Lake Nakuru and the Great Rift Valley! (Kenya part 2)

overlooking the Great Rift Valley and watching Rock Hyrax’ in full play mode!

The Amboseli is one of the favorite places I have ever been to. I loved this place, especially the people. But our goal as the Zoo Crew is not to “one-up” our stays but instead “to experience.” It was time to start our second adventure. We said goodbye to our new friends David, Yet, Shadrach, and the Johns and jumped into the Landcruiser with Steven for the last time as he took us back to the “bush airport.” We had tea, enjoyed a quick box breakfast of Croissants (which had become the favorite breakfast), and hopped on a small plane to exit the Amboseli.

Casen got an additional bonus as the pilots invited him to sit up in the cockpit for our trip back to Nairobi. What an incredible opportunity for him! This is what Kenya was like. Things are just done well. To Please. Everyone just wants to add to your experience. I told the pilot after we landed, “You never know what happens in a kid’s life that may change him. This flight may make him want to “be a pilot!”

“That’s the whole point,” he said. “See something new every day!”

It was like our family theme song coming from someone else’s mouth.

After a quick turnaround at the airport, we were picked up by our new driver. Nikki knows how much I like to get to see an area, so rather than flying to our following location, we took a 5 Hour Drive into the Great Rift Valley.

As Equator as it gets!

Our driver was Felix. He was a great guy from the Luo tribe. Tribes are important here. Each person talks about it and opens up a lot if you ask about Their heritage and the tribes.

I wanted to know more, so I asked, and I learned.

On our long drive, Felix and I talked a lot (just ask Nikki and the kids) about Kenya. We discussed Land Ownership changes, history, race and politics, and much about how he’s dreading the next election. Pretty much the same stuff we have going on in the US. I’d guess it’s the same for most of the planet.

Before our newest park and next safari, we turned into a sketchy area in one city. We all had our interest perked, “code orange” as we made our way down an alley. Only Nikki was smiling. More secrets from mom!

Nikki had booked us a side trip. A panga boat ride into Hippo country. Like most Americans, we had been told that hippos are the most dangerous animal in All of Africa. More than lions, more than hyenas, more than charging elephants… Hippos.

The Hippo Boat Tour

When I shouted back and asked Felix if he would like to join us, he just chuckled, waved us off, and said, “You’ll never get me in a boat out there! But go! And Enjoy!”

Our hippo/boat guide for the afternoon was Paul, who wasn’t very sociable. He did a neat trick, though, where he brought in a fish eagle right to the boat with a piece of bait. We were all thoroughly impressed.

The whole experience ended up being really cool with the boat landing for a stopover at the peninsula that was jetting out into the lake. Here we did a walk-through safari that we weren’t expecting. It was a highlight of this part of the trip as the animals that lived there had been born and lived wholly protected from the lake, with no predators.

We were dropped off with a knowledgeable man named Sam, that showed us all kinds of “up close and personal” experiences. While the animals were not tame like pets or farm animals, they were not skittish or afraid because of the lack of predators. We could get right up next to Zebras, Wildebeests, Impala, Water Bucks, Wart Hogs, and even Giraffes, one with a 1-year-old and another with a four-day-old baby!

Braylon has a unique kinship with Giraffes.

Eventually, after a long drive through the remarkable country, we arrived at Lake Nakuru. This area of Kenya was utterly different from the Amboseli, and we saw a lot of animals that were unique to this region, including white rhinos! Gigantic and beautiful, we watched them forever, it seemed, and one morning watched a baby play with his older sister. They would charge and push, bug mom, and then run away. My kids definitely saw their rhino counterparts living similarly.

The kids were troopers with on and off safari drives daily. One morning we did a 5 Hour Tour which took us to some scenic areas off the beaten path where we saw waterfalls and picked up obsidian as well as took a break at a vast observation area over the lake.

It was just too much driving, though. After a long trip like that, the kids decided to pass on the afternoon Safari. I also stayed behind, and Nikki went alone for some solo photography looking for a leopard or big cat. During this time, the kids stayed out in their lodge, and I decided to go for a walk and run. At one point, I was all alone looking out over the valley and saw a rhino come up to a watering hole and get a drink. Truly a surreal experience!

We liked this area, but it was much more touristy than where we had come from. The one thing I can tell you is the food here was outstanding. We had a huge buffet, and it got to the point where I felt like all we did was eat, safari and sleep. It was very relaxing and a great middle stop for our trip.

It was a great couple of days, but I could tell Nikki, and the kids were ready to get on to the next part. We like to relax and have breaks, but it was time for less resort-style and more adventure. Nikki had another surprise for us; I could tell by her demeanor that she had something special up her sleeve!

Kenya is a photographer’s dream. To see Nikki as excited a the kid’s did my heart good!

“Load up everyone!” She called out that morning. “We have two more stops and this next one is going to blow your mind!

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