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

Lake Nakuru, Kenya

LakeNakuru-23The Great Rift Valley. 6,000 KM’s long. The gateway to the Maasai Mara and thousands of zebras, elephants, buffalo, impala, wildebeests…you know. This was the road to Lake Nakuru, six or so hours in the Intrepid overland truck and I enjoyed every bumpy minute of it. I feel there is no place like this on earth (give me a few years I’ll have more evidence to back this up). The overcast and cloudy day does little to show the size and depth of the valley – but one step onto the rickety handmade platform with peeling paint that overlooks the canyon and you start to appreciate just how far below you the drop off is. Breath. Taking.LakeNakuru-24LakeNakuru-25With limited WIFI, I tried my best to find out if I could bring sheepskin home across the border without it getting trashed – but this was the only opportunity to buy them. Also, CBSA is a tough website to figure all these things out on (Is it animal? Yes. Commercial Import? No. “All food, plants, animals, and related products must be declared.”) This in turn leads you on a six step link-within-a-link journey with zero clarity. So, umm, is that a yes…no…maybe?LakeNakuru-36LakeNakuru-34LakeNakuru-79Queue our first day outside Nairobi, spending invaluable time with a group of wonderful kiddos at the New Hope Children’s’ Center. This is one of The Intrepid Foundation’s Projects, empowering travelers to give back to the communities and towns they visit on adventures around the world. This is also a lesson in appreciating what you have, living in North America. This is getting inspired by people who dedicate their lives to helping those less privileged then themselves. I get teary just looking at these. I want to go back and hug away the sadness from some of these little faces. These kids are just plain awesome.LakeNakuru-55LakeNakuru-60LakeNakuru-65LakeNakuru-63LakeNakuru-61LakeNakuru-62The kitchen. Preparing potatoes and other vegetables for lunch.LakeNakuru-54LakeNakuru-64LakeNakuru-50LakeNakuru-48LakeNakuru-39LakeNakuru-40LakeNakuru-47LakeNakuru-49LakeNakuru-52So obsessed with cameras and seeing themselves. Oh, and holding your hands. Also hugs.LakeNakuru-53LakeNakuru-77A pic with Esther! Joined by three others.LakeNakuru-80LakeNakuru-82LakeNakuru-87Sheep everywhere along the highway, and gardens…so many gardens.LakeNakuru-91LakeNakuru-93Almost to Lake Nakuru – dark clouds gathering.LakeNakuru-94LakeNakuru-95These goat butchers were everywhere (video later in Narok where I ate some off a butchers BBQ).LakeNakuru-235LakeNakuru-100All I was thinking is “do we have to camp in this thunderstorm?”…until I seen the tents. Military Safari style, thick canvas, heavy tarp bottom and mosquito-spider proof screens. You have to take your own sleeping bag on this adventure – and the tents were plenty warm with my down-to-zero Coleman sack.LakeNakuru-96Camp One! This is Lake Nakuru Lodge, right before the entrance to the National Park. The local community has created an amazing base camp here with facilities and a generator to charge iPhone Nikon batteries, cook, wash up and hang out. There is also a bar, Tusker anyone?LakeNakuru-109No one ever talks about the unique plants and trees in Kenya (Africa in general) – the animals get all the face-time – but sign me up for a country where the pastel dusty grass, wispy foliage and pale succulents thrive.LakeNakuru-97Chriss gives us our first lesson on tent pitching. Easy breezy.LakeNakuru-104LakeNakuru-106LakeNakuru-98Even in high winds and rain these didn’t budge.LakeNakuru-99LakeNakuru-108Camping in Kenya! If you had told me this was my future five years ago when I actually cried over spiders, I would have laughed at you. BUT this was a dream come true and deep down I love camping. Just not spiders. For the record, I only seen one (in a sink).LakeNakuru-101LakeNakuru-102LakeNakuru-105LakeNakuru-107LakeNakuru-234The Intrepid (Kenya Wildlife Safari) has almost every meal included and a cook. Typical camp style food prepared with limited electricity – sausage, flat crepe style pancakes, cheese, slaw and hot sauce but super tasty after a long day of driving.LakeNakuru-110Thorns on so many bushes, shrubs and trees – natures fence the Maasai put to use.LakeNakuru-103This wispy branched beauty is one of my favorites.LakeNakuru-111Our first game drive! I got really carried away with photos on this one. Lake Nakuru is known for diverse bird life and the thousands of pink flamingos on it’s shores.LakeNakuru-113So many cute monkeys terrifying baboons.LakeNakuru-114These trees always make me want to break out in “NANTSSSSS INGONYAMAAAAAA bagithi Babaaaaaa”…

LakeNakuru-115LakeNakuru-116LakeNakuru-117LakeNakuru-118LakeNakuru-119LakeNakuru-120LakeNakuru-121LakeNakuru-122I wish I had rented a better lens just for the flamingos alone, but I couldn’t justify the valuable luggage space in this back packing adventure. 24-70 it is.LakeNakuru-143LakeNakuru-123First member of the “Big Five” – African “Cape” BuffaloLakeNakuru-124LakeNakuru-125LakeNakuru-126LakeNakuru-144LakeNakuru-129You are allowed to walk around a lot less then I had imagined – but this was an open area with little threat of gut-opening leopards so out we went.LakeNakuru-139I wish I had more images in better lighting with a view like this – from the ground up.LakeNakuru-127LakeNakuru-128LakeNakuru-130LakeNakuru-131As you can see the flamingo populous was tragically far away, a imaginably-beautiful pink mass in the distance.LakeNakuru-132LakeNakuru-133LakeNakuru-134LakeNakuru-136Flighties-Canadians in Kenya!LakeNakuru-138LakeNakuru-140{ insert better lens here }LakeNakuru-141

Second member of the “big five” – rhino (taking a nap)LakeNakuru-142LakeNakuru-145LakeNakuru-146LakeNakuru-148LakeNakuru-149LakeNakuru-150LakeNakuru-151First family of giraffe’s – eleven in total. My favorite animal, probably ever.

Okay, sloths might have something on them but I’ve never seen one in person.LakeNakuru-155LakeNakuru-156The community that runs Lake Nakuru Lodge is made up of different tribes that come together in a peace agreement. That way they can build permanent homes, schools and live a peaceful life. We walked and talked all about it which is an extraordinary way to get to know a village country.LakeNakuru-157LakeNakuru-158LakeNakuru-230The houses are built quickly – in a matter of days – from sticks, clay and cow dung.LakeNakuru-159Everything is put to use – including these banana leaves, which are sliced up while they’re alive and made into jewelery when they dry up and are removed from the tree.LakeNakuru-161I also am very fond of donkeys. Particularly the color of them and those eyes. I had to refrain from printing this out and framing it, reminding myself they are just donkeys.LakeNakuru-162LakeNakuru-160LakeNakuru-176LakeNakuru-165This is the Black Sheep – a business run by women to empower other women to make a living. Spinning yarn and knitting to sell to travelers.LakeNakuru-173LakeNakuru-166LakeNakuru-177LakeNakuru-172LakeNakuru-167LakeNakuru-169LakeNakuru-170LakeNakuru-171LakeNakuru-174LakeNakuru-178I am a terrible spinner.LakeNakuru-179LakeNakuru-180LakeNakuru-181She was a patient teacher…LakeNakuru-182LakeNakuru-175LakeNakuru-183LakeNakuru-184LakeNakuru-185My favorite child in all of Kenya – she didn’t say a word (and we walked with her for hours). She mostly held my hand, pulled me places and cried when she couldn’t see her sister.LakeNakuru-186LakeNakuru-187LakeNakuru-188LakeNakuru-192LakeNakuru-194Toilet paper. No really, this is toilet paper. It’s super soft and smells really good. Biodegradable and obviously organic. Those dancing bears have nothing on Kenya.LakeNakuru-195LakeNakuru-189LakeNakuru-191LakeNakuru-196LakeNakuru-197LakeNakuru-198Beads made from paper and a bit of glue, we got a lesson.LakeNakuru-199Then there was a whole market to buy all these lovely things.LakeNakuru-201LakeNakuru-202LakeNakuru-200LakeNakuru-203Pascaline and I both bought baskets used for carrying just about anything…on your head. We got a lesson on these as well. Mine mostly sits in my living room, holding goodies and reminding me of how much I loved this tour and these ladies.LakeNakuru-204LakeNakuru-205LakeNakuru-227LakeNakuru-207LakeNakuru-210LakeNakuru-213LakeNakuru-225Don’t get me started on the bananas! Fresh daily and now they are just not the same.LakeNakuru-215LakeNakuru-216LakeNakuru-217LakeNakuru-218LakeNakuru-219LakeNakuru-220LakeNakuru-212LakeNakuru-221LakeNakuru-214LakeNakuru-224This was not a pet. There were five hundred and they are another women-for-women business, raised to sell to hotels in Nairobi…for dinner.LakeNakuru-222LakeNakuru-223A kitten harassing a chicken. Hilarious.LakeNakuru-226LakeNakuru-228LakeNakuru-231LakeNakuru-232LakeNakuru-233

Compared with the safari walk in Crater Lake (later) and our game drives in the Maasai Mara (also later), Lake Nakuru was “underwhelming”. Then again, it’s hard to say there is anywhere in Kenya that I don’t love. On our game drives here, it was overcast, cloudy and the animals were far away. What made up for it was Lake Nakuru Lodge (and this is the only park we seen rhinos). The campsite and the people in the community were exceptionally friendly and fun to be with and our morning shopping between all the businesses that empowered the women in area was a highlight of the trip for me! They had stories of strength, dedication to peace, and love for their families that drew them to this community in the first place. They make money for themselves, to send their kids to school, feed everyone in their house, and then turn around and lend the rest out so another mother/sister/aunt can also create a business of their own and earn their own living. They raise animals for nourishment, grow crops and create beautiful handmade products. When you think of bringing home souvenirs mementos of a life changing adventure through a beautiful country in East Africa – this is what your after.

Next stop Lake Naivasha!

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