Beware of hippos. No boating after 4 p.m.
A warning sign at Lake Naivasha

Biking with zebras
Tue. 5 Oct. 2004 - Lake Naivasha, Kenya

Eagle. This morning, we left camp and split up into three motorboats to go out onto Lake Naivasha. There really are hippopotamus in this lake and we saw a group of them. Our guide for the boats was Kilo, who has a way to lure fish eagles to dive into the water near our boats. First, Kilo pulled the boat alongside a fisherman's boat on the lake and asked for a small tilapia fish. Fish in hand, Kilo then took the boat along the lakeshore so he could pick a piece of a water hyacinth plant. This plant traps air in a bubble and it floats. Kilo stuffed pieces of the hyacinth in the tilapia's mouth so the fish would float on the surface. Lastly, Kilo whistled loudly to the eagles in the nearby trees would take notice. He waved the fish over his head and pitched it into the water. Immediately, the eagles swooped down for the food. This process was repeated successfully several times, allowing us to get some impressive eagle photos.

Hippos. Counting the hours until 4 p.m.?

Flower. Our campsite by Lake Naivasha, like much of the surrounding area, was adorned with beautiful flowers. The flower-growing industry is big business in Kenya, and many people in this town are employed at a vast campus of greenhouses along the main road.

After our morning boat ride, we rented some cheap bikes from the campsite (mine was a rusty 21-speed that was permanently stuck in one gear) and rode to Hell's Gate National Park, a short distance away. This park is unusual for allowing bikes; most Kenyan wildlife parks forbid you from leaving your truck except in designated areas. This may be to protect the humans from the animals, or it may be to protect the animals from the humans, or a little of both. There are no lions in Hell's Gate, however, so the danger for humans, at least, is reduced. Within the park we rode alongside zebras, warthogs, impalas and waterbuck. As we biked on the dirt road, the timid zebras would gallop across in front of us, trying to avoid getting separated from the rest of the herd.

Our guide with the bikes, James, led us to a picnic area about 6 or 8 kilometers into the park. Once there, we were surprised to see a group of men selling Coke and Fanta. The day was hot and dry, and the Coke I had there definitely ranks among my top 10 Cokes ever. After we ate our packed lunches, James led us on a walk into a gorge. It was like we were searching for the lost ark as we wandered down into the rock crevasse, which cut into a dramatic landscape that reminded me of the American southwest. We saw hot springs steaming from the rocks.

The ride back into town was downhill and easy. In town, children were out in the streets dressed in their school uniforms. As is the case with all the children we've seen on this trip, they smiled and waved at us. The two English phrases they all repeat: "How are you?" and "Give me a sweet!"

Our bike guide James in the gorge at Hell's Gate National Park

There's me on my rented bike in Hell's Gate

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