"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime." (Mark Twain : The Innocents Abroad, 1869)

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Down to the Rift Valley

An early morning start saw the dark giving way to mist cross the hills and moors. In the NP there are a number of waterfalls you can walk through the bush to visit - as ever you had to keep and eye open for the local inhabitants as the Buffalo droppings on the path warned. The narrow path wound through the bush and, as we descended, the water noise grew louder. The falls came vertically from the top of a cliff and fell about 50 metres into a pool behind which there was the Queen's Cave.

There was a small slippy and rapidly decomposing walk way that led into the Cave and behind the falling water. There wasn't that much of interest in the cave but its roof was low enough for me to leave some of scalp behind. There was much experimentation without camera shutter speeds as we tried to take imaginative snaps.

As we retraced our steps up the path, we came across a Bush Buck on its margins. We expected it to drive into the bush and to leave only the sound of it crashing through the undergrowth. Instead, it just stood still for a while and then started feeding again. We gradually inched closer and, hopefully, took some really good photos of this delicate antelope with a russet coat studded with small white patches on its rump. It seemed completely disinterested in our presence as we inched quietly closer until telephoto lenses were no use and we had to switch to wide-angles. Eventually, we had to walk past and it preceded us, sill unconcerned up the path.

Whilst completing the inevitable paperwork to leave the NP we noticed a stake driven into the ground with a modified plastic water bottle on the top. It looked like some sort of bird feeder but on closer inspection, we found that it contained a cell phone. The NP rangers explained that it was the only spot where they could receive a signal so they left their phones there, under the cover of the bottle, to pick up calls as they arrived.

Once outside the NP, the road soon started a steep and winding decent on to the floor of the Rift Valley. Despite being well outside the NP, there was still sign of wildlife with Elephant dung on the road and monkeys in the trees. The map showed that we would meet a tar road at a T-junction where we would need to turn right. This came and went and we saw a sign to the town of Gilili which was also on the map as one we needed to pass. However, after some time it seemed as if we might be on the wrong road. Once again we resorted to asking the local police for directions - this time a very smart Sergeant with a swagger stick gave us clear and unambiguous directions to Nakuru - the day's destination. With hunger pangs starting, we pulled off the road on to a grassed area on the edge of a forrest. With a couple of minutes, the Sergeant pulled up to make sure we knew where we were to go, another couple of minutes passed and another police car pulled up to check if we had a problem - all very reassuring. Our final visitor was from the forestry office which had been told of our presence - its man made it clear that we should have asked permission first but, on this occasion, it was OK to stay.

We continued our passage along our route, past a big army camp, and eventually met a main dual carriage way - this was the road we should have used but I think our, unintentional, diversion along minor roads was probably more enjoyable (if slower) route to have taken.

After a brief stop in Nakuru town to buy some more supplies in the local Asian supermarket, we headed North in search of our camp for the night - Kembu Farm. The campsite was on a grassy slope shaded with large trees. Areas had been flattened for tents, an occasional kitchen area with a large bar / eating area at the top.

The site's proximity to the farm gradually impossed itself during our stay - the bleating of veal calves, separated from their mothers in an adjoining film, the lowing of cows waiting to be milked, the rattle of the milk being collected at 0400 and the odour when the wind was in the wrong direction.

As we were close to Roving Rover's base we took the opportunity to get them to come out to fix the fuel guage which now constantly read empty and the front door locks that either didn't work (passenger) or were a bit hit & miss (drivers). We also asked them to bring items we had ordered but had not been included when we took delivery of the Landy ie an extra water container - ass we would have to take all our own water for our 6 days in the Mara, a panga - a machette to chop wood and the gazeebo - to provide shelter from the elements.

1 comment:

Solomon1 said...

Hi John. Thanks for the videos on your blog. I started visiting your blog before you arrived in Nairobi.Bob is my friend and we were in school together in Hull 1989/90. I picked him up from MGH on the 18th. On 19th we took him to Queen's casstle on the slopes of Mt Kenya, initially built for King George, the story goes. On 20th we rested and washed the car-was wet up there. On 21st we went to the Ophanage in Nairobi. On 22nd he flew to UK.My email kabonokig3@gmail.com
I am illiterate about HTML.