Round the Lakes

We just came back from a flying visit to Nakuru, Lake Nakuru National Park and Lake Baringo.

We headed to Nakuru primarily to see Kenyan National Schools Music Festival, which was crazy (over 100,000 students participate each year), so many children. We ran into both Kisumu Girls and Kisumu Boys’ students and luckily got to see Kisumu Girls perform in the spoken English verse competition. We also caught one of the Kisumu boys winning the Solo African Drum competition, which was an excellent result.

After that we headed to Lake Nakuru National Park the next day. Our driver was a little sick and really quiet so mostly we had an expensive taxi driver. Nevertheless we saw tons of Flamingos and storks as expected, along with Baboons, Hyenas, Lions, Buffalo, Giraffes, Gazelles, Dik-Diks, Maribou Storks (who feed on all the dead storks/flamingos), Rhinos galore, Secretary Birds and much more. Its really an amazingly beautiful setting for a day of animal and bird watching; we really enjoyed it.

The next day we headed out to Kampi ya Samaki on the shores of Lake Baringo. A word of warning that just because a Matatu claims to go somewhere, doesn’t mean you actually will. After passing through the North-Rift, crossing the equator and heading past all of ex-President Moi’s land we arrived in Maigrat, only to be handed over to ‘local transporters’ to complete our journey to Lake Baringo. We ended up in a clapped out Toyota station wagon which held 8 adults, 2 babies, a sheep and about 200 litres of milk. At first the car couldn’t be persuaded to go and so we were pushed back and forth in the Maigrat stage, until the car could be coaxed into life. The road from Maigrat to Lake Baringo is in really bad shape due to recently floods and we scrapped the bottom of the car on many occasions and every once in a while we had exit the car, scramble over a ditch and rejoin it.

On arrival at Kampi ya Samaki all visitors have to pay a registration fee to the local community, and then finally after meeting about half the community and hearing about all the boat rides etc we finally arrived at Robert’s Camp. Roberts Camp is a mix of large camping sites (mostly used by large tour groups in their Overlanders), small bandas and family sized cottages, which are nestled on the shores of Lake Baringo. Hippos patrol the grounds at night and you can often hear them munching on grass and moving around; pretty spooky. If you’re self-catering (as we were) you will want to pick up the bulk of your food in Nakuru or Maigrat as pickings are slim in Kampi ya Samaki itself.

We spent most of our time at Robert’s Camp just relaxing though we did go on a few walks to see the local bird life, which is abundant. We also headed out on the lake itself, which is beautiful. There are several islands out into the lake where fancy people stay (the places looked amazing but had prices to match) and a few which are home to communities of James/Masai and other local people. The lake offers more fantastic bird watching (such as Golden Weavers, Kingfishers, Fish Eagles, Night Herons etc) as well as a chance to get close to Hippos and Crocodiles.

Aside from the horrendous trip back to Kisumu (another cramped dodgy car ride into Maigrat, a packed Matatu back to Nakuru and Easy Coach (bouncing along the terrible Mau Summit-Kericho-Kisumu roads), we had a great time.

Some photos are here.

Places stayed:
Kivu Retreat, Nakuru – If you can negotiate down their rates it could be ok. Breakfast is better taken at Cafe Guava in town. Needs a little TLC and building work during the day combined with nearby club make it less than idyllic.

Hotel Avenue Suites, Nakuru – A fantastic hotel for the money. Very clean and well maintained. Only downside is that its on Kenyatta Avenue in the middle of town so there is a decent amount of traffic noise. East side of the hotel rooms have balconies with views of Lake Nakuru.

Robert’s Camp, Kampi Ya Samaki, Lake Baringo – Beautiful secluded site with Bandas, permanent tents and cottages. Camp has a decent little cafe/bar called the Thirsty Goat. Prices are a little high for beer but it does have to come a long way. Bandas are clean and quiet with a shared kitchen/washroom. Can swim next door in the Lake Baringo Club for a small fee. Loved it.

Places visited:
Lake Nakuru National Park – Awesome. Expensive in high season at 75USD for non-residents but well worth a day. Can see most of the park in about 6hours. Highlights are Rhinos and the bird life.

Lake Baringo – Beautiful. Not a lot to do outside of bird walks and trips on the lake, but very relaxing and the landscape is stunning.

Eating:
Planet Fries, Nakuru – Nice veranda area. Standard fare for a Kenyan restaurant but some veggie options. Prices are decent but food is nothing special.

Cafe Guava, Nakuru – Given Nairobi Java Coffee House a run for its money. Clean, comfortable with great coffee/shakes. Food isn’t as good as the drinks. Service is relaxed but can get busy at times with tour groups.

Kokeb, Nakuru – Beautiful location just outside of downtown’s core. Very green and spacious. Pretty decent Ethiopian food, great service let down only by the interior space which feels like a retro 80s wedding. Very popular bar at the back of the restaurant.

Thirsty Goat, Roberts Camp, Kampi Ya Samaki, Lake Baringo – Food is decent though a little expensive (though you are in a remote location), not everything on the menu is available at any time so check ahead. Has snacks and soft drinks available throughout the day.

Hotel Tamarind, Kampi Ya Samaki, Lake Baringo – Food was decent again with similar prices to Roberts Camp. Much smaller menu but restaurant and bar is in a spacious airy banda.

Drinking:
Guava Lounge, Nakuru – Sister bar to Cafe Guava (part of the same complex). Nice space, plenty of seating but with Nairobi prices unfortunately.

Taidy’s, Nakuru – Three floors of eating and drinking. Very popular later into the evening. Food is pretty good with a typical mix of Kenyan and Western dishes. Lots of balcony seating and a very popular pool room on the first floor.

Soi Safari Lodge, Kampi Ya Samaki, Lake Baringo – Fancy conference hotel with great views over the lake. Bar is very open space which is light and airy. If Robert’s Camp is full then this could be a good option to stay especially if you’re not into roughing it a little.

Thirsty Goat, Robert’s Camp – A relaxing space to end the day with ice-cold beer. What more could you really want?

1 Comments.

  1. What a wonderful week—stunning photos! Great blog with all you’ve seen and done. Miss you both, MIL