I’m sitting on the porch of Cottage Two. The Rift Valley laid out before me. Lake Naivasha in the near distance. Puffy grey-white clouds regularly block the midday sun. It’s about sixty degrees here in the shade. Not what one would expect as close as we are to the Equator. But we are at 6800 feet above sea level – and this is the beginning of Kenyan winter. Tanga, a gold African ridgeback dog is asleep at my feet. One of a number of dogs here at Malu, she has adopted Imbi and I.
We arrived around 6pm yesterday. Winding our way up the red mudded road – two thousand feet up from the Rift Valley floor. I was with the Spaulings in their borrowed Land Cruiser. Imbi road with the Radniches (Gayle and Spencer and their grand children, Allie and Ryan) in a new Nissan mini-van. The Land Cruiser had an easy time of it. Not so the Nissan. About two hundred meters from the top the red mud won over the valiant efforts of the Kenyan driver. (Had he learned to drive in deep snow, he may have made it – but he kept plowing the mud with his front wheels – and spinning the rear – mistakes we learn to overcome in North American winters.)
Harry and I walked back down to the van. Red mud adherring to our shoes – adding pounds to our already sufficient weight for this altitude. Efforts to unstick the van were fruitless. Until the arrival of the calvary – in the form of a Land Rover with a tow rope. We took the opportunity to walk the rest of the way up the hill – slip walking in the mud. We walked past the cottages, other buildings, until a half hour later we found reception – only to be told that we were meant to stop at the cottages. But the walk was wonderful – and we learned the layout of the camp – a small part of the 1780 acres of the Malu farm. This is one of the last remaining stands of cedar forest that once covered the hills around Lake Naivasha. It’s an important ecological refuge for wildlife that includes at least 10 leopard, about a hundred Colubus and Skyes monkies, many Cape Buffalo (the most dangerous of the Big Five African animals), bushbucks, bushpigs, warthogs, serval cats and more.
Imbi is just returning from riding the horses available on the farm. (The horses have a maximum weight load of 185lbs. Haven’t been that since high shool, I’m afraid. I hung around the cottage reading and writing.)
A Zebra named Bob has adopted the horses as his herd. Other Zebra roam the property as do a number of hyena. This is a tiny bit of paradise about 90 minutes out of Nairobi.
Last night, Imbi and I walked from our cottage to dinner – about a 12 minute walk in the dark. The dogs, Tanga and her buddy, Sidney were our guides…coming back for us at one point when we missed a turn off. The dining room awaited our arrival. The food here is fantastic. And the cost for our weekend is actually cheaper than the church retreat weekend we missed at Pioneer Camp in the Muskokas back home. The scenery here a little more spectacular, the accomodations dramatically more luxurious. (This is our one "luxury" before we head into three weeks of intense 8 hour-a-day teaching.)
I’m taking the opportunity to shoot some HD footage with the Sony HVR-Z1U HDV camera. The beauty of the Rift Valley with Mount Logonot to the South West should make for some spectacular scenes. The midday light however was not quite the best. I’ll shoot around 4pm this afternoon – and again early tomorrow morning. This Saturday morning was perfect for a little lie-in.
I finish writing this from our flat in Nairobi. It was a fabulous weekend of relaxation and very good food. Spending time with our friends the Radniches and new friends, the Spaulings was a real treat. Unfortunately, clouds and haze did not provide for the footage opportunities that I’d hoped.
Shots in this post are by Imbi.