Thursday, February 2, 2012

Final African Safari Blog - Lake Naivasha and home again...

We left the main part of the Masai Mara and made our way to the Simba Lodge, which is surrounded by gardens and located near the shore of beautiful Lake Naivasha.  We had planned to just spend one night at the Simba, but when we extended our itinerary, we decided that an extra night to get ourselves (and the "treasures" that we purchased along the way!) together for the trip home.  We did, indeed, buy a few souvenirs from Kenya and Tanzania - so many that we had to purchase TWO additional suitcases to fit everything inside!

The Simba Lodge was much more "hotel-like" than the last few camps we had stayed at.  It was just what we needed...some Internet time, showers you could take any time of day - - and very close to our final experience - the hippo-boat cruise and a brief game-walk where we actually were walking amongst the wild beasties right by the boat-launch!

We had our guide take us to the hippo-boat-launching area in the morning...and - we had no expectations whatsoever.  If I had any expectations at all, it was that the boat-ride would be kind of lame at best...but certainly something different. We got in the boat with our driver-guide, who was very knowledgeable and talkative - and got us pretty-close to some bathing hippos... I had no idea those big monsters could swim so bloody fast!!

The lake itself has a definite problem with an overgrowth of water hyacinth - - One of the fastest growing plants known, water hyacinth reproduces primarily by way of runners or stolons, which eventually form daughter plants. It also produces large quantities of seeds, and these are viable up to thirty years. The common water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) are vigorous growers known to double their population in two weeks.

It is all over this part of Africa.. in addition to Lake Naivasha, the infestation of water hyacinth affects the Lake Victorian population in many negative ways. There are economic impacts when the weed blocks boat access. The effects on transportation and fishing are immediately felt. Where the weed is prolific, there is a general increase in several diseases, as the weed creates excellent breeding areas for mosquitoes and other insects. There are increased incidents of skin rash, cough, malaria, encephalitis, bilharzias, gastro intestinal disorders, and schistosomiasis. Water hyacinth also interferes with water treatment, irrigation, and water supply.

Our boat-driver certainly had issues with the plant getting wrapped-up in the propellor of his outboard motor!  He used-up so much petrol trying to get our boat un-stuck that we had to have a rescue-boat come out with some extra fuel!!  I think the motor was thrashed and he was going to have to do some major repairs!!

After our great boat-tour, we got a chance to walk around with the animals that were grazing by the lake shore...zebras, giraffes, close you could touch them!  What an awesome way to top off our 18 wonderful days in Africa!!  So many thanks to go around... Eve Wertsch at Fugazi Travel, Kensington Tours on the ground in East Africa, Christopher and Infante, our priceless guides.

We spent our last night in the Simba Lodge - - had a nice buffet breakfast there - then drove a short ways back to Nairobi where we caught our flight to Doha in Qatar, then on to Hyderabad.

Here are the last two of my Facebook Photo Albums from Lake Naivasha:

Lake Naivasha Hippo Cruise!!