On April 4th 1980 I was at Lake Naivasha in Kenya.
|Hell's Gate: My picture|
Hell's Gate was a small valley formed out of some dried up prehistoric Rift Valley river. It lay just over the hill behind the SULMAC flower farm, which has always been controversial internationally, but attracted workers from all over Kenya and gave its name to the village on the west side of the lake. I had been to the mouth of the valley a couple of days before with a larger party and a Pokot guard from the flower farm.
This time I went to see what birds we could record with one of my friends and a more experienced Danish birdwatcher - (in 2 days around Naivasha we recorded 125 species.) After passing the flower farm, we found a way to walk over the hillside and through a little pass. Here we disturbed an eland which tried to come down a steep path the way we were going up. It was exciting to be so close to such a large antelope, and no doubt dangerous as well. We sat up on the cliffs for much of the middle of the day looking down on the valley which forms the gate. At this height we were level with the lammergeyers when they were settling or taking off on their long sorties for prey. Sometimes animals like giraffe and zebra would come by. More typical and more interesting were the small antelope and hyrax which lived around the rocks. To be out on foot in what was to all intents and purposes wild Africa was wonderful; we saw no other humans during those hours, but the wildlife was all around us.
The next day we went out again, this time by the lakeside down by the Safariland Hotel where there was a good range of water and garden birds. This was a much more humanised environment. As I came out of the hotel grounds I got swept away by the excitement of the Safari Rally which was passing at that time. I took a matatu back to the Sulmac village and we were overtaken by a couple of the faster cars which seemed exciting.
I returned to Hell's Gate at the end of 1984 and it had become a National Park. You could still walk about but there were already more people around. Maasai were driving their cattle through the valley and the lammergeyers were not to be seen.
|Safari Rally at Naivasha: My picture|
|Sulmac Village at Naivasha: My picture|
|Garden of Safariland Hotel. My picture from 1984|
|Hell's Gate in 1984: My picture|
View Naivasha in a larger map