A Weekend Getaway to Lake Naivasha from Nairobi at Crater Lake Tented Camp
I come from a very spontaneous family. One sunny Saturday afternoon in January, my mother comes home and tells my sister, Imani and I, to pack our bags. We were traveling to Naivasha that weekend, a great kick-start to the new year! Now mind you, my mother is expeditious at getting ready and leaving. Her tough-love approach is firm; she won’t hesitate to leave you if you’re running late. The moment was fleeting with 10 mere minutes to pack our belongings. The Land Cruiser’s rave could be heard in the distance; I instinctively knew it was time to get going. Imani ran to the car and I followed suit, locking up the house. In a swift movement, we were on our way.
The drive is flooded with huge lorries making our journey much slower and tiring. After reaching Naivasha town, it’s a 40km drive to Crater Lake Lodge. The road is rough and dusty. The four-hour drive was tedious, but we had finally gotten to our destination. Crater Lake Lodge is hidden in the thickets of the bushy wilderness accompanied by animal cries that signify that you’ve left all forms of “civilization” behind. On our arrival, the sun bid the earth farewell and the sky graced the land with dusk. At the front desk, we were aware that the reception was the only place with Wi-Fi in the vicinity. Kissing all forms of communication with the outside world goodbye, I switched off all devices and ventured into the “bundus”. There are a total of 450 sharp downward-facing steps. Going down is always easy but climbing proves itself to be difficult. At the bottom of the stairs lay a small haven on the lakeside.
The first thing that your eyes set upon is the view of the lake. The property is located in a crater that surrounds the lake meaning this part of Lake Naivasha is enclosed. It’s archaically awesome. Birds gracefully gliding over the halcyon waters. Delightful ducks going in for a dip; enjoying their swim. Acacia trees exhibited effortlessly in nature’s garden. Monkeys were swinging and climbing up and down branches. It felt like you were suddenly whisked away from all urban life and thrown into an isolated paradise. The crater is opened only by a narrow passage at its end which makes it the perfect place to take a picture. The lake is a mirror image of the sky and trees surrounding it, the reflection of the environment echoes effortless serenity and peace of mind. It was quite dark, but the lake sent us warm salutations, alerting us of its presence.
There’s an open space that leads to a restaurant and tents. Crater lake is an exclusive camp with nine tents. The foyer and veranda are wooden. But on the inside, there were three queen-sized beds, two with nets and one without. The floor was made of plaster. The bathroom had ceramic white tiles consisting of; a mirror, closet with dressers, two mirrors and a dressing table, one toilet and a shower of tiles. Urban yet outdoorsy. The most intriguing aspect of the tent’s design was the fact that walls were made from the canvas.
The temperature began to dwindle downwards, wind seeping into the flapping walls. After room exploration, we quickly put our things down, wore warm clothes and went for dinner. It was elevated from the ground by a set of stairs that led into the open dining room. Only eight tables had been placed for the few ‘honored’ guests with a lakefront view. We sat on the table closest to the lake. The waiter, Tom, came and asked for our orders. I ate chicken and baked potatoes, my mother ordered lamb with baked potatoes and Imani ordered spaghetti, Bolognese. The drinks were more tropical; I had ordered a tropical fruit juice and it tasted fantastic like the flavors were melting into your mouth. My mother and sister kept it simple with their sodas. The dessert was a mango smoothie which I found delightful. I enjoyed the meal at the lodge while my mother didn’t because she said they had burnt her lamb and the mango dessert made her stomach upset. It was only 20:30 and we all grew weary and tired thus called it a night quite early. The cold had certainly seeped it's way into the tent creeping down all our spines. The canvas walls didn’t make good shields against the cold and we were plagued by cold into the depths of darkness. We quickly changed into pajamas and dove into the sheets which would’ve offered our fragile bodies protection. Within a few minutes, I had dozed off into a deep sleep where my subconscious mind awaited with dazzling dreams. The battle with the cold wasn’t over yet. I found myself awake in the middle of the night, eyes bolting wide open due. The blanket had made the bed too warm and normally I can’t sleep in a very hot. I got out of bed and sat on a nearby chair reading a book waiting for the bed to cool down. My eyes got heavy with sleep, I found myself dragging my feet to sleep. It seems like I wasn’t the only one who struggled to sleep. My mum had sat up in her bed, scaring me nearly half to death. I exclaimed and asked her why she woke up and she said it’s because we slept early. I retired to bed, leaving her to the comfort of her Mills and Boon.
The morning was an antithesis of the nighttime. All life was awake, and the sun shone brightly upon us all. It may be the gift or curse of an early riser, but I had to go outside for a morning stroll next to the lake. Lake Naivasha was beaming now more than it was previously. More birds were hovering on top of the lake hunting, almost hundreds, flying in harmony. More ducks were taking a dip into the large pool of water. A bid watering hole next to the restaurant was visited by white birds quenching their thirst. In the early morning, things are more peaceful and give you a sense of calm. At the tip of the property lay an abandoned-looking floating restaurant. It looked like an African hut looking so out of place on the river.
Venturing on my own for a little adventure, I boarded the deserted looking construction that seemed as though it would’ve sunk into the lake with one step. Putting my brave face on, I took a bold step, a few sounds of tired wood came into the atmosphere, but it was perfectly safe to walk into. There were a few tables and chairs scattered in the vicinity, no one had dined here in years, but it was a perfect view to catch a closer glimpse of the lake. I stayed in this little hut admiring nature’s beauty when I saw Imani and my mum walking over to breakfast and I joined them. The helpings were large. We had ordered baked beans, sausages, toast and bacon. The beans were practically overflowing off the bowl, yet again my mother complained. She didn’t like the food here, but I didn’t mind. We received some morning entertainment when a monkey had come into the restaurant and the waiter had to chase it away; some action in the bundus on a warm sunny morning. My mother wasn’t in the mood to stay at this lodge longer. She had fonder memories of this lodge back in the day and believed that it was being run down. I had no notes to compare to. We finished our breakfast, gathered our things and were off to climb the steep stairs once more. Going down is always easy but it’s the climbing that gets to you. One after the other, we finished embarking on the 450 steps, settling the bill at the reception and heading back to Nairobi.
It’s random adventures like this, venturing into the unknown that gives life a new sense of meaning and makes routine life seem less boring. It was unexpected and much more that I’d hoped for. I had no complaints and enjoyed every bit of the adventure.
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