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My tent has a flap on each of its four sides.  I roll these up for some air movement as otherwise the inside gets rather stuffy.  I’m in a tent on my own so can’t imagine how unpleasant the air must get when two people share a tent.  It started to sprinkle rain at 05h00 so there was a mad scramble to get up and drop the flaps before I got wet inside.  Whilst this was being done a bloody mozzie got inside so no further peaceful sleep resulted.  I got up 45 minutes later, and as usual, was the first, or one of the first, to be up and about.  I had my tent cleared out and packed up and on the truck before some others were up.  There was plenty of time to help some of the others, but isn’t it strange how it seems to be the same ones every time.  Some just disappear into thin air and wait for somebody else to chip in and achieve a quick pack-up.

We crossed from Uganda back into Kenya this morning.  The exit from Uganda was no problem.  I had to get another three day ‘Transit Visa’ to get into Kenya, but as I had done my homework this time, three days was all I needed.  Mind you, I used each of the three days!  It took us over an hour to clear both borders.  Again, there were trucks as far as the eye could see waiting on the Kenyan side to clear immigration and customs.  I counted 88 but didn’t start doing so until some way along the line.

We arrived in Eldoret at 16h45, rather early, but pleasant.  This is the same camping ground as last time.  I decided not to upgrade this time, I rather like my tent and because last time I had to squat under a low tap in my shower to get any water.  The communal shower was wonderful with water that hot I needed to use some cold to make it useable.  A thunderstorm had been brewing all afternoon and broke just as I started to dry off.  I waited until the worst of it passed before I made a dash back to my tent.  When I got there I found a river flowing beneath it.  It wasn’t as though I’d chosen my site badly as all the other tents were in a similar position.  I could feel the water flowing under the floor.  Thankfully the tent is completely waterproof and everything in it, including me, stayed dry.  It is interesting to look back on the whole trip to realise that we didn’t have to put up or take down our tents in the rain.  In fact, the only rain occurred when it didn’t really matter too much.  We were either on the road, eating under cover or in our tents when it rained.

My real comfort is the last of my ‘medicinal’ whisky and some peanuts.  With only one more night to go, I think I did pretty well eking it out to run out with only one night to go!  There will be some more bought in duty free at Abu Dhabi airport for the next leg.  If I get it on the way in I can pack it in my checked-in baggage as I have an overnight stop in Abu Dhabi after my flight from Nairobi.  Saves any possible confiscation of my litre of whisky by some nasty security person!  I can also decant the precious golden liquid into my metal water bottle to save both the weight of the glass bottle and to protect it from breakage.  Can you imagine me trying to suck my clothes dry should the unthinkable happen?

Juma gets a night off cooking tonight as we are being catered for by the camping ground.  They have a pleasant dining area next to the bar and as it is still over an hour before dinner and I’ve run out of whisky, I just might have to start warming a seat in that area.

The thunder storm turned out to bit more than a passing event as heavy rain settled in for an hour or two.  Again, we escaped an unpleasantness while eating our buffet meal.  After the meal, which had an African theme, one which I’m not sure I could get used to as it consists mainly of ugali, a maize based thick goo, and even more carbohydrate in the form of a yam-like root vegetable.  There were plenty of vegetables and tough meat to choose from to make the carbohydrate palatable.  Fond farewells were made as this was to be the last night the group was to be together.  Tip envelopes were handed over and the crew seemed to be happy – as we were with the whole trip.

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Our driver, Mbuthia  P1250984  DY of jtdytravels

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Our camp cook, Juma  P1250988  DY of jtdytravels

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A Tusker beer surrounded by the group!  P1250992  DY of jtdytravels

The trip kitty was reconciled by Ingwe and three of our group and after paying for dinner there was just over $5/PAX left over.  I think this is pretty good.  It was decided that anyone who wanted their $5 could have it in cash, otherwise the balance was put on the bar for all to enjoy.  It only paid for a couple of drinks each so nobody was able to go mad.

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The group at the fire  P1250998  DY of jtdytravels

I was well and truly snuggled up in my tent by 23h00 and asleep soon afterwards.  As would have it, a nature call was required some hours later.  The ground was really muddy and very slippery as a result of the earlier rain.  Over I went, down on my bum to dirty my clean undies and hands.  Thankfully there was a nearby tap which could wash the mud of my hands but my undies are still muddy and will have to wait until I get to Copenhagen to be washed.  My dignity didn’t suffer as there was nobody around.  Back in my tent I had to zip up my sleeping bag for the first time.  Until now I’d been warm enough just using it as a throw-over to my sheet sleeping bag.

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Around 03h00 this morning I heard a water tank being filled.  Silly me. I thought this might mean a hot shower.  There was water but definitely not hot.  I remain somewhat oily from yesterday’s massage but that is probably not a bad thing.

I was up at 04h50 to light rain as an early breakfast was needed because the day was to be a long one.  We actually left 5 minutes early at 06h25 and didn’t get to Lake Mburo until 17h45.  There were 3 roadside loo stops and an hour for lunch.  A long, long day, but the kilometres had to be done.

We just had time to put up our tents amongst wart hogs and hippos making all sorts of grunting noises in the nearby lake before the sun set.

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Our camp site at Lake Mburo      (P1100602  DY of jtdytravels)

We watched the sun set over the lake with the hippos briefly surfacing from time to time whilst we rehydrated with a Tusker beer… or two.

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Sunset over Lake Mburo      (P1100612  DY of jtdytravels)

Most enjoyable… and equally enjoyable was the camp fire we sat around after dinner.

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Our campfire  P1100622     (DY of jtdytravels)

More anon    David

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Our first day on the road – Lake Nakuru was our destination with a stop at the Rift Valley view point and a visit to the Saidia Orphanage in Gilgil along the way.

Everyone was keen to get going on this African adventure.  We were only 15 minutes late leaving Nairobi and that was partly due to the fact that we were travelling in a brand new truck.  The major problem was that the lockers on board were not as big as we had expected from reading the tour brochure.  The crew were somewhat dismayed. Things were different from what they expected, as well. Many things had to be rearranged and repacked.  Eventually everything was in and off we went. Our first stop was at a local supermarket where last minute personal items could be bought and the crew could complete the outfit of the truck to meet their impending requirements.

The Rift Valley    (P1080891  ©   DY of jtdytravels)

We climbed up and out of Nairobi making a stop at a viewpoint overlooking the Rift Valley.  This was at an elevation of around 8000 feet.

The small plots are intensively cultivated    (P1080892  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

Down in the valley there were many small farms most of which were growing vegetables or corn. It was all very green.

Curio shops and our truck/bus       (P1080898   ©  DY of jtdytravels)

At this viewpoint stop, there were a host of curio shops all selling ethnic things and the stop was also the first introduction for some of the group to the hassles of being pestered by people trying to earn a meagre living out of encouraging people to buy things they never intended, nor wanted, to buy.  Just what do you do with all these things that just do not fit into our homes when we get home?  Of course they get put in the bottom draw, or worse still, get given to family and friends who have even less interest in them!  A great learning experience for future, similar encounters, of which there will be many if my previous experiences are anything to go by.We climbed a little further up into some low mist and fog which obscured the view of Lake Naivasha, an area which grows many cut flowers, including roses, for the European market.

The Saidia Orphanage in Gilgil, Kenya   (P1080938   ©  DY of jtdytravels)

Our lunch stop was in Gilgil and, while Juma prepared our lunch, we visited the Saidia Orphanage. This institution was established by three grandmothers Jill Simpson MBE, Teresa Wahito and Jane Kinuthia. They saw the need to help the many abandoned babies in the area.  Jill sadly passed away in October 2009, but Jane and Teresa continue the work today.

They have 57 kids at the moment in this programme, some of them having come to the orphanage only hours old.   As well, now there are three other programmes that are run in association with the original orphanage: first, badly behaved kids; secondly, mistreated kids; and lastly, kids born to HIV infected mums who neither want nor are capable of looking after their babies. You can find out more about the work these women are doing to give these kids a better life on their web site:

www.saidia-gilgil.org.uk

Jane Kinuthia, one of the remarkable women who run Saidia Orphanage.  (P1080915  © DY  of  jtdytravels)

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Some of the children sang for us.   (P1080900  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

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Kids will be kids when it comes to playing to a camera  (P1080914   ©  DY for jtdytravels)

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One of the little ones.  (P1080913   ©  DY for jtdytravels)

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Older kids enjoy soccer  (P1080931  ©  DY for jydytravels)

Soccer is the sport of choice of these boys and a new ball is a great gift.

And in a place like this, there’s always a lot of washing!

My new friend, John    (P1080935   ©   DY of jtdytravels)

The orphanage is very well set up.  Each child selected one of us to take on a tour of the buildings. I was selected by 9 year old John, a young lad with bright eyes and a delightful grin.

One of the all important water tanks.   (P1080917  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

John proudly showed me the children’s paintings that decorate parts of the buildings. This colourful elephant adorns one of the water tanks. The name NDOVU is the local word for elephant. Other paintings were of a lion, a giraffe and a bat.

One of the children, happy to have the chance to live at Saidia.   (P1080936   DY ©  of jtdytravels)

This visit to Saidia Orphanage left us all with plenty to think about. We had great admiration for these visionary, hardworking ‘grandmothers’ who are giving at least some children the chance of a better life. As they had explained to us:There is no social security net in Kenya.  The extended family is still very strong and orphaned children would normally be taken in by an aunt or grannie. But kids with no family are on their own, and today many families have lost the entire parent generation to AIDS.” And that, in itself, is food for thought.

The idylic camp site at Lake Nakuru    (P1080939  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

In the afternoon, we drove on to Lake Nakuru National Park, arriving mid afternoon. The first task was to put up our tents for the very first time, a bit of a trial for some. Thankfully, I had one of these small tents to myself.

After this exciting activity we went on our first game drive.  Lake Nakuru has considerably more water in it than when Jennie and I were there last in 2004.  This meant we could not get as close to the shore as we did the last time but it also meant that there were many more birds to see.

An Ibis wades in the shallows   (P1080980   ©  DY of jtdytravels)

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These pelicans kept their feet dry on an island    (P1080990  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

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These pelicans didn’t seem to mind having wet feet    (P1080993   ©  DY of jtdytravels)

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Baboons grooming   (P1080949  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

We also saw lots of baboons, a couple of white rhinos, a hippo in the distance, gazelle, eland, antelopes, zebra, buffalo, water buck, and a venerable old tortoise  – and an obscured lion sleeping on a rock. We went back to camp very happy, but tired, after a long day.  I was looking forward to a sleep – if sleep could be had sleeping on a thin mattress on the ground. And I was looking forward to finding even more animals on our next drive.   I was really glad I’d the opportunity to come back to Lake Nakuru.

The best camping – under African acacias. (P1090039 © DY of jtdytravels)

We drove through a heavy thunderstorm on our way back to camp.  It missed our tents, thankfully. Our camping location within the park was unfenced so it was no real surprise when a buffalo strolled through between our tents during our after dinner briefing.  This caused some consternation amongst the group.  Signs of strain were evident on many faces as nocturnal meanderings to the loo were erased from the mind. We’ll see what the night brings!  D

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