Not Much Has Changed

My Kenya Diary. March 2018

We drove in a steady stream of traffic over the top escarpment road to Lake Naivasha. I noticed an alarming number of clearings in the forest, which allowed me to admire the stupendous view over the Rift Valley, but it is a sad time for the environment. We heard on the news that commercial logging was going to be stopped, but I wonder how effective it will be, and who will plant more saplings in the future?


The road was in excellent shape. We popped in to say jambo to an old friend, then carried on to the Yacht Club, where school cadets were having a weekend of sailing. We took the ferry boat to get on the island and I noticed some people examining the causeway, which had started to emerge as the waters of the lake receded. The Committee was planning to repair it so that members could drive their cars onto the island. With hindsight, this was a futile exercise as now – two months later – the whole country is suffering from unprecedented rains and the lake has risen again.


We watched a dozen optimists and lasers milling about in shifty winds on the lake. The Commodore greeted us, and I recognised friends from my sailing days. Not much had changed on the island, but the vegetation was parched and brown. Dozens of boats lay under dusty canvas. A professional company from the coast was organising the youth training sessions, which are popular among the schools.

 NYC1Although the heat of the day beat relentlessly down, I went on my favourite walk round the island, my binoculars dangling from my neck. There were hardly any birds to be seen, and I retreated to the clubhouse for a glass of water. A sudden gust of wind caused havoc among the boats. Several capsized, to the consternation of the parents watching, helpless, from the shore, and the instructors brought them in for an early end to the afternoon. We left them to it, and checked in at Carnelley’s camp, further round the lake.

Here the grass was green, with pleasant clearings round the bandas, kept moist by plenteous watering. Itnyc4 was an oasis after the heat and dust of the road. Our banda was quaint. We enjoyed the solar-heated showers; and reclined on a padded seat on our veranda behind the campsite, which overlooked the lake through the fever trees. 

nyc6We drove to west side of the lake for supper at the Ranch House Bistro on the terraced lawn overlooking the “little lake”. My beef stroganoff was delicious. In the field below us Impala, warthog, guinea fowl, and vervet monkeys mingled. As evening fell, a small family of zebra passed through.

Near the main house a TV faced outwards, and several people were avidly watching England lose to a more adventurous and sparky Scotland in the six-nations rugby cup. We joined them, huddling over a warm brazier in the evening chill. On the drive back to Carnelley’s in the dark a timid duiker crept along the embankment, and a young giraffe browsed at the roadside.


In the morning we watched the sun rise through the fever trees.


A woman sat cross-legged on a blanket doing yoga to greet the day. Egrets picked at insects along the shore; I spotted hadada and sacred ibis, yellow weavers, a black drongo, and several superbly coloured starlings. Egyptian geese flew in, parakeets chattered high up in the trees and fish eagles called with their evocative cry.


A couple of early fishermen dangled their lines from the jetty. In the water close by, two hippos betrayed themselves, showing their rugged faces over the ripples from time to time.

We made our way through the camping ground for the breakfast part of our deal. A large bowl brim-full with beautiful crunchy muesli, the nuts easily broken apart by my ancient teeth; honey, and banana slices with yoghurt; delicious and very filling. I could not finish it. Back at the banda I had a second hot solar shower and changed into my togs ready for business – another talk – at the Gilgil Club.

We idled away the time with a mediocre cup of coffee at La Belle Inn. However, the veranda tables under bright red cloths were decorated with sprays of roses, and the smartly uniformed waitress was proudly efficient.

We missed the first turn to Gilgil, so had to negotiate the chaotic, dusty, crowded town centre before finally arriving at the Club. Nobody was there.  A phone call revealed that not many people would come for lunch, as an important cricket match was on at the nearby polo ground.

A lady wandered over from a nearby house, and I introduced myself. “Oh, are you here for the talk?” she asked. “I thought it took place earlier this morning.”

“No problem,” I said, prepared for anything – or nothing. This was Africa, after all…


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