Naivasha & Lake Nakuru: in search of pink flamingos

We were supposed to leave at 9am on Sunday morning and spend the day at Lake Nakuru National park where (supposedly) the horde of pink flamingoes were. By 12pm my friend still hasn’t arrived and when we finally left at around 1pm there was not much time left for a proper day out. Still, I was going to enjoy my day and I was not disappointed. Our hunt for pink flamingoes took us through stunning countryside and driving, with the sun and the wind on my face was just perfect. It was so perfect in fact, I didn’t care whether I saw any flamingoes or not. I didn’t want the drive to end.

We saw horde of baboons casually hanging and food picking on he highway, we saw zebras and antelopes in the distance, and we may have even seen some flamingos. It is hard to tell, they were flying high up above us and for all I know they may have been just regular big birds. I chose to have seen flamingos though.

We drove through Naivasha and asked if the flamingos were at Lake Naivasha but they weren’t. They had moved to Nakuru. We drove on, asking for directions on the way. People were just sending us to random place unwilling to admit they had know idea where the gate was but we didn’t care. We were enjoying the drive. We saw a couple of men standing by the road lined with acacia trees and thought we’d give the ‘asking-for-directions’ thing one more try. The younger of the men, wasn’t going to pass on an opportunity and asked if we could drive his dad a bit further up the road. ‘It is on your way to the gate and he will show you the way’ he said. It was a win-win for all of us. And for some reason I enjoyed the old man’s presence.

Driving through the streets of some random place on the way to Lake Nakuru National Park

Driving through the streets of some random place on the way to Lake Nakuru National Park

By the time we got to Lake Nakuru, there was about an hour left before the park closed and we were at a gate that didn’t sell tickets and we would have to drive around the park, to the main gate to get tickets. There really wasn’t any point spending $80 on an entrance fee for a visit that would last about 30mins. Still we drove to the main gate for future reference. Talking to the lady at the gate we found out that there weren’t many flamingoes in the park. It had been raining a lot, the alkaline content of the lake had changed (it was less salty) and the flamingos were not there. Even if we had seen some, it definitely wouldn’t have been the hundreds, the thousands of pinkies I had seen on photos.

We decided to hang out just outside the main gate for a while which provided ample opportunities for safaring (made up word!). There were gazelles in the distance and monkeys in the trees surrounding us. There were many couples sitting on the grass, talking.  ‘What a great place for a first date!’ I thought. ‘Wow! It’s doesn’t get much better than that…’ I mused, looking at the people around us.

Lake Nakuru National Park, hanging out just outside the main gate

Lake Nakuru National Park, hanging out just outside the main gate

We spent some time chasing the monkeys in the tree tops while they were picking each others’ bugs and throwing orange peels at us. The baboons we had seen on our way in were gone but there were still plenty of entertainment opportunities.

Orange peel throwing monkeys :)

Orange peel throwing monkeys 🙂

We then walked along up a path squeezed between the park and some houses leading up a hill that I am sure provided great views of the surrounding area. Unfortunately it was getting dark, and there were a bunch of suspicious looking men from the nearby slum block our way to the hill and we decided to call it a day.

Waving (a moment before the photo was taken) children living in the slum next to the park (Nakuru, Kenya)

Waving (a moment before the photo was taken) children living in the slum next to the park (Nakuru, Kenya)

We walked back to the car, surrounded by screaming children. I’d given one of them a bit of money, and then there were lots of them. Surprise, surprise! They surrounded the car and only left when we started moving.

Surrounded by children!

Surrounded by children!

By the time we had stopped for dinner and made it back to Nairobi, it was pitch black. When I say pitch black, I mean pitch black. You can’t see anything. There are no street lights, and there are no lights coming from surrounding buildings. I don’t know how anyone drives in those conditions. We were nearly back when we drove through a knee deep pot hole which left us with a flat tire. There was a spare in the back but there was no tool set to fix it with. We had to wait for the mechanic who had taken the tool set out of the car and somehow “forgotten” to put it back in. He came without the set but with his own tools for some reason which didn’t work; then he left and came back again with a different set of tools but still not the actual tool set and that didn’t work. By that time I was falling asleep in the back seat and thought it would be better if I was taken home given that we had no idea how long it would take to fix the tire. Later I found out that it took another hour or so to fix the tire. Lesson learned – drive very, very carefully (and slowly) in Nairobi and always check your car for all its bit before you leave the mechanic’s garage.

That was such an eventful day on so many counts!

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