Chloe O'Brien Photography » Travel Photographer Chloe O'Brien

Crater Lake & Lake Naivasha, Kenya

ChloeOBrien_LakNav-7ChloeOBrien_LakNav-9ChloeOBrien_LakNav-8ChloeOBrien_LakNav-10Kenya is one of the largest producers of fresh flowers and roses in the entire world. Along the road to our camp there were thousands of green houses around Lake Naivasha.ChloeOBrien_LakNav-23Getting prepped to go to my favorite excursion – a safari by foot. Our fearless leader Chriss describes what we will be seeing and doing.ChloeOBrien_LakNav-196ChloeOBrien_LakNav-24Little baby giraffes everywhere, this sanctuary had the most giraffes we seen in Kenya.ChloeOBrien_LakNav-25ChloeOBrien_LakNav-26Let’s talk about the early morning light in Kenya. Combined with the dry air and fine layer of dust, the trees and shrubs are warm and desaturated. Perfect.ChloeOBrien_LakNav-193ChloeOBrien_LakNav-27Lots of pumbas here!ChloeOBrien_LakNav-28ChloeOBrien_LakNav-30ChloeOBrien_LakNav-195ChloeOBrien_LakNav-31A cacti, succulent, paradise.ChloeOBrien_LakNav-33Baboons – the most terrifying animal I saw. Especially when it’s eating off a compost pile. Or in the middle of the night screaming at leopards.ChloeOBrien_LakNav-34ChloeOBrien_LakNav-194ChloeOBrien_LakNav-130

The best part of this entire adventure – a four hour walking safari through Crater Lake Game SanctuaryChloeOBrien_LakNav-175ChloeOBrien_LakNav-36ChloeOBrien_LakNav-39Brings new meaning to up close and personal – nothing beats it.ChloeOBrien_LakNav-41ChloeOBrien_LakNav-42Walking through the bush.ChloeOBrien_LakNav-43ChloeOBrien_LakNav-44ChloeOBrien_LakNav-176Brand new zebra.ChloeOBrien_LakNav-47ChloeOBrien_LakNav-48ChloeOBrien_LakNav-46They let you get fairly close before they got freaked out and ran away.ChloeOBrien_LakNav-53ChloeOBrien_LakNav-55The valley’s surrounding the lakes were stunning.ChloeOBrien_LakNav-57ChloeOBrien_LakNav-60ChloeOBrien_LakNav-63ChloeOBrien_LakNav-67ChloeOBrien_LakNav-197ChloeOBrien_LakNav-69ChloeOBrien_LakNav-70ChloeOBrien_LakNav-76ChloeOBrien_LakNav-85ChloeOBrien_LakNav-79Little babies. Cutest.ChloeOBrien_LakNav-82ChloeOBrien_LakNav-86ChloeOBrien_LakNav-87ChloeOBrien_LakNav-90ChloeOBrien_LakNav-91Everywhere you look here, there are giraffe’s and zebra’s. I love this sanctuary so much.ChloeOBrien_LakNav-95ChloeOBrien_LakNav-93Bachelor herd!ChloeOBrien_LakNav-94ChloeOBrien_LakNav-78ChloeOBrien_LakNav-191African beehive, I didn’t get any closer…ChloeOBrien_LakNav-96ChloeOBrien_LakNav-97ChloeOBrien_LakNav-98ChloeOBrien_LakNav-99ChloeOBrien_LakNav-179ChloeOBrien_LakNav-180ChloeOBrien_LakNav-181ChloeOBrien_LakNav-182ChloeOBrien_LakNav-184ChloeOBrien_LakNav-106ChloeOBrien_LakNav-107ChloeOBrien_LakNav-110ChloeOBrien_LakNav-111ChloeOBrien_LakNav-112ChloeOBrien_LakNav-113ChloeOBrien_LakNav-114ChloeOBrien_LakNav-115ChloeOBrien_LakNav-116ChloeOBrien_LakNav-117ChloeOBrien_LakNav-118Tracked a leopard for a bit, clearly didn’t want to meet face-to-face.ChloeOBrien_LakNav-119ChloeOBrien_LakNav-120ChloeOBrien_LakNav-121ChloeOBrien_LakNav-122ChloeOBrien_LakNav-123ChloeOBrien_LakNav-124ChloeOBrien_LakNav-125ChloeOBrien_LakNav-126ChloeOBrien_LakNav-127ChloeOBrien_LakNav-129ChloeOBrien_LakNav-131ChloeOBrien_LakNav-132ChloeOBrien_LakNav-133ChloeOBrien_LakNav-134ChloeOBrien_LakNav-135ChloeOBrien_LakNav-13Back at Camp Crayfish – wifi, wood fired hot showers, a bar, and options to upgrade to basic motel rooms.ChloeOBrien_LakNav-11ChloeOBrien_LakNav-21ChloeOBrien_LakNav-12ChloeOBrien_LakNav-136We took a boat tour out to see Lake Naivasha and the hippos.ChloeOBrien_LakNav-137ChloeOBrien_LakNav-138ChloeOBrien_LakNav-139ChloeOBrien_LakNav-140Karime – our driver who kept us entertained in the evenings over a Tusker with stories about life on the road, Kenya traditions and living in Nairobi.ChloeOBrien_LakNav-141ChloeOBrien_LakNav-146ChloeOBrien_LakNav-147ChloeOBrien_LakNav-148ChloeOBrien_LakNav-149ChloeOBrien_LakNav-192ChloeOBrien_LakNav-150Lake Naivasha has suffered from out of control flooding – the mansion belonged to an owner of a rose farm but has been abandoned after the lake reclaimed it.ChloeOBrien_LakNav-151ChloeOBrien_LakNav-152ChloeOBrien_LakNav-153ChloeOBrien_LakNav-154ChloeOBrien_LakNav-155Grumpy looking, a bit terrifying – but look at that happy one sleeping in the back.ChloeOBrien_LakNav-156ChloeOBrien_LakNav-157ChloeOBrien_LakNav-158ChloeOBrien_LakNav-159ChloeOBrien_LakNav-161ChloeOBrien_LakNav-163ChloeOBrien_LakNav-164ChloeOBrien_LakNav-165ChloeOBrien_LakNav-166ChloeOBrien_LakNav-167ChloeOBrien_LakNav-15ChloeOBrien_LakNav-16ChloeOBrien_LakNav-14ChloeOBrien_LakNav-18ChloeOBrien_LakNav-169ChloeOBrien_LakNav-170Our campsite for two nights – with a rock fence to separate us from the greenhouses sleepy hippos.ChloeOBrien_LakNav-171Optional upgrades from tents to motel style basic accommodations, right beside the greenhouses where the rose farms start.

You can also see to the far left, the wood fire place that heats the water for our hot warm showers.ChloeOBrien_LakNav-172ChloeOBrien_LakNav-173ChloeOBrien_LakNav-174

Up until Crater Lake Game Sanctuary, we had spent most of our Intrepid Kenya Wildlife Safari traversing tiny towns and villages, covering mile after mile of pristine highway in our Mercedes overland truck. Most of the view until this point had been from a tall perspective of the truck, which quite literally is taller than a lot of the small homes and businesses along the roads. The giraffe’s we had seen at Lake Nakuru (and the many trees) were really the only items taller than our enormous truck.

Our game drives and down time within the camps couldn’t prepare me from a whole different perspective – doing a safari by foot. I had been shooting (photos) downwards at almost everything, and now I had the view I was waiting for. Ten people and one guide, walking around with warthogs, monkey’s, impala, baboons, leopards, zebras, and best of all the heaps of giraffes everywhere during this four hour adventure. Instantly you notice the sounds, or rather the lack of sound altogether. No big truck engines, no other tourists and finally the Kenya I was looking forward to, the Kenya I had imagined. All I needed to do was ignore the fences we drove through at the entrance to the sanctuary and I had my natural wild paradise.

Grazing impala, heads up and distinguishable stripe tails rapidly waving back and forth as they pause their morning meal to see if you are a friend or a threat.  The chatter of monkeys barely visible in the brush, hiding from you as you pass by. White warthogs blending into the dust, playing dead sleeping and charging when you wake him up, uh oh. Zebra hooves quietly walking over soft ground, in pairs or small herds, old and young together. The sound of eleven pairs of sneakers crunching the dry underbrush (victims of the hot east African sun) and the dust that blankets everything. A few mice run and hide, and bees and insects buzz occasionally by you on their way somewhere fast.

Then there are the giraffes. I can only describe it as Jurassic Park, when Alan, Lex and Tim see the Brachiosaurus for the first time. Incredibly tall beings, and dozens of them everywhere. You walk and look right or left and a giraffe is moving across a field, through the trees or walking across the top of hill. The way they actually move and walk replicates slow motion, as if time it takes for them to move their massive limbs actually takes longer for your eyes and brain to process. Before Kenya, I had never seen a giraffe before. I am not a big one for animals in cages zoo’s, but even the two I’ve visited in my lifetime only have smaller animals – lions, tigers, and the like. Compared to the impala, warthogs, and zebras you couldn’t really get close to, the giraffes seemed to know they are king of the sanctuary and didn’t do much more the casually step away when you got within a few feet (queue selfies from everyone). This was my aha moment when I realized there is no place on earth quite like the plains of Africa. This was a bucket-list item I had checked, but once I was there I realized it isn’t a place you go once – you must come back again. It is second to Italy as my favorite country I’ve seen so far, and this walk was the highlight of the entire trip for me.

Our camp wasn’t far from the sanctuary, Camp Crayfish on Lake Naivasha. This was the most “luxurious” camp we stayed at during the tour, it had decently heated showers and flush (squat) toilets, great wifi, a restaurant (with delicious fries) and a well stocked open air pub. There was an option to upgrade to motel style accommodations and half of our group traded tents for our two nights here to sleep in a bed again. If I remember correctly it was around 4000 KES a night per night for a double room.

The camp had a boat excursion for 1500 KES per person (when shared by five people) to go out and see the hippos as well as the hundreds of bird species that call the lake home. They’ve had some pretty intense flooding, and as such some have lost homes. They’ve built sandbag walls to keep the lake from encroaching any further and also had to improvise landing pads for birds who have lost their resting places in the plants that normally grow a natural carpet.

This was our last experience with the lush fertile hills and valleys around the natural lakes, before we headed for the hot dry plains of the Maasai Mara!

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