Memories of the Great Rift Valley and Lake Elementaita

January 2020 seems years in the past – and yet like yesterday. While I lament the lack of travel since March of 2020, it was a happy fluke that a wedding invitation took me to Nairobi, Kenya on the beautiful continent of Africa while we could still travel, covid-free.

I have returned to that country many times since, scrolling through photographs that seemed to bring animals to life and to meet again in my memory the lovely, talented, hard-working people in this country. So, I’ve pulled together a few scribbled notes from my travel journal to fill in the blanks and I’m ready to share more memories of Kenya with you.

Our first day of that January safari with Gate 1 Travel took us out of Nairobi and into the lush Rift Valley. We drove through small bustling villages merging in among wheeled carts pulled by donkeys, making our way among small herds crossing the road.

Bathroom facilities along the route were located in tourist gift shops. We had an opportunity to briefly watch the creation of some of the crafts.

Between villages, the deep green of the Rift Valley was in full view, with crops growing in the numerous small plots.

Eventually, we arrived at the Soysambu Conservancy, land farmed by a family since the early 1900s. It continues to be farmed and now includes the Soysambu Conservancy, open to public access where some 50 wildlife species can be seen.

It wasn’t long before stunning views of wildlife were before us with zebra walking through wooded areas.

Our route took us to the shore of Lake Elementaita, a designated world heritage site. The appearance of a pink hue to the water occurs from the flamingos that stretch as far as our eyes could see. Elementaita is known as a strongly alkaline ‘soda lake’ and flamingos apparently find the algae here a delicious dish.

And we found these hefty African Buffalo lounging adjacent to the delicate-looking flamingos.

Driving to our inn, we spot the endangered and graceful Rothschild giraffe ambling over the hill with Lake Elementaita as a backdrop.

At the end of a beautiful day, we have a delicious dinner at the inn. There are very few guests (January is the slow season) so we have this lovely location almost to ourselves.

As night falls, a solitary waterbuck looks toward the “sleeping warrior” seen in the distant Ugali Hills.

And I am off to relax in our camp. Electricity goes off at 10:00 p.m. and back on at 6 a.m.

All indications are for a wonderful night of sleep, listening to the sounds of the many birds Lake Elementaita is known for. Here are a few I will share. I am not a birder so perhaps my bird-knowledgable readers can help out with identification. Update: My marathon running, globetrotting birder friend Joe Church has identified: Speckled Pidgeon, Laughing Dove, Black-headed Weaver, African Pied Hornbill, Fischer’s Lovebird

Tomorrow, we’re off to the Maassai Mara.


  1. Delightful account of a delightful experience. Your pictures remined me of scenes from Tanzania–land, animals, structures, all similar.

    Every good wish to you during this time of shelter. I admire that you are disciplined about staying safe.

    (Sent to you from my living overlooking the Pine River in Wild Rose, Wisconsin.)

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