May a Hippo Never Take a Dump in your Pool

Trip Start Jul 26, 2004
Trip End May 31, 2005

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Flag of Kenya  ,
Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Picking up where we left off on our safari...As you remember we were roughing it out in the wild with the other animals. Sleeping next to lions, stalking prey for dinner (that would be carrots in Lara's case), and bathing with the hippos.

From the Ark we drove into the valley of the Great Rift to a place called Lake Nakuru. The rift is a piece of land that dropped due to an eruption millions of years ago, and resembles a huge crater. The town of Nakuru is located in the valley and is separated from a national park by a huge lake that is home to millions of animals, but more about that later. Our accomodation, another safari lodge, was a wonderful blend of kitsch and functionality, with every room designed after an animal. Ours was the zebra room and everything was striped black and white, even the toilet seat. Classy!

During our game drives in Nakuru we saw many animals such as baboons, zebras, giraffes, gazelles, impalas, and warthogs. At one point our driver/guide/swahili teacher Michael, spotted a tree filled with vultures in the distance, which meant a predator was nearby with its kill. With binoculars we were able to see the regal mane of a male lion sitting in the tall grass, daring any of the birds to approach. Michael then got a call on his radio that a leopard had been seen, so we raced to a tree where the leopard had hung its kill, an impala (gross!!), and saw the predator resting nearby. This was indeed a rarity, as leopards are seldom seen in the wild, and we felt extremely fortunate to have spotted (groan) one so close.

As we continued our drive, our field of vision became blurred with the colour pink that rimmed the lake, as millions upon millions of flamingoes were scooping up algae on the water's edge. The incredible number of them overwhelmed the mind. By the water we also saw pelicans, and the shy rhinos in the distance, not to mention a hyena that was indulging in a fresh meal of a flamingo. After visiting our 3rd park we had already spotted the "Big Five": elephants, buffaloes, rhinos, lions and the elusive leopard.

Onto our next destination, Naivasha, where our lodge proved to be the most opulent of all! After a long, bumpy and dusty drive, we looked forward to relaxing in the African sun by the pool. Unfortunately our plans were thwarted by an occurence that had happened in the night. As our resort rested near a lake, hippos were known to frequent the area and graze on its grass after the sun had gone down. From the time we had arrived in Kenya we had been trying to learn Swahili. Up until this point our vocabulary consisted mainly of animals and polite requests, however that day we were to learn an invaluable phrase that we are certain can be used many times in the future:

"Kiboko ilingia ndani ya swimming pool ikaongelea halafu ikaifanya swimming pool kama choo"
Translation: During the night a hippo swam in the pool, then it used it as a toilet.

Our dreams of relaxing by the pool were dashed by tonnes of hippo feces which filled up all of 1 of the 2 pools. The resort, embarrassed, was putting up a fence to prevent such animal toilet training in the future. Hey, if your plans to suntan are going to be ruined, can you think of a better excuse?

Animal sightings are quite common in the park areas of Kenya, but not at the lodges. At this lodge one of the wait staff ran and found us after our meal to show us a hippo that was grazing at the front. As we approached Chris tried to take a photo, but it just showed black due to the darkness. 'Get closer', the staff said. So our group did...the picture was still black but we could plainly see the beast with our eyes. A security guard brought Chris closer for one last photo attempt. Still black, but this time the hippo (the most dangerous animal in Africa, the same beast that had killed an Australian tourist 2 weeks ago at a nearby lodge) turned to look at where the flashes were coming from. The guard turned and calmly said, 'The hippo is now angry. Please step back as it will charge.' (!!!!) We made it back to the lodge alright, but when we went to our room we had to be walked back by a guard to make sure there weren't any hungry hippos waiting for us.

Our last stop on the safari was the piece de resistance, the infamous Masai Mara. The Mara is famous for the migration of the wildebeest, where literally millions of them cover the grasslands as predators lurk nearby. It has been called 'The Most Amazing Show on Earth', and although we were not there at the right time to witness it, our visit there did not disappoint.

On our way into the park we ran into a slight problem. The roads are unpaved and extremely bumpy, giving one an 'African Road massage', or vomit-inducing motion sickness. No surprise that a tire blew and we were forced to pull over and change it. At the same time, Lara had to use the washroom desperately, and there was only one bush to hide behind. As she ran to it, Chris and Michael got down under the van and got to work. Thirty seconds after she was finished her business, Lara looked up to discover a couple of nomadic Masai tribesman herding their goats and cows in her direction. After further observation she also noticed a herd of giraffes standing near the broken down van observing the men at work. Never again do we think we will be stuck at the side of the road with giraffes watching us on one side, and men dressed in red robes and ornate jewellery on the other. Only in the Masai!

On our game drives in the Masai Mara we had access to a pride of lions, a herd of giraffes, elephants, topis, cheetahs, impalas, dik diks, hippos and much, much more. In fact, there was not a type of animal indigenious to the area that we did not see. Some of the highlights included seeing a baby elephant that was approximately 4 days old. It was so new it was still pink, and trying to find its legs to keep up with the rest of the herd. A very cute sight.

Another highlight, perhaps not quite as cute, was our repeated viewing of the mating of the lions. These animals are not shy, and we felt like voyeurs watching them go about their business. Did you know that lions mate for 8 days consistently, and for the first day they do it 80 times a day!!!? The next day they go down to 70 times a day and so on. Before you become completely impressed, or exhausted, let us tell you that the 'act' only lasts about 3 seconds. In fact, we barely had time to turn on our camera and make a video. Okay, disgusting, but if you were there you would have done it too!

Alas, our week was up, our safari had come to its end, and we were to return to the wonderful hospitality of Dagmar and Andrew with 2 cards full of photos and a repertoire of stories. We felt so privileged as we had seen all of the animals that had filled our childhood tales and imaginations. This trip surely did not disappoint.

A couple of notes on Kenya:

1. Do not come to Nairobi and expect NOT to see people with rifles. They are there for your safety and security at the banks, hotels, ATMs, malls. It is a little disconcerting as Canadians to see them everywhere, and we never got used to it.

2. Not all of the selling of products occurs in shops or at vendors stalls. While stuck in traffic people will approach your vehicle willing to sell you anything from kittens to newspapers to cell phone rechargers to satelite dishes to toys to sunglasses to bicycle inner tubes. Bargaining with them is done quickly in case the light changes.

We have finally been able to upload pictures from our last few entries. If you are interested in seeing them (and why wouldn't you be, there's more nudity!), scroll down to the table of contents at the bottom of this page and click the date of the recently updated entries. It will take you to that travelpod and the photographs.
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