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June 24, 2015 / oneworld82

Lake Nakuru National Park

The way between Maasai Mara and Lake Nakuru is relatively long (240km) but in decent conditions. Nevertheless, it still took us a good 7 hours to reach our destination – partly because we got stuck for almost 2 hours roadside when our truck broke down. True African experience.

On the road again... P.S. Not actually our car

On the road again…
P.S. Not actually our car

The ride was pretty smooth – albeit somewhat slow – until our fist stop in the town of Narok, the economic and political center of Maasai people in Kenya. The place is scruffy and dusty, but like any African market town it’s lively and full of life.

Narok

Narok

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We stopped by a local restaurant to have lunch. The place was visited by locals – always a good sign. Lunch was local food buffet – think cassava, rice, spinach, goat… all washed down with some good Tusker – the mainstream local beer (together with Pilsner). As most beers in the World, Kenyan ones are lager – easy to drink and refreshing.

After a hour or so we hit the road again for the second part of our trip, but first I had the chance to take some pictures of the city (as shown above).

A hearty lunch

A hearty lunch

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One note about food in Kenya: if you are a foodie, you will be disappointed. Kenyan cuisine developed through the centuries as a mean of sustenance rather than enjoyment. In a land that could be unforgivenly dry, locals had to make do with crops that would fill them up rather than make them happy. And that way a rather heavy, monotonous, starch-heavy diet arose. People near the coast had it a little better – as trader’s influences brought in Indian flavors and as fish is abundant there. But that’s pretty much it. So, when you’ll visit Kenya expect a lot of goat, a lot of rice, some vegetables, and that’s it.

So, on the road again. Our clanky (but overall reliable) had done its job well so far, but Kenyan roads can be very demanding, even for seemingly-indestructible cars like our Toyota. And so, two hours out of Narok, a piece of our wheel gave up, stranding up roadside for a couple of hours. Thankfully, our guide and driver Robert was a very resourceful (and well-connected man), and so he was able to find mechanics who could help get back on track. Standing by on the side of the “highway” was a good way to catch a glimpse of Kenyan rural life. It’s crazy how huge trucks ply these roads, and how shepherds mind their flocks in a very bucolic way (although the landscape is rather dry and un-bucolic).

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Men at work

Men at work

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After fixing our car we kept driving to Nakuru, which we reached at around 7pm, in time for dinner. Nakuru is a big, dusty, rather ugly city, which sits by the lake of the same name. We stayed at the Chester Hotel – a rather disgusting hotel that offered a rather good local dinner. Nothing much to do around town, so we ended up at a local bar having a few beers before calling it a night. Note that the beers we had were warm, and so they were served with ice. Go figure 🙂

After a restorative night, we woke up early for breakfast before heading to Lake Nakuru National Park. This reserve is famous mostly for its pink flamingo colonies, as well as for leopards and black rhinos. The park surrounds Lake Nakuru, which levels have risen consistently in the past few years, expanding the perimeter of the lake and flooding its shores. As a result, spotting birds from up close has become more difficult.

As most of the drives take place during the day, it is very hard to spot leopards, since they are nocturnal animals that just chill on tree branches during the day. And black rhinos are very elusive animals, so spotting one is very hard. The park is very different in landscape than Maasai Mara, especially given its proximity to the water and to the city. We did see some birds, white rhinos, but no leopards. By pure luck, we spotted (from a distance) a black rhino, and boy he was hiding well!

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Black rhino

Black rhino

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Overall it was a fun drive, but nothing spectacular. I wouldn’t particularly recommend this park to visitors, unless they were en route somewhere else through Nakuru. It was worth it in the end as we spotted a black rhino, but I realize we were very lucky to do so.

Next: on to Amboseli!

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