Hell’s Gate National Park

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Hell’s gate scenary

Hell’s gate is a special park in Kenya  in the sense that you can cycle or walk around. It’s located near Lake Naivasha, 150 km from Nairobi.  The main attraction is the Gorge, located 8 km from Elsa Gate.   The Routard said it could remind us of Petra in Jordan… well let’s not exagerate please… But the Gorge can get water and there there were hot springs were you can even boil eggs!

The other beautiful part of the park is the scenary. Huge special rocks I hadn’t seen anywhere else in Kenya…

And zebras, warthogs, many birds…interesting plants, flowers… insects.

I chose to ride a cycle myself, and I thought I saw a buffalo from a distance. Then I laughed at how ridiculous this was: there could not allow people to walk or ride around if there were actually buffalos inside the park! Buffalos are the most dangerous aggressive animals, that was literaly impossible…So I proceeded to the Gorge.

And on the way back I saw not one but many buffalos… staring at me….mmm… let me take a deep breath…as I cycle past them…

Waooo….that was scary!

Remember to click on one of  the picture to view all  the gallery in full-screen

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Lake Naivasha

Lake Naivasha… 150 km away from Nairobi, accross the Rift Valley…139 km2 a fresh water lake unlike the saline Lake Nakuru…

I was imagining I would have a wonderful walk around the lake… which is totally impossible. Aroud the lake there are hotels who own the land and rosegreen houses … each rose drinks 10 litres per day… but then this is why the Kenyan roses do smell. They are also exported all over the world.

The area is home to more than 600 bird species…

In any case, just reaching and seeing was so relaxing.. these are all the animals I could spot at the Fisherman’s camp where I actually camped! The place is full of yellow feaver trees which appear golden as the light declines…

Click on the first picture to view the gallery in full screen.

Birds of Maasai Mara, Kenya’s Rift Valley

Here are some of the wonderful birds of Maasai Mara’s National Reserve. Click on the picture to view a diaporama in full-screen!

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Saving my soul…

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Godliness in Nairobi. there are so many species of sunbirds. This is a male variable sunbird.
photographic credit: http://www.talking-naturally.co.uk/variable-sunbird-langata-kenya/

I had been bird-watching and was still observing some amazing colourful birds – tiny sunbirds- on the way, when a lady distracted my attention from these winged beauties. Really in the morning when there are no cars, Nairobi is a symphony!

It was Sunday at 8 :30 AM a Scandinavian – Swedish- woman wearing a hat walking with her husband approaches me. “Nice hat” she touches it. “ Where is it from?” – “ Thank you, from Spain”.  Then she starts asking a series of questions that end up reaching the point she had pre-paved: “We came here to attend a very interesting course…. because we are Christians. What about you?”

I say : “I am not a Christian”.

-What  are you? What do you belong to?

-I belong to myself and also to the Creation. ( Initally I had wanted to answer “I am Eva”, but she didn’t ask ” who”, who are you…)

-What do you mean by that?

-I mean that when I need to talk to someone, I talk directly to the person who can provide me with the answer. For example at work I talk to my boss, not to my colleague. When I have a question about life I ask God, not his priests.

– Oh interesting. And have you asked why there is so much suffering?

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Godliness in Nairobi

-Yes. But you see, even without disturbing God, suffering is an emotion, and so the person who suffers has the choice. Suffering is one of them; not to suffer is another.- Oh that’s true. But what about physical pain? It’s difficult to re-direct one’s attention.

I was wondering why I was supposed to start thinking about what was happening to other people whose life I couldn’t solve. But after that I found out that she was actually worried about me. And later still that she was worried about what would happen 1000 years from now… And all the birds, trees, sunlight were there right now!

Then she says that she is a Christian because she has read the Bible and she feels it is really inspired by God.

–          I agree, I replied. But do you think at after He/She inspired the Bible, God stopped speaking?

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Godliness in Nairobi has taken the form of a read flower in this particular case

I didn’t quite get her answer but it was something related to the fact that He still speaks to us in spite of having achieved His perfect book at an early age.

–          What I meant is that that maybe the Coran is also inspired by God, don’t you think?

She said she had tried to read it but she hadn’t got that feeling. So I understood that she wasn’t too keen on poetry. I wanted to say that if she had the same feeling we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation but contrary to her, I had no intention of saving her soul. I’m too selfish.

–          Then I asked about the Vedas

–          Oh the Hindu texts?

I didn’t know that the Vedas were hindu texts but…anyway. She said she hadn’t read them because the Bible was enough for her.

I said she was lucky to have found such a good book, a good book is a blessing! And then as she didn’t seem to like other books I told her that I believe God’s voice could also be heard in Tchaikovsky or Bethoveen’s Symphonies.

Then she came back to her Bible. In fact the Bible seems to be an amazing historic testimony as I learnt from the lecturer of the Walls of Jerusalem museum. Especially the book of Samuel.  She said that what she found amazing with the Bible is that it had predicted things and they had all happened. And she asked me if I was interested in knowing about the future.

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Here Godliness has taken the form of a weaver bird and a bougainviller and a palm tree

-Oh my God! I have enough with what I am doing now, don’t you? You see I am walking in Nairobi, the weather is perfect the sun is shining, the birds are singing, the flowers are amazing, the trees are huge, why should I worry about what’s going to happen in 1000 years from now?

She must have thought I was a lost case, but however she offered me some reading.

-Thank you but I have a lot of reading. I haven’t finished Karen Blixen’s book yet and many other stuff I am reading. Please save your book for somebody else.

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Godliness in Nairobi… no comment

– Thank you,  it was nice to meet you. Have you ever been to Sweden?

– Yes I have. To Stockholm. Beautiful country. The White nights, June 24th the sun ddidn’t set.

– It’s a small world isn’t it?

– Indeed it is.

After that I proceeded to buy a Bible – after all Bible means ” book” in greek- about the Kenyan birds. Nairobi is the capital with most bird species in the world.

A festival of pop art colours : birds, corals, fish and dolphins!

Lilac breasted roller flrying

Lilac breasted roller flying

For my birthday I decided to go and see my kins, the fish at the Coast. From Diani road in Nairobi to Diani beach…

On the way there amazing birds would dash like arrows in the sky and then land on the electricity lines. “What are they?” – ”  I haven’t seen it….”

When another one passed by I showed him again. Again he hadn’t seen it. “Most of them are lilac rollers”  said the driver casually. Of course I couldn’t take a picture of those winged beauties myself but here is a portrait of a lilac roller.

This is when I noticed how spoilt Kenyans  are. They have these birds we have not even conceived in our brightest dreams and for them they are just ” Most of them“. They don’t even notice them just like we don’t even notice our fat pigeons in Luxembourg Gardens. His tone translated :” we have plenty of these things you don’t even dare to dream of, and we don’t even see them anymore, because we have so many of them!

Stoplight Parrotfish (Sparisoma viride) at Salt Pier

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I had planned to go to the Kisite Marine park on the 24th, and that day it seems that all the dolphins of the park had decided to come and greet me! When I was a child I had put posters of dolphins and cheetahs on my walls. And here I was when all of them jumping around, like a symphony! The captain said they had four species of dolphin, but I don’t remember the names he mentioned.I had made a lovely film with my lifetime dream friends… but that very day my camera got stolen.

When we reached the diving spot….. Waoo! The corals and the fish dressed in pop art colours. Unbelievable ….Pink, blue, yellow, orange….. the brain corals, corals like a lion’s mane, corals like bushes, others looked like flowers…. I saw my first parrotfish ever. And I saw several of them! Angelfish…too…

On the way back, the captain said that, when the tide was low, the area we were going through was totally uncovered and that we could walk through four kilometers of sea . This was something like what Moses did! I was amazed! I couldn’t believe it: the water we were sailing on now, could actually be gone?? “It is a reef he said”.

I started imagining how it could look like with no water just algae and rocks… a few corals… I wished I could see that one day!

starfish and urchin

starfish and urchin

Guess what? A big surprise for me. The next day I went to Diani beach… my beach…the water had gone! The tide was so low and I saw what I had dreamt of seeing. 1 km of uncovered “sea floor”. Starfish had to be put back in the water or else they would die.

I held my first starfish: it’s actually as hard as bone but they can move and change shapes. How strange! Huge starfish, and so many sea urchin I had to avoid walking on…Salim the guy who had accompanied me, told me the starfish were eaten by the urchins.

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Corals at Diani beach

“When you reach this point Salim said,  you can snorkel”. But yet the water was so shallow that I was afraid of getting pinched by one of the urchins….

Less than 20 cm, it was really tight…. I tucked my tommy in…

And that’s how I saw my first rectangular fish ever.!

A tiny tiny yellow fish half the size of my little finger accompanied me all the way at the beginning. He was really with me. When I got tired, at the end of the first session….guess who appeared again!

Then I understood: the corals here were no coincidence. In Diani beach there is a coral barrier, and that’s why the waves broke at a certain point on the horizon. It was around 3 Km away from land. I had planned to reach by windsurf and snorkel from there to see the corals. I had thought I had to go to the Tanzania border to Kisite marine park, but what I wanted – the coral reef- was here already.

Again, just like earlier with the Moses experience, the stars had planned an even better surprise for me! I could snorkel now and enjoy the windsurfing hour just for windsurfing when the tide would come back.

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angelfish at Diani

When it did, the beach shrunk. Again, I couldn’t believe it was the same beach as earlier. No space left to lie down, when in the morning there were more than 30 meters of dry sand! Those tides were impressive indeed. In the afternoons the wind rose and it was so harsh, that I no longer found it nice to stay on the beach. In the morning it was as calm as a lake.

During my holiday in Diani, the full moon hang above the sea, twenty four hours a day.

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PS: for all pictures except the  lilac roller, and the parrot fish, I appear courtesy to Stilts Backpackers facebook page. Thanks Andy! https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Stilts-Backpackers/120956872812?fref=ts