It’s a long drive back to Nairobi, longer than I remember. But it’s a gorgeous trek through thousands of acres of tea plantations. The road is less developed here, and at times, we are crawling through sinkholes, around craters of slick mud, and over hills of loose stone. It’s so much worse than I-95 on construction days.
After a stop at a woodcarver’s shop, we make a diversion to Lake Naivasha, the only freshwater lake in the Great Rift Valley, and home to hippos, pelicans, yellow-billed storks, kingfishers, African fishing eagles, giraffes, wildebeest, ibis, impalas, and way more animals than I can really name.
The first thing we see out on the water? HIPPOS! There are big hippos and baby hippos. Hippos everywhere! They rise up from the water with great puffs of air, watching us with eyes that rest just above the waterline.
We move through the marshland, passing fishermen with their large nets and enormous herds of wild birds. Our captain calls to one of the eagles and we watch as the bird dives sharply to skim the water beside the boat.
We sail on the open water for some time, our eyes fixed on the tall mountains in the hazy distance. We pull up onto a shore near the far side of the lake and get out, only to stumble upon a family of giraffes. They don’t seem to mind us, but they do keep a wary eye on us as they munch lazily on low-hanging leaves and bushes. I get so close, I can nearly reach out a hand to touch the flank of one, but it lumbers away, flicking its tail.
We press on into the brush, passing herds of impala and small ibis rustling in the grass. Our guide points across a dusty road and into the distance and there, among the forest, we see a grazing herd of wildebeest.
We leave Lake Naivasha with our safari fix, but we are still delighted when we pass herds of zebra along the road into Nairobi.
After dropping our luggage back at CHAK Guesthouse, we meet Noreen at Fogo Gaucho, where she presents us with certificates of appreciation. We also surprise Eddie with a birthday cake.
Tomorrow, we will return home, back to the things, people and places we love. But I think we would all agree – we’ve left part of our hearts in Africa.