**This is the second in a series of trip re-caps from our Kenya and Istanbul trip last November. The first of the re-caps can be found here.**
If I told you we stayed at a lodge on a reserve where you could look from your balcony and see wildlife just feet away and where you had to be escorted at night by guards if you left your cottage because of hungry hungry hippos roaming around, you’d probably think I was making it all up.
Well, I wasn’t.
Especially not about the hippos.
This is the true story of how we found ourselves at the Lake Naivasha Sopa Lodge, in Africa’s Great Rift Valley.
We left Nairobi in our safari van caravan after getting to visit the baby elephant orphans. At this point, we were still in urban settings, but slowly getting further away from the city and more towards what I was thinking of as the “real Africa.”
Mr. Spice and I kept noticing how much Nairobi reminded us of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh and where our parents are from. Similar lay-out, similar traffic, same exhaust fumes bombarding you from all directions. We knew it was because of Kenya and Bangladesh’s shared British colonial heritage, and we joked that we were getting our preview of our trip to Dhaka that was coming up.
I couldn’t help but snap some pictures of some billboards and signs as we drove out.
What? What do they have??
See that? No HOOTING allowed! We had to ask our driver/safari guide Sammy what “hooting” was, and he explained it was honking. I like hooting better.
While we were in Kenya, our whole tour group was informally broken up by safari vans. There were about 25 of us and 4 vans. Mr. Spice and I chose wisely and joined the van with our dinner friends. This is who we would be spending hours on safari with, so we wanted to make sure we all got along. And boy, we did! I have to give props to Sammy for putting up with our rowdiness and constant joking around. I’m afraid we were that annoying loud group that you have within a larger group — the 6 of us were all in our early 30s and with no kids, and we all had a similar sense of humor, so it worked out for us.
Finally, urban settings gave way to rural settings and we were heading into the Great Rift Valley.
After a couple hours, we finally arrived at the Lake Naivasha Sopa Resort!
Up until leaving for Kenya, I had been a little apprehensive about the places we would be staying while we were on safari.
Once I saw our cottage cluster, I quit worrying.
It’s like the cutest little mushroom hut! We had an upstairs unit and a couple of our safari friends had the unit right below us.
We arrived just in time for lunch, after which we would get to go on what I call a “boat safari” on Lake Naivasha.
Remember when I said you’d be seeing more Indian food during our Kenya stay? I wasn’t kidding! Our meals at the Lake Naivasha Sopa resort were all buffet-style, which I love because then I can try different things and then go back for more! For lunch that day, I ended up with some basmati rice, chapati (bread), a spicy okra dish, broccoli, some fried fish, and mango pickle! I loved it all, especially the okra, and went back for seconds on everything.
After lunch we had a little bit of time before we headed out for our boat ride, so I headed back to our hut for a few things. Except I didn’t realize how far our hut was from the main lodge. I was beginning to think I was going to be walking back to Nairobi! I was actually worried that I was going to be late meeting up with our group, but some fast-paced trotting on my part took care of that.
Confession – I’m not that keen on boat rides. It’s mostly because I can’t swim very well and have a fear of deep water, thanks to a not-so-fun incident when I was about 4. Plus I always imagine the worst and think of boats capsizing. And well, we were out in the wild and there were hippos about, so yeah I was a little nervous! I’m happy to report that all went well and there were no boats tipping over.
I’ve got to say, my camera’s got a damn nice zoom lens! That was one of the reasons I bought it last year before our China trip. I’m still lusting for a DSLR, but my Canon Powershot SX20 IS is an awesome travel camera.
After the boat ride, we were taken around the resort grounds and tracked some waterbuck, which are a type of antelope. It was a little surprising to see how close to the lodges they were.
Remember what I was saying about having to be escorted from our rooms to the main lodge at night because of the hippos? All true. They would come up from the lake at night to graze and they’ll charge you if they see you! One of the guards offered to take a group of us to see the hippos once it got dark, so we had some time to kill before then.
So I took pictures of our room! 😀
I loved this:
As soon as it started getting dark, we met up with the guard and he was able to show us hippos grazing near our huts. Unfortunately, it was way too dark to take pictures, and we couldn’t use any flash without risking the wrath of the hippos! We were told if a hippo ever started charging to run like hell up the nearest stairs since they can’t climb up stairs. Luckily, I never had to do that. It was pretty eery to see these huge ghostly gray hippo butts feet away from us though.
Okay, I lied, I did try to take some pictures, but they’re VERY dark and grainy. See if you can spot the ghostly gray hippos:
I couldn’t get a good picture of dinner since the lighting was pretty dim, but here’s what I got:
Rice, chole (spiced chickpeas), bhatura (deep-fried bread), potatoes, spinach, and mango pickle. Oh so good.
After dinner we hung out in the lodge for a bit our downstairs neighbors and I learned how to play Euchre — we found some Australians playing and they played a few rounds with them while I watched and tried to understand the rules. By the end of the trip, I was doing a decent job of playing, so I had some good teachers!
We were leaving the next morning to go on to the Masai Mara, so we couldn’t dawdle too long after breakfast.
I hate to say it, but breakfast was my least favorite meal while we were in Kenya. It’s not that there wasn’t a huge selection, but for some reason nothing seemed to taste as good as it looked. I had a couple eggs fried over-hard, some sausages, potatoes, a croissant, and mango juice. However, I really only had a few bites of each. Oh well, can’t have it all!
Look what we found outside!
I was a bit sorry that we weren’t going to be spending more time here, as the grounds were beautiful and the lodgings were excellent. But if this was setting the tone for the rest of the trip, then I was looking forward to seeing it all!
Up next: on to Masai Mara for some safari adventures, as well as a visit to a Masai village!
I can’t put all my pics in these posts, so you can see the full set of Kenya pics here!