling the length of the park, stopping to walk around (one of the few parks you can walk freely in), taking pictures and boiling some eggs in the hot springs. The level of the lake is much higher than normal, making some of the river crossings impassable, so we took the 4x4 track up and around the hills. We had the beautiful Acacia Camp ($5pppn) to ourselves (it looks like nobody has camped there for weeks). The campsite is right on the edge of the lake – most of the flamingos seemed to group near the campsite in the evening. There are no facilities at all, so we rigged up our solar shower. We were having an amazing time cooking over a big fire, until some massive (12cm) spiders came along to warm themselves at the fireside. We spent the rest of the evening with our feet up on our chairs shining the torches around us in frequent perimeter checks. In the morning, we explored the Fig Tree Camp (just further round the lake - also very cool) and went to cook more eggs in the geysers. One big geyser appeared on the side of the lake in a matter of minutes and then disappeared while we were watching – fascinating. The drive out of the Emsos gate (the Loboi gate it the main one) is very scenic, but it is steep and for 4x4s only.  So steep in fact that you really shouldn’t stop on the slope and try get something out of the fridge, but we did… of course as soon as I opened the tailgate the drawers all came sliding out the back and our grocery bag on the boxes went for a ball of chalk. We spend a grumpy half an hour or so in the hot sun cleaning up shattered glass from a bottle of olive oil & a bottle of rum that didn’t survive the fall.

We weren’t initially planning to spend time at Lake Naivasha, but we went to Carnelly’s Camp ($6pppn) on Tom & Dag’s recommendation. The campsite is massive, with a lot of space to camp under fever trees on the huge lawn. Too lazy to cook, we lounged around in the restaurant while researching stuff on the internet.

The Elsa Gate (main gate) for Hells Gate National Park ($25pppn) is very close to Carnelly’s, so we got there early, parked at the Naiburta Campsite ($15pppn) and cycled around the park. There are only herbivores so it is safe, but it feels more exciting to be on a bicycle instead of hiding in a car. We walked down the Gorge, which has some crazy shapes carved by the water and had some fun scrambling up the steps and handholds cut into the rocks. You need to sign the indemnity book if you want to go without a guide, and remember to stick to the bottom of the gorge rather than following the goat tracks up the sides (oops – by gradual increments we found ourselves high above the gorge on narrow, sleep slopes and had to backtrack ve-e-ery carefully). Naiburta campsite has fantastic views down over most of the park, and you can hear the steam hissing from the geothermal power stations in the park (sounds like big, frequent waves on a very close beach).

We both instantly liked Kenya…

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