Saturday, February 16, 2013

Day 9: Hillbilly Safari and Lake Naivasha

We began our day at Lake Naivasha. Lake Naivasha is a well known birding spot in Kenya- and the world. Kenya is the home of 1,100 bird species. Any true birder knows Lake Naivasha. I hadn't heard of it before, guess I'm not a true birder, but now I'll consider myself a little more than an amateur. I saw up to 30 new bird species in a single day. I had seen about 30 while in Naivasha and my last one in Nairobi; the red cheeked cordeon bleu.

Red Cheeked Cordon Bleu

We took a boat into the park area and while we were on the water, we saw the ears and snout of a hippo. We got a little curious so we drove the boat to the spot where we spotted the hippo. It jumped out of the water and hid. It was enormous! We didn't have time to snap a photo:(

After we docked the boat, the guys went net fishing and the girls went bird watching. We saw a few fish eagles and got a nice sound recording. They have such a rich sound. Instead of telling all 63 sighting stories, let's list them:

sacred ibis, maribou stork, lapwing plover, pelican, cormorant, Egyptian goose, split tailed drango, tropical boubu, intermediate egret, common squacco heron, love bird, spectacled weaver, bagalafecht weaver, cucou, ring necked dove, ostrich, lilac chested roller, red cheeked cordon bleu, red headed coot, moor hen, red headed oxpecker, pied king fisher, hoopoo, helmeted guinea fowl, chat robin, cinnamon chested bee eater, hadada ibis, African crested eagle, sunbird, fire finch, hammercop, paradise fly catcher, superb starling, cattle egret, fiscal shrike, swallow, white fronted bee eater, grenideer, coucal, crimson sunbird, mouse bird, common bubol yellow butt...

Lilac Chested Roller

There are more birds that I can't name, there were simply too many to take in.

As we left Lake Naivasha, we went to an outdoor restaurant called Cornelly's. It's a favorite among the westerners. There was a camp ground on the property which had some very unique huts made of recycled materials. For lunch, we had beef and spinach/feta samosas. Then we had crayfish salad which was supposed to have tomatoes and avocado with lettuce and a sauce, but they were out of avocado and tomatoes.... sooo it was a salad with crayfish and a sauce... a little on the light side. Granola bars were my supplement that afternoon. Otherwise, everything tasted great.

After lunch, we had our own little safari. On the side of the road, we saw zebra, giraffe, antelope, warthog, baboons, vervet monkey, wildebeest, gazelle, and impala.

While we were driving by a field of cows, one of my teammates, who will go unnamed, bet the others that we could not smack a cow's butt. So, as this teammate got out of the vehicle, a few of us, myself included, decided to take the challenge. We walked slowly in the thorny, grassy field and the cows got the clue and started to walk away. They may not look smart, but they can smell mischief. The bigger ones got away faster, and most of of gave up, the teammate who initiated the challenge snuck up behind a little cow and smacked it. 

We were all so proud. The problem after that was that from behind the trees, there was a man standing there. Oops.. guess we didn't see the cattle herder. 

Later we went into a wildlife preserve, well, we didn't go through the main entry, we drove the Land Rover down a side road that said “No Trespassing” ;) That's why this was a hillbilly safari.

Our first sighting was an ostrich, jackal, and buffalo. The same teammate who will remain unnamed decided to get out of the vehicle, once again and try to get as close to the ostrich as possible. Well, the ostrich was sitting on eggs. It began to ruffle its feathers and reached a standing position. 


Boy are ostrich tall! At least 7 feet.

We drove into the field the buffalo were eating and one of them stared us down. Good thing we were in the Land Rover, because it would have charged at any one of us. Remember the story of Monica? Yeah, they are not friendly creatures.
In the same area we saw eeland which are the largest antelope. We also saw dik-dik, the smallest antelope.

We drove down the road a bit more and we stopped at another preserve. This was a drive-through safari that wasn't open. Our local white Kenyan did some relational negotiating and got us in... but we got to walk! On the walk, we were in the midst of 10 giraffe! They are incredible creatures. I felt like I was in Jurassic Park.. 

This concluded our Hillibilly Safari. Amazing. I will never look at another safari the same way... this one was way too much fun!
We stopped at a basket weaver on the side of the road home and I bartered him down to about ½ of what he was asking. It was fun. I missed bartering from my earlier days in China.

That evening, we all gathered for the last dinner together and had a debriefing about our experiences.

Remembering back to day 1 when we arrived, I felt comfortable and at 'home'. Over the 8 days time spent with my teammates and the Hovingh's, I realized that they had become an extension of my family.

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