The third day of my Masai Mara and Gorillas Tour with Nomad Adventure Tours had us first cycling through Hell’s Gate National Park in Lake Naivasha, Kenya; that afternoon we finally made our way to Lake Nakuru National Park where we were going to be having our lunch break, followed by a game drive through the park – where we were pretty much guaranteed rhino sightings.
This was the first day that we utilized our roster system – where we were assigned groups which would assist with meal preparations, cleaning the Nomad Adventure Tours truck and unpacking our dining tables and chairs. Some people helped prepare the pasta salad while others cut up pineapple. Most of the group wandered around the public area of the entrance to the park and photographed the sly baboons who would steal unsuspecting tourists lunch, the lone buffalo that had wandered a bit too close for comfort, and the general beautiful scenery of Lake Nakuru.
“Lunch is ready!” someone called out. All fifteen of us travelers queued up in the food line and quickly filled our plates with a delicious pasta salad, cold cuts and regular salad. Once I found myself a seat at the table, I quickly hunted down the deliciously spicy peri-peri sauce and thoroughly coated my pasta salad with it. I devoured my meal as quickly as I had put it on my plate – sniffling like crazy as I realized I had perhaps put a tad too much peri-peri on my food. As a refreshing treat, I enjoyed some slices of pineapple –only to find out that the sour juices of the pineapple only exacerbated the tingling burning feeling of my taste buds. As everyone finished their meals, we tried to initiate a dishwashing line – but were told by Nyika and Noah – our Nomad Adventure Tours guides- not to worry about it since our safari vehicle drivers had arrived and were going to be taking us into the park for yet another few hours of game viewing.
Jessica, John, Lisa, Mogens, Ralf, Helena and myself found our seats in the vehicle – cameras in hand, ready to capture any magnificent African wildlife we may happen to stumble upon during our drive. Luckily for us, 10 minutes into our drive we stumbled upon two black rhino. It was a strange scene, as we gazed upon these prehistoric-looking members of Africa’s Big 5 walking beside electric towers with houses and buildings in the background. Despite the black rhino sighting, I wasn’t sold on the park’s general scenery.
We continued along down the bumpy road with only various antelope species such as waterbuck and impala to peak our interest. That was until we made our way through a forested area and came out on the other side on the shores of Lake Nakuru. Hundreds of buffalo lounged and grazed in small groupings along the lake – taking advantage of the shoreline’s lush grasses. Smaller herds of zebra could be spotted as we drove along. The lake, famous for it’s (at that time seemingly missing) flamingo population – was so calm, it was like a mirror, reflecting back the trees, clouds and blue sky.
Awestruck, I kept my camera’s shutter clicking as I took in more and more of the stunning scenery of Lake Nakuru. Our safari vehicle slowly wound its way down the dirt road, and up to a lookout point known not only for it’s view of the lake, but for it’s baboon population that calls that particular area home. There were a few particularly brave baboons that revelled in the attention they received from us.
As with most national parks, there is a strict exit time (as we experienced in the Masai Mara on the first day) – anyone still in the park after closing time incurs a fee. Because of this, our driver kept begging with us to let him leave – but we just kept saying “one more minute” as we snapped photos like crazy. Eventually we gave in and let him drive to the exit gate – and this was about the time that we realized we couldn’t get the roof of our safari vehicle to come down. It was stuck. They had 3 grown men trying to get it down – but eventually relented, telling us that they would need to take it to a mechanic prior to him driving us to our campsite across town.
With the sky growing darker and more ominous by the minute, our vehicle left the other one behind as we went off to attempt to get our roof closed before the impending storm rolled in. As we drove around the streets of Nakuru, locals looked curiously at us – resulting in making us feel as though we were severely out of place. Our driver eventually pulled off the main road and parked the car across the street from what can only be assumed was a mechanic’s garage. Three men came to the door and asked for us passengers to get out – Lisa and myself stayed put as we were in the back seat and not really in anybody’s way – we were also the keepers of the cameras, since nobody really felt too comfortable bringing their expensive DSLRs out into the dark side streets of Nakuru.
The three men all grabbed hold to a portion of the roof, and with all the strength they had rocked back and forth, attempting to pull it shut. The safari vehicle rocked back and forth, and Lisa and I exchanged nervous glances and giggles. The men grunted and started to break a sweat – and then there was a loud squeak followed by an even louder bang, the roof finally dislodged and came crashing shut above us.
“Hooray!!!” Lisa and I cheered from the back seat. The rest of the gang climbed back into their seats, and the driver exchanged some money with the men. Before we knew it, we were off – back into the crazy streets of Nakuru and off to our campsite for the evening – Kembu Camp.
As we drove along the main road the sky took on a menacing appearance – we knew we were about to be caught in the middle of a terrible storm. Sure enough, the raindrops started – only it wasn’t a pleasant few drops, or even a quick rainstorm. No. This was one of torrential proportions. Before we knew it, we could barely see out of the windscreen as our driver sped along at what had to be faster than 100KM/H. I prayed to whatever gods were listening to make sure we made it to camp safely. Lightning lit up the purple sky and struck the ground all around us, accompanied by a loud boom with each strike. As the driver turned off the main road, I managed to get a glimpse of the road we were headed on – a once dry dirt road was now covered completely in muddy waters that rushed by at a shockingly fast pace. We bumped and bounded along, I kept my eyes shut tight hoping that our crazy ride would end soon and that we would be able to enjoy a nice dinner courtesy of Nyika and Noah. We eventually made it into the campsite – only to see that the entire campground was under about 8inches of water- not exactly ideal for putting up a tent. Once the safari vehicle came to a stop next to Junior – we bounded out into the rain, and back onboard Junior in one swift motion.
As we stood there soaked from our ten seconds in the rain we started asking if there were upgrades for the night to the accommodations – generally something available at most campsites along the Nomad Adventure Tours routes.
“I’m sorry guys, all the accommodations are booked out.” Nyika delivered us the bad news.
“What do you mean all the accommodations are booked out? We’re in buttfuck nowhere! Surely there are a few rooms still available.” Someone cried out in frustration.
“We checked with reception and there isn’t anything available for tonight.” Nyika said calmly, but it was apparent that he was frustrated with the situation.
“Well we can’t put our tents up in this, can we just sleep in the truck?” I asked.
“There are too many of you. We can’t let you sleep in here.”
This was about the time that Lisa and Jessica walked off in search of reception in hopes they could sort something out. We all looked out to the flooded campground in despair. Surely we couldn’t camp that night – and the rain kept teaming down in buckets. After what seemed like an eternity, Lisa, Jess and the manager of the campsite returned to the truck. They had one small caravan available – and they were going to let us sleep as many that could fit in (if we brought our own camping mattresses). Lisa, Jessica, Nyika, John and myself all followed the manager to the dark nether regions of the campground, in a secluded corner surrounded by trees and bushes. There sat our salvation – a creepy wooden caravan that looked like it was out of some sort of horror movie.
We peered inside, immediately trying to assess how many people we could fit in. There were 10 campers that would need a roof over their head – and this caravan would maybe be able to fit half. Nonetheless we said we’d take it and paid the woman on the spot. We rounded up as many campers as we could find – eight of us – and started planning how we would manage to squish everyone in.
“We can take a few people in our cottages!” Ralf kindly offered. Before we knew it – campers were joining the accommodated clients, and the only ones left were the Australians (John, Jess and Lisa) and myself. We agreed to share the caravan, and quickly made ourselves at home before joining the rest of the group in Ralf’s 2-bedroom cottage where we would be able to tuck into our delicious chicken a la king dinner with fried potatoes for dinner.
As the rain and wind started to die down, Jess, Lisa, John and I decided to make the long trek back to our spooky caravan in hopes that we hadn’t burnt the thing down by overloading the 1 electrical socket with our multiple electronics in need of charging. Relieved to see it still standing and not in a pile of ashes – we quickly tucked ourselves into bed, knowing our 4:30am alarms would be going off before we knew it.
As I laid there in the dark, creepy caravan, “what a day… what a freakin day!” is all I could think of, as I giggled quietly to myself before I succumbed to my exhaustion.
Start reading about my experience on the Masai Mara & Gorillas tour from the beginning! Click HERE for Day 1
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**DISCLAIMER: While Nomad Adventure Tours asked me to partake in this tour and did provide me with a discounted tour price, all expressed thoughts, opinions and experiences remain my own.**
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