The Lion King Coming to Life

First off my apologies that thee are so long… Internet has been hard to come by thus far so I haven’t been able to update as much as I’d like hence the reason they’re a bit longer. Fortunately, however, I think I will have plenty to update everyone on as our schedule is full of activities and we are certainly keeping busy. Whether it be traveling through the country looking at the scenery, spotting animals on game drives or game walks, or meeting people along the way, this has definitely turned out to be the adventure I thought it would be. To be honest, I was so busy with school and senior week that I didn’t really have a ton of time to look into our itinerary or check out the activities or such thus I’m blinded by what’s to come next… But I kind of like it that way as there aren’t any expectations and I simply have a go with the flow attitude about practically everything! Since my last update, we spent two days in Naivasha, Kenya which were absolutely wonderful! Surprisingly, Naivasha produces half of the roses worldwide! In Naivasha, we went on a walking safari and we were able to get quite close to zebras, giraffes, warthogs, monkeys, and antelope. Then we hiked to a lookout point to see green crater lake which was absolutely gorgeous! The weather over here is funny because it gets very chilly at night, especially in our tents, but it gets beyond hot during the day so we were ready for a nice boat cruise after our long hike through the bush. We noted across green crater lake to see the nearly 2,000 flamingos and hippos that live in the lake. At one point, we were able to see flamingos, warthogs, hippos, and a giraffe… An incredible sight! When we got back to the campsite, we were able to relax the rest of the day under the hot, African sun which was nice for soaking up the rays and reading (often a foreign activity for me since going to college, so I am quite enjoying it!!). We ended up getting back our original truck named Sparky so we had to move everything between trucks, which was quite the workout, before saying goodbye to Shaggy (a truck nearly identical to Sparky). The next day we visited Hell’s Gate National Park, an inspiration for the Lion King. There were lots of animals throughout the park but the neat part was getting to see the gorge… The same gorge used for the stampede in the Lion King that kills Mufasa! We traveled during the afternoon to a nice campsite in Nakuru where we closed out the day properly by watching The Lion King outside, under the stars. We spent the entire next day on a game drive in Nakuru National Park. The park itself was stunning with many lookout points along the way. Our driver was great and knew the park quite well in terms of where we should be looking for certain animals. We go lucky and were able to spot a leopard and rhinos which means that we have seen the big 5. The big 5 of Africa are the five most dangerous animals when one is hunting on foot. These animals include the lion, leopard, elephant, water buffalo, and rhino. Leopards are pretty difficult to spot as they are often within the trees so we got pretty lucky with that one! From Nakuru, we made our way to Elderot where we got to spend the afternoon and night at a resort-style hotel equipped with a pool, volleyball camp, and great hangout area! To combat the heat, we spent the afternoon at the pool which was heavenly!! I brought along a frisbee and an American football so we threw passes and played in the pool as we relaxed a bit! That night we were treated to an African dinner at the restaurant which meant a break from cooking and cleaning for us! The food was absolutely fantastic! The tour industry over here is currently in low season so we are typically one of the only groups staying at the campsites so we have had a lot of time to get to know each other and have become sort of like a family! Our ages range from 19 to 35 but its a nice mix of people–we start getting more people tomorrow so our group of 8 will be growing quickly! Today we got up early and made our way to the Ugandan border, saying goodbye to Kenya. Kenya was incredible–absolutely beautiful with fantastic people and lots of things to see–but I’m excited for Uganda as many people we have spoken to along the way claim that Uganda is their favorite! As we neared the border, there was a line of trucks that stretched four or five miles waiting to cross over into Uganda but luckily being a passenger vehicle we got to use another line that wasn’t so long. The wait for trucks, according to our tour guide, can be up to four days… Craziness! The road was mass chaos as there were three or four lanes of traffic with people walking and riding bikes everywhere… Somehow no one was injured during the process! We crossed over to Uganda without an issue and I was shocked at some of the differences I already have noticed. It is clear that Kenya is a bit better off just based off of the buildings and dress of the people. There is, what looks like, more poverty and such here in Uganda so it will be interesting to see if that holds up throughout our stay here and how the two countries differ further. Another difference is the architecture between the two countries–In Kenya the buildings were more shack-like whereas in Uganda the buildings have been made of brick and cement–however are very worn down. It will be interesting to see more differences between the two countries in the coming days. Because we are traveling in a big, yellow truck, we don’t exactly blend in with the normal traffic of Eastern Africa and we are spotted almost immediately by the locals. This is kind of fun however as many people, especially children, wave to the truck as we wave back. The cutest is the little children double-handed wave…. So, so adorable! We’ve even had a few children run after the truck and want to get on, ha. We have made our way to Jinja, Uganda which is the mouth of the Nile River–because of the elevation, the river actually flows North. We are staying here for a few days to enjoy some activities and such before exploring other things here in Uganda. My African tan has already started off nicely as the sun is very intense here. I was surprised when I looked up the average temperatures prior to the trip and they were around 70 and 80 F. Despite the “lower” temperatures, the sun intensity makes up for it and it feels very hot during the day. Violet, our tour guide, has given us quite a bit of information along the way as well which has been nice including the history of David Livingstone, a key missionary in Africa’s history who helped explore Africa and helped begin the process of abolishing the slave trade. It has been wonderful hearing stories and learning about the history as we piece together the information to help us better understand the countries along the way. Overall, so far so good as a week of the trip is already in the books. Following is a map of the route I am taking through Africa. We started off just a bit differently by doing the Maasai Mara first but it’s a rough idea of where we are heading!
africa route
~Susan

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On our walking safari

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Again on our walking safari

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Flamingos at Green Crater Lake

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Green Crater Lake

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Vervet monkeys at Hell’s Gate National Park

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This gorge was the inspiration for the gorge in the Lion King–this is about where Mufasa dies

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Nakuru Lake National Park

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Nakuru Lake National Park

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Nakuru Lake National Park

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This is pretty normal–trying to navigate through the cows

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