Between Sweetwaters at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy and Lake Nakuru, our next destination, we had a six-hour drive.
It wasn't really that far - about 160 miles. But we were driving on Kenyan roads. Some of them are quite good - the main highways north and south out of Nairobi look like good highways in the States, except for the "driving on the wrong side of the road." But most of them are quite bad. Some paved roads are narrow, some have deep potholes. And some dirt roads are adequate but dusty, but most are rocky, potholed and wretched. We slow way, way down.
On the tourist map of Kenya, the different kinds of roads are different colors. I pointed out a shorter route to Peter, our driver/guide. He said, "Yes, that is a paved road. But it is a very bad paved road. The way we are going will take less time."
"The way we were going" descended an escarpment into the Great Rift Valley. This rift is 2,000 miles long, descending from the Middle East to Mozambique. It can be seen from space. Along the rift are a series of lakes, both freshwater and salty. Lake Nakuru is a salty lake renown for its large flamingo population.
Peter, our guide, is more than we ever expected. Very knowledgeable, personable, with a good sense of humor and complete respect for the environment and ecology of his country. We leave on our morning game drives promptly at 6:30 a.m. In the afternoon, game drives usually start at 4:00, but may vary slightly depending on Peter's assessment of the animal activity at that time of day. Peter is also in frequent touch with George, our outfitter. At the end of each day, he lets us know the plans for the next day. We feel completely safe and comfortable.
Peter, our driver/guide extraordinaire.
We're in a four-wheel-drive off-road vehicle, equipped for six passengers. Since it's just Art and me, we have lots of room. When we're on the road the roof is closed up. On game drives, two roof partitions are removed and stowed, and we stand, either on the floor of the vehicle or on my cushion. It depends on where we're looking. Also on the conditions of the road, or the degree of dust.
We never know what we'll see on a game drive. Lions hunt in the early morning, cheetahs in midday, leopards later on. So if we head out at one of those times, we may see a predator. At other times, we note the alertness of he herbivores - impalas, gazelles, dik dik, elands, oryx, zebras. They can sense when a predator is nearby. We see elephants at all times of the day, and giraffes, and buffaloes, and rhinos (depending on where we are). Peter knows where to look, and Art has a hunter's eye, so I'm picking up the ability to see something and say, "warthog at 3 o'clock" or "lone elephant at 10:30". One day I thought I saw an animal in the distance, but Peter said, "No, that's a stump." We all laughed.