We sat in our very plush, tented camp on the banks of Lake Elmenteita watching the stunning birdlife paddling around below us. There is a massive mountain range in front and behind you with the figure of a woman lying carved across the top of the mountain. “What mountain range is this?” I asked naively (first timer to Africa). I’m sure I heard sniggers from the more experienced African travellers around me. I found out that I was sitting right in the middle of the Rift Valley.
The Rift Valley is an awe-inspiring geographical feature which cuts through Kenya north to south and is part of the much larger East African Rift which starts in Tanzania and continues to Ethiopia. We stayed in Elmenteita Luxury Tented Camp on a trip to Kenya and did a little exploring around the area. Lake Elmenteita was full of bird life – the pelicans paddled back and forward in their little groups right under our noses, flamingos provided the colour, hunchbacked maribou storks, cormorants and other birds flocked at the water’s edge of the camp. If you are lucky enough to stay at the romantic camp I would highly recommend the Flamingo Suite which is the closest room to the water, has a huge terrace and views of the lake from everywhere – even the Jacuzzi! The Soysambu Conservancy as the area is known as is the only East African nesting site for great white pelicans and it protects over 450 bird species and 15,000 wild animals.
We did a couple of very different game drives here – different to the others that we had experienced in other parts of Kenya. The landscape was very much more like an open plain; bright yellow fever trees made for exciting forest drives – there were thousands of water buck, buffalo and Thomson’s gazelle. The yellow of the grasses and the yellow of the fever trees made it very hard to spot the elusive leopard though! The night drive gave us a completely different outlook on the camp – the noises were incredible, frogs, insects and various animal calls. It was quite an eerie journey and again the leopard eluded us. We went out with full night vision goggles and everything, looking for a glimpse of some bright eyes watching us. Amazing even without the leopard!
We ventured further out into the Rift Valley to explore the history of the area at Kariandusi Archaeological site which is a fascinating small museum and has prehistoric stone age tools on display. We also tried a safari by boat to get up close and personal with some hippos at Lake Naivasha. Some people may be more familiar with this location for its’ appearance in the Oscar winning film “Out of Africa” which is where they did the outside filming and the non-predatory animals were left there after filming. The hippos were incredible and there was so much to learn about them – they are quite ferocious despite their appearance, and can get up to incredible speeds running along the lake bottom. We also had a fish eagle swooping overhead to catch titbits from the fishermen – quite impressive!
I just saw a small part of the Rift Valley – it really is vast! I would thoroughly recommend this area that I saw for a luxurious, relaxing element to your holiday…