Friday, July 27, 2012

Safari Adventures (Part 1)

With the combination of being super busy, sick for a period of time (yet again), and of course, the ultimate procrastinator, this blog post comes a later date than I had originally hoped. And now that I have roughly two weeks left in my internship, work at ACCES has gotten quite busy.

But, alas! My adventures in Lake Naivasha. (Maasai Mara is up next). I should mention now, I am the biggest fan of animals. The other C2 interns (and an FSD staff member) can attest to my absurdly large love for creatures. (Except snakes. I hate snakes. Random fact: in Kenya, someone with a pet snake is considered to be a witch. Seems perfectly logical to me personally.)

Several weeks ago, I went to Lake Naivasha in the Great Rift Valley with all the other FSD interns and staff. After a seven hour drive in a full bus on Kenyan roads, most of us were exhausted so we spent Thursday night resting and exploring our camp site. However, despite being exhausted, that first night was not the most pleasant.

The FSD staff had warned us a couple days before that it would be cold at the camp site and that we would be sleeping in tents so we should bring some warm clothes. However, when I read that, I was thinking cold meant a relatively okay spring day in Bellingham. Boy, was I wrong. That night was one of the coldest I've slept in (being in a tent probably did not help that much) and most of the night was spent shivering to keep warm. I think that was also the night that some of the other interns decided it was a good idea to shake tents at 1 am to scare people.

After a night of little sleep, getting up Friday morning was a difficult process. The concept of changing while it was still fairly cold was not extremely appealing and being up at 7am was even less so. But none the less, there we all were, eating breakfast right next to the lake.

Friday was spent going to Crater Lake. Let me tell you right now, that day is one of my favourite experiences not only in Kenya but in life.

 The view from a look out point of Crater Lake.

Part of Crater Lake is a game park. And because there are no dangerous animals, we had the chance to walk around the park. I cannot explain how unbelievable that experience was. Not only was it an amazingly gorgeous environment, but we got ridiculously close to several animals.

We walked through and next to herds of zebras. I saw the largest number of giraffes all together that I have ever seen in my life. We were also really close to giraffes (probably around 10 meters away). We saw warthogs, several types of antelopes, and a water buffalo in the distance.

 Seeing the giraffes was a breath taking experience. Both the giraffes and the zebras were completely chill with us walking fairly close.

It was such a wonderful experience to be so close to the giraffes. They are very graceful in the way they walk.

After going through the park, we made our way to several look out points at the top of part of the crater. That was unbelievable. We could see so much and Crater Lake below us was amazing. At the top point, we could also see several giraffes in the area below, which was indescribably amazing. 

 The views from the look out points were incredible.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing and discussing the rest of the trip. The C2 interns (the group of interns that I am a part of) decided to spend the rest of the day and the next just relaxing in the campsite. After a couple weeks that were completely busy, it was very nice to have the time to relax. There was also a small open market in the site that we went to several times.

However, because the campsite we were at was a big tourist place (Lake Naivasha in general was a big tourist place), the people at the market tried to sell us things for a very high price. The best example I personally have is that one guy tried to sell me two paintings for 6,500 Kenyan Shillings. At the time, the exchange rate was about 80ksh to 1USD, meaning that he was trying to charge me about $80 for the two paintings. After much discussion, I finally talked him down to 2,000ksh (~$25) for the two, which I still consider to be a ridiculous price. (But I think that the paintings are really cool so it was worth it. Plus, those paintings would probably go for $25 each in the States, if not more.)

Overall though, Lake Naivasha was an unforgettable, unbelievable, and wonderful experience. It's hard to put into words the trip and I know I haven't come close to doing it the justice it deserves. 

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