Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Hell's Gate National Park, Kenya;One of my favourite places in Kenya

After the wonderful experience at Lake Naivasha, we set off for Hell's Gate National park. Located close to Lake Naivasha, Hell's Gate National Park was established in 1984 and is a smaller park compared to other national parks in Africa. However, this park is unique and provides an experience that one can’t truly get in other national parks!

The unique landscape of Hell’s gate is what appealed to me the most. The name comes from a small break in the cliffs creating a gap between them that looks like an entrance or gate, and the gate brings you into a volcanic area, an area full of geothermal activities, geysers, hot springs… This is one of the national parks that allow you to cycle and walk inside. It is also a very popular place for hiking. That’s why it is so unique…you can get as close to nature as possible, see the animals in their natural habitat and not from the confines of a vehicle!

I wish we had the time to experience the park by walking and cycling around….unfortunately we did not have much time, and had to make do with a drive through Hell's Gate. The drive was wonderful too! Here are some pictures from Hell's gate...during the entire drive i felt like we had been transported to a faraway place...can't quite describe the feeling!

Some interesting facts about Hell’s gate: The setting of the film, The Lion King, was modelled and based on Hell’s gate. The film Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The cradle of Life was filmed at this location.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Lake Naivasha, Kenya- Another beautiful Day at Kenya

Lake Naivasha, Kenya
After an exhilarating time at Masai Mara, we set off for Lake Naivasha early morning on day 3. Located in Nakuru County in Naivasha, Lake Naivasha is  around 280 km from Masai Mara, it took us 5-6 hours to reach by road. Lake Naivasha is a part of the Great Rift Valley. The name comes from the local Masai name Nai'posha. Nai Posha means rough water which may arise due to the sudden storms.

The best way to see the lake is to hire a boat. It was a wonderful ride...the lake is home to various birds, Hippos, and is surrounded by forest …we saw Giraffes, Zebras, Wildebeests on the shore of the Lake as well.

If you are in Kenya, and should you have time, I would recommend that you spend a day at Naivasha for sure.We stayed at the Lake Naivasha Country club. Serene, green, and beautiful, with the lake right next to it, we enjoyed our stay there.

One of my favourite pictures from this trip was at the Country club is below...this is what we saw when we checked into the the sprawling lawn this cute Zebra was engaged in a conversation or was trying to befriend the deer:)

It was so cute! Felt as close to nature as possible.

Hello, will you be my friend:)

Because of its proximity to the Lake, the chances of sighting a Hippo at the resort was very likely. We were advised to not step outside of our rooms on our own after 7 pm ...we were supposed to call the guard  if we had to step out. And sure enough I saw a Hippo crossing from right in front of our room and going towards another side! I was safely inside my room...

On our way to dinner, we saw a hippo grazing at the distance...thankfully the guard was with us:)
All very exciting:)

We sighted this Hippo at night...not a good pic...but could not get a better one:(

Hippos at the lake
African Hammerhead

African Cormorant

African Fishing Eagle

African Grey Heron

Great White Pelican
Marabou Stork

Lake Naivasha Country club
You may want be interested in my following posts on Masai Mara National Reserve:

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Traditional dances by Masai villagers at Masai Mara, Kenya

Coming of age, traditional jumping dance at Masai village

Masai Village
During our Masai Mara trip, we visited a Masai village. which was not far from the park.The entry fee was around $30/head.The proceeds from the fee goes towards the village school.The fee allowed us to to take pictures and videos as well.

We spent around 40 mins in the village...we were welcomed by Masai men and women with their traditional dances which we enjoyed a lot...and joined in as well. I have included the videos at the end of this post.The jumping dance is a part of the the coming of age ceremony.

We also got a tour inside one of the huts in the village.The visit ended with us buying some handcrafted items that the village women had put up for sale. We probably spent around 40 min at the village. We had to rush back because we wanted to get back to the park and complete our safari while there was time...our last day at Masai and we wanted to make the most of it.

What I really missed is spending more time learning about the Masai way of life from them.I wish they had given us more time to learn about Masai and their way of life....a bit of Masai history and the modern day Masai... would have been interesting. I felt the focus was more on selling items.And although I understand the importance of that too, tourists should be given an overview of what the tour involves and given the opportunity to decide.

If you can find time, the village may be worth a visit depending upon what you wish to take back from the visit. 

Masai women
Hand crafted items for sale at the village

You may want be interested in my following posts on Masai Mara National Reserve.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Masai Mara: Day two at Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Lioness with cubs at Masai Mara
Day two and our last day at Masai Mara was even more exciting!

After a wonderful Day one at Masai Mara, we were all set to have an even better day two...we set off after a hearty breakfast.Our plan was to spend as much time as we could at the park.

And day two did not disappoint, it was another day in Paradise Masai Mara! Started out with a Leopard sighting and ended with a pride of Lions!!! In between….wild Buffalo, Wildebeests, Zebras, Giraffes, Ostriches, Deer, birds, a visit to Masai villageHippopotamus, and Banded Mongoose kept us at our highest high!

The lodge we stayed in “Keekorok Lodge,Sun Africa Hotels” was beautiful. We did not get much time at the lodge but whatever little time we did manage to spend in the lodge, it was blissful…birds, scenic beauty, and the water body next to the lodge was is home to quite a few Hippos who seem to be having an awesome time!

We watched from a safe distance of course!

Coming up in my next post ...Masai village .... 

Sunrise at Keekorok Lodge
Keekorok Lodge Masai Mara

Wild Buffalo


Black-maned Lion, Masai Mara

Lioness at Masai Mara
Lioness at Masai Mara

Banded Mongoose at the lodge

Lilac-breasted Roller
Marabou Stork

Speke's Weaver-female-Masai Mara
Vitelli's Masked Weaver

White-bellied Serin

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Masai Mara at long last: Day one at Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Masai Mara has been one of my dream destinations for as long as I remember....

My Masai Mara travel plan took a while to materialise because I wanted my father to accompany us. He has been instrumental in getting all of us interested in wild life! I still remember one of the first books on wildlife that my dad gave me from his bookshelf was a book of snakes (although I can’t say that I developed a liking from snakes!)

Going to Masai Mara without my dad was unthinkable! 
Since his health has not been that good in the past few years, I wanted him to get better before recommending this trip to him! He was hesitant, but finally gave in to my persuasion:) and our team of five (my parents, my sister, niece, and I were ready for Mara!)

Because our parents were travelling with us we did not want our trip to be too long or too hectic…we managed to keep it short, but it did end up being hectic considering the distances we had to travel. However, it was all worth it, every bit of it. Even though the long journeys were a bit rough on my Dad, he commented at the end of the trip that he would not have minded a longer trip!
That's the Mara effect!

We went through a Kenyan travel agency and they were very good. They took care of the entire arrangement starting from pick up from the Airport to dropping us back to the airport. The park entrance tickets, accommodations everything was included in the package:

Two days at Masai Mara National Reserve
One day at Lake Naivasha and Hell's Gate National Park
One day at Amboseli National Park

Masai was everything we had hoped for and more…there is certainly something about the rolling grasslands...can’t really describe; it charms you, steals your heart and leaves you wanting more. The experience of sighting not only the big fives but Hyenas, Ostriches, Giraffes, Zebras….in their natural habitat was an experience of a lifetime!

Our first day sighting at Mara was of a Cheetah, a pride of Lions (a slight distance away...yet awesome!), and a leopard. We were ecstatic!

Interestingly this Leopard was quite close to the pride of lions, watching them from a safe distance!

Wild Boar, Masai Mara
Hyena at Masai Mara

This cheetah video is not the best but will give you an idea!

Will post the day two at Masai Mara soon.