Kat had signed up for an overland trip from Nairobi to Vic Falls and decided to grace us with her presence the week before her departure date. What she didn’t realise is that she would be used as a mule on her way to Kenya as we ‘needed’ a few items brought over from Australia… more than 10kg of candles, a desk lamp and some vegetable stock cubes and her bag was pretty much overflowing before she even added her toothbrush!
As Jon needed to go to Tanzania for work, the girls took the car and headed off on a mid-week adventure to Lake Baringo and Lake Nakuru National Park. Lake Baringo is one of many in a string of Rift Valley lakes, complete with resident hippos, crocs and a huge variety of birds. We went on a boat ride to explore the lake and see the mighty fish eagle swoop down to catch a fish (that our guide had bought from a fisherman, cleaned and stuffed with some wood to make it float). Their accuracy is pretty amazing!
At Lake Nakuru we were very lucky to bump into 3 white rhinos right next to the road and then, as we were deciding which track to take, a ranger asked us if we would like to see a leopard… is the pope catholic?! So down this tiny track we went until we arrived at the place where 3 other cars were already parked. The very well camouflaged leopard was hidden in the scrub, but it was still possible to see her (or him?). We watched her for about half an hour, one of Africa’s most majestic sights.
Its a great National Park (for those planning a visit) and we enjoyed the monkey cliffs for the views and the lakeside for the pelicans and the greater and lesser flamingos and to top it all off spotted yet another white rhino, a lioness and a very rare black rhino on the way back to our guesthouse.
With Jon back for the weekend we decided to hike to the top of Mt Suswa and camp on its rim. Mt Suswa is another volcano in the Rift Valley, this one has a distinct outer and inner rim. In the outer rim many Masaai families graze their stock and collect water from the steam coming out of the volcanic vents. Without these steam vents the families could not live here as the area is very dry and has no other source of water.
Our guide and his brother are from one of those families living in the outer crater. They have another 50 brothers and sisters or so, all from one father and his 4 wives, a rich family as the father can afford more than one wife…
We hiked to the top of Mt Suswa, a gentle walk for a few hours before returning to our sensational campsite. It overlooks the inner crater, a sacred and lost world rarely visited and completely covered in ancient forest. It’s unique in this part of the world where forests are under threat to feed those fuel stoves. Definitely a place we’ll return to.
That night the heavens opened (very rare on Mt Suswa) so we pitched our tents in one of the bandas (shelter). The rain stopped overnight and in the morning the 2 brothers came to pick us up to explore the lava tube caves on the other side of the crater.
The BBC made a documentary about one particular area of these caves: Baboon Parliament (2.29m video). A place where the local baboons spend the night, very unusual for baboons who normally stay in trees. Before they all go to bed, the leader of the troop hangs out on top of a pile of rubble in the middle of the cave (the collapsed roof), making it look like he is addressing parliament. Through many years of use the surfaces of the cave are now completely warn and smooth. Whilst it looks beautiful it must be pretty treacherous for the baboons. We didn’t see the baboons as it was daytime, but had a look at the bats that use the caves to hangout during the day instead.
Sunday night we dropped Kat off at a hotel in Nairobi where she met her new friends before leaving very early the next morning for her overland adventure.