A chain of seven shallow lakes lie along the Rift Valley in Kenya. Because they are fed by underground springs and some have no outlets, they are more alkaline than usual and comprise a unique habitat. Today's game drive went to Lake Nakuru, near the fourth largest city in Kenya, also called Nakuru. A unique feature of this park is its flamingos, which feed on an algae that has loved the ph of the water here. Even though Kenya is in drought , Lake Nakuru has overflowed its banks and the ph of the water has changed. Scientists guess that more water is flowing from deep within the rift. The lake has gotten so large, it has taken out some of the road that used to go around it and the decline in algae growth has lessened the flamingo population. There have been times when the lake dried up altogether and the nearby town had to live with noxious clouds of soda ash.
Nevertheless it was awesome so leave our jeeps and stroll over all the footprints in the mud to the lake shore to see the graceful flamingos and a large flock of pelicans. The landscape was vastly different from what we saw in Masai Mara - much more green and lush. This was great for the animals feasting here, but made animal viewing more challenging. But we saw both the rare black rhino and the even more rare white rhino, which is not white. They were named by Dutch colonists who noticed that their mouths were much wider; the Dutch word for wide is weit. The black faced vervet monkeys were new on our list and put on a great show zooming up and down branches and leaping about.
After lunch we took a walk around the neighborhood. The contrast between our lovely lodge and the local digs was extreme. As our guide Fred and some lodge staff walked with us and explained what we were seeing, we accumulated an ever increasing gaggle of kids who giggled and wrestled and beamed from ear to ear. Many of us were wearing rain coats and every so often a mischievous kid would get close enough to put a rock in our hood. I can't remember when I have seen a dirtier group of children. Even the older girls were filthy, but at least there was no snot running out of their noses. The dirt was understandable. Most of them live in mud huts. Water needs to be hauled and baths and laundry opportunities are few. However, when we see local kids going to school, their uniforms are clean and neatly pressed. You have to wonder how this is accomplished in a mud hut. Although this area looks green and lush to my untutored eye, the land is to rocky for farming more than a few vegetables for personal use. Nearly every hut had a cow or two and chickens were ranging freely.