Vicki Burton returns with another update from Kenya as she and her National Citizen Service group take in the sights on their African adventure.
Jambo everyone and welcome to Day 5 of our Kenyan adventure blog.
Today was the first day we really had the chance to experience the tourism in Kenya. We had breakfast really early so that we were ready to leave at 7:30am for our Rift Valley Adventure Day. We were in two buses; me, Chris, Ellie H, Yazmin, Amy, Louise and Paige in bus 1 with Francis, and Craig, Angie, Luke, Louis, Taylor, Will and Ellie L in bus 2 with Peter.
Our first stop was Lake Nakuru National Park where our safari adventure awaited us. We had to take our passports so that the Park staff can keep a record of who enters the park; I think it’s to try to eliminate hunting. While Francis got our passports checked, he had forgotten to put the handbrake on and we started rolling towards the building, much to everyone’s amusement (except for Francis!).
Just before we entered the gates, we noticed a sign that detailed the fire risk on each day; luckily today it was at the lowest level. During our safari adventure we saw so many animals thanks to the keen eyes of the drivers. The roof was open so we were able to stand up throughout the safari. We saw hundreds of animals in their natural habitat, it really was so surreal. Within the first hour or so we saw baboons, rhinos, monkeys, waterbucks, warthogs, zebras, an array of birds, antelopes and a hyena. We were really keen to see some lions but knew it would be difficult. The drivers were communicating with each other across the radio system in order to locate the animals, which was a great help to all of the other tour groups in the park when safari bus 1 located two female lions! Within two minutes our second bus, plus two coach loads of school pupils and three other vans, were also there to see the lions.
Shortly after the lions we headed to the edge of Lake Nakuru where we were allowed to get off the bus and take some photographs. There were some beautiful birds flying around the lake, but the greatest attraction at the lake, at least to the two bus loads of Kenyan teenagers, was us! They were taking pictures of us from afar, until one had the confidence to ask for a picture with us. This led to about fifteen minutes worth of photographs with full classes from the schools. The driver told us that in Kenya, a lot of the school children don’t really see or get the chance to interact with white people or Westerners, so it’s quite exciting for them.
After the lake we were coming towards the end of the safari and there was still one animal that we were keen to see. All of a sudden the driver picked up speed and we realised why; crossing the road only five metres in front of where we came to a stop was a beautiful, young male giraffe! We managed to get lots of photographs as he walked towards four or five other giraffes a little way from the track.
The drive back to the main gates was an enjoyable one with lots of sing-songs on both of our buses, including some Pools’ chants! I think the Kenyan school pupils were very impressed with our singing! We stopped for a short toilet break and we soon realised it was at the craft shop we had visited the night before. I was pleased when they offered me the price I wanted to pay for something when they wouldn’t let me the night before!
Back on the buses, we headed for dinner and were delighted to be taken to a pizza restaurant! The prices were pretty good too; four bottles of 500ml Coca-Cola, a 12 inch pizza and large chips came to 1200KSh, approximately £9.
After a filling dinner, we headed off to our next stop, the Equator! Here, lots of us needed the toilet so badly that we had to just go! Flick through the gallery at the top of this Blog to find the picture of the toilet and you will be able to see why we weren’t keen! We then took part in an experiment showing the earth’s gravitational pull. I’ll try to explain it simply; when you pull the plug out of your bath, the water goes down the drain and spins clockwise. For those of you who have ever had a bath south of the Equator, you may or may not have noticed that the water spins anti-clockwise. On the Equator line however, it doesn’t spin at all! We were lucky enough to see this in action, and even 20m either side of the Equator, you can see it in action.
Next stop on the trip was Thomsons Falls. We drove for about 40 minutes, mostly up hill, to get there. We got to see again how much different Kenya is to what we are used to. We drove halfway up a mountain and saw nothing, then find ourselves driving through a town. There are children with no shoes and wearing rags, then only 100 metres away, people waiting for a bus into university. We drove past the university on our way to the Falls, it was an incredible building, much different to most of the things we had seen. When we arrived at Thomsons Falls you could see that it was a very popular tourist attraction with lots of money in the vicinity.
Beautiful houses lined the hills at the top and the building at the Falls was white and very pristine with a bar, something we had not seen yet on our trip. Leah had warned us that when we entered there would be people dressed up as traditional warriors and they would charge you for pictures. This is fine to do but she said it’s important to agree on a price first. We paid 200KSh, around £1.50, for a photograph. There was also a man passing people a lizard to hold then asking for money afterwards, but everyone who had a photo was happy to pay, despite not really having a choice whether to hold it or not!
We then headed down the Falls and the steps were very steep. Those coming up looked very tired! It didn’t take long to reach the bottom and we got loads of great pictures. The best camera moment we unfortunately didn’t manage to capture on film even though we had two chances - Ellie L falling over, twice! There are another group here with African Adventures from Colchester United FC. We have seen them a few times during our trip and they warned us yesterday about the pestering from sellers when we came back up. However, I don’t think any of us were quite expecting just how pushy they would be! We decided to get straight back on the bus as they really put us off wanting to buy anything.
We found Angie and Paige again, who decided on a cold lager instead of a hike (couldn’t imagine why!?) and we headed off to the last stop of the day. We arrived at the tea and coffee plantation and four slum children were around the buses. One of the group must have accidentally dropped some Soothers on the floor as we noticed the children sharing them out. Knowing that they aren’t exactly nice sweets, Angie gave the children a lollipop each. We were then told how tea and coffee is made and shown some of the plants. We were able to buy fresh tea and coffee for about £1.50 per bag. While we were waiting for everyone to purchase their tea and coffee, the four slum children had been joined by many more. We passed the children our pizza box from lunch with two slices left in it. The one with the box ran so fast that nobody could catch him!
We finally arrived home after a long but amazing day, although we nearly didn’t as bus 2 ran out of fuel just next to a petrol station! To top off a fantastic day we got chicken and chips for tea, had a few games of cards and bingo and headed off to bed, ready for another fun day tomorrow!