Francis or Murunga (his African name) a very educated, professional and friendly guy was our driver/guide who was early to pick us up at 6.30am on the 18th October for our five day safari to Mt Kenya, Lake Nakuru and the Masai Mara. I wanted to retrace my steps and the only deviation was to change from going to Lake Naivasha to Lake Nakuru
to see the millions of flamingoes which unfortunately had since relocated as we found out to Lake Bogoria because the water levels had risen considerably and there was not enough alkalinity in the water for much algae to grow and for them on which to feed.

We were lucky to be travelling on a new highway out of town as there was bumper to bumper traffic of many kilometres going into Nairobi and this Francis said was a normal traffic day. Horrendous! White collar workers must be in the office for 8am and to achieve that they need to be on the road by 5.30am Monday to Friday. The highway which was only two years old was 8lanes wide but near the city this narrowed to two lanes.

We were into the countryside quickly and we drove on the lee-side of Mt Kenya which was much drier than the other side of the mountain. Wherever there was a river, patches of green crops and Kenyan white corn grew in small farmer holdings. The Kenyans staple food was Ugali – white corn (They don’t know yellow corn)and skuma wiki – kale
or spinach. We saw some coffee plantations in poor condition. We stopped after about four hours at a curio shop full of African carved items. Some very beautiful but the prices were very high. We made it a washroom stop where when I went to close the toilet lid it came off in my hand. Maintenance seems to be an issue here in Kenya
also as well as in Dubai and in India.
We also stopped on the equator (or nearby!) for the water demonstration. An African gives you a coriolis effect demonstration of how the water runs down anti clockwise in the southern hemisphere by walking 10metres after the sign and then moves 10metres to the other side and shows you how it runs down clockwise – only it is a trick
as you have to be a couple of hundred metres away from the equator for it to work but we gave the man KS100 – about a dollar and for many people who do not know the effect at least they learn something.

Francis gave us a lot of local information about Kenya. The Kenyan constitution states that men can have as many wives as they like. The law used to be that the first wife had to agree but the politicians (probably all men) removed that proviso. He did say that why would you want a lot of wives as the dowry system is still in place
in Nairobi and in the tribal lands, however, many Kenyans these days did not have several wives or many children.

Mt Kenya was the location of a large British army barracks with several thousand men as well as a Kenyan army barracks. There is some doubt as to whether the British army will stay as the law has changed now so that if they commit any offence in Kenya it will be tried in a Kenyan court.

Soccer is the favoured sport and there are several channels of the sport on the television but apparently betting has become a problem since they introduced it for the sport.

One impressive and secure system is in place in Kenya and is used by many Kenyans. It is called M-Pesa and it is a mobile phone-based money transfer,financing and microfinancing service, launched in 2007 by Vodafone for Safaricom and Vodacom. Our driver pays for everything via his mobile phone so that if anyone steals his phone they cannot access his account. It saves him carrying large amounts of cash and if the card is stolen it is tracked through the mobile phone network.

We reached the Mt Kenya Safari Club in time for a sumptuous buffet lunch on the terrace overlooking the grounds, pool and maze and Mt Kenya in the distance.
Our accommodation was luxurious and the staff lit the fire in our large room while we were at dinner. The club was set up by the actor William Holden and three others in 1959 as golf club and hunting lodge however he later changed from hunting animals to working for the conservation of animals instead. We were taken by a Kenyan Wildlife ranger around their ‘orphanage’ where they take in rescued animals and have a breeding programme for ‘Bongo’ an endangered species of forest antelope.
The ranger showed us a leopard lying high up in a tree and then let us into the cheetah enclosure where we could pat a very docile female cheetah.

The staff lit a fire outdoors which made it very atmospheric in the evening although it was a bit cool to eat outside. Another sumptuous meal was served for dinner and I treated myself to a Pimms cocktail. So much for trying to lose weight while in Africa! They even had a high tea in between the meals which we deliberately missed.
All the staff we met in all the hotels, Java house cafes and in the service industry in general were all polite and friendly and treated each other well as well as the bosses who spoke to their staff were pleasant or joking with them.

After a peaceful night and early morning bird songs we left at 7.30am for the five hour drive to Lake Nakuru past the many geo thermal power plants along the lakes.
The mountain formation around Elephantaita lake was impressive although that lake is apparently not known for anything in particular. We stopped along the way at Thomson Falls and had a photo taken with two chameleons on a branch held out over the falls. We paid the man KS100 or a dollar for the service. I had the same photo taken in 1991 but with only one chameleon! We climbed again to have a wonderful view of the narrow part of the Rift Valley before reaching Lake Nakuru in time for lunch again. We had to deviate our route slightly as the main gate was under water. A problem of rising water levels around the lake.

We reached Lake Nakuru Lodge with it’s lovely gardens and pool area and a restaurant overlooking the lake.
A staff member was stationed at the restaurant with a ging and a large stick to ward off unwelcome baboons which could be aggressive. We went on a game drive with Francis in the afternoon and saw many zebra and a few rhinoceros in the distance by the lake. The armed game wardens patrol the park 24hours a day in 6hour shifts on the lookout for poachers who they are told to kill on sight. In the morning I detoured around two baboons walking by the pool. They managed to get around the electric fence which surrounds the lodge. The view of the area in the early morning was beautiful from our balcony.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.