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Visiting Lake Nakuru National Park Safari – Photo Essay

Visiting Lake Nakuru National Park for a Game safari is one of the best things you can do in Kenya. Especially if you want to see 4 of the “Big 5”.

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Young Male Lion Lake Nakuru Kenya

The first glimmers of sunlight slowly spread across the sky to the East as our 4WD Safari Van pulled into Lake Nakuru National Park in Kenya. Various shades of pink, orange, purple and blue began to break into blue as the sun rose above the reflections of Lake Nakuru.

Lake Nakuru National Park Sunrise

Lake Nakuru National Park Sunrise

On only the second day of my Oasis Overland 75 Day tour from Nairobi to Cape Town the excitement levels were high.

Especially since Lake Nakuru National Park contains some of the best wildlife spotting opportunities in Africa with 4 of the “Big 5” on offer. The only one missing is the almighty Elephant. And within seconds I was ticking them off the list.

Only 100m through the gates entrance we parked next to two gargantuan Water Buffalo 10m away in the grass. Exiled from their herd for becoming too old they were left to roam the Game Park by themselves without companions for their final years.

Water Buffalo in Lake Nakuru Game Park

Water Buffalo Lake Nakuru Game Park

Perhaps the closeness of the entrance provided them with a sense of protection from the predators wandering the grassy plains.

As we continued along the narrow winding road beneath the blanketing Acacia tree forest the chatter of Baboons was the only sound breaking the silence above our vans engine.

Lake Nakuru Game Park Baboons

Lake Nakuru Game Park Baboons

They are quick to realise that Safari vehicles mean food and all the view points over Lake Nakuru National Park are infested with Baboons trying to climb through open windows after a tasty snack. Unsuspecting tourists are jumped upon and pieces of fruit snatched from their hands.

Nasty, nasty animals.

Baboon Lake Nakuru National Park

Baboon in Lake Nakuru National Park

Just as common as the Baboons are the Zebras.

In their distinctive black and white stripes they graze across the grass amongst the other herbivores in herds spread across several hundred meters. We were even lucky enough to see several fights as they nipped and bit each other as they ran.

Zebra Fight Lake Nakuru Game Park Kenya

Zebra Fight Lake Nakuru Game Park Kenya

Plodding along between the Zebra, Impala and Water Buffalo are the fierce looking, but majestic, Black and White Rhino.

The conservation efforts and anti-poaching Rangers patrolling Game Park means that the Rhino has flourished here. And with over 70 of each species in Lake Nakuru National Park, spotting the 2nd of the “Big 5” is very easy to do.

White Rhino Lake Nakuru Game Park Kenya

White Rhino in Lake Nakuru Game Park

You aren’t just limited to Baboons either. Cheeky Vervet monkeys clamber among the branches of Acacia trees with their babies clinging to their backs as they chatter to one another.

Vervet Monkey in Lake Nakuru National Park

Vervet Monkey Lake Nakuru Game Park

One of the animals I was dying to spot was the Giraffe. And with two shy Giraffes hiding in the forest I was getting worried we might not see any clearly.

I am not sure what I was worried about.

As we crested one of the hills the plains dropped away in front of us revealing over 50 strolling across the grass. Straight across our path they walked, stopping to strip the juicy leaves from the high branches. Their tongues wrapping around each leaf before moving on their way.

Giraffe Eating Acacia Tree Lake Nakuru

Giraffe eating from an Acacia tree in Lake Nakuru

It was here that our Guides radio began chirping like mad. With a grin over his shoulder he said he had a surprise for us just up the road.

3 lion cubs around a year old resting under the shade of a tree out of the baking hot Kenyan sun. As we switched off our engine another curious older Male slouched into the open to eye us up.

Young Male Lion Lake Nakuru Kenya

Young Male Lion in Lake Nakuru Kenya

I could have sat and watched them rest just 5 meters from our Safari van for hours, but there was just too much else to see.

Lake Nakuru National Game Park Kenya

Lake Nakuru National Game Park, Kenya

One of the things that Lake Nakuru is most famous for is its Pink Flamingos.

Pink Flamingo Lake Nakuru

The famous Pink Flamingo on Lake Nakuru

It seemed like our luck wasn’t about to run out either.

As we turned towards the main gate our journey was interrupted by the chatter on the radio again. This time a Leopard had been spotted several KMs from our current position.

We didn’t have to be reminded how rare it would be for us to see a Leopard either. I hadn’t even factored in seeing one during my entire Africa adventure and with less than 10 in Lake Nakuru National Park I definitely didn’t think it would be today.

Leopard in Tree Lake Nakuru Game Park Kenya

Leopard in tree at Lake Nakuru Game Park, Kenya

A lone Leopard resting 20 feet off the forest floor on a branch. Its front left paw hung on one side while it rested its head on its right. As we switched off the engine it raised its head and stared directly down my camera lens sending shivers down my spine.

It was the perfect end to a magical day that I will never forget.

Oasis Overland have provided me with a small discount off the price of the trip. However, as always, my thoughts on telling it how it is are never influenced by anyone.

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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35 Comments

35 Comments

  1. Mike (Nomadic Texan)

    May 6, 2013 at 12:56 PM

    Cole,
    An amazing experience, I imagine. Have to say I agree, I like the Leopard photo best as well! Be Safe!!!
    Mike

    • Cole Burmester

      May 6, 2013 at 1:01 PM

      Thanks Mike 🙂 Can’t wait to explore the rest of the parks throughout Africa now on my journey!

  2. Thomas Dembie

    May 6, 2013 at 4:29 PM

    Beautiful photos! I especially like the sunrise shot. I was there in late December and loved it. It was a great first safari experience. Plenty to see in a relatively small park. Can’t believe you saw a leopard there. Very lucky!

    • Cole Burmester

      May 8, 2013 at 5:23 PM

      We were EXTREMELY lucky to see a Leopard in Lake Nakuru Game Park! Wish they had Elephants too but that will have to wait until next time 😉

      • Rolph Lemayan

        June 24, 2015 at 1:00 AM

        Hi Cole. That is a nice profound post about Lake Nakuru National Park or also known as the Pink Lake.In the event, you desire in watchings herds of elephant, I would recommend you visit Amboseli National Park where you will get them in large numbers with a great view of Mount Kilimanjaro as part of the major attractions in Amboseli.

  3. Kimmy @ AfterGlobe

    May 6, 2013 at 11:31 PM

    Beautiful pictures! You were for sure lucky with all of the animals that you got to see. I love so many of these pictures I couldn’t pick just one for a favorite.

    • Cole Burmester

      May 8, 2013 at 5:19 PM

      Hopefully at the next park I can finish off the Big 5 😀

  4. Kristy of Family Visa

    May 8, 2013 at 2:15 AM

    The pink flamingo on Lake Nakuru is so sexy and at the same time the leopard on top of the tree is a hunk.

  5. Kea Watson

    May 10, 2013 at 6:16 AM

    Zebra hug! Aww how cute

    • Cole Burmester

      May 11, 2013 at 10:38 AM

      Very cute, although I think they were fighting haha.

  6. Luke Hartung

    May 10, 2013 at 6:16 AM

    Great photos guy!

  7. Rory Schultze

    May 10, 2013 at 6:18 AM

    I think I’d be so scared coming face to face with a leopard like that

    • Cole Burmester

      May 11, 2013 at 10:38 AM

      Luckily it was about 50m away in the tree then haha.

  8. Jessica @ A Passion and A Passport

    May 16, 2013 at 11:39 PM

    You got such great shots of all the animals you saw! Wow! And this was only day TWO! Another wow! Next up- elephant spotting!

    • Cole Burmester

      May 17, 2013 at 5:41 AM

      Spotted elephants while I was Gorilla trekking of all things haha 😉 That post is coming soon!

  9. Nicole @ Green Global Travel

    May 17, 2013 at 3:15 PM

    Wow amazing photos! Big cats are my favorite wildlife. Id love to see them in the wild, would be amazing! Great post!

    • Cole Burmester

      May 18, 2013 at 5:46 AM

      Cheers Nicole 🙂 Hoping to spot some further south in Africa too!

  10. Endri Hasanaj

    May 24, 2013 at 5:51 PM

    Wow what beautiful photos! Ahh what I’d give to be able on a safari now! It’s really one of the most interesting things to do on a trip or maybe it seems like that to me cause I love the wild animals in their natural habitat. Thanks for sharing these mate!
    Greetings from Athens

  11. Lucy

    May 26, 2013 at 9:45 AM

    Loving the safari photos, especially the leopards, what a privilege to see them in their own environment. Got to start saving up for a safari trip soon!

    • obai

      February 23, 2017 at 10:04 AM

      highly welcomed to Kenya

  12. Charli l Wanderlusters

    May 29, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    Jeepers Cole, what incredible photographs. I love the leopard but I think that sunrise is just stunning. You’re got me longing to visit Kenya!

  13. James @ Africa Tours

    July 6, 2013 at 7:47 AM

    I am really intrigued by these shots. I am now motivated to try something similar. Thanks!

  14. Gabriel

    September 3, 2013 at 3:21 AM

    The Rhinho seems like such a huge and awesome animal. I can’t imagine what it would be like to see one in person. Looks like you had an awesome time with lots of great animal sights.

    • Cole Burmester

      September 3, 2013 at 8:47 AM

      It was a beautiful experience and so glad I had the chance to see them all.

  15. Jeff

    October 9, 2013 at 4:29 PM

    Great shots. I call it a life time experience. You really enjoyed.

  16. Anne @ Pretraveller

    December 29, 2013 at 8:29 AM

    Cole, I see you posted this a while ago but it definitely brings back some fond memories for me! My family lived in Kenya as expats for a few years when I was only about 8 years old and my parents made a real effort to get out and about. Lake Nakuru was one of the many places we visited!

  17. Katherine E Bland

    January 23, 2014 at 6:33 PM

    I am now motivated to try something similar.

  18. Nelvino

    March 25, 2014 at 5:32 AM

    Lovely experience…like u I couldn’t spot all the big fives when I went to hluhluwe in South Africa…Leopards are almost impossible to b spotted.
    Good luck next time

  19. Marsha

    April 24, 2014 at 5:04 AM

    These are amazing photos: what an experience!! I cannot wait to visit: I am planning a trip for next year.

  20. Ticking the Bucketlist

    May 11, 2015 at 12:16 AM

    Ahh…you got to see the cats here!
    We were happy with the flamingos and the rhinos…no cats for us until we reached Mara!

  21. Tom Verdon

    September 6, 2015 at 6:59 PM

    Jambo Cole. Lovely photographs of Africa’s vanishing wildlife. You should be aware however that the picture of Buffalo that you have posted is NOT a picture of a Water Buffalo! A Water Buffalo is a creature of Asia and a Buffalo in Africa does not become a Water Buffalo, simply because it happens to be in the water. In Lake Nakuru National Park, any Buffalo that you see are the much more impressive and far more dangerous African Cape Buffalo, Syncerus Caffer, whose credentials as one of the most efficient and deadly of Africa’s big five killers have been discussed at length by numerous African experts far more knowledgable than I. Best. Tom

  22. Mark @ NWFamilyTravel

    September 4, 2016 at 11:42 AM

    I’ve always wanted to go on a safari and your photos have only made that a deeper desire. Stunning, really. Thank you for such a great look at this impressive park and the animals who live there.

  23. lukas kae

    May 29, 2017 at 11:25 PM

    thanks for sharing your experience with us
    awesome post with amazing pictures

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Adventure Travel

Tips for Planning Your Uluru Tour

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Located in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, the magnificent sandstone of Ayers Rock or Uluru stands tall at 1,142 feet above ground. The natural formation is widely known for being one of the most sacred places to the indigineous peoples in Australia. At the same time, it is also popular for attracting tourists from all over the world to the land down under.

If you want to visit Uluru in order to pay tribute to this wonder of nature, then doing so through the right tour is in your best interest. It’s not only because Uluru is located at least a few hours from civilization, but it also because such a tour allows you to enjoy the picturesque sights that come along the way within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

So what sights are there to see along the way and what other general tours suggestions you should keep in mind while visiting Uluru? To help you answer these and some other important questions, here are 5 top tips to keep in mind while visiting Uluru.

Don’t Climb the Monolith

First things first, while it is legal to climb atop Uluru, it is recommended that you do not attempt such an action in order to show your respect to the indigenous peoples.

It is a pretty easy rule to follow when you pay attention to the emotions of the indigenous tribes who have recommended time and again for people to not climb Uluru.

But that doesn’t mean that you cannot enjoy the natural beauty that Uluru has to offer. In fact, you are encouraged to visit the sandstone and take in its natural glory by standing right beside the formation. That’s why 4WD tour is highly recommended. The tour guides would be able to tell you what you can and can not do.

Visit During Sunset

Ask anyone who has visited Uluru about the best time to see the formation, and you will instantly get the answer as “sunset.”

It’s because Uluru is not an ordinary monolith, but one that is formed through arkosic sandstone. This allows the rock to actually change its color according to the position of the sun. As a result, you can expect the formation to sport a different color depending upon what time of day you reach it.

At sunset, Uluru projects an amber glow that is surreal to take in, especially when you are seeing the formation in person for the very first time. That’s why, it is recommended that you time your trip in a way that allows you to experience this magnificent sight.

3. Take Your Time to Plan the Trip

Perhaps the best way to visit Uluru is through the nearby town of Alice Springs, which has various amenities and accommodation options for tourists who are making their way to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

The drive from Alice Springs to Uluru can take around 5 hours, which is why it is recommended that you arrive at least a day before you are planning to tour Uluru.

This way, you can reach the national park while feeling fresh and rested. This also gives you time to plan longer trips to the park in order to enjoy all that it has to offer.

4. Take in the Sight of the Rock Art

Uluru is not just a wonder to look at by itself, but it also holds several little pieces of wonderful art within it.

The caves at the bottom of the formation hold several pieces of rock art that can only be found at Uluru. If you love learning about other cultures through their art, then this will be a must visit.

Just make sure that you take the time to learn about this art through a local tour guide or via the information provided within these exhibits. This ensures that you have an immersive and informative experience which you can remember for a long time.

5. Don’t Forget the Natural Attractions Around the Rock

Enjoying the breathtaking sight of Uluru sounds rewarding enough for a trip to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. But it’s not all that you can do during a tour of Uluru.

From seeing the red kangaroos and other marsupials to spending some time with the camels, and from seeing the one of a kind formations of Kata Tjuta to taking a walk by the Valley of the Winds, there’s so much to see and do around Uluru.

That is why, it is recommended that you take your time at the park and put aside at least two days to enjoy all of the unique activities that the area has to offer. It would give you a well-deserved break from the hustle and bustle of daily life while also allowing you to make the most out of your long journey to the sandstone.

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Adventure Travel

Best Time to Visit Panama and Costa Rica

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The fact that Costa Rica and Panama are close makes both countries perfect for visiting. During your holiday there, it’s easy to travel back and forth between the two countries and enjoy all the wonders they have to offer. Keep in mind that the timing of your holiday will influence what sorts of sites you can visit and what activities you can make part of your plans. By understanding a little about what to expect, it’s easy to determine the best time of year to visit both countries, based on what you would like to do.

Learning More About the Dry and Rainy Seasons

If you’re the type who prefers the hustle and bustle that comes with holidays during the tourist season, plan on being in Costa Rica and Panama during what’s known as the dry season. Expect plenty of sunshine and warm weather during this part of the year. Many of your activities will be outdoors, although you will find a number of indoor sites that you will want to include in your plans.

The dry seasons in both countries overlap. The dry weather for both typically arrives during the first to the middle part of December. In Costa Rica, the dry season usually lingers until sometime in April. Panama enjoys a slightly shorter dry season, with it usually ending sometime in March.

Keep in mind that since this dry period is the height of the tourist season, the cost of visiting from December to April will be higher than at other times of the year. Even so, if your plans include spending a lot of time exploring the rain forests or soaking in the rays on one or more of the beautiful beaches, the dry season is the only time to consider.

Making the Most of the Dry Seasons

During the dry season in both nations, do expect the weather to be more humid and the day temperatures to be a little higher. There is some variance depending on which regions you plan on visiting. As a general rule, locations nearer the coast will include warmer weather and higher levels of humidity. By contrast, the more mountainous areas will offer slightly cooler temperatures and lower humidity levels.

During this time, do plan on enjoying the lush greenery found in the rain forests. During much of the dry season, the abundance of rain from what’s known as the rainy or green season ensures that the forests are at their best. Consider adding some variety to your holiday by spending time at the beach, soaking in the nightlife along the coast, and doing some shopping at many of the open air districts. This is also the perfect timing to enjoy some of the local cuisine while dining outside.

There are special events to celebrate during the dry season. President’s Day in Costa Rica occurs during this period. Along with locals, you can enjoy a number of celebrations, open-air festivals, and just about any type of entertainment that one can imagine.

Since the dry season does attract more tourists, it pays to book your lodgings in advance. Along with President’s Day, there’s also spring break and the Easter Season to consider. While you could look at different hotels and other properties near beaches, there are also hostels that make perfect places to sleep. After all, how much time do you plan on spending indoors when there’s so much to do?

Things to Do During the Rainy Seasons

In spite of the name, it isn’t always raining during the rainy or green season. Most days, there will be brief periods of sunshine that do allow you to spend some time at the beach and other outdoor venues. Do expect the evenings to be cooler. At times, the temperature may make wearing long sleeves or possibly a sweater a good idea.

Even if you’re out and about while it’s raining, there are plenty of things to see. Towns and cities in both nations offer indoor concerts, a number of restaurants catering to all sorts of tastes, and clubs and other settings for entertainment. You will find museums that will tell you more about the history of indigenous peoples and the complexity of their cultures.

What are some of the activities you can enjoy during this time of year? Both Costa Rica and Panama offer options to go horseback riding. Generally, this will happen during the morning when the sun is most likely to be out. Walking tours are also a great way to learn more about the culture and possibly find some interesting places that you will want to return to a little later. Don’t overlook the opportunity to get in some fishing when there’s a sunny morning coming your way. There are changes to engage in freshwater fishing as well as charter boats that will take you to some of the better places to enjoy salt-water fishing.

Coffee and rum tours are also something to consider during the rainy season. These tours allow you the opportunity to see different facilities and how they produce their products. As a bonus, you get to enjoy some taste-testing at many of the places that you visit along the tour. Some of the sites will also have bistros or restaurants included, allowing you to enjoy a nice meal or snack with your coffee or rum.

In terms of museums to visit, San Jose offers some of the most interesting museums in Costa Rica. Many of them are located in or adjacent to what’s known as the Central Market. It’s a great way to enjoy time indoors during the rainy afternoons and early evenings.

In Panama, check out the Panama Canal Museum in Casco Viejo. You can make use of headphones that offer the guided tour in multiple languages. If you happen to be proficient in Spanish, feel free to check out each exhibit on your own. You can also check out the Biodiversity Museum, which features exhibits on the over 1,000 species of animals and plants that are found in the country. Make the most of the discounts offered on Sundays. Retirees also get to enjoy discounts when visiting these museums.

Which season is the best time to visit Costa Rica and Panama? It’s really up to you. For those who prefer a slower pace and don’t mind rain during the afternoons and evenings, the raining season is ideal. Those who thrive on activity, sunshine, and plenty of tourist activities will enjoy going during the dry season. Whatever your choice, plan on coming back a second time. It’s rare for anyone to see everything they want to see during a single holiday.

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Adventure Travel

Most Underrated Travel Destinations

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Everyone knows about Paris and Rome and London but there are so many other beautiful travel destinations that are amazingly underrated. The fact that so many beautiful countries go unexplored by travelers is a tragedy. Not only because so many people are missing out on rich cultures and picturesque views, but also because a lot of these destinations tend to be a lot cheaper to travel to than popular cities. 

A majority of Americans, when asked about traveling abroad, will likely shake their head and say they can’t afford such trips. Many people deal with multiple monthly bills, such as mortgage or rent, student loans, and title loans, which are all stress inducing. 

But what a lot of people don’t know is that there are gorgeous, underrated foreign cities one can visit for a fraction of the price of touristy European cities. Forbes recently published a collection of the ten most underrated destinations you should consider visiting. 

Here are a few of them:

Yerevan, Armenia

Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, is known for its magnificent sights of Mount Ararat, historical monasteries, and its many striking temple ruins. Armenian cuisine is other worldly with classic dishes like rabbit stew, sautéed eggplant rolls, and lamb tartare. 

Telč, Czechia

Telč is a colorful town with Italian influences in Czechia. It boasts of Baroque-Renaissance architecture and has a castle of its own with exciting tunnels and passageways that you can explore underneath the town.

Santiago, Chile

Santiago is the capital of Chile and features gorgeous architecture from the neoclassical era. There are towering cathedrals and, of course, plenty of quality Chilean wine. Plus, the city of Santiago is a great place to kick off your exploration of Chile’s wine country. 

Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Rotterdam is often ignored due to the popular neighboring city of Amsterdam, but it is a bastion of underground music and street art. The architecture is strikingly modern since the city was heavily bombed during World War II and thus had to be rebuilt from the ground up. The city is filled to the brim with amazing cuisine and museums.

Lagos, Nigeria

If you are looking for a big city destination, Lagos is a metropolis that has plenty to see and do so that you’ll never be bored. And whenever you need a break from the urban marketplaces, private beaches are just a short drive away.

Con Dao, Vietnam

Con Dao is a Southeast Asian island that makes an excellent beach destination with two resorts and tons of fascinating history. Once host to a brutal French prison, the island is also home to the tomb of the Vietnamese martyr Vo Thi Sau. 

Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

This is one of the oldest cities in Uruguay dating back to the 17th century. The city has a vibrantly decorated historic quarter and a three-century-old convent. It’s also only a short trip away from the bigger city of Montevideo.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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