Lake Naivasha is one of Africa’s most renowned lakes. It has been home to numerous well known naturalists, conversationalists, and filmmakers. It is also home to over 1500 hippos and 400 different species of bird! This is what makes Lake Naivasha the perfect destination to see wildlife. It also explains why it constantly ranks as one of the world’s top ten bird watching destinations. Although the lake and its residents are in trouble: Invasive species, flower farming, and an increased human population have all taken a drastic toll. This is why we were headed to the Elsamere Field Study Centre located on the shore of Lake Naivasha. Here we would learn firsthand the conservation issues and how we could positively make a difference in Africa. Let the journey begin!
The very next morning a large white bus picked us up from the Nairobi Club destined for Lake Naivasha. I can’t quote it as being the smoothest type of transportation but I can say it was quite a fun bumpy ride!
The drive to Naivasha was quite startling. Numerous people on the streets, abandoned buildings, stray dogs, livestock, and trash. I had never been anywhere like it in my life. Yet as alarming as this was the backdrop behind it was absolutely breathtaking.
It was green everywhere. I had no idea what to expect driving to the Lake. I honestly envisioned a dry dusty environment. This could be farther from the truth.
It was very interesting driving through the small towns. If you notice you will see many of the shops are painted red, green, or yellow. Red stands for a store that sells refreshments or meat, green a store that sells electronics, and yellow usually a bar or hardware store.
Look very closely outside the window. That is the Great Rift Valley.
I understand this is not the best picture but I had to show the wildlife on the way. Pictured are wild zebras grazing right outside a village. We also saw giraffe, wart hog, and Thomson’s Gazelle.
After several hours we got our first glimpse of Lake Naivasha.
Following the arrows we made it right to camp!
Here is what I called home for the next four nights. What was so exciting is that a leopard was caught by motion sensor camera right behind our cabin just weeks before we arrived!
Here is the view from our porch. During the night hippos come and graze right up to our cabin. That is why we are not allowed to venture out into camp during the night unless escorted by a guard. Hippos kill more people in Africa than any other animal.
Elsamere Field Study Centre reminded me of summer camp: All the guys in one cabin and all the girls in the other. Pictured starting from the left is Matt my camera man, me, Ryan, Josh, and Jeremy.
Once we were briefed on the local wildlife and certain precautions we needed to take we were free to explore the camp grounds. Doesn’t this look like perfect leopard habitat?
At first you would think that this is a picture of a vast grassy savanna. WRONG. This is actually the lake completely taken over by the invasive water hyacinth plant.
Elsamere is actually quite famous. It was once home to the late George and Joy Adamson. Both conversationalists, Joy is noted for writing her book Born Free. It tells the true story of Joy raising a lion cub named Elsa that they eventually released back into the wild.
That evening we had the amazing opportunity to meet Sarah Higgins. She is a world famous conservationist specializing in rehabilitating raptors. It is actually very dangerous doing what she does in Africa. Rehabilitating raptors is frowned upon and many conservationists are murdered. Her property is fenced and protected by several guards.
We met several rescued birds including this Tawny Eagle that was being sold on the side of the road.
We also had the pleasure of meeting Simon Thomsett. He has been working with Birds of Prey in Africa for over 30 years.
He even allowed us the rare opportunity to view the Crowned Eagles. These powerful birds are capable of bringing down prey as large as gazelle. The one of the left Rosy had been rumored to have killed a five year old girl.
Sarah owns 50 acres on Lake Naivasha. Her views are absolutely breathtaking.
Her property is not only home to birds. The local wildlife calls it home too including these Waterbuck.
I could not stop filming!
As the sun set on her property I could not feel but complete content. Usually my mind is going a million miles an hour. Nothing though in the world mattered at that very moment. It was just us watching the sunset over the lake.
***Special thanks to Dr. Munir Virani, Dr. Marc Bechard, Mathew Mcdonald, Sarah Higgins, Simon Thomsett, and the Staff at Elsamere Field Study Centre