Sunday, May 8, 2011

Lake Nakuru

With pictures as promised! This weekend we went to Lake Nakuru, a national park about 2 1/2 hours away. The trip was fantastic. My roomate Mackenzie (another IU resident) and I, along with two IU medical students and two peds residents from Brown all piled into a safari van early Saturday morning. These safari vans have roofs that pop up, so you can stand up and look out. Once we arrived we drove around the park for a few hours, exploring the lake and seeing lots of birds, zebra, rhinos, and buffalo.

We then made our way to the "lodge" and checked into our room and ate at the ridiculous buffet. The lodge, clearly catering to Westerners, was one of the nicest places I've ever stayed...our balcony looked out on the park, and you could seen baboons and buffalo from the balcony. (Fortunately there was a fence between them and us) We relaxed for a few hours and the afternoon we went out on another game drive.

The evening game drive was probably the highlight of the trip for me - at one point our driver, Steve, took off in hot pursuit of several other vans all converging in one spot - up in a tree not far from the road someone had spotted a leopard! Of the "Big Five" (also including lion, elephant, hippo, and buffalo) the leopard was the only one I'd never seen before! (Yes, there is a leopard in this picture. Now you see why they are hard to find.)

We stopped at Baboon Cliff overlook and learned from watching some other tourists why one should not feed the baboons. One old baboon climbed up on the car and wouldn't leave because he'd spotted food inside. Finally one of the men was able to sneak into the car and drive down the hill, leaving the others to walk down and meet him later.

Apparently early in rainy season is also baby season for many of the animals. We saw countless baby baboons, zebra, and buffalo, as well as a few teenager rhino.

This morning we set out on another game drive, and about an hour before we had to leave the park, Steve zoomed off again after speaking with another drive, eventually finding two lions! One lion was sleeping next to a kill (warthog perhaps?) and a few hundred yards away was a pack of hyenas, waiting for the lions to leave. Our van pulled up to within probably 10-15 feet of the nearest lion, allowing us a close look and some great pictures. The lion seemed to be much more interested in napping than in the crowd of safari vans.

On the way out of the park we finished with a quick stop by the lake with more pelicans and flamingo (and other birds that stand around in the water) There were hundreds, if not thousands of pelicans flocking in the sky over the lake, and it was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. The pictures don't even come close to capturing it.

Driving home, we crossed back over the equator, and stopped for a few obigitory pictures. This afternoon we arrived safely back in Eldoret and played some soccer and went for a quick walk before dinner. I'll try soon to post some pictures of IU House and around Eldoret so you can get a better idea of what things are like on a day-to-day basis.

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