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8.09.2016

The Fab Fam on Safari, Days 4-5: Lake Nakuru, Kenya


Over the last few weeks, I have been sharing details of our family's recent safari journey.  First, I shared an overview of our week-long safari in Kenya, including my review of Explorateur Journeys (who helped personally curate our safari experience).  Since we have so many amazing photos and memories from our African safari, there is no way to do them all justice in a single blog post, so my plan was to share additional posts with more photos and details about each of the destinations during the safari week (NairobiSamburu National Reserve, Lake Nakuru, and Maasai Mara National Reserve).  First, I shared safari day 1 in Nairobi, then I shared safari days 2-3 in Samburu National Reserve.  Today, I am continuing to bring you along for the journey with us, covering safari days 4 and 5 in Lake Nakuru.

After our final game viewing drive in Samburu, we hit the road with Sammy and our safari van (which had become our happy place) for Lake Nakuru.  We had a few stops on the way, which helped keep the kids patient, and provided just the right amount of bathroom breaks. 

Another shop with a clean bathroom, and more photo opportunities with the pretty painted structures.  See more examples in my safari fashion post: What to Wear on Safari - Fab Safari Style for Men, Women and Kids.

 
The bathroom breaks provided a chance for all of us to stretch our legs (or practice our balance, in S's case)

One of the coolest stops during the trip was when we crossed the equator between Samburu and Lake Nakuru.  We stopped in Nyahururu at spot Seventy Nine (and I'm honestly not quite sure why it's called that... perhaps distance from some point), and the staff at the stop took the time to talk to us more about the equator.  This included showing the kids a cool water experiment of the equator's Coriolis effect (click here to watch a video of the water experiment at the equator).  Then for the equivalent of about $5 USD each, they gave us some stamped and personalized certificates as evidence that we visited the equator!

The boys posing at the equator line with their certificates

As I said in the Samburu post, the bathroom stops most often were at a curio shop.  While we didn't have to shop, these were great opportunities for us to pick up a souvenir for ourselves or a loved one, and help support the local economy (and the folks that worked so hard to maintain nice restrooms for those of us passing through).  The merchants encouraged us to look around, but were never overly pushy.  Then when we were ready to buy, negotiations were always easy and friendly, and never pushy.  Negotiating (or bargaining, or haggling, if you will) is customary in Kenya. 

After the stop in Nyahururu, we were back on the road, but not for long.  We took our lunch break at a hotel, which had a delicious buffet, and beautiful grounds that included an overlook of a lovely waterfall.  The waterfall, Thomson's Falls is on the Ewaso Narok River, which is a tributary of the Ewaso Ng'iro river we that we spent so much time around in Samburu National Reserve. 

The overlook of the falls included some vendors selling jewelry and other handicrafts, as well as folk dressed in traditional attire that will sing for you and take photos with you (for tips, of course).  G and I did the photo, as S was a little scared when they were singing.

  
Thomson's Falls on the Narok river near Nyahururu in Kenya

The next stop for us was Lake Nakuru National Park.  We waited as our guide, Sammy, checked us into the park, but were told to be on guard for the baboons, who apparently pilfer! 

The hubs grabbing a soda and keeping a look out for the thieving baboons that roam the national park

When we were all checked-in, Sammy again popped-up the roof of our safari van - a sign that we were ready for another awesome game viewing drive!

The hilly terrain of Lake Nakuru National Park was beautiful

We were greeted by zebra almost immediately when we began our drive in the park

The rhino are protected in the park (we even saw armed guards at a safe distance from the rhinos once sunset approached - apparently poachers tend to strike at night)

Seeing the white rhinoceros at Lake Nakuru National Park was probably the highlight of our game drive there for me


Look at these incredible creatures!



Baboons are numerous in the park



I love the babies!

A baby baboon riding on the back of an adult baboon


Wind in my hair, don't care.  Standing up in the safari van during our game drives is pure bliss!

In the middle of our game viewing drive in Lake Nakuru National Park, we ascended a hill to Baboon Cliff, a scenic overlook of the lake.  When the lake's famous flamingos are there, this is where you'd see the sea of pink from the thousands (sometimes even a million) of flamingos.  They weren't there during our visit, but the view of the crystal-like reflection on lake was no less spectacular for it. 

One angle of the view of Lake Nakuru from Baboon Cliff in the national park

Another view of the lake from Baboon Cliff in Lake Nakuru National Park

The lake was so calm, which made it perfectly reflective

I can just imagine how dreamy this view must look when the lake's famous flamingos are there

The Fab Fam actually remembered to take a picture of the four of us together while we were at the Baboon Cliff overlook of Lake Nakuru

One of the several baboons that were chilling on their namesake cliff in Lake Nakuru National Park

As we didn't have many hour of sunlight left, we didn't stay at Baboon Cliff for long.  There was more of the park to see.  We descended the hill, and continued to drive around the massive lake.

Pumbaa!

We saw so many different types of birds at Lake Nakuru National Park.  These are gray crowned cranes, which had cool yellow plumes on their heads.

The zebra in Lake Nakuru National Park had stripes that were more brown in tone compared to the Grevy's zebra we saw in Samburu



African buffaloes in Lake Nakuru National Park

The buffalo were huge!  The boys really liked them.

A buffalo taking a rest by himself near the edge of the lake

Impalas in the national park


Rothschild's giraffes are the types of giraffes you find in Lake Nakuru National Park.  We were able to get pretty close to a group of them, and observe them for a while.  You can click here to see a video we took of the Rothschild's giraffes at Lake Nakuru National Park.


While not as epic as the sunsets in Samburu (click here to see more on that), the sunset at Lake Nakuru was still stunning... especially with these rays of sunlight shining between the clouds.

Around sunset, it was time to head to our accommodations for the night.  We stayed at Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge, which, being situated on a hill, boasts an impressive view of Lake Nakuru.  Like our previous accommodations in Kenya, the service at Sarova Lion Hill Lodge was impeccable.  There was also an incredible attention to providing not just a nice place to stay, but an experience. This began with a traditional music and dance demonstration.  Then, during dinner (a huge and delicious buffet) a musician sang covers of a variety of great songs, but all in more of an African style, while playing the guitar.  He had us smiling from ear to ear as we ate, so we stuck around after dinner to hear him play more while the boys danced.  As cheesy as it may sound, I felt a deep significance in the moment as he sang The Lion Sleeps Tonight.  When you are in the middle of such a surreal experience, sometimes you need a moment where you stop and realize where you are and what you are experiencing, and allow yourself to be completely in the moment.

The dance demonstration at Sarova Lion Hill Lodge ended with the guests in the audience joining in.  We were far too exhausted to partake, but we did enjoy watching .

Getting ready for dinner and preparing our room with mosquito netting around the beds

We didn't have much time at Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge, but the time we spent there was very special.  We left early the next morning, with boxed picnic lunches from the hotel in hand, as we had a way to go to get to our next destination (Maasai Mara). 

We wanted to get to Maasai Mara in plenty of time for an afternoon game drive, but we still had time for a few more stops along the way.  The first is one that I am so grateful we decided to do: we took an hour-long private boat trip on Lake Naivasha, one of the lakes near Nakuru.

This kid was pumped that he was about to be on a boat!

Our boat guide showing the boys some bones of the local animal life, including this water buffalo skull



This was so much fun!

Pumped up to be on a boat on the lake!

Lake Naivasha has a ton of different bird life, including eagles, storks, vultures, pelicans, heron, and more


My handsome man...

"I believe I can fly..."  G sat at the front of the boat and loved the free feeling of the wind.



One of the coolest parts of our lake tour was getting to see different families of hippopotamus up close




Another family of hippos that we observed for a while as they popped in and out of the water.  Click here to watch a video of hippos in the water at Lake Naivasha.

There is an island in the middle of Lake Naivasha with a bunch of wildlife habitatin'

Waterbuck on an island in Lake Naivasha

Aside from the hippos, the other coolest thing about our boat tour was getting to see eagles diving for fish.  You can click here to see our video of an eagle diving for a fish at Lake Naivasha, but check out the series of photos below to see the action as well. 









On our drive away from the Nakuru area to Maasai Mara, we got to see a few more beautiful lakes, including Lake Elementeita.

As seen from our drive, you can see "The Sleeping Warrior" hill formation just across the lake (Lake Elementeita near Nakuru in Kenya)

Before we got into the Maasai Mara region, we stopped for a picnic lunch at a "bush restaurant," as Sammy called it (a maintained picnic area near a curio shop).  After lunch Sammy asked for the boys to name the "restaurant."  They named it "Picnic."

The location for our picnic lunch during the drive from Nakuru to Maasai Mara

These kids were properly goofy during lunch, as you can see

A new friend we met during our picnic lunch

Though our time in the area of Lake Nakuru was short, we certainly felt like we made the most of our time there. 

Stay tuned for our next safari post, which will cover our time in the amazingly epic Maasai Mara! 

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