Wendy and Rick’s first day trip in 2007 was about two hours north of Nairobi to the so-called soda aka alkaline lakes, which attract thousands of Flamingoes every year because of these lakes’ huge population of fresh-water shrimp (lending the Flamingoes their pink color). At Lake Nakuru they saw what appeared to be 100,000 Flamingos, as well as some other animals in the nearby savannah.
Crescent Island, Lake Elementaita, and Hellsgate:
In 2009, once again their intrepid friend Carolyn traveled to Africa to join them on a trip to Namibia. But first, after arriving
late on a Sunday night, Wendy dragged Carolyn early the next morning on a three hour drive over Kenya’s great roads (NOT!). She was treated to a few of the Walleighs’ favorite places in Nairobi and Central Kenya over that next week. The first stop was Crescent Island off the edge of Lake Naivasha where they took a boat to a private reserve that had been created as the movie backdrop for Out of Africa. They also got to walk for about two hours to view animals quite closely. They next entered the community-operated Lake Elementaita Park to see the lake coated with Flamingoes. These birds may appear to mostly sleep, but they continually flap their wings, take off or land, and search for food. Apparently Flamingoes sleep on one leg in case they get stuck in the mud (very shallow alkaline lakes) but need to take off quickly so they keep one leg free to launch themselves.
Later that week, Carolyn and Wendy were driven into Hellsgate National Park at about 3:30 p.m. after the heat of the day. This park is known for its deep, narrow chasms, thermal shower and flash floods.* While there, the guide explained about the geology, including how the water leaches sulfur and other natural compounds from the rocks. The guide took them down the main chasm but they observed different chasms branching off. Then the guide led them down a very narrow chasm with flowing water into which they had to climb down then walk in order to reach a natural, thermally-heated shower in the narrow canyon. They experienced how hot it was because it was difficult to pass by without getting wet!
*In April 2012, Kenya Wildlife Service shut down Hellsgate National Park because a flash flood swept away seven of 53 members of a church youth group visiting for the day.