The Republic of Kenya in Eastern Africa is bordered to its north by Ethiopia, Somalia to its east, Tanzania to the south, Uganda to the west and Sudan to the northwest. The Indian Ocean runs along its south-east border.
Jules Lund visited Lake Naivasha, a freshwater lake near the town of the same name, north-west of Nairobi, the country's capital. It is part of the Great Rift Valley and its name means "rough water" in the Masai language.
The Great Rift Valley was formed between 2 million and 7 million years ago and is the longest rift on the surface of the earth. It runs from northern Syria in south-west Asia to central Mozambique in East Africa, a distance of around 6400km. It was formed through geological tension in the earth's crust causing deep depression and forcing the sides upwards.
The lake's surface area is 139 square kilometres and it is surrounded by a 64-square-kilometre swamp. Those measurements can vary greatly, depending upon rainfall. Situated at 1884m, the lake has an average depth of 6m, its deepest area being at Crescent Island.
In the 1930s, the British social set settled there, and the lake was used as a landing place for flying boats carrying tourists and mail to and from Britain.
Natural beauty was no doubt a big attraction. Lake Naivasha is fringed by thick papyrus and forests of yellow-barked acacia xanthophloea, attractive to bird life. The waters attract a great range of game. Giraffes wander among the trees, buffalo wallow in the swamps and colobus monkeys swing through treetops. Fertile soils and water supply have joined to create one of Kenya's prime agricultural regions.
One of the biggest in every way attractions is hippopotamus herds, or more correctly "bloats". They live a primarily aquatic lifestyle in rivers and lakes and number up to 40 in a group.
During the day they remain submerged and in the coolness of night feed on grass. They spend hours grazing and can consume up to 70kg of grass in one session. It is thought up to 150,000 remain in Africa, but their existence is threatened by poaching and loss of habitat.
Despite their barrel-shaped torso, stubby legs and enormous size, they can run up to 50km/h, but not for long distances. They have often been called the deadliest animal in Africa, are known to be aggressive towards humans and are particularly hostile towards crocodiles living in the same pools.
Peregrine Adventures offers boat rides where you will see the huge animals keeping cool. They are quite curious and usually can't resist popping their heads up for a look, usually grunting loudly.
For a closer look on land, a visit to Crescent Island is the place to stop. Bruce and Linda Gaymer have been there for more than 30 years. It is actually a crescent-shaped piece of land jutting into the lake from the shore. The 162 hectares are on the elevated rim of an old crater still connected to the mainland by a small isthmus. The submerged rim forms a bay which is the deepest point of the lake. The last time it was an island was during the 1998 El Niño.
The sanctuary is a protected reserve and visitors can walk amongst the animals as they come to the water's edge to drink. There are no fences, cars or predators, so it is one of the few places in Kenya offering the opportunity to walk amongst the animals. There are around 1500 of them including zebra, wildebeest, eland, gazelle, Masai giraffe, antelope, dik-dik, steenbok and lots of marvellous birds.
Around two hours north-west of Nairobi in Kenya.
Peregrine Adventures has 11-day Essence of Kenya Tours. They cost $4815 per person twin share and include all accommodation, local tour leader, transfers, game drives, walks, wildlife fees and most meals. They run between December 2019 and March 2011 and again between June 2011 and March 2010.
Emirates has flights to Nairobi from:
- Perth $1699
- Adelaide and Melbourne $1702
- Sydney $1720
- Brisbane $1726
These fares are available only online to the first 100 people to book.
For further information
Ph: 1300 303 777
Ph: 1300 854 500
Visas: Australians are required to have a valid passport, visa and return ticket..
Electricity: 240V at 50Hz.
Time zone: GMT +3.
Telephone code: +254.
It is recommended travellers to Kenya see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there are specific vaccinations recommended. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended and are best discussed with your doctor. For further information, visit www.smartraveller.gov.au