10 a.m Saturday morning found us on our way to Lake Magadi, for a 2 day and 1 night camping trip, organized by Safina.
Lake Magadi is situated within Magadi town, which happens to be about 110 kilometers South West of Nairobi city. The road is pretty good up until you pass Kona Baridi, and that’s when things take a turn for the worse. The road from there on-wards is a bumpy one. Sections of it are uncarpeted while other sections are filled with potholes. Not many private vehicles pass through this route. However, trucks and lorries are quite common here, usually coming from the soda ash factory, Tata Chemicals, in Magadi town, or from Tanzania. A trip that would have normally taken 1 to 1.5 hours ended up being 4 hours long, thanks to the poor roads. The Governor of that area should really look into that…
Magadi is boiling hot; it’s like hanging out in a furnace. I would advice anyone going there, whether it’s a day’s visit or more, to go dressed in and pack light clothing. Also, carry litres and litres of water, preferably in a cooler.
This was my second time visiting the place and boy was I psyched! The landscapes here are brilliant; from the undisturbed lake, which made for perfect reflective surfaces and is home to flamingoes, to the Shompole mountains. Every landscape photographer’s dream location.
We were set to camp at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), in Nguruman Escarpment. The place is about 30 kilometers from the factory. We were already exhausted from the long trip from Nairobi, so you can imagine how we felt when we found out that we still had 30 more kms to cover before getting to our destination. On top of that, there was a crazy heat wave. What got us through all that was the fact that we would we get to cool off in a swimming pool once we got there.
Finally we were at our destination.. PHEW!
We were warmly received by Joseph (+254 715 648 192), who would be our host for the next 2 days. The place has quarters for the ICIPE staff, as well as rooms for guests who are not in the camping spirit. Accommodation per person (inclusive of meals) is kshs. 4,000.
It is only natural that you will find insects, arachnids and myriapods of all walks of life here, seeing as how the place is their research and development centre. If you are as entomophobic as I am, I would advice you to carry all the insect repellents and insect killing rackets you can find :-D.
After setting up our tents and familiarizing ourselves with the camping site, off we went for a swim… IN A RIVER! I bet you did not see that one coming.
I am always up for trying out new things so you can imagine how excited I was, to be swimming in a river, for the very first time. River Ewaso Nyiro to be more precise. I was a bit skeptical at first seeing as how the water was all murky. Also, I wasn’t too sure if there were any crocs or hippos lurking in there. Luckily, we were in the company of a Maasai warrior, who was well armed in case of anything.
Turns out there were no crocodiles after all :D. There were some baboons swinging on the surrounding trees, but they never bothered us at any one point, all thanks to Singoi :). The water is knee high deep so you can’t dive here. In addition to it being so shallow, most of the river bed is covered in soft permeable rocks, and sand on the edges of the river bed. The water is cool and perfect for relaxing. However, if one is not too careful, there’s a possibility of being swept downstream by the water currents. I came out of that river smelling like cows, but hey, it was so worth it :-).
We made our way back to the camp site at dusk, to prepare for the night ahead of us. Some of the people hit the showers while the others assisted in dinner preparations. Soon it was dark and with it came rain. We sheltered in a common room while we waited for it to stop pouring. This was the perfect time to socialize, while enjoying some music in the background.
A few hours later the rained had stopped. We headed out to the bridge above the river, to try out some light painting.
Soon, it was dinner time. After a delicious meal of ugali, macaroni, kachumbari and fried beef, we all gathered around the camp fire; not because it was cold (by the way it was still hot even at night) no, but because such is camp life.
Morning was with us. Our time at the camp had come to an end. Down went the tents, but the memories that were made here forever remain engraved in our minds.
Word spread that there was a small antelope that was seen roaming right outside the ICIPE gates. Turns out it was a baby bushbuck. The little fellow was actually under the care of some neighboring KWS officials. They had rescued her not too long ago while on patrol. She has basically been brought up by human beings so she is very comfortable around people.
Back to the road dusty road we went, after a fun, relaxing weekend.
Until the next adventure, Auf Wiedersehen!