Monday, April 22, 2013

Lake Nakuru National Park

Once again we headed West toward the interior of Africa.  This time we were heading in a bit further to Lake Nakuru.  This lake is about two hours West of Nairobi.  On the way we passed the Mt. Longonaught crater, decended into the Rift Valley and passed both lake Naivasha and lake Elementitia.  After a quick stop at the relatively new Nakuru Java House for a snack and a pop inspection, we went on into the National Park to find our lodge.  The first thing we saw when we approached the lake were these beautiful pink Pelicans. They looked like ballerinas bobing and dipping in a synchronized dance. 

Just outside the reception desk at the lodge there was a this tree full of bright yellow weavers working on their nests.  They  were very busy and very loud.  They hang upside down while they carefully and constantly add additional pieces of grass to their woven, pod- shaped nests. 
The bird above is called a Hammerkop.  It is found throughout sub-Saharan Africa.  According to the Audubon Society Field Guide: "Builds and extraordinary, massive enclosed "tree house" of strong sticks and reeds with a downward facing entrance hall on one side."  They also claim that indigenous people believe that this bird possesses supernatural powers.  

mom and baby gazelle

setting sun

There was a traditional dance and music preformance at the lodge before dinner.  Afterward Oona marveled at how quickly the dancers were able to shake their hips!

There were certain areas of the forest around the lake that were clearly "Baboon territory."  There were many families of baboons.  Some of the tiniest of the babies were clearly newly born, hairless and clinging to their mother's chests.  When we set out on our second safari drive early in the predawn hours the baboons were nowhere to be found until one of us looked up and noticed that there were hundreds of them perched in the trees above us!

herd of Africa Cape Buffalo blocking the road

view from "baboon cliff" look-out
The Africa Cape Buffalo seem to rule this park.  We came across many herds of them and once we were totally blocked from passing when a herd was liesurely hanging out in the middle of the road.  We have been told that the Buffalo is one of the "meanest" creatures in Africa so we were very wary of disturbing this huge herd of them.  After waiting at a safe distance for quite some time along came a safari tour bus who just drove right into the middle of the herd and forced them off the road.  Several buffalo were obviously offended by this act and displayed their anger by turning toward us and then jerking away and kicking up into the air as they ran off.  Once past the buffalo we climbed up a ridge overlooking the lake for this amazing view of the animals and their paths down below. 
famous Lake Nakuru Flamingos (remember the scene in Out of Africa?)


hyenas looking out while others of their pack have lunch...

Coming down off the ridge that provides the amazing views we started out on a road that we thought would bring us back down and around to the lodge.  First, Nile noticed that there were no other tire tracks on the road.  Then we decided maybe we should try switching into 4 wheel drive.  Soon we were slipping and sliding all over the muddy road and our tires were so caked with mud that any hint of a tread was completely hidden.  We realized that we needed to find a place to turn around- which thankfully we did and we were able to make it back to a different road that was much better and obviously well traveled.  Once again down in the flat land around the lake there were several roads that were closed due to flooding of the lake.  Since apparently we had not learned our lesson on the muddy road up on the ridge, we decided to explore down one of the roads that was marked "closed." Just as we realized that this road basically led straight into the encroaching lake, we saw that there was a large group of hyenas surrounding a dead buffalo!  This is the first "kill" that we have seen here in Africa.  It was gruesome, as you can see, but pretty exciting none the less.

The girls painting some of the African animals that we saw on our safari drives

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