Wednesday, 3 January 2018

August 2008 - Lake Nakuru National Park Kenya

We left Mount Kenya and headed south and west towards the African Rift Valley.  The valley extends of thousands of kilometres, running from Ethiopia to Mozambique, and was formed by the splitting of two tectonic plates, the Somalian, and the Nubian.


In Kenya, the valley is deepest to the north of Nairobi. As the lakes in the Eastern Rift have no outlet to the sea and tend to be shallow, they have a high mineral content as the evaporation of water leaves the salts behind. For example, Lake Magadi has high concentrations of soda (sodium carbonate) and Lake Elmenteita, Lake Bogoria, and Lake Nakuru are all strongly alkaline.  

Here you can see the wide expanse of the valley as we started our descent.

 
Our destination was Lake Nakuru National Park, which was created in 1961 around Lake Nakuru, near Nakuru Town. It is best known for its thousands, sometimes millions of flamingos nesting along the shores. The surface of the shallow lake is often hardly recognizable due to the continually shifting mass of pink. The number of flamingos on the lake varies with water and food conditions, and in 2013 the water levels in the lake rose considerably and the flamingos departed for other lakes in the area.  Another water bird present in large numbers were the Great White Pelicans

We settled into our lodge, and watched the flocks of pelicans streaming past above us.


Our game drive was from mid afternoon, and from the lodge we entered the park, big white cumulus clouds puffed up over the distant lake, yet another different landscape encountered here in Kenya.


The grass land here was also very different from that of Samburu, gone was the long dead yellow grasses, and in their place heavily grazed lush green grass.  Warthogs could be seen.



The Zebra sub species here is Grant's Zebra, the smallest of the six sub species.

 And lots of the delightful Thomson's Gazelles, here a male.


Crowned Cranes could be seen striding across the plains in pairs.


Both the Lesser and Greater Flamingos were present on the lake when we visited, the birds feeding on the algae that thrives in the warm alkaline water feeding on the birds droppings.  The Lesser Flamingo has a deeper red pink plumage, while the Greater has a black tip to the bill.

We were able to walk down to the water's edge of the lake, and get close to both the flocks of the Pelicans and the Flamingos.


  Here Lesser Flamingoes




A little too close and they take flight.


Away from the water we came across a grazing White Rhino, accompanied by a group of squabbling Yellow-billed Storks.



And Cattle Egrets.



Departing with dignity.



As the afternoon headed towards sunset, the puffy white clouds turned to more menacing dark grey clouds.  A troop of baboons were feeding on the grass, one taking a liking to the petals.


While a sentry sat it out it out in a dead tree, a thin pink line of the flamingos and the darkening clouds behind him.



Then came the rain, drawing the drive to an early end.  Tomorrow morning we were off once again this time to our final destination, the Maasai Mara.

We awoke to clear skies.


But the rain from yesterday evening left  mist hanging in the valley around and overlooking the lake.



 Our route took us through the national park once again and gave us the opportunity to see some more of the park's wildlife.  We were hoping to find Black Rhino, but as is the way with that shy and secretive species, they never showed.  The park is known for the population here, but for us it was not to be.  We did though catch up with a lone Spotted Hyena, that raced away down the hill from us, and met up with three more.


Waterbuck are common here and we came across a large male out in the sunshine.


As we climbed the side of the valley, looking back down across the lake a pink edge could be seen on the water where the thousands of Flamingos were in the water.

  
Our next stop would be the Maasai Mara.

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