Saturday, August 16, 2014

Lake Olodien - Great Hippo and Bird Watching

The first thing we decided for our second thing at Lake Naivasha was a boat tour.  We talked to Max, our favorite taxi cab company owner, before we left town with his cab and his driver Koash and he suggested we actually go out on Lake Oloiden.  Lake Olodien is this tiny little salt lake or soda lake separated from Lake Naivasha, a fresh water lake, by this thin little bar or isthmus of land.  He said the bird watching was better there and we'd enjoy it more.  We left Eldoret at 6:30 in the morning and we got to Lake Naivasha around noon.  We dropped our bags off at Camp Carnelley and we headed to the lake.  The only thing marking the road to the boating area was this old white swan but when we passed probably 200 cows heading down to the water we saw the little building holding the life vest, a few boats in the water, and this giant hippo skull.  We knew we then we were in the right place.  The hour long boat ride cost 3000 shillings, about 35 US dollars.  This was the standard rate for boat rides in the area.  If you want to go out on Lake Naivasha you can at Camp Carnelley for 3000 shillings.  If you want to go out on the tiny little lake at Crater Lake Park you can for 3000 shillings.  So what I'm saying is if you want a boat ride expect to pay this price.  They got us all in life jackets, Koash helped push us off and then our guide Kennedy got us heading toward some hippos and birds.

What follows is like 100 pictures of birds and hippos and us, pretty excited people looking at birds and hippos.  I'm not sure who else besides me wants to look at all these pictures, but if you love me and have the patience for it or you love looking at animals than please enjoy.  I'm going to try and just put a few brief explanations in on pics but will keep the rest of the story up here in case you hate me, have better things to do with your time or just don't like animals and have no intention of looking at any pictures.

The first thing to say is there are no flamingos in these pictures.  Everywhere we went we had heard and read about the huge flocks of flamingos that lived here but the important word is lived because for the last ten years or so the flocks have been vanishing.  No one is quite sure where they've gone, if they are still alive, what they are doing, and why they've left their preferred nesting and feeding grounds but what is for sure is that while there used to be millions of birds living down in this area the flocks are now much smaller and are often not around.  When we first got to the lake the lady selling the boat rides told us it was to bad we hadn't arrived the day before because there had been 300 flamingos on the lake.  Today there were none.  It was a little bit of a blow but as we got started it became obvious their were plenty of other birds for the bird watchers to enjoy.  This lake as well as Lake Naivasha and Lake Nakuru has grown in recent years so there are tons of trees on the sides that are now covered in water and just the trips are coming out.  There were these huge black and birds with white heads that were nesting all over them.  We also saw lots of cranes, ducks, and some huge gray storks.  Then we came up on our first hippo pod.  I feel like the picture to the left does not do justice to how close we were to them.  Let me assure you, they were close.  We did not have to zoom our pictures, we could here them snorting water as they would submerge and then come back up.  We saw a few open up their mouths pretty wide as a warning.  I'm not going to lie, I was pretty stressed out.  It didn't help that earlier that week Dr. J and I had watched a series on Africa's deadliest animals.  Just in case you were wondering mosquito take the cake.  Over a 1/2 million people die of malaria a year in the world, a lot of them in Africa.  It is estimated that about 20,000 people a year die of snake bites in Africa.  Which honestly isn't hugely surprising when you consider that in Kenya alone you have the Green Mamba, the Black Mamba, the Boomslang, several different Cobras, the Puff Adder, and the Gaboon Viper.  People most likely to be bitten are those working in the fields.  We only saw two snakes outside of cages during our time in Kenya.  The first was at Kroger Farm when the game keepers knocked out of the tree and threw a bunch of stuff at what they said was a green Mamba.  I can't really confirm this because there was no way I was going to get close.  The second was a squished tiny little snake we found in the middle of the road on our way to church.  It was flat and had lost almost all it's color.  I have no idea what type it had been.  People most at risk for snake bites are those who work in the fields harvesting tea and sugar cane.  Just something to think about when you take your next sip of ice tea.  But pertinent to this story is the fact that the deadliest mammal in Africa is the hippo, killing close to 3000 people a year.  They are exceptionally territorial.  They move very fast in the water and on land.  They have been known to knock boats over and they can pretty much just bit you straight in half.  They have been known to take on crocodiles, lions, sharks, and humans.  So when we came up to that first pod I turned to Kennedy and said, "WE ARE CLOSE ENOUGH, would you mind backing us up a little!"  In just that hour we saw two pods in the water, one pod up on land that was next to a huge hippo skeleton.  We asked Kennedy what had happened to the hippo.  He said earlier in the year two of the hippos had gotten into a fight and one was wounded so badly it had died on the shore.  It was weird to see them just laying out next to the bones.  We also came upon a few loan hippos just hanging out by themselves including one that as we got a little closer then tiny eyes and ears of a baby popped out.  Dr. J asked Kennedy how close he could get to the pods.  "Oh," Kennedy said, "I can get a lot closer, but not with your wife in the boat."  There you go folks, just a little more proof that I'm a total kill joy.  We all loved this trip.  It was some of the best money we spent.  There was so much to see, the lake was so beautiful, and travelling by boat is fun.  I'd highly recommend it to anyone who travels to the area.  If you aren't going to look at all the pics at least check out the videos.  Considering Dr. J took these on his phone they are pretty darn good and they give you a good idea of what it is like.  A few of the hippos and some of just the huge amount of birds.  Enjoy!

Aren't these guys like the creepiest things ever.  Hello Dark Crystal nightmares from my childhood.  I once watched this special about how these guys will just eat baby flamingos like they are popcorn.  I never realized I'd get to see them in real life.

1 comment:

  1. Great pictures and videos. I read a couple books about people visiting Africa and learned that about hippos, too. Had no idea before that. Thanks for sharing about your fabulous trip!



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