The Hour of The Bewilderbeast
Straight from the airport to Nairobi city-centre, passing giraffes and zebra en-route as the taxi sped down the highway past the Nairobi National Park, and then bundled into a matatu with two Australians I had met at the airport. My departure from Sudan was rather last minute, I had bought my ticket the day before, and hadn’t really read a thing about the country. I didn’t even know where, or what, Naivasha was.
But after a bumpy ride there, crammed in with ragga music blaring, we got out and found a camp. The hills rising from around the lake, I realised how much I had missed this kind of landscape, and climate. It felt strange, not to be constantly dripping with sweat. I felt cold at night; I hadn’t been cold for months. Monkeys bounded around the wooden camp buildings, and at night, hippos would wander up from the shore. La pièce de résistance, cold bottles of Tusker beer.
Crescent Island sits near the shore of Lake Naivasha, seasonally connected to the mainland, and unfortunately, increasingly so. The water levels of the lake are dropping, and the water is becoming more and more polluted. This is the region where many of Europe’s flowers are grown, and predominantly Dutch owned flower farms line the shore, their irrigation literally sucking the lake dry, along with the water needs of their thousands of employees, drafted into the region for work.
The island is a small sanctuary for wildlife, the animals initially brought here for the filming of Out of Africa, guaranteeing a backdrop of giraffe and zebra strolling about. I hadn’t planned on playing the whole safari game, the thought of being cooped up in a 4x4 driven round as meat is thrown out to entice the animals doesn’t appeal to me personally, but this was pretty cool. A small motorboat brought us from the campsite, passing herds of hippopotamuses semi-submerged in the lake, and we were left to walk amongst the wildlife, stumbling across a huge python, with gazelle, wildebeest and zebra chowing down in-between the odd giraffe. A lone tokul reminds me of Sudan. The backdrop of the lakes and the extinct volcanoes of the Great Rift Valley rising up behind them was stunning, and exactly what I needed after the four previous months.
So here’s to meeting random Ozzies at the airport.