Behind-the-Scenes: “This is Africa” Lake Naivasha Part 1

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It’s been nearly two years in the making, and a project I’m so incredibly passionate and proud of: “This is Africa”, a short, mini-episode series chronicling my adventures in Africa. As I write this now and look back on the footage, I can’t believe that it was actually real. All my life I dreamed of visiting Africa and going on a wild safari. What I got was a lot more. Adventures I’ll always remember, places I’ll never forget, and animals that were out of this world. Hours upon hours of footage were filmed, cut, and edited to complete a story that was authentic and compelling for viewers. As producing and editing goes, so much was lost and not included in the finished product. So, I decided to dust off the old, tattered journal and share with you some of my notes, excerpts, thoughts, and feelings from the field with each mini-episode. I hope you enjoy as much as I did recording it. – Corbin

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August 29, 2012

As I’m looking out the window, I still can’t believe I’m flying over Africa. These are African lands! Life couldn’t get better….Home sweet home. I know it sounds crazy, but I feel so at place, here in Africa…

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The smell of Nairobi, Kenya I cannot explain. The best representation I could give is the smell of car exhaust fumes on a race track. The sights, sounds, traffic; I’m so happy to be back. I’m still amazed how there aren’t as many accidents as one would think. Cars, trucks, and buses seriously move into each other. Jammin’ out to my ipod, I had made it. I was here. I was back in Africa. 

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August 30, 2012 

I slept like a baby last night. I have to say, the best I’ve had in quite awhile…I think I almost forgot about the cold showers here in Africa. They sure wake you up! Everything is so simple here. To shower you turn on a simple overhead spout ON and push a hot water button (Even though in my experience, it barely works!) 

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As I’m writing, I’m eating Moose-Lee: a granola/oat tasting cereal. This is different…Let my diet begin! You mix it with with milk that comes in a paper carton; kind of odd but ok. Think I might go for the bananas instead. Today we are heading out to Lake Naivasha. My excitement can’t even be put into words. Once again, I’m living the dream! 

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Even though I’ve only driven to Naivasha once, I felt like a seasoned pro. I recognized landmarks and even stores I’d been to during my last trip…Less than an hour into the trip you hit your first view of the Great Rift Valley. This large, geological formation is one of the original Seven Wonders of the World. In the Kenyan side, it’s home to more terrestrial vertebrates than anywhere else on the planet. The view is quite breathtaking. What I always remember about the rift is the loud trucks and red shops with sheep skins on the side of the road. Munir said many years ago the place was covered in Birds of Prey. Now, an hour in, we haven’t seen a single one. 

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There were more alarming conservation concerns brought up along the journey. The African continent is expanding at such a rapid rate. Where there used to be lions along the way, they now have been replaced by agriculture. Still, other wildlife is holding on. In between the huts and agriculture pastures, you can still see zebras, gazelles, and other ungulates. 

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The first glimpse of the lake, I felt like I was at home. I felt like I had known this place for years. I feel just so comfortable at Lake Naivasha.

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We drove directly to Sara Higgin’s property where she and Simon Thomsett both rehabilitate raptors. Behind the large metal gate protecting her property from the outside world is a Garden of Eden paradise. Lush green grass, tall blooming Acacia trees with yellow-bark trunks, purple, pink, and red flowers; the list goes on. 

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She owns 200 acres which serves as not only a raptor rehabilitation center, but a refuge for local wildlife. Zebra, waterbuck, and wildebeest all reside on her lawn looking out on Lake Naivasha. It was so nice to be back. 

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After our tour of Sara’s, we headed 20 minutes down the road to Elsamere. Boy was it strange pulling into the grounds! So many good memories have taken place here. It seems like yesterday I had just arrived for my very first time…Having my own cabin at Elsamere is fantastic! (As I’m writing outside my porch, I can hear the munch, munch, munch of the hippos feeding on the grass with their muscular lips.)…

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August 31, 2012 

I have to note how I have no sense of time here in Africa. My phone is on power save mode and there is no time available. I randomly got up several times last night to make sure the sun wasn’t rising. I even left Munir a note on his car saying “Please knock on my door. Alarm not working – watch out for hippos, Corbin.” I have never been anywhere in the world where the sun rises so fast. 

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I love breakfast at Elsamere. It’s very simple: toast, two fried eggs, and instant coffee. I also love the sauces here. The red bottle is a tomato sauce and the yellow bottle is a spicy chili sauce- fantastic on an egg sandwich. 

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Today’s plan was to take a boat out and photograph fish eagles during sunrise on the lake. The shots were absolutely stunning. I had witnessed the eagles before, but nothing compared to seeing them dive for fish with an orange-sky backdrop. 

Next stop: Lake Nakuru National Park….