Thursday, February 14th, 2002

Lake Bogoria, Kenya

One of the ugliest birds in the world! They are giant!


We left Maralal early in the morning for a 6 hour drive through the mountains, past Lake Baringo, to the Lake Bogoria Hotel, which is an oasis in the middle of the savannah set in the floor of the Rift Valley.  It's so pretty here! It’s also quite luxurious – even though we’re only camping on the hotel’s front lawn, we still have access to the 2 pools, phone, bar, and the TV which has given us a chance to keep up with the Olympics and talk to family/friends at home. When not in class the majority of us can be found relaxing by the pool or enjoying a cold drink in the lounge (apparently we’re the most studious group so far). Everyone was excited to finally receive e-mails after 2 weeks.  Since we haven’t been by a phone line for so long the line-up to read and write e-mails grew at an exponential rate.


We share the Hotel grounds with a variety of wildlife.  One of which is the giant Marabou Stork: quite possibly the ugliest bird ever!  It stands at a whopping 1.5m and weighs 10kg.  They can often be spotted in large groups at the top of acacia trees or scooping up water from the pool.  When the slow motion sound of a helicopter is heard you can be sure to see these Jurassic Park-like Pterodactyl-ish birds flying overhead. 


There are Vervet Monkeys all over the place here, which is definately one of my favorite monkeys so as most of you can guess i'm in heaven!!! :) They entertained us throughout our stay with their playful antics. Because our tent is directly under a tree, these monkey “alarm clocks” wake us up by throwing sticks and seedpods onto our tents continuously! The first morning we woke up to see the monkeys sitting right behind our tent about a meter away! They were so close! There were little babies clinging to their mother’s stomach with their tails wrapped around their mom’s tail! So cute! They were watching us from the tree. You could also catch them monkeying around before dark. We spent lots of time sitting in the grass by the trees watching them. It was awesome! Once they got used to us being there they started going back to what they were doing: wrestling, jumping from tree to tree, swinging on branches, somersaulting over each other, and foraging for food. It was fantastic!!! One vervet was seen drinking from a faucet and another sucking on a lollipop he found in the garbage (yum!). It wasn’t all cute and furry though, we also had to watch out for Black Mombas and Cobras slithering through the grass.


Jenn and I heard another lion one night too, we were having a late night chat in our tent when we heard the typical lion grunts that we had heard back in Chololo! It wasn't that close this time but still it was really cool!


We took a trip to the Lake Bogoria Reserve where there were thousands of flamingos along the shore but it was nothing compared to the 1.7 million that are seen in one day at certain times of the year.  At least the ornithologists were happy!  I saw a baboon running off with one in its mouth and sitting and eating it, ripping it apart…poor flamingo. We walked along the lake’s shore past bubbling/boiling hot springs and geysers shooting hot water 12 feet in the air. Crazy! Wouldn’t want to fall in that!


We finished our stay at Lake Bogoria by going to Lake Bogoria High School for the traditional soccer game: Canada vs. Kenya. It was great talking to the students. I talked to one 16 year old boy in grade 9 for about half an hour. It was interesting as it was the first real conversation I've had with a Kenyan that lasted so long and was a two way conversation, not just us bombarding them with questions. He was really interested in Canada and would like to visit. Hopefully he'll have the chance one day. The soccer game was loads of fun! I played for the girls team which was totally different than playing in Canada because it was so hot and so dusty. As my friend, Jori, put it we all had "African Asthma" because it was so much harder to breathe. Luckily there were a lot of subs and the “cheerleaders” on the sidelines kept us motivated through the scorching sun and clouds of dust. The Kenyan’s scored on us in the first half, a really dumb goal as far as I'm concerned cause our goalie threw the ball to them and they kicked it and it went in. In the second period we played really well, we were mostly in their end. At one point one of the girls on our team and I were on a 2 on 1. She passed me the ball and since I would have had to shoot with my left foot (not my strong point) I decided to try to control it first then shoot .. oops, bad mistake, I lost it. How frustrating!!!! Oh well, the Kenyan's ended up winning 1-0. That’s all right though. The guys (including the camp staff as there are only about 12 guys on our trip) on the otherhand won their game 2-1 (I think the staff matched the teams up quite nicely which probably helped them win :P hehe). It was a really close game and it was amazing to watch the Kenyan’s soccer skills as they sped across the field, headed the ball and kicked their legs to crazy heights.  They were strongly supported by the local primary school who got out early to come watch the game. It was a really fun day, we were really dirty after though as you can imagine. One guy wiped out and since he has long dreads and a big shaggy beard when he got up I swear he looked like Encino Man!


As we say bye to the Vervets, Storks, and phone we look forward to travelling west to Mt. Elgon.



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