African Safari (Kenya) Pt.5
After four and a half days in the Samburu National Park, the dinner hour brings the dreaded announcement. Pack up and have your bags ready to go for 5:00 am and, by the way, keep your camera gear separate as we will be doing our last game drive while leaving the park. A cold sweat breaks out on my forehead as I ponder this daunting task. I no longer have the master of space management (Patty) to push me aside and fit too much stuff into too small an area. Damn, I knew I should have brought a sherpa!
We will be traveling southwest for most of a day descending into the Great Rift Valley. This geological formation runs from north to south through the entirety of Kenya. A chain of lakes and volcanoes, both active and inactive, follow its course. We will be making our way to the Lake Nakuru National Park, normally the home of a million or more Flamingos. Our route will eventually bring us to a long stretch of paved road, a welcome relief for my ailing back, for even though I brought a 2″ thick piece of high density foam as additional cushion, the dirt paths of the park can exact a toll. There is a furiously paced amount of paved road construction underway presently, and curiously, by the low bidding and probably lower quality Chinese. This makes me wonder of the consequences for the wildlife of Kenya. Will easier access provide the tourist income to spur additional conservation or result in an increasing conduit for exploitation and poaching? One can only hope wise minds see the benefits of perpetually maintaining this magnificent asset be it for financial or aesthetic reasons and undertake the difficult measures for preservation.
The sights continue as we exit the park. A juvenile Silver-backed Jackal makes his rounds looking for breakfast.
A female Greater Kudu, one of the larger members of the antelope family, shades herself after morning grazing. The distinctive white side markings can vary in number from individual to individual.
The male Greater Kudu has one of the most impressive set of antlers on all of the savanna.
Young Grant Gazelle males spar in training matches for eventual dominance roles for breeding purposes.
Farewell to a Samburu tribesman who acts as a guide for some of the camp’s guests.
A quick look back over our shoulder and off we go.
As we leave Samburu territory, a brief stop to check tire pressure provides an opportunity to stretch our legs and snap off a shot of the snow covered Mt. Kenya.
Once on the highway, it is obvious anything with wheels is welcome transportation. Frequently, the highway looks like a well worn walking trail even though packed vintage passenger vans randomly pull to the side of the road to cram in one more.
But King of the delivery system is the small dirt bike motorcycle. We witnessed everything from a pyramid of cordwood to 3 passengers plus the driver stacked on these little workhorses. The most creative packing job has to be awarded to the individual below. I wonder what a DMV officer might have to say about this in our country?
The countryside is no place to begin culinary exploration as the water supply would not agree with our digestive track. The camps we stay in purify the water used in food preparation so the boxed lunch we have packed away for our trek will be fine. Curio shops along the way are more than willing to provide a rest stop and an eating area in hopes of selling their goods. I suspect these “handmade wood produces” are actually mass produced and some shops will have occasional hand finishing done for show.
The entrance gate to Lake Nakuru is a welcome sight, a new home, at least, for a few nights. Now, drag out all the equipment, get organized, study the maps of an entirely different environment, grab dinner and a cold beer, prepare for 4:45 am. It is with anxious anticipation I await the morning.