Day 31: Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya
Yesterday, we had a long driving day from Jinja, Uganda across the border back into Kenya. We stopped at a market in Kisumu to buy some fruit and made it to our campsite near Lake Nakuru at 6:00 p.m. There was an option to upgrade from our tents to rooms, so Tom and I (who are both doing the entire 73-day trip) jumped at the chance. We rarely have upgrade options, and it's nice to have a break from setting up and breaking down the tent. We had a small cottage with a fridge, electrical outlets, and an actual bathtub – I didn't even mind that the water was a muddy yellow. The best feature was an awesome glassed-in veranda. Upgrading to the room was only $15 each, and it was absolute luxury compared to the camping we have become accustomed to.
We left at 6:00 a.m. this morning for a game drive into Lake Nakuru National Park. We had seen some common wildlife such as zebras, giraffes, and impala at Crater Lake near the beginning of the trip, but Lake Nakuru blew that away. Lake Nakuru is most famous for the pink carpet of flamingos that line its shores. The number of birds in this extraordinary spectacle has been known to reach into the millions! During the game drive, we saw baboons, gazelles, waterbuck, warthogs, hyenas, and powerful African buffalo.
Lesser flamingos, Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya
Three African buffalo in Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya
A spotted hyena stands at the edge of Lake Nakuru in Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya
A lioness in the forest, Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya
We also spotted some lesser-seen animals: a rock python, both white and critically endangered black rhinoceros, and our first lions of the trip. Our guide was driving slowly, stopping occasionally to allow photographs, when he received a message on his radio and drove off at full speed. Although the message was in Swahili, we knew we were about to see something exciting. We entered a forested area and spotted about ten other safari vehicles parked alongside two lionesses. One of them was stalking slowly towards the road, and I was excited to capture a photograph of her staring eerily into the camera lens. We had been with the lions for a little while, trying to follow them as they weaved in and out of the dense foliage, when we heard screaming from the vehicle in front of us. One of the lions was running directly towards the vehicle at full speed! But then an impala came into view, sprinting across the road. A chase was on, but it all happened so quickly that no one was able to capture the excitement on film. In a split second, both the lion and the impala disappeared into the forest, and we continued our game drive while contemplating the unknown fate of that graceful impala.
A lioness snarls while stalking an impala in the forest, Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya