DISCOVERY: Afternoon well spent at Naivasha basin

Wednesday January 20 2021
Lake Naivasha.

Lake Naivasha is popular with local travellers, especially during the festive season. PHOTO | RUPI MANGAT


We made a sudden decision to escape Nairobi city during the festive season after plans for travelling beyond borders was cut short by the Covid-19 pandemic. Looking at options out of Nairobi, we zero in on Naivasha and beyond.

We book a nice little hotel, Dovenest, for two nights on the outskirts of Naivasha that reads "close to the lake" and do away with the rest of the details. So thinking linear, it’s only when we turn right on the North Kinangop Road away from Naivasha, do we realise that we’re staying halfway between the famous freshwater lake and the Aberdare National Park via Mutubio Gate.

Plans are altered from two days at the lake to a lunch and afternoon sail on the lake followed by a day in the mountain range. So on day one, after the customary stop at the viewpoint overlooking the Great Rift Valley where Mount Longonot and Mount Suswa stand tall under a clear blue sky, we’re skimming the freshwater Lake Naivasha to reach the restaurant for lunch.

It never fails to surprise new visitors to Lake Naivasha that there’s more than one lake in the Naivasha basin. We pass the lake shore hotels, flower farms and the worker’s villages to see Naivasha’s pristine blue waters shimmering in the December midday sun.

The Maasai call it Enai’posha meaning “rough water,” because of the sudden storms that can arise and topple boats. The choice to turn into Hell’s Gate National Park near Elsamere, is left for another day. We’re too hungry and happy to see Lake Oloiden, Naivasha’s little twin who turns fresh or salty depending on Naivasha’s water level. And if that’s not all, Naivasha’s basin boasts another little lake in a crater suitably called Crater Lake.

Spirits soar when a pair of Masai giraffe materialise on the side of the road in Oserengoni Wildlife Sanctuary and a few metres away we’re at the Ranch House Bistro on Oloiden’s shore. The familiar shrill call of the African fish eagle rents the air and a multitude of feathered friends flit on the lawns and monkeys on the tall yellow-barked acacias. Oloiden’s turned fresh since Naivasha’s spilled into it. We wonder if the same might have happened in recent weeks between the freshwater Baringo and alkaline Bogoria. We decide to drive there after the Aberdares. It’s only 200 kilometers further on.


It’s a phenomenal sail past the lakeshore buildings and trees submerged halfway in the water and the animals of Crescent 'Island' truly marooned on the peninsula. Our guide on the boat points to the gnus and gazelles, water birds like darters and cormorants, kingfishers and fish eagles, Jacanas and a lone Osprey that is here from the cold north to spend summer in the African tropics. And then the hippos pop up, a whole pod.

By the time we return to our halfway house between the lake and the mountain, the night is upon us and the excitement of another day awaits.