Lake Nakuru National Park

Ahhhh, this is the life

Game drives through Africa’s many national parks have been some of the highlights of our overland journey. Lake Nakuru National Park in Kenya offered yet another chance to get close with some of this continent’s most famous wild beasts, and it was one of the last parks that we’d be visiting. It didn’t disappoint! We spent about six hours driving through the park in 4x4s, spotting more zebras, buffalos, hyenas, and birds than you could shake a stick at. But two animals in particular were the highlight this time around: flamingoes and rhinos.

Pink is so in right now

Lake Nakuru is an alkaline lake, fed from underground sources, making it ideal for algae — and by consequence, for flamingoes. There were thousands of them! You could spot the swath of bright pink on the horizon long before reaching the borders of the lake, where they congregated en mass. There were both Greater and Lesser flamingoes, the Lesser being the pinker variety. They are funny birds to watch. Something about their absurdly long necks and legs makes them appear awkward at first, but in flight and stepping lightly through the shallows they carry a certain grace. And they were absolutely everywhere.

The rhinos were the other highlight, and perhaps the more impressive of the two. We were actually lucky enough to see both black and white rhinos, although the white rhinos aren’t actually native to the park. The name “white rhino” is funny, because they are definitely not white at all. In fact, it’s a mistranslation from the Afrikaans word for “wide”, which refers to their mouths. The white rhinos we saw were Southern White Rhinos, introduced from parks further south where they’ve made a significant recovery from near extinction to number in the thousands again. The Northern White Rhino, which I think is only found in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is still very rare, and there were only 22 of them remaining in the early 90’s. I’m not sure what the present day numbers are, but hopefully they are improving too. The white rhino was favoured by poachers because it has two large horns, one of which can reach lengths up to 5 or 6 feet.

Black Rhino on the move

We first spotted a black rhino in amongst a heard of buffalo. He was quite wary of us, and he quickly began to move away as we approached. He had a wound on his side that our guide said was likely from a fight with another rhino. He was big too — watching him move somehow deceived the eye, because one wouldn’t expect something of that mass to move with such ease. It was a testament to the sheer power of the animal.

A large white rhino checking us out

We’d hardly gotten over our excitement at having seen one rhino, when we spotted an even larger white rhino off in the distance. As we approached, it turned out to be a mother and baby, resting in the sun right beside the dirt track. They seemed unperturbed by us, and we were able to pull up right beside them and shut off the engine. The mother was enormous, and had a very impressive horn. Our guide estimated that she might weigh as much as three tons. I couldn’t help but think how easily a horn like that would puncture the sheet metal of our vehicle’s doors. Luckily, this rhino duo was content to observe us observing them, and they occasionally shifted positions to provide us with ever improving photo opportunities. They were magnificent. Eventually, when a couple of other vehicles joined us, they decided they’d had enough attention for the time being, and they lumbered off heavily and easily over the grasses.

Mother and baby

Until this encounter, we’d only previously seen rhinos after dark or on the distant horizon. Seeing them so closely in daylight finally allowed us to appreciate Africa’s second largest animal properly. I must say that we’ve had incredible luck on all of our game drives. Lake Nakuru National Park simply extended our already wonderful string of wildlife encounters.

Lake Nakuru National Park

Comments

  1. Bob & Audrey

  2. Hi you two. Still stalking, and totally envious. Your descriptions and photos are so tantalizing! Happy Canada Day to both of you.
    xox
    Bob & Audrey

    The mother and baby rhino look like they have Burton bums…lol This leg of the trip looks amazing and the photos are breathtaking. Safe travels darlins. xox

    So the giraff and zebra were talking. Zebra said “I don’t get it, God and I were talking and I asked God ‘Am I a white horse with black stripes or a black horse with white stripes’?”

    “God replied ‘You are what you Are.'”

    “Then I said, ‘But really, God, am I a white horse with black stripes or a black horse with white stripes?'”

    “God replied again, ‘You are what you Are.'”

    “What does this mean giraff?” asked Zebra.

    Giraff replied, “You are a white horse with black stripes.”

    Zebra then said, “How do you know?”

    Giraff replied, ‘If you were a black horse with white stripes, God would have said “You is what you is, Rapper Dude.”

    Groooooan!

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