Week two in Nairobi and our friends were kind enough to lend us their car. Eager to adventure, we shoved our camping stuff in the boot on Friday afternoon and made a break to the Kenyan countryside and Lake Naivasha – north of Nairobi. The drive was spectacular, in both good and bad ways. On the outskirts of the city we passed bedraggled areas with torn up old bags plastic everywhere, and cattle whose ribs shone hungrily through their skin. Yet as we ventured further, a flurry of markets selling colourful fruit displayed on shelves for oncoming traffic greeted us, and our road provided a mesmerising view down over the lush Rift Valley where humans first evolved about 2 million years ago. I wrote this blog post whilst staying there on Saturday:
I am lying under the whispy, jaggedy trees at Camp Carnelly’s on the shores of Lake Naivasha. The sun is gleaming through the branches above. The fact that it is not directly overhead, but glinting into my right eye causing me to squint tells me it’s not yet midday. I’m writing this on a scrap of paper which I was using as a bookmark in my copy of ‘Out of Africa’ – how fitting.
Like a camera finding focus, my eyes zoom in on the different aspects around me. The more you look, the more there is going on: I notice the sharp tiny spikes lining the branches high above my head; the glint of a string of spiders’ web up in the trees as it catches the sun’s light; the neon yellow frantic flutter of a bird’s wing crossing the sky. The bark of the trees surrounding me is aged and intricately patterned. To my right, a weed stands high above the grass, waving lightly in the wind. I notice the shadow of a monkey in a tree before I can find the animal itself with my binoculars.
There is something prehistoric about this area, where the boggy land gives way to lake. A sign here reads ‘Beware hippos: cross this fence at your own risk’. I heard them coming up to shore and snorting whilst lying in the tent last night. Now, they wallow in the shallow waters, keeping cool from the hot sun.
Some trees look beaten by thunder or lightning and the water’s edge looks just the place where amoebas would have wriggled their way from the waters to one day evolve into a species that would become human.
The camp itself has a lot of charm. In the centre of the bar/ restaurant a large open fire blazes, and funky African print cushions from Tanzania line the loungy seats and sofas.
The food is great – a range of pizzas and salads mainly plus a couple of curry-type-dishes, and a great stock of drinks. At dinner, I asked the waiter what wine they stock, “red, white and rosé, Miss”. It is simple and I like it. In the background, some asshole started strumming at his guitar (there’s always one).
Our pitch cost 600 ksh per person per night (about £4), but there are also lodges should a double bed be more your thing for about £10 a night. We headed back into Nairobi on Saturday evening, thrilled from our first adventure out-of-town and buzzing about the beauty of our new home: Kenya!!
Things I learned on this trip:
- When you camp by a lake, there are a shit-ton of mosquitos
- Applying bug spray in the car it has a rather asphyxiating effect
- The mosquitos will congregate in the toilets, making the act of taking down your trousers to pee a rather unpleasant one
- The caterpillars know how to shift here (I noticed this as one crawled over my hip whilst I was eating)
- Beetle spiders are a thing