We enjoyed the days spent at Jinja – the source of the Nile just outside Kampala.
We went into the town to sample life and found a coffee shop called “The Deli” which is new in town and very civilized! Even serving wraps and quiche with salad and chocolate brownies!
That’s what gave me the courage to have a haircut. We finished our time there by going on a Nile Sunset cruise to the newly constructed dam wall and back.
Soon there will no rapids left along this section of the Nile as they are building another dam up stream. A pity because Jinja is famous for its water sports. We both really enjoyed Uganda, the people are very friendly and the country itself is beautiful. It’s wilder than we had imagined.
We crossed into Kenya at Busia a slightly quieter border post than Malaba in just over an hour and volia we were in Kenya. We traveled in rain until we found our next stopping point just outside a town called Eldoret at Naiberi campsite. It was very pleasant and we opted to take a room to overnight. The bed was the hardest we have ever slept in!!! We spent Sunday morning in Eldoret getting money and doing a bit of shopping in a supermarket- that was fun. In Uganda we had mostly shopped at the village markets and even bought meat from the street butcher, so to be in a supermarket again was lovely. There are also more tar roads in Kenya. Apart from major roads linking Kampala to the rest of Uganda it was dirt, dirt, dirt!
We moved on from Naiberi to another campsite-Kembu just outside Nakuru which is the 4th largest town in Kenya. Kembu is a beautiful spot on a working farm which does a lot of eco-tourism.
A group of British 17-18 year olds were also staying there having spent time at one of the local schools helping build classrooms. They were the 4th group that we had come across and got chatting to one of the teachers. The kids raise the money themselves and partner with a local school and do a bit of sightseeing along the way. They generally take the development to a certain point and then leave the completion to the local schools. If the work is not completed within a certain period of time, the Brits find another school to partner with. Quite a sound way of supporting the local communities we thought. It’s for the “Duke of Edinburgh” award. We arrived in the rain at Kembu and it was miserable and cold that night- the coldest we’ve been since we’ve been travelling. It called for a little home comfort.
The morning was sunny so we got to appreciate more of the place.
We headed north from there to the rift valley lakes, in fact this area is referred to as the rift valley having traveled over the escarpment the previous day to Kembu. This escarpment divides the Western or Albertine Rift from the Eastern . As we traveled north the terrain changed again and became much drier and starker. Quite a change from the green of the escarpment and of the higher area around Nakuru. We arrived at Robert’s camp on Lake Baringo only 100kms away to searing heat! What a contrast. The level of Lake Baringo rose sharply in 2011 putting most of the camp underwater and we could see the aftermath as there were dead trees in the water as well as the remains of brick buildings still in the water.
We spent an afternoon bird watching!
We had pizza “African style” here for lunch with a couple of hornbills trying to steal our food. It is s great place to see birds and that first day we just sat in the shade and bird watched. There were only cold showers available which was perfect with the heat.
The next morning we were up early to go on a boat ride along the banks of the lake then across to a conservancy where they had reintroduced eight Rothchild giraffes who were left on an island with the water levels raising. As we left we were looked down upon by a Verreaux Eagle-owl as we glided in the boat underneath it.
We had a great guide Wilson who was a great birder as well as being very knowledgeable about the area having grown up there. After having bought some fish from the local fisherman, we found some fish eagles along the shore. Wilson put a piece of balsa wood into the fish (as a float), whistled for the eagle, threw the fish and the Eagle swooped in to get it. Quite a trick and a lovely experience.
From there we got to the Island and wandered among the giraffe before climbing a short incline to see another plain stretching out before us with impala, ostrich and warthog.
From there Wilson took us to see the hot springs on another island, where he lived and it was amazing to see and smell the sulfur. He told us that when he was a boy, if it was raining or a cold day he and his friends would come and sit there to warm up. The boat trip was delightful and we thoroughly enjoyed it!
When we got back we had breakfast and were joined by a camera crew who were with a group of Kenyan athletes doing a walk for peace in the areas here that have been troubled. Interesting chaps and later that evening we met some of these athletes as they came for a drink. We also met John and Pam while we were there. A great couple who are so well traveled in Africa that we felt like novices- which actually we are! They have been travelling now in various parts of the world for 12 years so it was fascinating chatting to them. They started travelling in Africa 15 years ago so there’s not much they haven’t seen. We’re discovering a parallel universe comprising travelers from all over the world, many of whom are interconnected via the Web.
Next day we traveled to Lake Naivasha via Nakuru town which is a fresh water lake. We spent ages there trying to get a local sim card registered and finally had lunch at 3pm at a great coffee shop in a shopping mall! We arrived after 5 at Lake Naivasha at Carnelley’s campsite after having driven through lots of people and speed humps, flower growing tents and not even a glimpse of the lake. The fresh flower industry has overtaken this beautiful area. Apparently flowers harvested here in the morning are on sale in the European markets that evening!
Well it was beautiful, the campsite is situated under old yellow fever acacia trees on green grass- magnificent – plus hot showers – wonderful! So we set up camp, parked the car for easy access and….. the back door of the Sani jammed. We were bleak- as that’s where all the food etc is and because of the drawer system in the back we have no access from inside.
Well what were we to do but go to the campsite restaurant and eat! We discussed what we should do and decided that we would stay another day as it was just so beautiful and restful before going to Nairobi for help.
That was a great decision. The next day a Thursday we went to see Elsamere – the house where Joy Adamson lived (now a museum) which brought back memories of “Born Free”. The house is named after the Lioness Elsa, the subject of Born Free.
After that we spent the afternoon in a small park called Hell’s Gate National Park which has many steam geysers, some of which are being used to generate thermal power.
The park was a surprise and one of the gems of our trip. It’s very small and you can cycle or walk around it quite comfortably. There is something magical for me when you can get out your car in a game reserve and enjoy the sounds of the bush and walk with animals grazing around you.
We’ve come across some different animals than those found in South Africa which has been great.
The scenery was also magnificent reminding us that there is more to see here than the big herds of game. Taking time to see all the other things here is worthwhile.
The other thing that has struck us is that whilst everyone has different travel plans, a trip like this is also about people. I’m not sure if it’s because you have shared experiences but people are happy to chat and before long a small community is formed for the brief time you are together. Quite special. Chance encounters have lead us to experience places we might have missed. Another lovely evening at Carnelleys and we were off the next morning to Nairobi.