Lake Naivasha is a glittering expanse of placid water. Sacred Ibis make their noisy colonies in the trees and giraffes dip their heads to drink. An otter glides across the water and a fish eagle sighs its eerie call. All is calm. Suddenly a monstrous body lurches from the water, lumbering slowly towards shore. A male hippo is approaching. Looking more intently I notice that what I had taken as a line of rocks are in fact a family of hippos, their eyes gaze at me malevolently. My thoughts go to the fishermen, perched high in the trees above the hippos, lines dangling in the hope of Tilapia.
Hippos kill more than 500 humans a year in Africa. Fiercely territorial, they swim faster than a boat and run faster than a man. Enter their space or get between a mother and a baby and the chances of an attack are incredibly high. Lake Naivasha in Kenya’s rift valley is home to over 500 hippos. These great beasts and the human population have an uneasy relationship. Every year someone is killed in Naivasha, but still, the fisherman fish and the tourist boats tour the lake, creeping dangerously close to hippo pods or the lone unhappy gentleman.
A trip to Lake Naivasha is a chance to experience the heart of Africa just outside Nairobi. It’s a 90 minute car journey through the majestic canyon that is the Rift Valley. You can take lunch by the waters edge, fish off a pier or take one of the small motorboats out to see hippos close up.
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