Nakuru National Park
At Nakuru town we went about trying to figure out the most economical way to get into the nearby Nakuru National Park. We were hoping to go cheap like we did at Kruger by renting a car for the day and driving ourselves around. But that didn’t work out. The town just didn’t have any proper rental car agencies, only random guys who are willing to rent you their own car (including one guy who had a low-rider – not a good fit for the bumpy roads of a park!). And anyhow they wanted $100+ for the day! So we ended up joining a tour. Parks in Africa are expensive, there’s no way around that. The entrance to Nakuru is $40 per person. Our guide, Philip, took an extra $25 each for the 6-hour drive through the park. With us in the car we had Tim, an English guy who just finished his degree in landscape design.
Nakuru is a pretty small park. In our 6-hour drive we basically saw the entire park, or at least we drove all around it. At the heart of the park there’s a lake, Lake Nakuru. The special attraction at this lake is that there are huke flocks of flamingos and pellicans. Also, you can get out of the car and walk right up to the birds, or at least as close as they’ll let you get. There are also a bunch of other animals that like to come to the lake to drink, and when they do they are very easy to spot because near the lake there’s nothing blocking your view.
Note that the black and white rhinos are about the same color. The white rhino is a grazer (eats grass) and it has a hoofed (flat) mouth like cows have. The black rhino is a browser (eats leaves) and has a rounded/pointed mouth.
The Nakuru safari ended by lunch time, so we still had several hours of daylight. Tim said he heard about a crater nearby, so we decided to hire a taxi to take us there. The place is called Menegri and it’s only about an hour outside of town up a pretty rough road. We thought that there would be no entrance to pay, but along the way we found a checkpost where a police officer asked for 50 KSh each. Our driver said that this must be a brand new fee because he’d never seen it and he visited as recently as the week before. Lucky us. Oh well, it’s under $1 each so that’s no problem at all. Hopefully they’ll fix up the road too.
The taxi dropped us off at the top. From where we stood it was pretty hard to tell that it was a crater at all. It just seemed like a big valley.
The idea was that our driver would wait the 2.5 hours it should take for us to hike to the bottom of the crater and come back up. We started walking down the dirt path, going after all the other tourists, most of them locals. But it turned out that the tourists were not heading into the crater but rather to a nearby village. A couple of local farm boys noticed that we were lost and came to our rescue. The thing is, they were carrying machetes. We weren’t sure what kind of intentions they had, and we were clearly out of eye-sight or ear-shot of anybody else. Also, as we walked along they had fun by dislodging big rocks and sending them rolling down the steep hill. Sketchy. In the end the path where they let us was too steep for out taste so we turned around and headed uphill. I’m pretty sure they had good intentions all along, and for them carrying a machete is as normal as carrying a set of keys is for us. It just felt weird.
Anyhow, it was a nice enough hike in the area: