Week 39 – Navaisha, Nakuru, and Jinja

Week 2 in Africa was almost better than week 1! I’m sorry in advance because this is the longest post I have ever written, but this was an action packed week and I want to share it all! After out first game drive to the Masai Mara, we drove on to Lake Naivasha. We drove all day to get there and arrived around 5pm. This campsite was really cool because it was right on the lake. This means that there were hippos just over the fence that we could see some out of the water at night. There was even an orphan giraffe that liked to stop by and say hello! There were also lots of black and white colobus monkeys and vervet monkeys running around the campsite as well as a herd of guinea fowl. I love guinea fowl! They so dumb and hilarious to watch, though they are quite loud in the morning.

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Hell’s Gate National Park

The first night was a pretty normal night where Kylie, Ai-lyn and I did a quick workout and then went for a shower. The shower was heated by logs in a fire. Then, we ate a group dinner in the restaurant and it was really nice that we didn’t have to cook.

Entrance to Hell’s Gate National Park

The following day we woke up geared and ready for our bike ride. We were headed to Hell’s Gate National Park. Supposedly the landscape of this park was the inspiration for the animators at Disney when they were making the Lion King. I am not sure if I quite saw that, especially when they showed us “pride rock”, but that is the rumor. Either way the scenery in the park was absolutely gorgeous! We had a bit of a rough start getting there though. The ride was uphill on rocky/sandy roads leading up to the park and we were all out of breathe by the time we got there. I was regretting all the squats in my workout the day before.

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They told us this was “pride rock”

Finally we arrived and as soon as we entered, it was all worth it. There was one dirt road leading through the large cliffs on either side. Everything around us was a red type of rock, which may be where it got the name Hell’s Gate. As we rode along we saw lots of animals including zebras, warthogs, baboons, egret, rock hyrax and a giraffe. We also saw buffalo, but I was a bit scared to ride by because one had a baby and I was scared she was going to charge at us.

We rode to the back of the park and we really tired by the time we arrived because the sun was really hot and none of us had enough water. We dismounted and then started on a little hike down into the gorge. It was so pretty down there and you could see how the water had chiseled the earth and and made the walls smooth. We hiked up the gorge and admired the scenery along the way.

We were hiking a small stream and even had to climb up at points. At one point there was a rope to pull yourself up and keep hiking further. We had a good time in the gorge and it was so nice to be out of the sun for a bit. On the way out, our guide told us that we were heading to the hot springs. Well, I would call it more like a rock trickle. Out of the rock were coming trickles of water, but they were scalding hot!

We hiked out of the gorge and were able to get a look all the way down the crater. Once we exited, there were many shops open and we all bought either a water or a coke for a bit of hydration and energy. Finally, we had to bike, uphill, against the wind, with dirt blowing in our faces, all the way back to the front of the park. At least our ride back down the the campsite was downhill. We stopped along the way at a rose garden for lunch and then were finally back. All in all we bike for about 26 km.

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When I came out of the canyon a new friend wanted to come back with us

When we returned, I was tired and dehydrated. So, I just went to the bar that was overlooking the lake and blogged. A lot of the rest of the group went for a hippo cruise or to El Samir for tea, but it was a beautiful afternoon and I wanted to just sit and look out. It was a really chill night and I went to bed early.

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Riding back out of the park

The following morning, we left the camp early and drove to Lake Nakuru. Along the way, we stopped at a local orphanage. This orphanage takes in children who had either lost their parents or were reported as cases of abuse. They try to take in the child and then when they can find a suitable family member, they release the child again to the family. I had brought a couple of bags of toys and games to Africa and I gave them all to this orphanage because Derek said they didn’t have much funding.

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At the orphanage with my new friends

As soon as we got there, the kids took us by the hands and showed us all around including their school room, the office, their dorm rooms, the bathrooms, their garden, and the local stables with cows and rabbits. They kids were really adorable and since it was Good Friday, there were other children there playing as well. We had big games of volleyball, soccer, and lots of jump roping going on. I played a lot with a little girl named Blessing and she was so adorable! We sang songs with them and taught them some hand claps. In all, we were probably there for two hours and it was so fun! I didn’t want to leave.

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I fell in love with this little girl named Blessing

After, we went for a quick grocery store run and then arrived at the campsite. Since we were there early, Agi said she would teach me some Jujitsu. She taught me how to defend myself from attackers in different situations and I would like to learn some more because as a female these are things that I should know how to do. Then, we had a local dinner cooked for us and sat around a campfire and talked the rest of the night.

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Lake Nakuru National Park

The following day we divided up into two cars and went for a game drive all day in Lake Nakuru National Park. It was stunning scenery, though a bit eerie. The lake was really blue, but it had many dead trees in it because the lake had risen in level. This gave it a really interesting look. The highlight here was that we finally got to see rhino. Up until now we had seen 3/5 of the big five including the elephant, buffalo, and lion. The black rhino would make the fourth.

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The landscapes at Lake Naivasha were beautiful!

First though we saw the white rhino. We saw three of them eating out the distance with a bunch of zebras. It was a really cool scene to see them. Very Africa. You can tell the difference between the white and black rhino because the white rhino has a flatter head and its head it always down eating. They have trouble lifting their head high. The black rhino’s head sits higher and they are more aggressive.

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White rhino with their friends the zebra

Later on we got a call and our driver took off to find the black rhino. We first saw him back in the woods eating. Then, he noticed us and things got a little scary. He started huffing at us and then started to charge though the woods at our car. Luckily we had a good driver and heh drove away, but then the rhino charged at the other car as well. We just keep getting charged by animals.

The rest of the day was filled with many more animals like families of vervet monkeys with babies, baboons, giraffes, zebra, warthog, and a huge amount of pelicans and flamingos in the lake. In the morning, we headed to a lookout where we saw the whole lake as well as rock hyrax, which ware really cute animals that look a bit like groundhogs. In the afternoon, we had a break at the lodge and all had a cold drink while looking out over the lake.

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A waterbuck eating…this would be a great meme
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A rock hyrax hiding out

On our way back to the campsite, we were lucky and spotted some more white rhino. This time we saw a whole family of white rhino and there were even babies! They were so cute. It was hard to tell at first because it was lying down on the ground and looked like a rock, so no one believed me when I said it was a baby. Then, it got up and it was so tiny. It was a great end to the day!

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White rhino with a baby

The following morning we headed to Eldoret for a stopover night before continuing on to Jinja. It was just a drive day so we got up to the normal shenanigans on the bus of playing various games that we invent to keep ourself occupied. We stopped at a grocery store along the way and it my cook groups first opportunity to cook! I am in a group with Anika, who is an American who joined the group a bit late and Kirsty from England. We decided to make chicken parmesan.

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Giraffe at Lake Nakuru

The camp that night was really cool and had a volleyball court, a pool, and a neat bar. Unfortunately since we got there late and I had to cook I couldn’t enjoy any of this. Today was also my tent mate Freya’s 23rd birthday. So, while we were cooking Derek and some others were trying to blow up some balloons for her party. The bought balloons that looked like animals, but when they were blown up they looked more like boobs and penises. We were laughing so hard!

Vervet monkeys at Lake Nakuru

I had never cooked for so many people before and it was a challenge. We only have a couple of gas burners and coals to cook on and the chicken cooked so slowly. Also, to cook so many packs of spaghetti at once as well it cooked differently than just one. We ended up with more of a spaghetti block than individual strands of spaghetti. In the end though, it turned out really yummy. After dinner, we had a cake and then all went to bed.

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I made it to the equator once again!

The following morning we woke up, crossed the border into Uganda and drove to Jinja. It was an all day drive and we had a bit of truck fever by the time we arrived. Yet, it was worth it. On the way we even passed by the equator! The camp we stayed at was really cool! It was right on the Nile river and they had a restaurant that looked out over the river, a dock to swim, and monkeys running all around. Also, there was a guy staying there with his puppy named Jinja and it was one of the cutest puppies ever!

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View from the restaurant at our lodging in Jinja

After we arrived, I did a short workout by myself, showered, and then we had a barbecue with burgers for dinner. I watched the sunset with Kirsty over a few beers and it was lovely.

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The sunsets were spectacular

The following day was the white water rafting day. This was one of my favorite days on the trip so far. We left around 8 in the morning to their base and there we met four new people to our group. Dan from England, Lucas from Germany, and Michelle and Dan from New Zealand. We then headed off to the river and in my boat were Chris and Holly, Agi and Joe, and Freya and I. We had a blast!

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Photo rafting of the other boat

The cool thing about the Nile is that the rapids are really big, but they are safe because the rocks are far below the surface, so if the raft flips it alright because you won’t get injured. We went through the typical commands and practiced getting back into the boat and then we were off. During our first rapid, we were the last of the 3 rafts to go and as we are watching, the other 2 rafts both flip in the rapid. We go in and we nail it! No flipping for us, but as I look back I realize that we just went down probably an 8 foot waterfall. This set the tone for the day.  The only downside to this first rapid is that one of my toes got stuck in the hole of the raft and I either broke or sprained my toe and it swelled up and turned black and blue.

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Our first rapid. It was a waterfall!

We had 8 rapids in total and they were all really crazy. I had never done rafting like that before. Once we reached the 5th rapid, we were the only boat who had not flipped and the other boats had flipped at least twice. I think our guide wanted to have us experience a flip because as we went into the rapid, he turned the boat a bit and said enjoy the flip and then we flipped over. It was kind of a crazy experience because I couldn’t figure out which way was up and I felt like I was under forever when in reality it was more like 15 seconds. I think I swallowed a lot of river water!

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Our final rapids were pretty crazy as well. In one rapid, we paddled in and then surfed the rapid for a good 20-30 seconds and then we were finally released. We thought it was weird our guide wasn’t saying anything as we were surfing and we look back and he wasn’t there. Right at the beginning he was ejected from the boat! We had a kayaker hop into our boat in his kayak and guide up down the river to pick up our guide and some other people whose boats also flipped. The best image though is when we passed the boat of the new people to our group. The rest of them had fallen out of the boat with the exception of Lucas who was holding on for dear life in the boat. The problem was the boat was stuck in the rapid and they couldn’t free it. He was stuck in the rapid for at least 5 minutes!

Some photos of our last rapid

After rafting, we got out and we had a barbecue lunch. It was really delicious and we looked at the photos that they took of us. Our raft decided not to buy the photos, but the other boat did. So, I have put pictures of their boat in this post instead of my own with the exception of the pictures of the last rapid. We returned to the campsite and showered and relaxed because we were exhausted. For dinner,  we left camp and had a rolex. A rolex is a chapati with eggs (rolled eggs = rolex) and whatever else you want inside. They were only a dollar and delicious.

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The village in Jinja

Our third day in Jinja was another eventful day. Our whole group decided to go on the village tour. We were taken around by an old man from the community and the village tour was more like a tour of his garden. He showed us all of the different types of plants that they have and everything that you can do with them. He also had lots of animals like baby pigs that were really cute. We had a tour of his house where we saw his sister making us our lunch.

After his house, we did go out into the community a bit. We saw the houses and we visited a primary school just as they were getting out for lunch The kids were all excited to see us and sang songs for us the whole time we were there.

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Kids at the primary school in Jinja

We continued around the community and said hi to everyone we saw and I may have even commandeered a puppy or two along the way. The hardest part of the whole thing was that it was very hot and we didn’t have a lot of water. I was starting to drag by the end of the day and was ready to sit down.

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I may have stolen a puppy…

For lunch, we had local food of cabbage, spinach, banana mash, and cassava. Cassava is a really interesting vegetable and is a staple food for them. It grows in the ground like a potato, but its really versatile and you can even write with it like chalk. We all wrote our names on the door to the house with it.

Our guide and his mom and our names on the door to the house

After the village tour, we just chilled until it was time for the booze cruise. We put on dresses and headed down to the boat around 5. It was included with our rafting and it was all you can drink alcohol and a couple of snacks. The problem was that there weren’t enough snacks and I drank way too much in those 2 hours trying to get my money worth. The whole cruise was so fun! Cole started calling Freya, Kylie, and I the mean girls because we were always laughing and up to things. Annie was also part of this crew, but we said she was Lindsay Lohan.

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Sunset on the booze cruise

Our group deteriorated very quickly and shenanigans were all an all time high. It was our first time drinking together and we had a blast! The problem was the really cheap liquor and about half the group ended puking.

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Walking through the village in Jinja

The final day in Jinja was the most chill day of the trip. We were all a bit hungover and just hung around camp enjoying the water and the sunshine. I took the opportunity to use the internet and catch up my blog a bit.

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Barbecue the last night in Jinja

For dinner, we had met a guy from Zimbabwe who lived in Jinja and owned a butchery. He offered if we paid him he would get really good meat and cook us all a barbecue. I can’t even convey to you how good this meat was. He put a marinade on the steak and the steak just melted in your mouth. I ate so much and it was amazing!

Africa is continuing to surpass my expectations and I am so glad that we had such an amazing group!

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