On the 4th of October, this year I married the love of my life, Lucy. After several months of strenuous planning, it finally came to be-I had me a mate for life. Dr Dawood, the writer of Sunday Nation’s The Surgeon’s Diary, often quips he has four wives: Marie, Surgery, writing and the Rotary Club. In a similar vein, I too relate to this accepted polygamy. My wives are Lucy, human nutrition, writing and birding. Due to the demands of the wedding on my time and energy, I had put off birding, writing and nutrition. This article tells of how made up with my winged kindred-of course in the company of my first wife-Lucy.
There are places in Kenya I had always wanted to visit and no, the Coast is not on that list. As a birder, fresh water lakes hold an attraction I simply cannot resist. I had the option of choosing from Lake Naivasha or Baringo. I opted for Baringo. All along this desire was hidden in the recesses of mine heart. After the wedding, I tricked Lucy into going to Lake Baringo in the name of honeymoon. Well, truth be told, she is my number one bird. Hence, depending on how you look at it, I was not in any manner deceiving…perhaps a little. Anyways, we checked out several places of accommodation within the area and settled for Soi Safari Lodge. In the true spirit of adventure, we explored several routes to the lodge on Google maps and chose the one that would give us the ultimate driving experience. Eldoret-Iten-Kabarnet-Lake Baringo road won our hearts.
It was a pretty good deal.
At Iten we got to view the floor of the Great Rift Valley from a vantage point popularly known as view-point. It was absolutely breath-taking!
Thereafter, we drove down the winding roads leading to Chebloch gorge, all the while drinking in the picturesque escarpments that surrounded us.
We took another breather at Chebloch gorge where we met the diving boys. These crazy dudes are often seen taking a plunge into the crocodile infested waters-of course at a small fee of Ksh 200 (≈ US $ 2). I would have paid to see one of them actually do it but my dearest birdie did not want to ruin the honeymoon. What if he doesn’t come up after the plunge? What would we do? All for a mere 200 bob? It made a lot of sense. Besides, it was getting late and since we were not entirely familiar with our destination, we figured we better be on our way.
The road between Kabarnet and Marigat was okay serving us with spectacular views here and there. However, the road between Marigat and Lake Baringo was a mess. We kept wondering whether we were on the right road. If it was not for stopping once in a while and asking a local whether the road leads to Lake Baringo, we would have made a U-turn. Nonetheless, the warm reception at Soi-Safari Lodge made up for the road. Nothing says welcome after a long, hot and tiresome drive than a glass of cold juice. We were hooked. The staff-Nicholas the receptionist, Abel the food and beverage manager, David the waiter and Joana the tour guide-gave us company for the next four days, and what jolly good fellows they were. The highlights of our stay at the Safari lodge were the boat trip and the nature walk-of course in the company of Joana, whom I found to be a true birder and nature lover.
At the Lodge there were three grey-crowned cranes that seemed accustomed to human company. They often stood near the reception area. One fine morning I could not resist taking a few shots-one with my dearest birdie behind them.
The boat trip consisted of birding along the shores, a visit to Lover’s Island and the hot springs in Ol Kokwe Island. Joana had his bird field guide as I did mine. He knew where each bird species could be found and drove the boat around in an easy manner so as not to scare the beauties away. We caught sight of several species some of which I managed to capture on camera.
This male hippo was not at all pleased to see us. We steered clear of its way as it seemed ready to charge at us at the slightest provocation.
The highlight of the boat trip was definitely the African fish eagle. The majestic grace by which this beauty hunts for fish is truly amazing. The locals have developed a way of drawing it out-by putting a piece of floating wood inside a fish and tossing it into the lake, the floating fish catches the eye of the eagle and in no time, it swoops for the freebie. I wonder though if in the long run the eagles around the lake would forget how to hunt. Nonetheless here is the African fish-eagle in all its glory.
I thank God that we were booked into a room that overlooked the lake. Hence, from the comfort of the balcony, several birds could be seen in plain view of the camera.
The nature walk involved scouring the Tugen Hills for the black scorpion, carpet viper, African rock hyrax, millipedes, centipedes and of course birds. To this end, we were positively successful.
It would have been a travesty of economics visit Lake Baringo and overlook Lake Bogoria. Hence, when coming back home, we decided to change route and pass by Lake Bogoria. It was worth our while. Flamingos, Buffalo weavers, Duickers are just but a few of the sightings around the lake. We sighted some birds like the Ruepell’s long-tailed starling en route from Lake Baringo to Bogoria.
Every now and then, other animals would be spotted here and there. My dearest birdie was able to spot a duiker that I had difficulty sighting. Noting how much this young duiker was camouflaged in the shrubs, I must say my lovely one has quite the eye. The duiker was immediately baptised Lucy-after the one who saw her first.
The reason for it all-the travels, the sightings, the photo shoots-was none other than Lucy, my dearest birdie. Hence, she gets the top spot, and it would not be farfetched to say that she is worthy in all ways of the appellation-The Bird.
Well, there she is. Without her, the chirping of the birds would be but noise in mine ears. What can I say? The beauty completes me.