Quite unwieldy looking birds but so graceful in flight. Having a wingspan of around 3.60 metres (12 feet) helps them to glide effortlessly through the air. Using the same sort of running on the water technique as the flamingo, beating their wings at the same time gets lift-off for the up-to 15 kg Great White Pelican.
Although you don't get a lot of time here, it is well, well worth it. Although not really an island, the land is in a crescent shape, seen before mainly in the film "Out of Africa". This isprivate land and as such the film-makers imported the animals here for the needs of the film, and were left when they were finished. Seems a little contrived but actually being able to walk amongst the animals and be close up like this was frankly, superb. Of course there are no predators here so the animals can wander around and visitors only risk a possible stampede by the Wildebeest and Zebra.
NOTA ; Even though you are allowed to walk here, these are still WILD animals and must be treated as such.
One of the tricks of the boatman is to use fish to get the Fish Eagle out of the tree. He holds the fish above his head and then whistles. When the bird is about 100 metres away he then tosses the fish into the water. And there is breakfast for the Eagle..... We did this three times and the birds never miss the fish. Quite a spectacle.
My excuses for the lousy quality of the photos, as it was very low light at 8 in the morning, so I've had to "photoshop" the Light/Contrast a bit to get some sort of image. Easy enough to follow the sequence through.
You have to go into the Lake Naivasha Country Club to hire a boat out, although you don't have to to be a member. As you enter the grounds the office is on the left. Cost is $25 per boat that includes the visit to Crescent Island, altogether with the walk you have about 3 hours which made a break between Nakuru and Maasai Mara.
Out on the water there are a multitude of birds and animals to see, including Hippos, Kingfisher and Fish Eagles. The driver of the boat actually takes some fish with him to tempt the Eagles from the trees. An act but a spectacle at the same time. The Hippos were all sleeping or at least dozing while we were there, but you can judge the size of them from the first photos. Seem quite placid, but Hippos are known to be the most dangerous of African animals, don't get between the mother and her young or between them and the water. Hippos do come out of the water from time to time and always take the same path, there and back, and will NOT stop for anyone in their way.
This is an infrequently visit gem along Kenya's Rift Valley. The highlight is walking through the narrow Ol Njorowa gorge and then through the Hell's Gate gorge through plumes of steam with boiling water from hot springs falling down one side. The gorge opens up into a lush river valley. There is a healthy population of zebra, Thompson's gazelle, and baboons. Look out for birds of prey. The park is currently trying to stabilize its newly introduced lammergerier raptors. Apparently cheetahs and leopards call this area home. The terrain is perfect for them but good luck spotting one of the elusive cats. Interesting rock formations like the Central Tower, a huge rock column, are all through the park. This geothermal region is one of the hottest sources of steam in the world. At the gate to the park is the Karia Geothermal station where you drive passed columns of steam. If you do a guided tour with one of the rangers, he will take you through the gorge and then visit a Masai village above the gorge. The tribal leader will give you an excellent description of the everyday lives of the Masai in perfect English.
You really need to be independent and have your own car but bring a lunch with you and plan on doing some walking.
It's also possible to camp inside the park at Ol Dubai and Naiberta camp sites.
$20USD per person per day.
See the video at Hell’s Gate Naitonal Park
All around Lake Naivasha you can book boat trips to go out on the lake. It's a very beautiful lake with some lovely scenery around it, and especially bird lovers will enjoy all the different species that live on the lake.
For me the most fascinating birds were the fish eagles, which occupied the highest tree tops around the lake shore. It was so great to see them flying right above us, probably hoping for some titbits.
There is a also a large number of hippos in the lake, which you will also visit during your boat trip, even though at a respectful distance!
Hell's Gate National Park near Lake Naivasha is one of the few parks where you are allowed to get out of your car, and you can walk or cycle through it. It has some very unusual rock scenery, and it is a popular spot with rock climbers.
We had hired bicyles for the day and cycled the 7km to the other end of it, where you can get guides at the KWS station to lead you on a 1-, 2- or 3-hour walk through the gorges, which look like mini-Grand Canyons, and then back up again to a viewpoint overlooking a large part of the park. In some places you have water from hot springs trickling down the rocks, and if you dig with your fingers in certain places you'll have to be careful not to burn them.
The reason you are allowed to walk around is that only herbivores are living in the park, and it was just brilliant to be cycling past herds of zebra, and we never got that close to eland anywhere else, as they are notoriously shy animals.
The gorges themselves are not always easy to negotiate though, and be prepared to scramble up and down some steep drops, but if I can manage it I'm sure you can too :-).
I should probably also mention that if you walk or cycle the track from Elsa's Gate to the KWS station you should bring a hat and some sun protection as there hardly any shade at all along the way, and it gets baking hot there during the day.
**This will end up being the best tip you will ever read (If you haven't heard of this place)**
Lake Naivasha is well-known, as is Hell's Gate. They, along with the flower plantations, are the area's biggest draw. But, hidden inside the gates and waters of Lake Naivasha Country Club was, to me, a diamond in the rough: Cresent Island. The reason it was so great was the abundance of wildlife and the dearth of tourists and supervision. Basically, you hop on a boat, they drop you at the island and set a time to meet for the return trip. Outside of that, you are on your own with the animals. You can walk through the woods as big-horned game scampers away, watch (from whatever distance you determine is safe) hippos bathe in the sunlight and walk up to a giraffe, mere feet away. I also walked among huge herds of wildebeest, zebras and even a few horses. I felt like Moses as I walked along and the herds parted right in front of me. With eagles flying in the sky above, fisherman off in the distance with their nets and only one ranger station where they are more worried about their radio than what you are doing, it is an amazing escape from the dirty city feel that you will undoubtedly endure getting here.
It costs a small fee to enter the country club, though we managed to wiggle out of it, and the boat ride was fairly cheap as well.
You MUST get there fairly early, so that you can have enough time on the island. The last boat back is fairly early, I think 18:00, and you should need 3 hours, give or take, on the island.
Certainly if you do not feel comfortable with wild animals around you, you are likely to hate this place. Otherwise, it will be an awesome experience.
It is interesting to see how the local villagers have adapted to modern life, yet they have still held onto their traditional way of life. The kids in all countries around the world are almost always smiling, wondering what you are doing, why you look different and where you are from. Most importantly, they almost always want to know what you are going to give them!
Modern houses and clothes in Kenya, and most of Africa, often gives way to adults without shoes, no form of modern transport and a staple diet of vegetables, goats meat and yams.
To say hello to the locals and to play with the kids is free, but the experience to the locals is priceless. Mostly, the friendly villagers welcome visitors and feel honored that you took the time to visit.
As is the case in most of Africa, the drivers in Kenya seem to have a death wish!
The roads are often dirt, or mud, and the numerous pot holes seem to be the only thing holding the road together. Even though the driving conditions are mostly on the dangerous side, you will often see busses, trucks and cars that constantly make 5 or 6 lanes out of a 2 lane road!
The roads are often littered with trucks that have rolled, cars that have come to grief and others that have simply broken down or run out of petrol.
You need to be very alert when driving in Kenya!
It seems a contradiction in terms but the Rift Valley contains Lake Naivasha at 1880 meters above sea level!!!! Being the highest lake in the Rift Valley Lakes, this freshwater lake has a remarkable amount of fish and birdlife
When Anne and I visited the Lake Naivasha area, in March 2007, the lake had a large amount of reed floating on the surface which had attracted a rather big colony of pelican. These pelican would take it in turns “running” across the lakes surface to take off, ascending high into the sky before dive bombing back below the lakes surface. The birds would quite often come up with a bill full of fish!
After 2 days at the Crayfish Camp it was time for our “Kumuka group” to separate and go our different ways. Anne and I had spent the past 14 days traveling through Kenya and Uganda with our current group taking in the Lake Nakuru National Park, Jinja and the Nile River, The Impenetrable Forest and the Mountain Gorillas of Uganda.
It was now time for us to join another Kumuka group and head off to the Maasai Mara for a few days before traveling to Tanzania to visit the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater.
The perfect way to celebrate our trip before parting ways…. The Maasai blanket and Toga party!
After we had spend the most magnificent 4 hours traversing the waters of the lake, looking at the Hippopotamus, feeding the fish eagles, walking with the giraffe, zebra and baboon, descending into Crater Lake, watching Flamingo and Colobus monkey before having a cool drink and lunch, I did not think the day could get better!
We were driven back to our boat in the resort bus but our boat was surrounded by approx 400 head of cattle and 500 goats that were either drinking the cool water or kicking up the dust that surrounded the waters edge. The Maasai people were tending to their herds and Anne took the opportunity to introduce herself to an elder and a young boy and to present them with a packet of biscuits.
The Crater Lake lay directly in front of us, the sun shining on its blue waters that made the pink flamingo stand out in their entire splendor. A traditional looking village that hugged the hillside on the opposite side of the lake was actually the Crater Lake Resort.
We walked around the lake, gazing at the shear magnificence of this place, before we entered the resort. We sat on the verandah, ordered cold drinks and lunch before settling in for the next hour to watch the Colubus monkeys playing in the trees at the edge of the lake.
Now this is what I call a holiday!
A walk of approx 30 minutes through small brush land and open savannah saw us reach the rim of Crater Lake. We then descended down a rocky and rather precarious steep track for another ten minutes before the bush and shrubs gave way to a scene of spectacular beauty.
Hidden on the shores of a deep volcanic lake, the Crater Lake is a simply stunning area that only a few lucky people ever get to view. The resort that sits on the lakes edge is very unobtrusive and blend into the surrounds, a perfect place for a “home cooked” style meal after you have been traveling for weeks on end!