We wanted to do something really fun for our 5-year anniversary. But after just a week here, we didn't have a lot of time to plan. One of the simplest trips was a day trip out to Lake Nakuru for a mini safari, and we decided it was the perfect way to celebrate.
You have to wake up early to make it out of the city and beat the traffic. It's a sprawling metropolis of more than 3 million, so as the sun just began to touch the buildings we were on our way.
On the road out of town, the buildings slowly fall away like dominoes, until you're left with 5-story apartment buildings rising up from the carpet of lush vegetation the rest of the city is fighting so hard to keep at bay. Eventually, you begin passing mango farms that smell so incredible all you can think about is getting your hands on the juicy, yellow fruit.
Suddenly, you break free of civilization and there before you is the Great Rift Valley. The greenery of Nairobi is replaced by the dry brush of the savannah, the valley stretching uninterrupted all the way to Cairo. The only thing between you and the edge of this seemingly endless expanse are the souvenir and coffee shops built on stilts over the valley's ridge. We stopped and looked out, entertaining ourselves by watching some rock hyrax frolick and roll, reminding neither of us in the least bit of their closest relative the elephant.
Continuing down the road, you pass small rural towns, farms, and - no joke - wild zebras. Just casually strolling by as if they're headed to the corner store. Layne and I were like school children, pointing excitedly out the windows every time we saw a herd. After about 2 hours on the road, we made it to Lake Nakuru National Park. We had no idea what we were in for.
First of all, we MAJORLY lucked out with the tour company. We called around a bunch of different places, and Shadows of Africa was the cheapest by more than $50 per person. They picked us up right at our apartment, and we had the whole safari van to ourselves. Um, private safari? Yes, please!
Secondly... we saw EVERYTHING. Plenty of water buffalo, baboons and monkeys, herds and harems of impala, zebras, giraffes, and lions!!!
You know it's good when the tour guide, who has been doing this for 23 years, takes out his camera to take photos! This giraffe walked all around our van, getting less than 10 feet from us. It was seriously amazing. And we saw two groups of lions - both a lone male and female. John, our guide, said they were "honeymooning" and from what I saw, they were enjoying themselves.
I've seen some of these animals in the zoo before, but absolutely nothing compares to seeing them in their natural element. There's no fence between you and this wild creature, completely untamed and running free. Their behaviors and the grace of their movements are breathtaking. And with nothing around for miles and miles, you can hear as the giraffes crunch their leaves and the patter of the lions feet as they walk. It is seriously one of the coolest things I have ever experienced.
Even when the animals weren't around, it was astoundingly beautiful.
This was just half the day! But I think that's enough for now. I'll cover our lunch at the lodge and the water safari we went on at Lake Naivisha in a future post. Suffice it to say, we can't wait for our next safari!