10 – 11 February 2012
Next stop was Lake Naivasha, a stop-over en route to Samburu National Park which is home to animals found nowhere else in Kenya – super-stripey Grevy’s zebra, beisa oryxes, long-necked gerenuk and blue-legged Somali ostriches. We were starving as we arrived at the lake and went straight to Acacia Café – the local breakfast/lunch/dinner/chai spot. Stews of various descriptions (beef, lentils, beans, fish) with chapati or ugali maxed out at a price of R12 a meal. Plus R3 for a coke. We watched the local news and got chatting to the 2 gentlemen sitting at the table next to us about the war in Somalia, poverty in South Africa, the latest Toyota 4×4 and Kenyan tribal conflicts. When we asked them about the best route to get to Samburu they were quick to tell us that last week there tribal conflicts at Isiolo last week and so the area was a no-go zone. Although we were really disappointed to miss the park that we were most looking forward to, we agreed that it wasn’t worth the risk of traveling through the unstable zone to get there.
Carnelley’s Campsite was an absolute gem of a stop-over – a huge, grassy lawn under tall fever trees on the edge of Lake Naivasha – and we quickly decided it was worth spending more than one night there. We booked a couple of mountain bikes for the next day so that we could cycled through Hell’s Gate National Park, and spent a portion of the evening sharing travel advice with a Dutch couple who were motorcycling from Holland to Cape Town.
With a mild dose of fear and trepidation we hopped onto our bikes the next morning, armed with 3 litres of Energade, sweets and biscuits (bike riding is not our strength) and cycled the 5km from camp to Hell’s Gate office. From there we began a wonderful, downhill freewheel for 8km to the gorge, which is the highlight of the park.
We passed some antelope, zebra, 2 jackals, a herd of buffalo and a warthog eating a small antelope – clearly the predator had eaten his full…
Once at the gorge we persuaded 4 guides that we really didn’t need their services and were happy to explore alone. We assured them that we didn’t mind if we weren’t able to find the hot springs or devil’s bedroom or other sights because of the “numerous and very confusing paths”. Bad idea. Lauren had in her mind that there was a waterfall in the gorge and so we set off looking for it. First stop was via the devil’s bedroom, through a striking, narrow gorge.
Next, we followed the warm stream (due to the hot springs gurgling out of the earth) through the gorge towards the waterfall. And we walked, and walked and walked. Not another person in sight for over an hour. The temperature was extremely high and we were not finding any signs of a waterfall.
Eventually, after 1h45 of walking we decided to abandon ship and walk back to the picnic spot. Fortunately we found the short, steep exit path on the way back which was a major relief but did hint at the fact that perhaps we had followed the route less travelled. And that perhaps the waterfall didn’t exist after all! Disappointing!
Fortunately the much dreaded 8km uphill slog to get back to the gate was in fact much easier (and flatter) than anticipated and before we knew it we were almost back at camp. We really don’t know how cyclists manage it because 25km on a bicycle has left us bruised and stiff for days. We think we will stick to walking as our preferred form of exercise from here on…