Category Archives: Sightseeing

Nairobi National Park

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As our flight back to Amsterdam didn’t leave until the evening – we decided to go on one last game drive our final day in Kenya, in Nairobi National Park. As this park is only 7 km from the city centre, you can see Nairobi’s skyline from several areas within the park and with a little luck you can capture some really cool shots of animals in front of it.

We stayed for about 7 hours looking for animals and saw a few gazelles, lots of giraffes and a few ostriches. Compared to the other parks we went to I have to admit this didn’t feel like much. It was still a good way to kill some time while waiting on our flight back though, and Im sure it is a great getaway for people staying in Nairobi 🙂

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We left the park when we got tired of looking for animals, and after a short stop at a shoppingmall by the highway we headed to the airport, and eventually back towards Amsterdam.

I am sure I will remember some of the highlights from this trip for the rest of my life, it really was one of the best vacations I have ever been on and I have decided that I really have to go on another African Safari some day! 🙂

Lake Oloiden – Flamingos at last! :)

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After hoping to see flamingos at both Lake Nakuru and Lake Naivasha with no luck, I eventually asked our guide Filip where we would be able to find these beautiful pink birds. Filip took us to Lake Oloiden, which is a slightly smaller salt water lake close to Lake Naivasha. As we reached the lake we saw more or less right away that we had finally found the flamingos and we were taken out by boat to get a closer look.

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Watching flamingos in the wild really was very diferent from seeing them in a zoo, mainly because we were able to watch them flying and taking off from the water.  As flamingos take off they appear to be running on the water, it looks really awesome! You can really see how beautiful the wings are when they are spread as well. We followed the flamingos around for a while, taking pictures and watching them. We  ran into insane amounts of hippos in the process of doing this, appearently they really like this lake as well.

IMG_0660IMG_0669As hippos are known to kill humans for fun I actually got a little nervous a few times. Hippos that were really closeby dived into the water and we appeared to be driving right over the place where we had seen the animals only a few minutes before.  Another animal that seem to enjoy the lake is the pelikan and we saw quite a few of them sitting in a tree.

IMG_0685I really enjoyed this little safari by boat, and Im very happy that I finally got to see some flamingos. If you ever want to do a boat safari in Kenya this is definietly the place to go! And now some more pictures of the pinkest birds around! 🙂

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Exploring Hells Gate National Park

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As the animals living in Hells Gate National park are all more or less harmless, it is possible to explore the area both by bike and on foot. Rob and I were happy to try a more active way to visit a national park, and we went on a gamedrive by bike followed by a hike in Hells Gate Gorge. The bicycle ride was pretty nice, and we saw a lot of zebras, gazelles, buffalos and warthogs.

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For me the highlight of our visit was definitely the hiking part though. After about 40 minutes on bike we reached the rangers post, where we left the bikes and had a cold drink before heading into the gorge.

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The hike, as it turned out, was a pretty challenging one. We climbed almost as much as we walked and we also had to wade through water. It is safe to say the clothes we wore this day were not usable for the rest of our vacation and I was extremely happy that I brought my good walking shoes.

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The awesome scenery more than made up for the hard climbs and the water though, and our guide Simon was really good at helping us out with the hardest climbs. The gorge was absolutely beautiful, and it was really nice to be out hiking after all those days sitting in a car 🙂

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As we ventured deeper into the gorge we saw some water flowing down from the walls. Simon told us that due to volcanic activity in the area this water is actually really warm, he then went over and took a shower in it, just like that. As we were both really warm and getting a bit tired from all the climbing, this didn’t seem like a half bad idea at the time though,and we decided to give it a go as well 🙂Image

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The water was, indeed, quite warm – more or less the same as you normaly aim for when taking a shower. I really needed to cool down as well, so the shower was very welcome. At this point, we were told, the hike would become harder, with more climbs and more wading through water. The scenery was supposedly even nicer further into the gorge though, and we would get to see the so called hells shower. How could we possibly say no? We kept on climbing and the gorge did, indeed become even more beautiful.

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After a little while we got the the part called hells shower. It was pretty easy to see how they came up with the name – in this part the showering in warm water wasn’t optional anymore.

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We took a different route back to the rangers post, exiting the gorge itself by this viewing point:

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By the time we reached the rangers station again, we were really warm and pretty exhausted. We were running out of water, and we were really not looking forward to riding our bikes for another 40 mins back to the car. It was, as we suspected, pretty tough making it back again, especially on Rob. He was so warm and thirsty that I suspect he actually got dehydrated and as we didn’t have any water left there was no way to help him until we reached the car. When we finally made it back we found some leftover water that Rob drank up and Filip (our guide/driver) stopped and bought us two big bottles of water at the first possibility. I have to say water rarely taste quite as good as it did then! Rob looked a little bit better after we got water in him, but he didn’t completely recover until the next day. Learn from our mistake and bring enough water when hiking in the sun guys, this one could have ended really badly for us. We still really loved this park and it was one of the highlights of our whole trip to Kenya – definitely worth the trip if you’re ever in the area 🙂

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Lake Naivasha

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After doing traditional game drives by car for a good 5 days it was time for something new. We headed for a boat safari on Lake Naivasha. I had really high hopes for this trip, which is probably why I got pretty let down by it once we were there. We agreed with our guide that we would do both a game drive by boat, and a walk on the so called “crescent island” where we were told we could walk with animals like giraffes, zebras and gazelles. In my own stupidity I somehow though that maybe on this lake we would see some flamingos at last, but then I learned that flamingos live in salt water lakes, and Lake Naivasha is a fresh water lake. We did see a lot of Hippos though, and pelicans.

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The biggest let down for me was the crescent island. When we got out of the boat, we were shown two giraffes behind a fence, that were pretty far away – and that wasn’t the worst part, our guide offered to have somebody make them come closer using a stick.. obviously we didn’t want that. Just as when we went to Lake Nakuru, we were told that most of the animals left due to higher water levels – they even blamed having put up fences on this. We were talked into paying extra for this stop that turned out to be nothing but sad, and were left with a feeling that we got ripped off. Back on the water the boat guide tried to make a bird come closer using some food – he failed pretty miserably though, as he dropped the food in the water. I honestly have to say that our visit to Lake Naivasha wasnt worth the trouble. Sure, the lake is beautiful, but the way we were tricked into thinking crescent island was something it clearly wasn’t kind of ruined the experience for me.

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If you ever decide to go on a boat safari in Kenya I would recomend going to Lake Oloidien instead. While it is a smaller and less known lake, it is easily just as beautiful as Lake Naivasha and there are more animals living there – I will do a seperate post about it later on 🙂

I kissed a Giraffe and I liked it!

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Introducing Lynne!
Height: roughly 4-5 meters. Weight: 900 kgs or so. Hobbies: grazing, making friends and kissing humans. She is a Rotschild Giraffe, living at the Giraffe Center in Nairobi. While the Giraffe in general is not particularly endangered, this subspecies only has a few hundred animals left living in the wild. The Giraffe Center in Nairobi is a breeding center, dedicated to perserve the Rotschild giraffe, and to educate school children. Lucky for me, tourists can also visit the center to feed, play with and (yes!!) kiss the giraffes! 🙂

As we entered the center, we saw a huge giraffe standing next to a platform, where people were feeding and petting it:

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I don’t think I actually realized just how tall a giraffe can be until that moment. We climbed the stairs to the platform, where a keeper met us handing out pellets to feed the giraffes with. We fed the giraffes for a little while, they were actually quite tame and let us pat their long necks as well. We noticed that a giraffes toungue is, as it’s neck, extremely long. In spite of this, I decided to try and go for the giraffe kiss – you only live once right?I gave Rob strict instructions to take a series of pictures, put a pellet in my mouth, and there she was – kissing me with her enourmus toungue,it was quite the experience! My whole face was covered in Giraffe saliva, and my cheeks almost hurt a little as the tounge was slightly rugged. It is still hard for myself to belive that I actually kissed a giraffe, but I do have the pictures to prove it I guess 🙂 In my opinion the Giraffe center is absolutely a must if you ever go to Nairobi!

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Edinburgh Castle

Located on a hill overlooking the whole city, Edinburgh Castle is worth a visit both for the amazing view and of course to see the castle itself. Rob and I went there our last day in Scotland and we had a great time. This was the one day we had in Scotland with warm weather and sun the entire time, so the light was real nice 🙂

The castle itself is obiously awesome, but there’s also several small exhibitions you can visit – we did the war memorial, the crown jewels of Scotland and the Dragoon Squad, but there are many more as well. Leading up to the castle itself is the Royal Mile, which is a street filled with old buildings, restaurants, cafés and restaurants. We had a drink there before heading to the airport.

We had a great weekend in Scotland, would love to go back sometime.

The Highlands, Urquhart Castle & Loch Ness

While staying in Edinburgh, Rob and I decided to take a guided trip to The Highlands and Loch Ness with Scotline Tours. We left Edinburgh rather early (8 am) and headed straight for the highlands. Our tourguide, Mike seemed to know everything about Scotland and had a good sense of humor as well so the trip was never quiet 🙂 My favorite joke was “Ye say we don’t know what’s in the Haggis – Well YOU don’t know what’s in the McDonalds!” After a coffee/breakfast stop we headed up to Glen Coe, the site of the 1962 massacre. The mountains were absolutely beautiful and the sun was coming out from the clouds every now and then making it all rather magical.

 

(Photostop – WINDY!)

After driving for a few more hours we arrived at Loch Ness and Uquhart Castle. This was probably the highlight of the whole trip for me, even if we didn’t see the Loch Ness Monster.The Castle is mostly gone, leaving a dramatic ruin right in front of the loch and the surrounding nature was also beautiful. We walked around in the ruin for about 90 minutes before taking a guided boat trip on the loch. Rob and I stayed in the front of the boat (somehow hardly anyone wanted to sit there, perhaps because it was a little cold) and had a great view the entire time. Towards the end of the trip a beautiful rainbow got more and more visible, making the view even more awesome 🙂

The guide was waiting for us at the end of the boattrip to take us back to Edinburgh. This took about 3-4 hours, but they put on some music (and I brought my own  as well) so this was no problem. As we drove in to Edinburgh we had a great view of Forth Bridge:
Im happy that I got to see a bit more of Scotland while I was there 🙂