Since 1997, I’ve had the great privilege of traveling literally all over the world with humanitarian and mission teams, mostly of the medical variety. We work hard, but we also find time to relax a bit and on my last trip to Kenya and Sudan, I was able to spend a morning in a safari van, riding through the Lake Nakuru National Park outside of Nairobi, Kenya with the breeze blowing through my hair. It’s a great daytrip if you find yourself in Nairobi and have some time.
“Nakuru” actually means “City of Dust,” and though that is a fitting name for the city of Nakuru, the park itself is beautiful, verdant, and teeming with life. It’s known as a “bird watchers’ paradise” and I lost count of all of the different types of birds I saw. I could neither name nor photograph them all.
There is a small cost to drive through the park, but foot traffic is strictly forbidden-except when the lions are looking particularly hungry. (Just kidding!)
I wish my photo could do justice to the beautiful fellow below. We saw these starlings all over Kenya and Sudan. They were like breathing stained-glass windows with little wings turning dozens of shades of green, purple, and blue depending on the way the light hit them.
These fellows below are storks and I have to say that they don’t look exactly like I pictured them. I suppose I have been misled by the cartoon version of storks that I’ve seen in America. But these three proud storks are perching high in a famed African acacia tree.
The next birds I saw, I recognized: pink flamingos and sea gulls. I wish my camera could have captured for you the literally thousands of flamingos we saw that day. I thought this close-up shot would give you a better chance to appreciate their beauty. The Lake Nakuru flamingos are pretty well known, perhaps just because there are so many of them.
Below are two handsome little fellows with oddly-curved bills—ibises. They are found all over the world, but the African people have always found them especially beautiful and even sacred.
After seeing bunches of animals and birds I couldn’t identify, when I saw the herd grazing below, I thought, “Ah, I know what these are! Gazelles!” I was wrong. They are majestic African impalas.
I had always believed that zebras were black and white. I mean, the American retailers of faux zebra handbags would certainly know, wouldn’t they? False! Asian zebras are black and white, but African zebras are brown and white. Just to be sure, I asked our guide, “Maybe they just appear brown because they’re dirty.” But he laughed and shook his head to let me know that I was wrong.
But wait! They look black and white here!
It’s just because they’re in the shade. Trust me. They’re brown and white.
My next opportunity to prove that I knew almost nothing about African animals came when I caught my first glimpse of waterbucks. I had never heard of these cute guys, but they seemed to be almost as curious about us as we were about them.
After we had seen the waterbucks, another guide said, “That way! The lions are down the road that way!” And we began an hour-long search for the elusive lion family. Alas, it was sadly fruitless and so I have no lion picture to share. But as I always say, “That’s just another good reason to return for another visit!”