(*Only sighting on trip)
Lilac-breasted roller bird
Our drive from the Sarova Shaba Game Lodge to Sarova Lion Hill Lodge on Lake Nakuru was one of our longer drives: seven hours of bumpy, dusty dirt roads (and two bathroom stops):
|(Photo by E. Tooke)|
|See start and end points on map above. (Map courtesy of J. Duckworth)|
As always, there was plenty to see along the way. The photos below show common sights in Kenya: a sign for a school (18 km off the main tourist road), men on motorbikes . . .
As we climbed in elevation (Lake Nakuru is at over 5,500 feet), we began to notice productive farmland:
Our first sighting in the park, not very far from the entrance, was a "Pinch me!" moment: our first lion of the trip! He was in the middle of an afternoon siesta right next to the road and didn't bother to get up off the sofa to greet us:
Our lodge at Lake Nakuru was inside the park. As its name indicates, the Sarova Lion Hill Lodge is set on a hill. Individual cabins are perched on terraces, and our room happened to be on the top terrace and almost the furthest one from the main lodge, but who can complain about an extra few minutes of walking in a place so wildly exotic?
Because of the 5,500+ foot elevation, the temperatures were cooler than what we'd had for a few days, and the vegetation was much greener:
|Photo by M. Lewin|
Lake Nakuru can be seen in the distance, but in front of the lake are several rhinos. Where? Where?!!
The armor-like body, heavily muscled neck, and long head topped with dual horns (I've had students with similar hairdo's) give the rhino a prehistoric or sci-fi appearance.
The rhino's horn is highly prized for its medicinal properties in some traditional Asian communities, especially Vietnam, where powder made from the horn can cost as much as gold on the black market. Therefore, rhinos are a prime target for poachers, and poaching has recently been on the rise. According to an April 2014 article in the Huffington Post, 59 rhinos were killed for their horns in Kenya during 2013, almost double the 30 killed in 2012. While there are rhinos in other African countries (especially in South Africa), there are only about 1,000 remaining in Kenya. Lake Nakuru, Kenya's first rhino sanctuary, has about 75 white rhinos, and we saw 7 or 8 of them. Black rhinos are much rarer, and only about 30 or 35 live in this park. We looked hard, but we didn't see any black rhinos, which are not really black (just like the white rhino isn't white), are smaller than white rhinos, and have pointier mouths.
Even though the Cape buffalo looks like it could be related to cattle, you'll never see one being milked or pulling a cart. These beasts have never been domesticated. They are much too mean and ornery.
And yes indeed, rhinos and Cape buffalo can, like the lion, be deadly, as seen in this short National Geographic video filmed in South Africa, showing a head-to-head (or horn-to-horn) confrontation between a rhino and a buffalo.
|Waterbucks, which I think resemble satyrs or some other magical animal, look |
like they could have stepped right out of the pages of The Chronicles of Narnia.
Zebras were all over the place, as you can see by the varying vegetation in these photos:
|A mother with a nursing baby|
Lake Nakuru was the only place in the wild where we encountered one of the three types of giraffes we saw on this trip: Rothschild's giraffes. (Later in the trip we saw more at a special giraffe park in Nairobi.) They are distinguished by their white legs, more ragged and lighter-colored spots than the reticulated giraffes we'd seen earlier, and yellowish-colored lines between the spots rather than white lines.
|Mama and baby Rothschild's giraffes|
Side-by-side, the differences are easy to see. On the left is a reticulated giraffe that we saw in Buffalo Springs National Reserve, and on the right is a Rothschild's giraffe in Lake Nakuru:
With fewer than 670 Rothschild's giraffes still in the wild, this is one of the most endangered giraffe species. There are, however, about 450 in zoos around the world, and there are several successful breeding programs.
|Photo by M. Edwards|
|Photo by M. Edwards|
|Photo by M. Edwards|
And what's with the color combination? And that weird hairdo? And the polka dots?
|Photo from Wikipedia|
Well, time to start heading back for dinner.
They acted as guides on the road, making sure we knew the way:
Back at the lodge, the chef was preparing haute cuisine for guests flying in and on a tight schedule:
|Bird seed mixture being spread on a branch|
|Food photos by Bob (of course)|
Finally, we enjoyed a bit of African Broadway:
|The dancers were very different in appearance from the tall, lean Samburu people |
we had visited the day before. These dancers were much stockier and lighter skinned.
. . . before turning in to dream of Cape rhinoffalo and zeraffes and guineamingoes . . . or something like that!
Next: On the road to the Maasai Mara National Reserve