Last weekend we went camping in Nakuru with our friends Scott and Lara Barnett. We arrived at the main gate late afternoon, so by the time we registered, purchased a park map, and collected fire wood, it was nearly dusk. The campsite we chose was 24 km from the main gate, so just driving to the camp turned into a nice early evening game drive. Seeing safari animals is always amazing, but there is something even more majestic about coming around a bend and seeing a giraffe eating, or a herd of zebra crossing the road in the light of the head lights. By the time we got to camp it was dark, but we had already seen several buffalo, water buck, zebra, and giraffe. We set up camp by the light of head lamps and then cooked some burgers. We were lucky to find a spot where no one else was camping. Just us and the animals. While eating dinner we heard rustling just behind us, and we shined our light to find a huge buffalo. Luckily he wasn’t interested in us because he was just passing through, which was good because they can be dangerous. We spent the next few hours chatting by the campfire and gazing at the incredible night sky (probably the best night sky we have ever seen, with the exception of Limatambo, Peru). Just before we turned in we started hearing loud howling in the tops of the trees just behind our camp. We all watched as the trees violently swayed at the weight of some animal unseen and listened to the howling. We decided it must be baboons and called it a night. Unfortunately the howling was just getting started and quickly turned into growling, barking, and what seemed to be a confrontation that resulted in the end of some thing’s life. Needless to say, not many of us slept much that night…some due to nerves, some due to the fact that noise was extremely loud and would quickly startle you awake if you were to doze off. Scott (who grew up in Kenya and has an amazing eye for and knowledge of Kenyan Wildlife) determined that what he heard in the middle of the night was most likely a Leopard, possibly going to war with baboons. Though it could be a bit unnerving to be awakened by a growling animal that is only a few dozen yards from where you are sleeping, and have to process where you are and what is happening, it was also an amazing experience. I (Jamie) have always loved nature, wildlife, and even the idea of the possibility of danger (though we were in no real danger at all), so it was a great combination for me. Jess wasn’t as big of a fan….she started the night a bit nervous and frightened (understandably so) but after adjusting and getting used to it, she just became angry because their growling was keeping her awake, and if you know Jess you know she LOVES her sleep. We woke up, or got out of the tent for those not sleeping, just before sunrise and went on an early morning game drive. Jess and I have been on several safaris over the years, and the only animals we haven’t seen are Leopard and Rhino. Lake Nakuru is supposed to be one of the best places to see both. Within the first hour (just after a beautiful sunrise) we found a plethora of Rhino. We saw somewhere between 10-15 over the course of the morning. We also saw more buffalo, zebra, giraffe, hyenas, warthogs, several types of birds, and the flamingos that make Lake Nakuru famous. We didn’t see a Leopard though, for now I guess having one keep us up all night with it’s growling will have to do. After a few hours we headed back to camp to find baboons had taken over. Luckily they didn’t destroy anything. We relaxed a bit and then packed up camp. On our way out we saw several more animals, and drove up to Baboon Cliffs, which gave an amazing view of the lake and the park. Then we drove down along the flats on the lake shore to get a better view of the flamingos.
Lake Nakuru quickly became one of our favorite Parks, and one of our favorite places to camp. The park has it all with the beautiful lake, sections of forested area, cliffs and mountains, animals, and the best part is it isn’t overrun with people, at least not when we were there. We had been to Nakuru several times, but never to the National Park. It is only around 3 hours from Nairobi, so we will definitely be heading back soon. Unfortunately our camera died, and Scott and Lara’s is missing, so we only got a few pictures. We also borrowed a few pics from Tripadvisor.com so you could see the view from Baboon Cliff and the flamingos.