We halted for the night in the Serena camp. It was a relaxing sojourn for us. The property boasts a beautiful garden fenced with electric wire. Beyond the fence we saw a herd of bushbucks grazing in the veld. In the cool morning hours, we took incredible shots of elephants, water bucks, hogs, herons. It was a jaw dropping moment for us when we when we saw a blue ball monkey for the first time – these are found only in east Africa.
The next morning, we set off from Amboseli to OL Pejeta. This is a wildlife conservancy in Central Kenya. In the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary great apes can be seen. The conservancy also hosts the ‘Big Five Game’.
Standing on the equator
The next day, we were to head to Ark en-route Aberdare N.P. It is while we were travelling to Aberdare N.P that we stopped on the equator – a concrete line! It felt euphoric to straddle the equator – one foot on each hemisphere. It was difficult to imagine that this man-made imaginary line divides the Earth into two halves. All what I read in my geography books came flooding back to me and I was super elated.
We reached the Country Club in the Aberdare N.P around 12 noon, earlier than expected. The property is set up in natural environs club, nestling as it does on the slope of Aberdare range, which is a part of the Great Rift Valley. Our scheduled halt there was for a couple of hours which luckily and unknowingly ended up creating a memory of a lifetime! Since we had arrived early, the staff of the club suggested we could either stroll around their lush and extremely well-manicured property or take five kilometres walk through the unspoilt terrain.
A soul touching encounter with zebras
Without a moment of hesitation, we took up the second option. The club allotted a Masai guide to us – Jerimiah, who then escorted us into the forest. As we followed him into the wilderness, he shared with us his knowledge about animals’ behaviour with human beings.
We suddenly came upon a beautiful sight – hundreds of zebras grazing in the open field. It felt as though we were watching a movie in a natural setting. At first, they didn’t seem to be bothered by our presence. But then they seemed to sense that they were sharing a space without any barrier between them and us. They started running helter-skelter and vanished into the forest.
As we walked deeper into the forest, we suddenly noticed a few long-necked heads popping up over the acacias. More and more heads popped up as we approached them. We were about ten metres away, when sixteen giraffes came out from the forest and stood still, gazing at us with astonishment. They sensed no fear in us, neither we did in them. Standing still and gazing at each other we exchanged trust and respect amongst us.
I understood then how animals and humans could actually coexist in peace and harmony. We quietly tip-toed away and took back memories that gives me goosebumps even today. Later Jeremiah told us that we were extremely fortunate for it was rare for visitors to experience such an intimate encounter.
The drive from Aberdare N.P to Ark was very interesting. The Ark hotel is set deep within the forest of Aberdare NP. No jeeps, or vans are allowed to go up to the Ark. So, the hotel provides their own transport and takes guests to a point short of the hotel. Thereon, guests have to walk on a long suspended wooden bridge to reach the Ark. It is quite a quirky place! The hotel is designed as Noah’s Ark and overlooks a waterhole and a salt lick. Hotel guests have an uninterrupted view of animals lazing on the glass deck every time they come for food and water. In fact, we happened to spot some at twilight! The place is quite expensive but worth the experience.
The Great Rift Valley
The next day we set off again and stopped for an amazing breakfast at the Sarova Lion Hill lodge. This is one of the best hotels of Kenya and highly recommended. We stopped at Great Rift Valley view point – a beautiful stop over for taking panoramic photographs of the lush green farmland of the valley. A short and sweet interaction with Kenyan children who were harvesting vegetables made our day.
On our arrival at lake Nakuru, we embarked on a game drive round the lake. Lake Nakuru happens to be one of the many salt water lakes in the rift valley and is also among Kenya’s finest national parks.
Our driver, Peter assured us that we would definitely spot some lions here. He drove us to a place below Flamingo hill, a favourite spotting point for lions. Other game drive jeeps were standing there too. Peter was right! We saw two young lions sitting on a huge rock. The scene reminded me of the logo of MGM of Hollywood fame.
Dumbfounded we watched the two brothers playing right next to our van. We waited for them to come down so that we could have a closer look but they were too engrossed in themselves. As we moved away, we spotted a black and white Colobus monkey. It was sitting on a high bough with his long white haired tail flying in the wind!
This is the second part of the five-part series on Africa. To read part one click here.