Lake Naivasha is characterized by ever-changing weather, numerous animal carcasses, leisurely walks through a private sanctuary containing giraffes, zebras, buffalo, wildebeest, various gazelle, waterbuck and a multitude of birds creating a birders paradise. The lake is located on in Africa’s famous Rift Valley and is likely your first stop out of Nairobi (100 km out). There are numerous activities to do on the lake including taking a boat trip to see the hippos, birdwatching, doing a safari walk, or horseback riding through the land.
Our host, Tamar, an expat from Nairboi had been before and took us to Crescent Island which is private land where you are provided a guide and are able to walk through the sanctuary. Not long after leaving the peak of the island did we see a couple of waterbuck and a small group of zebras. In the sanctuary you are able to walk up to the animals although I’m sure this is highly inadvisable given you are in fact dealing with wild animals. This is no petting zoo. We kept a safe distance standing and walking 30-50 feet away from the zebras. Of course they don’t just stay there waiting for you they move along in an effort to not be bothered. Further up with saw a gnarly looking wildebeest carcass which was only one of many to follow. From there we saw a group of water buffalo too far to take any decent pictures with our 200 mm zoom lens. Other tourists had gone closer but that had only aggravated the water buffalo and they were alert intensely looking at any further human encroachment. In total we walked for about 1.5-2 hours at a very leisurely pace around the 400 acre sanctuary, ending with views of a small giraffe family including a 3 week old baby giraffe. Precious, absolutely precious, the baby animals are always a lovely encounter whether they are rolling in the dirt, feeding, or simply walking side-by-side with mama.
The Boat Ride
Our host had asked the guide to prepare two boats before we got to the lake which our guide assured us he had. Upon arriving there was only one boat enough for 8 passengers (we were 9). After an agreement between us, the boatman, and our guide we all got on the boat but were then told that we were over the boat limit (after being told it would be no problem). Being in a rush the other family we were with got off the boat and made their way back to the car to catch a flight. That was quite frustrating but part of the Kenyan experience. Throughout the our trip there we were disappointed in the lack of engagement our guide had, his lack of time consideration and unreliable assurances.
When you leave the beautiful weather of Nairobi (it’s absolutely perfect) you may assume the weather in surrounding areas are similar; this is not the case at all. Lake Naivasha derives it’s name from the Maasai word Nai’posha which means “rough water” given the sudden chance in weather where storm clouds roll in and rain pours. Our friends who were unable to join us on our boat excursion were very fortunate as it started raining heavily. Of course when we arrived we had blue skies and our driver mentioned he didn’t think we would have any issues with the weather. Having said that we decided to leave our rain coats which we brought because Tamar mentioned almost exactly a year ago they experienced a 30 minute hailstorm.
We got on our boat and within minutes the rain started pouring down. Even with the rain we were still able to see a variety of storks, rollers, and pelicans amongst numerous other bird species I didn’t recognize. Over the next few days and before our safaris we’ll hope to get a field guide and study up if not we’ll rely on what we hope to be a fabulous game driver and guide. We eventually saw some hippos bobbing their heads in and out of the water. When approaching hippos it is important to not startle, frighten, or get to close as these are the most dangerous animals in all of Africa. Being over the rain we quickly left without any pictures although we got some video of the trip on our GoPro which we have yet to upload.
This was the first experience we had on a safari and it was a great experience to have it be a walking safari without any predators. The only predators were hyenas but are only present at night. You could see how spoiled they are but the amount to of carcasses that aren’t picked to the bone. This is because they have no other competition to the meat on the sanctuary. Our next trip will be out to Masai Mara in hopes of increasing our animal counts including the big cats, hopefully some animal mating, and a kill! We’ll keep you posted in the meantime keep out of the zoos and think about coming out to Africa for the real deal!
Budget and Logistics
The differences in price between non-residents and Kenya residents are mind-boggling. Throughout each blog post in Kenya we’ll quote both to show the differences. Therefore budget traveling while possible is compromised with the exorbitantly higher fees. If you have an expat friend you may be able to get in as a non-resident thus saving a bit of money. Even for the average Kenyan (making $1800 USD a year; $150 a month) it’s quite an expense. Below are some of the expenses we incurred and some logistics.
Entry Fee 2013 – 2014 for Crescent Island
Adult: Ksh 800 (~$9)
Child: Ksh 400 (~$4.50)
Student: Ksh 500
Child: Ksh 250
The rest of the budget:
Boat Ride- Ksh 2500 plus 500 tip for up to 8 passengers
Entry Fee (adult non-resident)- $30
Guide Tip- Ksh 500-1000 for the entire group
Food- $25 for two- great meal at Carnelley’s an expat hangout- large pizza, samosas, and nachos.
Budget hotels in the area and camping- $10-30 http://hotelsinnaivasha.co.ke/
Food Kenyan- $1-2
Food International- $5-15 in the area; $12 large pizza at Camp Carnelley’s
Transportation- Ksh 200-300 – Take a bus or matatu to Naivasha then a matatu to toward’s Hell’s Gate or Fisherman’s Camp then you can walk over to your lodge
*All prices in USD unless noted as Ksh
1 USD = Ksh 89