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Kenya-Lake Nakuru National Park is one of many articles to be created from photos taken on three connected safaris (Botswana and Zambia, Tanzania, and Kenya) between June 20 and July 31, 2009, with Cheesemans Ecology Safaris, Saratoga, California (www.cheesemans.com). We had previously traveled with them to Antarctica, 2000/2001.
Lake Nakuru is one of the Rift Valley soda lakes in Central Kenya named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. Lake Nakuru National Park was created in 1961.
It is best known for its thousands, sometimes millions, of flamingos nesting along the shores. The surface of the shallow lake is often hardly recognizable due to the continually shifting mass of pink. The number of flamingos on the lake varies with water and food conditions. There is also a small area around the lake fenced off as a sanctuary to protect Rothschild giraffes, black rhinos and white rhinos.
The lake's abundance of algae attracts the vast quantity of flamingos that famously lines the shore. The lake's level dropped dramatically in the early 1990s but has since greatly recovered.
Nakuru means "Dust or Dusty Place" in the Maasai language. Lake Nakuru National Park began as a small park encompassing only the famous lake and the surrounding mountainous vicinity. Now it has been extended to include a large part of the savannahs.
Diane and I flew out of Peoria on a 6:00 AM flight to Minneapolis on June 20. After a 7-hour wait, it was on to Amsterdam. After a 5-hour wait, we boarded a plane for an 11-hour flight to Johannesburg, South Africa, where we stayed overnight. From there, we caught a flight to Maun, Botswana.
After completing the Botswana/Zambia portion of the journey with Grant Reed and three other tourists, we were ready for the Tanzanian safari. From Mfuwe, Zambia, Diane and I were the only passengers in a plane designed for four passengers for the one-hour flight to Lilongwe, Malawi. The 33-pound limit per person as to both checked and carried luggage was applicable to this flight had there been two more people on the plane. The flight from Livingstone to Mfuwe had been on a slightly larger plane, but that also could have had the same weight restriction if it had been a full plane. After a two-hour wait in Lilongwe, we boarded a 747 for the short flight to Nairobi, Kenya, where we overnighted before flying to Arusha, Tanzania, where we spent two nights at the Mountain Village Lodge before beginning our Tanzanian safari on July 9. Doug and Gail Cheeseman joined us at this time to lead the group through Tanzania and Kenya. There were seventeen tourists participating on the Tanzanian safari along with the Cheesemans and five native drivers.
We returned to Arusha on July 20, and it was a long bumpy ride to the Kenyan border at Namanga and up the Athi Plains to Nairobi for an overnight stay prior to beginning the Kenyan portion of our three-in-one safari. Never did we think on that ride from Arusha to Nairobi that tea bags would save the day. Apparently holes had developed in the radiator of the van-type vehicle carrying about 10 of us so bottles of water were poured into it as we drove. Then the driver asked if anyone had any loose tea or tea bags, which one tour participant did. Adding tea bags to the radiator saved the day as the tea leaves closed the small openings, and we were able to continue to Nairobi with no more problems.
For the Kenyan safari there were ten tourists along with the Cheesemans and three native drivers. We boarded vehicles like those used in Tanzania--vans with roofs which lifted up allowing us about 20 inches of open space for unobstructed views and photography.
Each day began early with breakfast either at the lodge or taken with us. Lunch was either at a lodge or taken with us, and we usually arrived at our lodging not later than 6:00 P.M. If we were doing game drives within a short distance of the nights lodging, each vehicle of four participants could decide on its arrival time back at the lodge. If we were changing lodging, we usually tried to arrive together early in the afternoon for check-in before continuing on with a game drive lasting until about 6:00 P.M.
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Jim and Diane Tanner
article published 5/30/2010