01 02 03 Africa Expat Wives Club: Girls trip to Lake Baringo 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Girls trip to Lake Baringo

We had an interesting girls’ weekend on an island in Lake Baringo. It’s a six hour drive from Nairobi, almost due north toward the desert but having packed/prepared for tropical heat (ie only thin cotton trousers, vest tops and bikinis) we found it rained heavily with thunder and lightening every afternoon and night. ‘Tented’ camps are generally fairly sophisticated, with fully plumbed in bathrooms, proper beds, a veranda with safari chairs and a proper makuti (palm) roof. However, rain blowing horizontally can occasionally penetrate through the mesh windows and into the bed linen. The boys were camping four hours up the road (for the rhino charge – see previous post) and had to resort to sitting in their cars for supper to avoid similar storms – so I mustn’t complain!

The mosquito-like ‘lake flies’ were weird and congregated in dark corners during the day. It was necessary to block your nose and close your mouth on each trip to the shady poolside loo as there were so many there was always a danger of inadvertently inhaling a few! They are also very common on lake Victoria, and at Entebbe. Fortunately they don’t bite.

The beige coloured silty lake was calm and beautiful and local fishermen trawling for catfish in small canoes hand crafted from reeds, made a pretty photograph. The lake has changed a little over time and one collection of island people were forced to move as their piece of land became a spit joined to the mainland. Apparently bandits kept coming to raid their livestock and make trouble, which is tragic when you see how precious few possessions these people have. Fortunately they found a new uninhabited island further into the lake, where they can now stay in relative peace, though the goats and cattle look a bit out of place on the rocky islands.

We saw crocs and hippos and the more gung ho visitors dropped themselves and their children into the water for water skiing, doughnuts and kayaking, taking their lives in their hands. (There was a reported crocodile related attack on a swimmer off one of the islands fairly recently). A gentle, diverting boat trip with the only non swimming child trussed up in a life jacket and a quick stop off to another island lodge (to compare notes on facilities etc), was more what we had in mind.

After throwing dead fish into the air for wily fish eagles that skilfully caught them in mid air, we noticed that our blue sky was quickly turning into a forbidding dark one. Storm clouds were gathering and the wind was picking up. Soon enough white horses were forming on the lake, we were beginning to get wet and the children started to say ‘I’m scared’. Our outboard motor operator decided to head for our planned island stop off, in order to shelter from the threatening rain. Within the space of an hour of setting foot onto dry land; one child had been bitten by a rock hyrax (twice); two had been attacked by armies of biting safari ants; another had picked up a decorated shot glass in the tiny gift shop and proceeded to smash it on the concrete floor and the storm began to kick off with spectacular thunder and lightening. Everyone was cold as we’d set out in the sunshine with scant supplies of spare clothes. We seriously contemplated having to stay put for the night as we peering though the gloaming, feeling island fever setting in. However, miraculously the rain blew away and we sped back to our own island exhilarated by our narrow escape.

The journey home with five children involved fording through rocky, flooded rivers, multiple wee stops (with ubiquitous audience) and a dubious picnic kindly supplied by our tented camp.

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