The first time I went to Lake Bogoria was in 2010. We were six bona fide students of Kenyatta University who decided to backpack to the lake. A friend of ours had recommended a campsite in Maji moto called Netbon Eco tourism camp. The camp was charging Ksh.600 per person per night on bed only and at that time, this was all we could afford. We took a matatu to Nakuru and on arrival; we did shopping that was enough for 3 days. None of us had an idea of how to proceed after Nakuru so we searched for a bus stop with matatus heading to Mogotio and Marigat. We got hold of one driver who had a Toyota Noah and explained to him our journey and where we wanted to go. He agreed to ferry us though he did not know how long or how many kilometers it would take to Maji Moto.
The Journey started and after 1 hour and 40 minutes, we were at Mogotio town center. We were advised not to take the road we had initially planned to use because our vehicle could not manage. It’s a rough road that requires only four by fours. This meant that we had to follow the tarmac to Marigat, branch towards Lake Bogoria Spa Resort, enter and drive through the park and exit through Maji moto gate to get to the camp. It was the driver’s first time to take that route and we were all clueless. When we entered the park, he was directed by the rangers on how to get to Maji Moto. A few kilometers in the park, he stopped the vehicle and walked outside. We thought he had gone for a short call, but he never came back. Wondering what was going on, we opened the door and there he was standing; a few meters from the vehicle and on a call. After noticing our impatience, he walked towards us then murmured “Mimi sipiti hapa kama hamuongezi pesa” (am not moving an inch until you add some money-now put a kalenjin accent) You can imagine how shocked we were on hearing that.
Who does that? In the middle of a park and at night? We did not have a choice so we agreed to add Kshs. 1500 and he accepted to continue with the drive. After the incident, everyone went quiet. Luckily, we exited the park and we were at Maji Moto. Once he dropped us, he did not say a word to anyone. He drove off at top speed like a thief in a market place. We went ahead and checked in and met our host who was patiently waiting for us.
Netbon Eco Camp is next to a river whose water comes from underground at 37 degrees. When we went to the river the next day, our creative minds thought of a swimming pool/Jacuzzi idea. We got shovels and sacks and within 2 hours, we had created a natural hot spa.
Let me cut the story short lest I forget the purpose on writing this article. On the 3rd day, we realized that we did not have a ride to Nakuru. We couldn’t reach the guy who dropped us because on one hand, there was no network coverage and on the other hand, we were not sure he would agree to come back. The manager at the camp informed us that there was a pick up that ferries people to Mogotio town, from where they can board a matatu to nakuru. That was a brilliant idea, however, the pick up only operated on Thursdays. We did not have a choice but to wait for Thursday.
Since, we had not planned for that day, our host suggested we hike up to Lake Bogoria. We all agreed to that as it was going to be an adventurous walk in the park. Though we did not manage to see any animals, the walk itself did us good and we got to the lake safely. The views here were amazing (how I wish I had a camera). The geysers were something else and the springs could shoot as high as eight feet from the ground. We undressed (three-quarter way of course) and enjoyed a sauna moment.
The second time I went to this lake was in November 2012. This time round, I went with the president’s award Kenyatta University chapter. We stayed at the same camp and enjoyed the same Jacuzzi. We also went to the lake and enjoyed the Geysers. However, this time round, the springs could only manage to shoot round 4 feet from the ground. Interestingly, the shooting springs had moved 2 kilometers further from where I left them in 2010.
I went to Lake Bogoria for the 3rd time in 2013. This time round, I was working at an e-commerce company called Rupu. I took tourists to Lake Bogoria and stayed in the same campsite. We enjoyed the Jacuzzi, did a half day hike and went to the Lake. This time round, the geysers had moved further from where I left them in 2012, and they could only manage to shoot about 2.5 to 3 feet high.
My fourth time to visit this lake was over Easter holidays in 2015. We were just two and we back packed. Fortunately, there was a bus plying Mogotio - maji moto route on a daily basis. As a routine, we enjoyed the Jacuzzi and we got company of other visitors at the camp. Since, my friend could not hike up to the Lake, we sought services of a boda boda. The experience was different and adventurous. Just like my previous visits, the springs had moved further. We noticed something unusual though; the water level had raised and some section of the tarmac had been submerged. The geysers could only manage to shoot 1 foot above the ground. The hot steam and natural sauna I had experienced years before were no more.
I went for the 5th time to Lake Bogoria in January 2017. We visited Lake Bogoria before heading to Eldoret via Kabarnet. The springs had not shifted from where I left them in 2015. One of the geysers could shoot up to 2 feet above the ground and I hoped these were the good old days coming back. We then boiled eggs and since we did not have much time, we left for Eldoret.
On Saturday 27th October, 2018, I visited Lake Bogoria for the 6th time. This time round, I had a good camera, but no hopes for geysers. We drove for an hour and a half from the gate looking for hot springs. The road has been moved twice uphill because of the increasing water levels. I could spot the places inside the Lake where geysers used to be years back. After the long drive, we got some springs. Just vents with water boiling on the ground. We could only boil eggs.
With the look of things, the springs are in the verge of being covered by water. Some sections of the new road also must be moved soon because the water has already encroached. My dreams of ever seeing Geysers at Lake Bogoria again got crashed. Why didn’t I have a camera those days to capture the magic? Will the millennials believe me when I tell them about the natural sauna? It’s definite that Geysers are no more at Lake Bogoria. What we have now are just hot springs not unless magic happens and some erupt uphill. I have noticed with concern that the water levels in almost all Rift Valley Lakes is increasing. The springs also increase water in the Lake.
Now that I have narrated my geysers’ story, we can reason together and read from the same page. It is quite unfortunate that we can’t continue selling geysers to tourists and visitors of Lake Bogoria National Reserve. The park is beautiful and has other attractions. It has its own magic and remains a very unique gem. Why am I this confident?
Flamingos are the flowers of this Lake with over 1.3 million flamingos having migrated to Lake Bogoria as tourism season peaked from the months of July going forward. Flamingos often fly in their large “V” formations to Tanzania's Lake Natron for nesting before returning to Lake Bogoria where there is abundant food as there is minimal competition and predators. They add beauty to this lake with their vibrant pink color. Hopefully, the algae and other aquatic plants eaten by Flamingos will not be affected by the rising water levels.
Lake Bogoria National Reserve is the home of Africa’s most magnificent and endangered (second largest) antelope called the greater Kudu. Other Savannah wildlife to see in this park include Klipspringers, Caracal, Zebra, Grant ’s gazelle, Buffalo, Dik-dik, Impala and Patas monkey among others. Predators present in this park include leopard, hyena, jackal and mongoose. I did not manage to capture animals on camera because our agenda was to get to the hot springs.
Lake Bogoria is a remarkably long and narrow soda lake dominated by the sheer face of the Siracho escarpment and the north-eastern parts of the Aberdares on the eastern shore. With the shifting road gradually moving uphill, the views are magical. One is able to get a birds’ eye view of the Lake. Probably a new feature could be developed in the escarpments or on the western side hills such as a picnic site or viewpoints.
The Kesubo Swamp just north of the lake is a heaven for bird-watchers and the swamp holds the Kenyan record for the largest number of species seen in one hour (96 species of birds).
There are probably other reasons for visiting this park, but these are the only ones I was able to think about. Even if there was no other reason for visiting the park apart from the four, it is worth the time and money. Most importantly, let us desist from selling Lake Bogoria Geysers to tourists. We can sell the hot springs and when on the ground explain the history of geysers before the rising water levels.
Until next time, keep travelling…………………..
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