Weekend Photos: Samburu National Reserve and Lake Nakuru National Park

Our Africa treks completed, we segued seamlessly back to African massage--i.e., too many hours sitting in a safari vehicle, bouncing over rough roads. We planned too many things too far apart (distances are longer in Africa than in the US, there being no freeways with 80-mph speed limits), but still really appreciated our overview of the country.

The other posts from my Africa trip: Arusha, Tarangire National Park, South Serengeti Part 1, South Serengeti Part 2,  the rest of the Serengeti tourNgorogoro CraterMt. Meru, Mt. Kenya, Part 1, and Mt. Kenya, Part 2.  

We shifted from the Mt. Kenya trek to the safari at the park gate, and were soon bouncing along the roads down and around the mountain toward the Samburu Reserve--a drive of some 105 miles that took 5 hours, and dropped us from 9800' to about 3300'. The resulting increase in temperature sapped what was left of our energy, and the delay of lunch until after 3 p.m. nearly killed me.

Road scenes:

The mini-vans that served as local buses were often amazingly loaded!

When we drove past this banana market, the smell of bananas was almost overwhelming.

By the time we reached the park in the early afternoon, it was hot enough that not only were we melting, but the only animals who appeared willing to be out in it were giraffes. We had an extra chance to study them as our vehicle got a flat tire right next to a herd of them, grazing nearby with little concern as our guide, Moses, and a friend to whom he was giving a lift, struggled to change the tire.

Here on the Equator we were no longer seeing Masai Giraffes, but Reticulated Giraffes. The patches are much more sharply defined, the white lines separating them much finer and straighter.

I love giraffes, but by the time we got to our lodgings, lunch had to qualify as the most beautiful thing I'd seen all day. Bear in mind we'd started the day with a 6 a.m. breakfast and a 5-mile hike!

Due our late arrival and the extreme heat, Moses cancelled our afternoon game drive and left us to settle in, rest, and do some much-needed laundry after our trek. The next morning we started as early as possible to beat the heat and catch the animals before they holed up for the day.

Early morning light.

Gerenuk, a.k.a. giraffe-necked antelope. For obvious reasons.

We watched for some time as this hornbill worked on ingesting the very large grasshopper it had caught.


Massive feet that left dinner-plate prints in the dust.

A troop of baboons.

Little ones steal a ride on mama's back.

Kicked back between exciting moments. I kept my shoes off so I could stand on the seat and see out the roof, being too short to do so standing on the floor. Besides, it was cooler. Cotton socks kept bugs off and prevented dry skin.

One of the big treats of the morning was this female ostrich.

Happily, we were spending two nights at our lodge, so returned for lunch and a nap before going back out for an afternoon game drive. I even took a quick dip in the pool. Since it was fully exposed to the sun, I couldn't linger!

We didn't have time to see much more than a few more elephants when our drive was cut short--and the heat mercifully broken--by a real gully washer of a rainstorm. Within minutes the dirt roads were running with water, and we retreated to our lodge, where we had to pull back out the sweatshirts we'd just packed away after the hike.

In the morning the storm had passed, and it was beautiful as we drove out of the park, having made a very early start for another long drive.

The streambed that had been dry when we entered the park two days before was now a raging red river--it is easy for me to see how the recent rains in East Africa have caused so much damage.

No-longer-dry riverbed.

The baboons were, quite reasonably, using the bridge to cross the river. We gave them space to do so.

Once out on the road, en route to Lake Nakuru, we saw the impact of the storm on Mt. Kenya.

That could have made crossing the high passes--most of them visible here, covered in snow--a bit tricky.

The drive was just under 200 miles, and took almost 7 hours on narrow roads that took us to pleasantly cool elevations on the shoulders of the mountain. Once again we were both stressed by the late lunch and exceedingly grateful to get it. Having taken a boxed breakfast, at least we had food to stretch out over the long interval between meals.

Lake Nakuru National Park, in addition to having abundant waterfowl, hosts a number of black rhinos. The one on the gate was not the only one we saw, but it was (as usual) the only one close enough for a reasonable photo.

The flamingos hadn't made it to Nakuru yet for the season, but we saw oodles of white pelicans, looking slightly pink due to the same diet that makes flamingos pink.

Think the black bird on land is a maribou stork.

There were plenty of Cape Buffalo hanging around the lake.
The park had a good supply of hyenas, as well.

A detour up the hill took us to a trio of lions, the older female with probably her daughter. The young male hanging about might have been her son, as well.

Secretary bird.

Over on the far side of the lake we found our third type of giraffe. These Rothchilds Giraffes have markings a bit between the styles of the Masai and Reticulated giraffes, and unlike those, the bottoms of their legs are plain.

Finally, we gave up on the hunt for the rhinos, and enjoyed the late afternoon light on the lake. The water level has risen a lot, thus the dead trees. On the way back to the lodge, in the poorest possible light, we finally found our rhinos. I won't inflict the photos on you, though they are slightly more recognizable than the ones we saw in Ngorogoro Crater!

The next morning we were up early (once again nabbing a boxed breakfast) and off for Amboseli National Park--an even longer drive. We'll see our last two parks and some views of Kilimanjaro next week!

©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2024
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  1. Wonderful pictures and commentary. Thank you for taking us along on your safari!

    1. Thanks! I love sharing my photos and travels as much as I love sharing good books :)


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