How to get to Lake Baringo
Early Saturday morning saw my parents and I meeting our guide for the next 6 days, a steady, rock solid bloke by the name of Stanley, and our tour van, a not-VERY-clapped out Nissan Hiace with a “pop top” for viewing lions with impunity. More on that later. For those who have been reading for a few years now, Stanley actually reminded me of an African version of Kang Laoshi, my old boss in China. Ponderous and deliberate with everything he does, and I have to say, we were glad on more than a few occasions to have him with us:
From the slightly manic roads of Nairobi he drove, out into the country side. Though the lush green pasture-land of the Rift Valley we drove:
We negotiated roads which went from passable by Western standards, to barely passable by Kenyan standards! At least it was dry though. Little were we to know what would happen to the roads in the wet, but that story is yet to come.
After a few hours, the lushness borne of recent rains began to give way to increasingly scrubby vegetation:
Huge termite hills, rising from the rocky ground like great chimneys, became a common sight:
I was having difficulty working out what these great big logs were doing, slung in trees as they were.
I didn’t even put two and two together after we’d passed the third village where orange liquid was being sold in recycled glass bottles (ie old Coke bottles, and Gin pocket flasks!), and Stanley told us it was honey. The massive logs were actually BEE HIVES!! Man made beehives! Too cool!
We ended up convincing Stanley to stop so that we could buy some of that Honey, and I wish I had my camera at the ready, because the moment my father opened the window in the front to begin negotiations with one villager, suddenly about ten villagers surrounded the window, and each one was trying to thrust at least 3 honey bottles through the window. It was a honey-pot invasion!
But we managed to get away with just buying two, for probably about 10 times the normal going price, but what is tourism for, but to inject money into local economies? (Especially developing economies!) Will have to report later as to what it tastes like, though!
Anyhow, on and on we drove, and the road got steadily worse and worse, ceded itself more and more to dirt and pot holes, until eventually, it just… stopped! Looking at where the road ahead should have been, all we saw was a sharp drop, and one helluva big erosion gully. Stanley merely grunted at the washed away road, and stoically turned the van sharply to the left onto a heavily pot-holed, bush beaten track.
Another hour or so of feeling like we were in a Nissan Hiace-sized meat tenderiser, and we finally arrived at Lake Baringo.
A Country Club in the Colonies
We stayed at Lake Baringo Lodge, which really, truly, absolutely looked and felt like a relic from the British Empire in Africa. Very little glass on windows, just mosquito nets galore in the bedrooms, and wide open arches festooned with flowering vines. Really quite lovely, in a slighly wilting sort of way:
(These are my parents, in case you’ve not met them.)
The main draw of Lake Baringo is (fairly predictably) the lake, and the wildlife it supports. This was to become a theme for the week.
The guide book advised that there were hundreds of species of bird, and I reckon we must have heard the call of each and every one while we were there. But for me, the most exciting part of Lake Baringo was seeing my first bits of “real” wildlife – hippos and a crocodile!
This, sadly, was to be the only croc we would see on the whole trip, but we saw more than enough other exciting wildlife to make up for it – here’s a great big hippo yawn:
One last pic before I wrap up part one – this dude lives on one of the islands in the lake with others in his tribe, and they go out fishing every day in these little wooden kayaks, made out of small logs lashed together. Very, VERY cool!
More soon about Lake Bogoria, Lake Naruko, and the incredible Masai Mara.2 comments
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