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Monday, June 09, 2014

Crater Lake Game Sanctuary

Family, like nature, abhors a vacuum.  Julia is on Senior Safo (the senior class trip to the coast south of Mombasa), swimming in the Indian ocean and socializing with her class mates.  Luke is spending two weeks trouble-shooting and organizing after moving a storage container of hand-me-downs to a farm house in West Virginia we are fixing up as a home base, finding time for river-swims and startling a fawn in the forest in between car repairs and plumbing woes.  Caleb is in Morocco on a summer language intensive (Arabic), having just slept on a sand-dune accessed by a camel ride, and pouring over difficult script eight hours a day. Which means we are down to only Jack at home for this mid-term weekend.  We worked Friday and spent Saturday in Nairobi where he took SAT exams along with 80 other Kenyan hopefuls, the only pale-skinned kid amongst a certain elite who will end up in American universities.  But that left us the possibility of an overnight adventure, taking Sunday/Monday off.

And so we pulled together a trip to the Crater Lake reserve on the southern rim of Lake Naivasha, about a 1.5 hour drive away.  And we pulled in the Masso remnant (Michael is in South Sudan and Acacia is visiting classmates in Eldoret) of Karen, Gaby, and Liana, and a family for whom we act as guardians while they work in a stressful pioneering situation, whose boys parallel ours in age, grade, sports, interests, personality.  Which led to a very refreshing overnight get-away, Scott and I setting up the tents at the campsite with four boys while the other parents/daughter stayed in the lodge.

Kijabe friends, I'm a fan of this sanctuary.  We hiked Sunday afternoon around the crater rim, and Monday morning through the sanctuary to the lakeside.  Both were 2-plus hour hikes of 5-10 km, with spectacular views, and on-foot close-up views of buffalo, giraffe, gazelle, impala, eland, wildebeast, warthogs, zebra, birds, colobus, baboons.  I love the slower pace of walking, the engine-free sounds of the whoop of a zebra, the surprise of a startled animal jumping up through the bush.  Jack probably made our guide a little nervous when he chased giraffe and zebra on foot, but what a thrill.  From the high cliffs we could see across the lakes to Longonot.  Friendship, conversation, outdoor air, a break from routine, campfire and chai and frying bacon, books and hammocks and exercise and more sun.  The campsite I must say was very unimpressive, a fenced area with scrub brush, latrines, cold water, and too much trash.  But the lodge area (permanent tents lakeside with bathrooms) and the restaurant were lovely, and the reserve itself was crawling with wildlife and chock with views.  Expect to spend about $20/person (less for kids) for camping and entrance fees.  We ate dinner at the lodge which was just over $10.  The guide for hiking came to about $3 per person.

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