A Travellerspoint blog

November 1986

Seychelles - Mombasa - Nairobi - Rome - London - Bristol

This is a historic journal, from our trip to Kenya and Seychelles in 1986, taken from notes I wrote at the time. Apologies for the poor quality photographs.


View Kenya and Seychelles 1986 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Saturday 22nd November 1986

My birthday!

We have a leisurely breakfast and hang around waiting for the airport pick-up. The journey back to the airport is less eventful than the one which took us here thank goodness.

Today is going to be a long day as we are flying Seychelles – Mombasa - Nairobi – Rome – London, then have to drive home afterwards. At the transfer desk in Nairobi the scene is one of utter chaos. While the Brits queue up orderly in a single line, Italians waiting to get on the flight just storm the desk, pushing and shoving in front of everyone. Being patient and waiting for the bedlam to die down certainly pays off: by the time the few remaining passenger who are travelling all the way to London actually get to the front of the queue, the clerk informs us that the plane is overbooked. Oh. But she is upgrading us all to Business Class. Result!

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Grinning from ear to ear at Nairobi Airport!

All is well that ends well.

We arrive at Heathrow around 5am and have to wait for a couple of hours for the bus to Bristol. At Bristol we grab a cab for the last part of the journey, which by the time we open the front door, has taken 34 hours from leaving the hotel in the Seychelles. Welcome home.

Posted by Grete Howard 07:19 Archived in Seychelles Comments (1)

Seychelles: Beau Vallon Beach

This is a historic journal, from our trip to Kenya and Seychelles in 1986, taken from notes I wrote at the time. Apologies for the poor quality photographs.


View Kenya and Seychelles 1986 on Grete Howard's travel map.

We stay in bed late today, just because we can, then take a leisurely stroll along the lovely stretches of golden sand at Beau Vallon Bay.

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A totally uneventful day!

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We come back and sit on the balcony for a while before going to the bar for a few drinks. This is our last night here, so we want to make the most of it.

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Posted by Grete Howard 07:18 Archived in Seychelles Comments (0)

Seychelles: Victoria and the Botanical gardens

This is a historic journal, from our trip to Kenya and Seychelles in 1986, taken from notes I wrote at the time. Apologies for the poor quality photographs.


View Kenya and Seychelles 1986 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Thursday 20th November 1986

We wake up to torrential rain this morning, which continues for several hours. I have not seen a downpour like it: huge drops splat on the ground, the rain feels like a massage on my shoulders. And the noise! The whole thing is almost frightening. We go for a short walk up the lane behind the hotel, but soon give in and retire to the hotel lounge with some board games.

After lunch, the rain has stopped so we take the local bus to Victoria, the capital of the Seychelles, where we wander around for a while. I have to admit there is not much to see in the town, although the clock tower is quite pretty I guess.

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Botanical Gardens
I had been looking forward to seeing some exotic trees and flowers this afternoon, but after a couple of minutes walk, the heavens open again and all I see is rain.

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After a short walk in the grounds, we wimp out and catch the bus back to the hotel for dinner and a few drinks.

The rain continues for the rest of the day.

The US Marines have left the island, and the USSR navy is here today. The two are not permitted to land here at the same time apparently.

What a difference! The Russians are polite, sober (or maybe they can just hold their liquor better), immaculate, well behaved and a pleasure to have around. We chat with one marine who speaks a smattering of English, and they buy us drinks for the rest of the evening.

Posted by Grete Howard 07:15 Archived in Seychelles Comments (0)

Seychelles: Round Island Tour

This is a historic journal, from our trip to Kenya and Seychelles in 1986, taken from notes I wrote at the time. Apologies for the poor quality photographs.


View Kenya and Seychelles 1986 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Wednesday 19th November 1986

We take an organised bus tour around the island this morning in order to see as much as we can in the shortest possible time.

Stopping at the roadside, the guide explains to us about various trees, including cinnamon, how it grows, how it is 'harvested' and we see how the bark is stripped away from the branches.

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Although I knew that cinnamon – my favourite spice – came from the bark of a tree, it still seems quite odd to try and associate the bits of scrub in the ditch with tasty desserts.

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The Blood Dragon Tree is so called because when cut it secretes a red substance similar to blood.

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We also visit a tea factory to see how the leaves for this popular drink is produced.

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A few more viewpoints to stop for photographs and it's back to the hotel for dinner and drinks.

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View of the airport

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Wild pineapple

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Port Claude and Theresa Island

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Grand Anse

As we are eating the the rain clouds move in and the heavens open with a torrential downpour. Guests from the outdoor seating area move in to the restaurant / bar to keep dry, including several members of the US Navy, most of whom are disgustingly drunk. Swearing, leering and jeering, they certainly do not give their country a good name and are upsetting the other guests, especially those with young children in tow. One female marine is unable to stand up unaided and leans against the wall – which has a beautiful mural of a beach, palm trees, sun and sea but is unfortunately not waterproof - and as she collapses in a drunken stupor on the floor, she slides down the wall, smudging the paint and colours as she goes. What a disgrace! The wall is a mess, she is a mess. They are thankfully all asked to leave and the rest of us can eat and drink in peace.

Posted by Grete Howard 07:11 Archived in Seychelles Comments (0)

Seychelles: Beau vallon Beach - fishermen and catamarans

This is a historic journal, from our trip to Kenya and Seychelles in 1986, taken from notes I wrote at the time. Apologies for the poor quality photographs.


View Kenya and Seychelles 1986 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Tuesday 18th November 1986

We rise early to watch the fishermen haul their catch in on the beach a little further down from our hotel.

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In the afternoon I go out on Catalyst – the hotel's catamaran – with Brandon who we met yesterday.

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I take my cheap disposable underwater camera with me to get some shots of the hotel from the sea, and later David and I play in the Indian Ocean, taking pictures of each other.

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After a lazy day we enjoy a few cocktails in the bar followed by dinner under the stars.

Posted by Grete Howard 07:08 Archived in Seychelles Comments (0)

Seychelles: Cerf Island

This is a historic journal, from our trip to Kenya and Seychelles in 1986, taken from notes I wrote at the time. Apologies for the poor quality photographs.


View Kenya and Seychelles 1986 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Monday 17th November 1986

Cerf Island
Access is by glass bottom boat to the small off-shore island of Cerf, which lies in the Ste Anne Marine National Park and is surrounded by a coral reef.

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On the way we can see lots of colourful fish, and the crew hold bread out to feed them, which of course attracts thousands of them!

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They manage to catch one so that we can see the markings.

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Once we arrive on the island we have to wade across to get ashore, but find it extremely uncomfortable as the sharp coral cuts our feet.

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It was raining for a while on the journey here – this is said to be the wet season – but it dries up in time for us to stroll around the island.

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We find the island quite unspoilt and very beautiful.

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The island has a small population of giant tortoises, some as old as 1000 years.

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This evening there is a poolside BBQ, we have a few drinks to accompany it and retire to bed.

Posted by Grete Howard 07:06 Archived in Seychelles Comments (0)

Seychelles: Beau Vallon Beach

This is a historic journal, from our trip to Kenya and Seychelles in 1986, taken from notes I wrote at the time. Apologies for the poor quality photographs.


View Kenya and Seychelles 1986 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Sunday 16th November

Coral Strand Hotel
The hotel is situated with direct access to the glorious beach, and we have a side view of the ocean from our room.

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Coral Strand Hotel on the beautiful Beau Vallon Beach

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View from our balcony

After the early mornings and long days last week, we take it easy today, just lazing around the pool most of the day.

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I am tempted to learn to dive, but in the end I chicken out.

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The day quickly goes by with snoozing on a sunbed, enjoying a cocktail in the bar and taking a dip in the pool.

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Topless sunbathing is the thing here, and a number of girls are doing it – not just the young ones either: every shape, size, age and level of firmness is represented here. Some appear to require a little ironing.

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After watching the sun set over Beau Vallon Beach from our room, we go for dinner. The food is pleasant but not memorable.

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Posted by Grete Howard 07:03 Archived in Seychelles Comments (0)

Meru National Park - Nairobi - Seychelles

This is a historic journal, from our trip to Kenya and Seychelles in 1986, taken from notes I wrote at the time. Apologies for the poor quality photographs.


View Kenya and Seychelles 1986 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Saturday 15th November 1986

Most of today is taken up with travelling, with just a few comfort stops along the way.

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Local market town

Whenever we stop to admire the view, a hoard of local children appear, hoping to get a hand-out. Often they do.

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Kikuyu children with Samburu National park in the background.

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Thomson's Falls

Charnia Falls at Thika

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I am particularly pleased that we stop here, as I have just finished reading the book 'The Flame Trees of Thika' by Elspeth Huxley; and even more delighted when I see flame trees at the side of the road by the falls!

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We make our way back to Nairobi and to the airport for our flight to the Seychelles.

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Flying in to land on the Seychelles.

While we are waiting for the transfer bus at the airport to fill up with passengers, David goes off to change some money. Of course, the moment after he gets off, the last person gets on and the bus is ready to leave.

After a couple of minutes of waiting, one couple become aggressively impatient, shouting at the rep and driver and creating a scene because they are having to wait. The other passengers shake their head in embarrassed disbelief. In desperation and anger, the irate passenger and his girlfriend get off, demanding that the driver removes their luggage as they “are going to take a taxi”.

The driver finds their bags, dumps them unceremoniously on the pavement at their feet and gets back on the bus – at the same time as David does – and triumphantly drives off! The whole bus erupts in applause as we watch the rude couple swearing even more as they head for the taxi rank.

By the time we arrive at our hotel on Beau Vallon Bay on the island of Mahé, it is late and we go straight to bed.

Posted by Grete Howard 06:53 Archived in Seychelles Comments (0)

Meru National Park

This is a historic journal, from our trip to Kenya and Seychelles in 1986, taken from notes I wrote at the time. Apologies for the poor quality photographs.


View Kenya and Seychelles 1986 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Friday 14th November 1986

An early start this morning, getting up at 05:30 for a game drive before breakfast. We go back to the lions, but all the lionesses have gone, leaving the king with his limp leg.

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We see lots more animals as the drive continues: antelopes, elephants, zebra, ostriches, vultures, kingfishers, giraffes and baboons.

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Agame Lizard

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Olive baboons

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Grant's Gazelle

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Somali Ostrich

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Warthogs, Cooke's Hartebeest, Zebra and Oryx.

A little further along we come across a pair of lions, who after a while start mating. Wonderful.

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Time for a siesta and lunch before going out on an afternoon game drive. We go to look for the elephants we'd seen in the distance at lunchtime and find quite a big herd with several babies. We are able to get up quite close to them.

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I am amazed at how near they are to our lodge.

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Searching for the white rhino, we find the pride of lions again instead, but are having trouble locating the rhino.

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As there are only five remaining white rhino in Meru National Park, they are shepherded by two armed rangers, who bring them back to an enclosure each evening. So that is where we head. No sign on any rhino, just the ranger's young son (probably about five or six years old). We try to ask him where his father and the animals are, but the boy is Somali and doesn't understand Swahili. After a bribe of an Opal Fruit and a pen, he points us in the right direction.

Despite heading off in the suggested direction, we can't seem to find the rhino or the rangers. We do, however, endure a puncture, and the driver has to change the wheel in the pouring rain.

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Naftari decides to go back to the enclosure and wait for the animals to return for the night. On the way we see them trying to cross the road in front of us. We are ordered to stop, and when they have passed, we carry on, but the guard is none-too-pleased and points his gun at us. After a few tense moments, he reluctantly lets us go.

Eventually we do get to see them at the enclosure. By this time it is really quite dark, and I am struggling to get any decent photos.

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One of the young rhinos was born after the rangers started herding them, and is quite used to humans, so we are encouraged (for a bit of backsheesh) to go and 'stroke him'. He may be familiar with people, but he doesn't seem to like being scratched behind his ears and starts to charge. If you have ever tried running backwards, knee deep in mud (yeah right), fighting off an angry baby rhino as you go; you will know it is not easy.

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Those shoes never did go back to England with me.

Going to sleep to the sound of crickets, frogs and what I can only assume to be baboons this evening.

Posted by Grete Howard 06:41 Archived in Kenya Comments (0)

Mount Kenya National Park - Meru National Park

This is a historic journal, from our trip to Kenya and Seychelles in 1986, taken from notes I wrote at the time. Apologies for the poor quality photographs.


View Kenya and Seychelles 1986 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Thursday 13th November 1986

A few sykes monkeys join us for breakfast, but all that appears this morning other than that is one warthog and two bushbucks. Breakfast is good, but still no more game.

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This morning we drive through green countryside with thatched rondavel mud huts in little villages scattered along the side of the road; and women carrying bananas and wood in baskets on their backs, suspended by a rope from their heads.

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Ostriches on the side of the road

Meru National Park
The roads are a chapter in themselves, after 20 miles along an E-road, we reach Meru Mulika. Meru Mulika Lodge is a little oasis in the heart of the African plains - savannah as far as the eye can see, in all directions, with a little waterhole on site. The rooms are in rondavel-style thatched cottages and a dormitory block.

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The afternoon game drive is a little disappointing at first, no animals to be seen anywhere. Then we spot the odd waterbuck and a couple of giraffes, some baboons and a few birds. Nothing exciting. Spotting lots of vultures perching on trees, we head off across the bush. Never mind the vegetation, we plough down the bushes and trees as we go. What do we find? A giant toirtoise, but no lions or any sign of a kill. Such an anticlimax!

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Reticulated Giraffe

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Secretary Bird

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Superb Starling

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Guineafowl

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As the light is fading fast, we head back to the lodge after the disappointing game drive. On impulse, Naftali decides to turn off the main track and into the bush – heading straight for the lions! There are eight lionesses and the king, feeding on a buffalo carcass. Nearby is also a jackal and an eagles' nest in the tree above. The excitement! We are so close, only about ten feet away. I just can't believe it...

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Posted by Grete Howard 05:55 Archived in Kenya Comments (0)

Lake Naivasha - Lake Nakuru - Mount Kenya National Park

This is a historic journal, from our trip to Kenya and Seychelles in 1986, taken from notes I wrote at the time. Apologies for the poor quality photographs.


View Kenya and Seychelles 1986 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Wednesday 12th November 1986

After breakfast we leave Lake Naivasha and head out of town, then north. Turning off the main road onto a dirt track, we see impala, waterbuck and even a few baboons.

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Lake Nakuru
Arriving at Lake Nakuru, we find it wonderfully non-commercialised. There is nothing there but us and a million or so flamingo plus a few other birds.

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We spot what we think is a hippo in the lake, a thought which is disputed by a couple of the others. “They are just rocks”. The others soon change their minds when the rocks get up and walk off.

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We are just leaving when we hear a noise – a hippo coming out of the water with her little baby. What a fabulous bonus.

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Crossing the Equator
At the Equator we stop for photos, on our way to Nyeri and Outspan Hotel where we have lunch.

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Outspan Hotel
A beautiful place, with a colourful garden full of jacaranda trees. When the wind blows, it rains blue petals – magical!

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Mount Kenya National Park
We continue to Mount Kenya National park and Mountain Lodge.

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Mount Kenya

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Black and White Colobus Monkeys

Mountain Lodge
This place really is something else. Built of all wood, each room has its own balcony and there is a viewing bunker right down by the watering hole. When we arrive, there are a few buffalo, bushbuck, warthogs, a young elephant and some sykes monkeys at the waterhole. I find it hard to grasp the fact that these animals are wild, not semi-tame and placed there for our amusement.

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The sound of the jungle, the noise of the buffalo horns smacking together, the birds and the frogs, a hyena laughing, the call of a distant elephant, the crunch of the forest hogs eating – these are sounds I will never forget; together with the smell of the rainforest and the eeriness of the tall trees lit up by the floodlights against the dark background of the African sky.

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Sykes Monkey, Pied Crow and Hammerkop

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Giant Forest Hogs

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A hyena comes out of the jungle, grabs something and disappears back into the forest.

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We go to bed knowing the game watchman will wake us if any animals we particularly want to see appears – we wrote out preferences and room number in a book. Such service, and so well organised. At midnight we get a call to see a genet cat, that's all.

Posted by Grete Howard 05:13 Archived in Kenya Comments (0)

Nairobi - Naivasha

This is a historic journal, from our trip to Kenya and Seychelles in 1986, taken from notes writen at the time. Apologies for the poor quality photographs.


View Kenya and Seychelles 1986 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Tuesday 11th November 1986

Montezuma's revenge strikes this morning.

We leave the Panafric after breakfast, heading out of town. First we stop to look at a coffee plantation, then later some tea growing areas.

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Coffee Plantations

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Tea Plantations

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Great Rift Valley
We climb up (by mini bus) to view the Great Rift Valley from above – very spectacular. Our driver, Naftali, is very informative and friendly.

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Naivasha
Naivasha is a typical African ramshackle town, the whole place is closed today with all the inhabitants out on the streets for the President's visit.

Lake Naivasha Hotel, on the other hand, is fabulous. We are given a welcome drink, and while the minibuses are unloaded with our luggage several porters hover, ready to take the bags to our rooms. They ask us which company we are travelling with, but our reply of "Speedbird", receives only blank stares. Eventually, after several people have repeated the same name over and over, the light goes on in one face: “Ah, Speedy Bird”. It's all action from now on.

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Individual cabins are scattered around the well laid out gardens, with flower beds and an abundance of birds.

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Tables are laid out under the shade of trees. I can just imagine how Mirella Ricardi lived in her Lake Naivasha home. The colonial past is very much present here. Our beds have mosquito nets draped over them too.

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Great view from the balcony too:

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Lunch is buffet style, but quite nice all the same, and the desserts are all super.

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Crescent Island
This afternoon we take a boat across the lake, through hundreds of pelicans, to Crescent Island for a short walking safari.

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We see various antelopes (I am not yet able to distinguish one from the other), dik-diks, Thomson's gazelle, horses, sheep, rabbits and a great variety of bird life. Most amazing is the hum of the mosquito swarms taking off, and the sound of the acacia trees rubbing together in the wind.

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The boat is booked for the return trip at 17:30, but we are ready to leave an hour earlier. We are glad we didn't go earlier though, as the highlight of the whole visit is seeing hippos on the way back. They only put their heads above water, but it is still very exciting. While watching the hippos, the boat runs aground on an old log, which initially worries us as we think it's a hippo. Even the captain looks very concerned.

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We come back to tea on the lawn, with a uniformed waiter standing to attention by the table. This place is really super.

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There are ten people in our group: Neil and Jackie from Bristol; David and Liz from Dorking, 2 ladies: Joan and Hilda who are animal campaigners from London; and two Norwegians, Kristian and Unn who live in Wiltshire. All are non-smokers thankfully, which is quite unusual. As we leave to go for dinner, three members of staff come to spray our room.

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Dinner is really quite good: crayfish and grapefruit cocktail, cream of cauliflower soup, and tilapi for mains. Both the crayfish and tilapi came from the lake. The Norwegians try the Naivasha wine but thought it was too young – they said it tasted like un-matured home-made wine. It is quite dear too, at £5.50.

Posted by Grete Howard 04:41 Archived in Kenya Comments (0)