Friday, October 2, 2015

Journey to Lake Baringo

One of our early trips was a camping trip to Lake Baringo.  On the way we stopped at Kerio View, which I have explored in another message, and then went to Lake Bogoria.  It is a beautiful lake without any facilities there.  A classic small Rift Valley lake.

We left  the plateau and made our way down into the Rift Valley.  You can really see that edge of the rift in this shot.  After a beautiful lunch at Kerio View we went down into the valley.  It grew much hotter as we went down.

It is really such an interesting feeling to be going down into this incredible valley.

You can really get a sense of the tectonic processes at work in eastern Africa.

Just another view of this amazing landscape.

There is a small stream that runs through the valley.  It is beautiful water.  It is hard to get a sense from this shot of the depth of the channel, but the stream is cutting deeply into the floor of the valley.  Notice how dry the valley floor is, based on the scrubby vegetation.  And it was HOT.  One of the interesting features of this area is that the story goes that some of the best goat comes from this area, eating the natural vegetation.  It is said to be the sweetest.  I've noted elsewhere that goat is really good.

 Another view of the stream channel.

Evan at the stream channel.

Me, looking a little paunchy, at the stream channel

We then made our way to Lake Bogoria.  It is shallow and in a basin, which helps to form the lake.  The flamingos, as you can see here, love this lake.  This lake is much less visited than some of the other, larger "soda" lakes of the rift, so we had the place basically to ourselves.

Some birds on the lake.

Another picture of the birds.  It was incredibly quiet in this valley.

This is our group, at Lake Bogoria.  It was beautiful, desolate, quite.

Our next stop was Lake Baringo, where we were staying for the night.  We stayed at Robert's Camp, in tents very close to the edge of the lake.  The restaurant there is the Thirsty Goat, and it was some of the best food we had during the first months in Kenya.  The facilities at Robert's Camp were very nice.  Keep in mind that this isn't a resort, and isn't supposed to be, though there are resort hotels on the lake.  Our group of Canadians, Swedes, Danes, and the two Americans (Evan and I) were not interested in resort living....

A view of the lake.

 One of the things that Lake Baringo is known for is the hippo.  This is one in the water right outside the camp.  In the night they came into the camp and rustled around, and we were told to stay in our tents and they wouldn't bother us.  We could hear them in the camp while we were eating dinner at the Thirsty Goat, and one of the camp workers had to lead us back to our tents, banging sticks together to drive off the hippos.  It was quite a scene!

Another thing that the lake is famous for are the fishermen that work the lake.  This is a small gathering place for boats.  You see the motorized tourist boats pulled up on the shore, and the small, one man boat that the fisherman is using.  He has no paddles that I could see, and used his hands to push the very small boat through the water.  Very interesting economic geography on the lake, and it has probably been practiced in some form or fashion for hundreds if not thousand of years on Lake Baringo.

A closer view of one of these very interesting fishermen.

A friend has joined our fisherman, notice that he has a fish in his hand.  I am thinking they sell these to the larger resorts that are found on the lake as well as to the Thirsty Goat.

Another view of our two fishermen.

We went out in two boats to tour the lake.  This is a shot of the other boat.  It was a beautiful day to be on the lake.

The lake is also famous for its bird population, many of which feast on the fish in the lake.

This is an eagle, I think, on the hunt.

This is a pretty large lake, deeper than the soda lakes found in the rift valley.  I didn't take pictures of the resorts along the shore, but they looked pretty nice.  Spectacular views of the lake.

Another shot of a bird along the lake shore.

We left the lake after our tour to head back to Eldoret, but being the annoying foreigners that we were, we saw a steep escarpment that we hadn't noticed in the evening when we arrived at the camp, and we decided that we should climb it, so that we could get a better view of the area.  So, several of us did...

There was another interesting piece of economic activity found at the top of the escarpment, and that was this beehive.  This is used for the local population to get honey.

This is a view of what we were climbing.

This was a fellow that we met on the top of the escarpment.  He was pretty surprised to see us there, to say the least.

This is Evan at the top.

This is me at the top.  You can see the lake in the background.

We were pretty high up, overlooking the lake.

This was the group that hiked up the escarpment.

Lake Baringo was an early trip in our stay at Eldoret, arranged by Moi University.  It was a great time, and a great trip.  This is the sunset from Robert's Camp, very peaceful, very beautiful.

One of the many great places to visit in Kenya.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Karen Blixen and Denys Finch Hatton

One of the last places I went before I left Nairobi was a longer visit to the Karen Blixen Museum and the Denys Finch Hatton grave site.  I find it interesting that Blixen's house has been given the full treatment, and turned into a beautiful museum, donated by the government of Denmark to Kenya, and Kenya has done a wonderful job keeping it up.  Finch Hatton, on the other hand, has not fared quite as well.  Still, visiting the two sites on the same day made their love come alive, despite the problems that they had as a couple, which are well documented.  It was a gray sort of day, typical in Nairobi in late May, at the end of the rainy season.  Sammy drove me around, and it was a long, tiring day.

What can you say... a classic movie that helped inspire me to go to East Africa.

A shot of the front of the house.  Apparently they shot the exterior shots for the movie at the house, and the interior shots at another house nearby.  I'm not sure why that was the case, but there it is.  The verandahs are quite nice on the house, which would have really helped during the warm dry season.

A young coffee plant, the plant that was to be the savior for Karen's project in Kenya, but ultimately proved her undoing, which was pretty accurately portrayed in the movie.

Not the best of my shots, because what I am trying to show is not just the beautiful lawn surrounding the house, but in the distance you can see the blue of the Ngong Hills.  Her house is really on the edge of the hills, not exactly in the hills.

Some of the beautiful landscaping around the house.

Some more of the landscaping.  I am not sure if it looked like this when Karen lived here.  I really don't think it was quite this way, but it gives you an idea of the extent of the grounds.  Apparently this was a farm of a couple of thousand acres.  Keep in mind that today most Africans are farming small plots of 1-2 acres, so this thing was huge.

That's me at the side of the house.  This is a door leading into Karen's bedroom, where she and Finch Hatton apparently spent a good bit of time.

A shot of the verandah on the side of the house.  It's a pretty impressive place.  Bror Blixen didn't build it, apparently they bought it from someone (I can't remember the whole story now), unfinished.

A view of the front of the house.  Very lovely place.

One thing about the museum is that you cannot take pictures inside.  I have taken these from other sources, to give an idea of the furnishings inside.  This is the living area.

This is Karen's bedroom, pretty much the way she had it when she lived there.

Anotther interior room.  These shots really don't do the place justice, and I couldn't find a good shot of the main room where Karen used to read stories to the children.

The coffee roaster used on the farm, part of the project that doomed Karen's stay in Africa when coffee production did not work.

As I noted above, Finch Hatton has not gotten the treatment or recognition of Karen.  Perhaps because he was a philandering big game hunter, but he probably deserves a bit better.  Here is the only marker directing visitors to the grave site.  And if you don't know where it is, there is no way you could find this on your own.  Sammy knew where it was, and he even seemed to have some problems.  And the road is terrible.  When Denys was buried here by Karen after he died in the plane crash, there was nothing in the surrounding area.  And the grave is truly in the Ngong Hills.  Today there is a good bit of development, particularly small shambas in the hills, but the site is maintained by a Kenya family, who do a wonderful job maintaining the grave.  One last note, the grave is a long way from Karen's house, and when she and the others went to bury Denys, they really had to want to go, because I am sure that when this was done there were hardly any roads to speak of in the hills.  Also, please note that the scene depicted in the movie depicting Denys' burial is not where he is buried.  That is way out in the Masai Mara.  More picturesque, and may have been what the site looked like then, but not now.

The obelisk demarcating Denys grave.  The woman in the foreground is the one who takes care of the site.  She charges a small fee, but because the site is so difficult to find, there aren't a lot of visitors.  It's a beautiful and thought provoking site, though.

There used to be a lovely brass plaque on the obelisk, but it was stolen.  Now there is just the blue plaque.

A view from the base of the obelisk of the grave site.

The four posts are where the actual body is buried.  Notice the scraped earth of the grave site, with no grass growing.  That is not unusual in an African burial site.

A view looking out onto the hills from the grave site. 

A view of the site.

Another view of the obelisk.

Me at the obelisk.  Sammy took this, he has a definite problem taking pictures.

A view of the hills surrounding Denys' grave.  The neatly cultivated fields were not there when he was buried here.

Another view of the hills.

Perhaps Denys Finch Hatton hasn't gotten the attention that Karen Blixen has gotten, but visiting his grave site is a moving experience, if you are interested in the story.  It's a challenge to get there, but one that is well worth it.