Savouring Naivasha's rich attraction sites
Safaris in Kenya are pure luxury in all senses - a blend of rich wildlife, picturesque topography and birding activites among others. Naivasha has a lot to offer on the country’s tourism map, writes ALLAN OLINGO
With a strong urge driving me to savour Kenya’s beauty, I decided to explore the infamous Naivasha, a town associated with all the evils and immorality in Kenya. From rape to sodomy, and grisly murders to vampires, this town rarely offers positive news about itself.
Having secured myself a weekend accommodation at Sopa Lodges, I set off for Naivasha one early Friday morning. My first stop was at the Great Rift Valley viewpoint to marvel at the beauty of Mother Nature. The breathtaking view goes on for miles and you can see the mountains that surround the bowl and lots of villages scattered around. It really is vast and eye catching!
As we descended into the belly of the valley at a snail’s pace, we got into Mai Mahiu dotted with randomly situated villages, colourfully decorated rows of village shops with corrugated tin roofs. This dry and sparse African landscape attests to the real African upcountry images!
Hidden among the flower farms on Moi Southlake Road lies the Lake Naivasha Sopa Resort. Surrounded by ancient baobab trees, this area is home to the greatest concentration of waterbucks and other game, including the elusive water buffalo. Over 400 bird species offers bird watching lovers a real sport.
The lush green vegetation are sustained by the year round waters of Lake Naivasha providing a wonderful contrast to the turquoise blue waters in the background.
A glass of cool fresh juice was offered at the reception, cooling and refreshing for the scorching sun was already promising it was going to be quite hot.
A charming and enthusiastic butler called Joseph escorted me to my room. With the afternoon heat soaring high and the two-hour drive from Nairobi having sucked my energy, a cold shower came in handy to bust the fatigue. Afterwards, I joined other guests for a buffet lunch as I eagerly awaited the afternoon excursion to the Crescent Island for game viewing.
Later we took a boat ride through Lake Naivasha to Crescent Island. The boat ride will set you back Sh2,750 for an hour. But the exhilarating sight of birds swimming and others hunting for fish on the blue waters on one end ,and seeing huge herds of hippopotamus made the ride worthwhile.
Cresent shaped island
But still, the closely herded hippos sent cold chills down my spine. At one point, a solitary hippo, which our guide noted was nursing its young one, started swimming towards us, prompting the coxswain to accelerate away.
We got to Crescent Island, which is shaped like a half moon with one side submerged in water. It is a sanctuary of wildlife and home to a variety of herds of mammals. This is the island where the movie Out of Africa was shot, bringing international fame to the country.
The beauty of this island is that game viewing is done on foot and like hunters, we walked through the bushes and plains mingling freely with the animals. We spotted giraffes, antelopes, gazelles, elands, zebras, wild beast and a horde of bird species.
At one time, we came across an eleven-foot python capable of sending anyone to his or her heel owing to its frightening appearance.
I came to learn that the usual way to access the small island is by boat, but you can also access it by road passing through the "Horse Riding Complex". This will cost you Sh3,000 but the beauty, the scenery and the game viewing on foot makes it worth it.
Midway through our boat ride back and in the middle of the herd of hippopotamus, our boat experienced a technical problem, luckily it soon sputtered to life and we were on our way.
Sopa lodge boasts of an expansive green lawn shaded by mature acacia and spreading fever trees, which stretch down to the shores of the lake. It offers serene surroundings, which are invaded by herds of waterbucks, antelopes, zebras and hippopotamus’ that come to browse once the sun sets. These animals had taken over the green lawns and were right under my balcony offering spectacular views under the moonlight. More amazing was the courage with which the watchmen went about their business amid all these animals.
Dawn brought unforgettable experience and from my bed, through the vast all-glass door, I could see the wild animals graze peacefully under the emerging African sun. I took my breakfast of bacon, cold mango juice, sausages and a cake from the balcony as I watched an array of animals wander aimlessly and peacefully just metres away from where I was.
The sight of the more rare and unusual creatures, and the joy on my face was proof that Africa’s magical secrets had not become too familiar with me.
After lunch, we took a drive to Hells Gate, another famous National Park and a favourite with Nairobi. Being my first time visit, I was amazed by the rocky scenery and wild animals. I really enjoyed this place and it sure did leave a special imprint on my heart.
Since I was a young boy, I had dreamt of the wide-open plains, the rocky cliffs and the African wildlife. I had seen the beauty of the Kenyan wildlife in movies and on television, but I had never come this close and experienced them. Holding baby warthogs in my arms, watching giraffes run, zebras gore each other and an antelope taking a swim was just awesome.
There are no words to describe my experiences at Hells Gate! Everything about it was perfect, romantic, adventurous, exciting, peaceful and absolutely incredible!
Sitting on a leather chair the next morning, gazing out over the thick baobab trees, watching hundreds of wild animals passing by, left me wondering how soon I would be able to come back to this Eden.
I later joined other guests in the pool for bedsheet volleyball and water polo.
Everywhere I looked there were thousands of God’s creatures, big and small, crawling, swimming, walking or flying. It was truly a dream come true, an adventure to treasure Kenya’s richest lake water vacation spot.
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