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Through the Great Rift Valley

November 22, 2019

Northwest of Samburu, a six hour drive through the Great Rift Valley, lies Lake Nakuru National Park. Famous for its huge flocks of flamingoes (a flamboyance), climate change has altered the water level and alkalinity dramatically in the last two decades as well as the algae upon which the flamingoes feast. Sadly, we only saw these colorful birds from a distance. Skeletal dead acacias, their feet deep in water, testified to the precipitous rise in the lake level.



However, here we got our first peek at rhinos, both the critically endangered black and the white varieties. My past encounters with rhinos had been at such a distance that they looked like grey boulders, but here we were able to get close enough to zoom in.


White rhinos have a shovel-shaped snout, while the black ones have a pointed upper lip. Otherwise, they’re hard to distinguish from each other. The above images are black rhinos; the mother and calf below are white.


The climate in Nakuru was cool and misty, lighting the yellow acacia forest with a magical glow. On an early morning game drive we could detect the giraffes’ breath in the golden rim light.


Later in the morning we spotted a lioness with her cubs tucked into the grass beside the road. I couldn’t get enough of these precious babies.


After a while she led them to a small thicket, where she tucked them in and presumably gave them instructions to stay still and quiet while she went hunting.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA









Mama on the lookout for something tasty… OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The dirt roads in these parks are deeply rutted, and during a bouncy ride on our second morning in Nakuru, I remarked to my mates that our driver, Jonathan, had just turned  down a road marked “Road Closed.” About ten minutes later we found out why.


After Jen, Marsha and I delicately disembarked, Jonathan called Wilson for assistance. After speculating that they might not be able to get the Land Cruiser out of the sucking mud — necessitating calling Nairobi for another one, 8 or more hours away — they connected the two vehicles with a heavy cable and Wilson was able to pull it out as Jonathan gunned the engine. Only after we got back in the vehicle did we think about the rhinos we had seen just beside the road…

  1. The picture of the two giraffes is stunning. It looks more like a painting than a photograph. What an adventure!

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