Away from the rumble of Nairobi, Lake Nakuru National Park is a blissful retreat. As my first real safari (i.e. one that wasn’t in Milton Keynes) I arrive with high expectations – I want to see lions patrolling their hunting grounds, giraffes towering over acacia trees and bright pink flamingo’s nesting along the silver waterfront. And – for the most part – I get exactly what I wish for.
We arrive in Nakuru at around 11 pm after a four-hour coach journey from the capital. ‘I was worried you were not coming’ says out host Peter as he collects us from the depot. Peter is the director of Pega Tours, a company that offers safari packages in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. We discovered him and his company through AirBnB where we came across the listing of his family home and thought it best to take advantage of the opportunity of staying with the same people who ran our tour, to ensure smooth running on the day of the safari.
After a breakfast of salty fried eggs, Weetabix and fruit, we set out at 6.30am the following morning – eyes still squinting from tiredness after a short-nights sleep on a modestly comfortable bed. Waiting outside of Peter’s home is the ultimate safari vehicle – a worn, dusty 4×4 Toyota land-cruiser with an open-top roof. I’m ecstatic. With a car like this, you know this is the real deal.
The National Park was created in 1961 and is home to an impressive variety of wildlife, but my main interest is the flamingos. At peak times, Lake Nakuru is home to thousands (sometimes millions) of the tall pink birds. Sadly, when we visit (in early April), our driver John tells us that most of the flamingos have migrated to Tanzania for mating. While disappointing, the few we do see still stand out in striking contrast to the almost mercury-like shore where they nest.
As we move further along the park’s rocky dirt road, John slowly brings the cruiser to a halt and tells us to be as quiet as possible. Ahead of us, three big cats prowl gracefully among eachother. The largest, a lioness, keeps her two cubs in sight while eyeing up the unsuspecting gazelle that grazes in the distance. We move on before the action happens, but come across a herd of Rothschild giraffes feasting on the leaves of acacia trees. Amazingly, they eat the needle-like thorns that sprout out of the tree’s branches too.
At this point, our stomachs are growling as we didn’t to bring enough snacks to eat during the drive. However, before we move to Nakuru Town for lunch we’re lucky enough to spot even more animals. Moving on from the giraffes we cross paths with a tribe of monkeys, witness a herd of buffalo make dust from the dirt as they charge into the plains ahead of them, and even spot a lone and exceptionally rare white rhino.
How we traveled: We took a coach with a company named Modern Coast from Accra Road depot in Nairobi.
What we did: We visited the Nakuru National Park which has a 70USD entry fee per person and took a Safari tour with Pega Tours for 1000KES per person.
Where we ate: Our AirBnB host provided us with breakfast and we bought lunch in a local Nakuru Town restaurant. I seriously recommend bringing hearty snacks with you for the Safari as there will be several hours between breakfast and your next meal.
Where we stayed: We stayed in an Airbnb room in this family home.
Tips & Tricks: Snacks, snacks, snacks & water, water water.