Home' Travel News : June 2013 Contents 22 travel news June 2013
June 2013 travel news 23
My family and I have been long-time visitors to Lake Baringo and in particular, Island
Camp. Easily accessible from Nairobi on fair to middling roads, and perhaps most
importantly, it is priced right for a family weekend away. If you are lucky enough to be
able to take a mid-week break, you get tranquillity added to the mix.
What's more, in the 'cold' and dreary months of July and August here in up-country
Kenya, it is always sunny and a whole lot warmer there. Our drive time from Nairobi
was no more than 4 hours, although by driving more sensibly than me, an easy 5-hour
trip. The road to Nakuru is busy but essentially pothole-free; onwards to Marigat and
Baringo, it is usually devoid of traffc, so dodging the odd pothole is not life-threatening.
Closer to Baringo, fash foods have wrought havoc with the many concrete drifts; all
have been cleared of rubble but it is a bit lumpy, so take it easy.
Seeing Lake Baringo from afar in its present state is a bit disconcerting. It has risen; as
of this writing, it is 24 feet (7 metres) higher due to the heavy rains of the past two years,
and most surprisingly it has changed colour - from a muddy brown to a crystal clear
green; the new water sending the muddy brown to the bottom by sheer weight alone.
There is a theory that the polarity of the suspended iron oxide particles has somehow
been reversed and instead of pulling them apart, now brings them together to sink
slowly to the bottom. Evidently something to do with the movement of the earth's crust.
Not being very clever in such matters, I'll go with the new water scenario, which makes
more sense to simpleton me.
The surface area has, I am told, increased by over 20 sq. kilometres (8 sq. miles)
although it looks like much more. This equates to a 16% increase in the lake's surface
area, in total now 150 sq. kilometres (58 sq. miles).
Now it's a huge green lake, which for a long-time visitor is a pretty strange, almost
eerie experience. The new water has inundated Lake Baringo Club, which has been
closed for some time and is not likely to re-open anytime soon. Roberts Camp is a
shadow of its former self; the house being inundated and the lake's wave action slowly
demolishing it. Samatian Island's swimming pool is now part of the lake, and it has lost
some accommodation, but happily continues to operate albeit at reduced capacity.
Island Camp, which this article is primarily about, is situated on Ol Kokwe Island, the
largest island in the lake. Turning right off the main road, with Island Camp, Kampi ya
Samaki, and many other signposts, you shortly arrive at the County Council of Baringo's
barrier. Here you will be relieved of a nominal entry fee: resident adult Kshs. 50/-, resident
child (under 12) Kshs. 30/-, car entrance Kshs. 100/-. Then follow the many signs along
the bumpy road to the Island Camp jetty, where a boat awaits.
Island Camp's reception area, the old honeymoon tent and a number of other tents plus
new partner Bonnie Dunlop’s home have all been fooded and are now almost fattened
by the lake's continuous wave action. Huge reed islands, which in the most part used
to be found on the lakeshore, now move across the lake with increased frequency,
destroying jetties, ski pontoons and moorings.
You could say that was the last straw,
but thankfully it is not.
Island Camp is getting a brand-new lease
on life; our favourite escape and home away
from home is getting a major makeover.
But more importantly it is not losing its
unique down-home patina -- which led to
the legend that Island Camp has become
to many generations of Kenyans.
What is new are four large superior tented
cottages, each with its own plunge pool,
plus seven large tents with private facilities,
all well situated and with magnifcent views
looking over the water towards the Tugen
Hills and Gibraltar, a rocky outcrop and
favourite sundowner spot a short distance
away. With the lake rising, it has noticeably
reduced the height of its mighty cliffs that
shine golden in the evening sun.
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