I had a farm in Africa

out-of-africa

image source : From Isi, WordPress.com

“I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills. The Equator runs across these highlands, a hundred miles to the north, and the farm lay at an altitude of over six thousand feet. In the day-time you felt that you had got up high, near the sun, but the early mornings and evenings were limpid and restful, and the nights were cold.

The geographical position and the height of the land combined to create a landscape that had not its like in all the world. There was no fat on it and no luxuriance anywhere; it was Africa distilled up through six thousand feet, like the strong and refined essence of a continent. The colours were dry and burnt, like the colours of pottery. The trees had a light delicate foliage, the structure of which was different from that of the trees in Europe; it did not grow in bows or cupolas, but in horizontal layers, and the formation gave the tall solitary tress a likeness to the palms, or a heroic and romantic air like full-rigges ships with their sails furled, and to the edge of a wood a strange appearance as if the whole wood were faintly vibrating. Upon the grass of the great plains the crooked bare old thorn-trees were scattered, and the grass was spiced like thyme and bog-myrtles; in some places the scent was so strong that it smarted in the nostrils. All the flowers that you found on the plains or upon the creepers and liana in the native forest, were diminutive like flowers of the downs – only just in the beginning of the long rains a number of big, massive heavy-scented lilies sprang out on the plains. The views were immensely wide. Everything you saw made for greatness and freedom and unequalled nobility.

The chief feature of the landscape, and of your life in it was the air. Looking back on a sojourn in the African highlands, you are struck by your feeling of having lived for a time up in the air. The sky was rarely more than pale blue or violet, with a profusion of mighty, whiteness, ever-changing clouds towering up and sailing on it, but it has a blue vigour in it and at a short distance it painted the ranges of hills in the woods a fresh deep blue. In the middle of the day, the air was alive over the land, like a flame burning; it scintillated, waved and shone like running water, mirrored and doubled all objects, and created great Fata Morgana. Up in this high air you breathed easily, drawing in vital assurance and lightness of heart. In the highlands you woke up in the morning and thought : Here I am, where I ought to be”.

Out of Afica, incipit, Karen Blixen 1937.

A swahili place: Lamu town

I had been told by several people that Lamu and Mount Kenya were the highlights of Kenya. There are so many highlights in Kenya that I was really wondering what Lamu would be like!

The problem is reaching… it’s located on the Northern Coast : there are three Lamus; Lamu town, Lamu the island itself and Lamu archipelago. It seems the most beautiful thing is apart from enjoying the atmosphere to navigate from one island to another and enjoy the nature around. In fact there are mangrove forests and the islands are surrounded by turquoise water. I didn’t do that myself, because it wasn’t what I would call a highlight: Diani for me is more of a highlight having a coral reef at 200 m from the shore!

When I arrived a guy took my suitcase and asked me what my hotel was and took me there; I had just landed… I had no time to breathe: people in Lamu assault the tourists that come especially in low season: they are hungry for clients. No tourist goes unnoticed in Lamu. The inhabitants greet you, ask you if you need or want something… They probably thing they are being nice by doing so but it produces a contrary effect in me: all I want to do is run home! And I become really unkind to whoever is trying to make a living, because after all, all they are doing is looking for clients.

There are no cars in Lamu: they use donkeys instead, and there are 2200 donkeys on the island. It’s a multicultural city: Indian, Arabian, Kenyan influences merge. It is what they call the Swahili culture. Like the rest of the coast it’s an Islamic territory.

In the evening the children jump into the water from the “main road” … a main road which reminded me of Pondy’s promenade. Their games include also are boxes which become cars, and even I saw them playing with a dead baby donkey which they threw into the sea they were swimming in again and again… Ok this is definitely a different culture I thought.

The streets are narrow, the houses and buildings are made of corals, and the sewerage runs through the streets itself. Yes it can seem relaxing in the sense that we are on an island where there are no cars. It could seem like a voyage in time … if only people didn’t assault every single tourist!

What I did enjoy in Lamu was my beautiful hotel : a Swahili house made of coral with a beautiful green patio in the centre, and I think it was the cutest I’ve ever experienced.  Three windows and a bed like the one I dreamt of when I was a child. There is was really fun to do all the writing I had to do: calm and relaxing, just what I needed! Another thing was watching the tides: the difference is huge so huge that when some people attacked Lamu, they got stuck when they wanted to leave because there boats which they had left in the water were now stuck in firm land… and also the food: fresh snapper, fried bananas with honey and the amazing, truly amazing fruit juices that are as creamy as smoothies.

But I have said enough: as we say in France an example is worth a thousand words, so take a look at the video and get a sense of what it is like.

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

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.

Magical Lake Nakuru

Pour la version française, voir en-dessous de la galerie de photos.

To see the pictures in full screen in a diaporama click on the first picture

Lake Nakuru is a saline lake located at north west of Nairobi. It is known as the birdwatchers paradise. The lake’s water level varies: twice it dried up completely: it depends on rains. Two species of  flamingos inhabit the lake : the lesser and greater flamingo. They are the pride of Lake Nakuru.

The park is home to white rhinos – 100 individuals-, a few lions, waterbucks, impalas, Thomson gazelles, a few leopards, buffalos, rothchild giraffes, zebras and more than 400 species of birds.

The Reserve was created in 1963.

This is how magical it looks, at dawn..

Pour visualiser un diaporama en mode plein écran, cliquez sur la première photo de la galerie.

Le lac Nakuru est un lac alcalin situé au Nord-Ouest de Nairobi. Il est surnommé le paradis des ornithologues. La niveau de l’eau du lac varie, à deux reprises il a été complètement asséché, car il dépend de la pluie. Le lac est habité par deux espèces de flamants:  le flamant nain et le flamant rose qui font la fierté du lac.

Le parc contient aussi des rhinocéros blancs – une centaine d’individus- quelques lions et léopards, des gazelles de Thomson, des kob defassa, des girafes de Rothschild, des zèbres et plus de quatre cents espèces d’oiseaux.

La réserve a été créée en 1960.

Admirez la magie de l’aurore qui fait baigner le lac et ses habitants dans sa lumière dorée.

The Rift Valley

Kenya Great Rift valley (8)In Kenya there is an area South of Nairobi called the Rift Valley. The earth cracked and as a result of that it created a depression that is now a 6000km geographic trench which starts in Lebanon and goes all the way down to Mozambique. Africa has thus been separated into two plates: the Nubian Plate and the Somali Plate.

In the Rift Valley, the mountains are purple, the sky is strong blue, the well-shaped clouds always hang on the horizon, never just above your head, and the the bark of the trees is golden, the earth is at times of a vivid orange colour, so strong it can hurt your eyes.

Kenya Great Rift valley (1)Here, yes, indeed, it is true the clouds look like the ones we drew when we were children, cotton clouds or like the skins of the sheep that are sold along the way. It’s the place to see the world through the eyes of a child and here indeed we can understand why artists portray things in ways that would otherwise seem naive to us, because here we can see by them ourselves through the eyes of artists or children. If we want to understand art, we need to come this natural temple.

Kenya Great Rift valley (71)

As Karen Blixen had stated, here the trees, the golden trees, grow horizontally. Continue reading