Another chance to head off to the bush! …and this time a real treat, two of my daughters were coming with me! It took us about 3 hours to reach the Natron area – most of it on tracks through the bush so we had our eyes peeled for wildlife, and we weren’t disappointed! Managing to spot a few of the increasingly rare gerenuk. Such graceful antelopes – but if we are honest slightly weird and ‘ET’ looking with their elongated necks!
Arriving at Natron we pitched out tents, grabbed binoculars and beers and headed to the lakeshore to find a vantage point to watch the sunset. We sat on a knoll close to the lake where we were rewarded with thousands of birds. From the graceful flamingos to the rather prehistoric looking pelicans wheeling around us – marching back and forth in unison – all as the sun gradually dipped behind the rift valley escarpment.
After a great night (me in my micro mesh tent!) we were up before the dawn – made some tea and coffee and went back to the lakeshore to watch the sunrise ….. stunning to see the golden light gradually flood the landscape turning the landscape from monochrome to vibrant green.
Todays adventure was to hike up a gorge to try and get to the source …. With a fair bit of scrambling and balancing around pools and of course some swims to cool off enroute. The gorge is stunning – about a thousand foot deep with a sparkling river flowing down it, fed by countless springs in the gorge wall and all draped in exotic palm trees. There are places where the gorge narrows and you have to slide past dripping overhangs on slippery rocks and others where it widens to black sandy beaches. As you move higher the walls get steeper and steeper until finally after about 3 hours, we reached the source! It is a hundred-yard-wide amphitheatre with vertical walls over six hundred feet high, all around the base of the walls are springs with water gushing out. We hadn’t seen another soul all day but were joined here by a curious group of baboons!
Heading back downstream we had countless dips – swimming through waterfalls and down slides before finally making it back to the car. The round trip took us about 6 hours and was worth every minute – but now we wanted to relax a little more! In the morning we had spied a hot spring (well, warmish!) down by the lakeshore that someone had dammed to make a little pool ….. just glorious! ..lounging in the warm water with a thousand little fish swimming around us and watching the sun dip and the birds mill once again – although we did leave it a little late and ended up driving back to our camp in the dark!
Another great night and another morning up before dawn and down to a different viewpoint where incredibly we saw even MORE birds …… the usual mixture of flamingos, storks and pelicans all milling around but also a short distance offshore several islands absolutely smothered with pelicans nesting …. Literally hundreds of thousands of them.
A trouble free drive home and a feeling of a weekend very well spent!