Lake Naivasha: The Panorama

Ever imagined a place hugged by grassy banks and interrupted with cacti and sand olive trees, with a sunlit lake tugged in between these two contrasting landscapes. A lake of unimaginable dimensions, multitude of water birds, elusive water bucks grazing by the side of the lake and pinkened ears of hippos peeking out of water like periscopes and if it is not enough, the majestic tawny eagle darting over your head. Isn’t it what dreams are made of? Walking by the turquoise blue waters, with its inhabitants exhibiting a surprising nonchalance towards the visitors and with every step you might be filled with more shock and surprise finding yourself walking by the riverfront among the wildlife so undisturbed.

water buck@Lake Naivasha

Welcome to the beautiful Nakuru county of Kenya and this is the first hop – Lake Naivasha, the second largest freshwater lake of Kenya, at a comfortable distance of about 120 Kms from Nairobi. Frankly Lake Naivasha wasn’t on our bucket list, we were off to Lake Nakuru before taking a detour to Naivasha to discover that it is one of the best birding sites in whole of Africa. So what it takes to have a kaleidoscope of birds flying above you occasionally diving into the cool waters to cool off the sweltering heat or hiking among herds of zebras and wildebeests joined by occasional giraffes, impalas, gazelles, elands with mighty buffaloes also joining the chorus. Continue reading

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Mandvi: Own a private beach

Everyone loves a beach holiday. And what about when you can afford a private pristine white sand beach for yourself. And if you think, it’s incredulous, make a trip to Mandvi beach in Western Kutch and book for yourself a private beach owned by the Royal family of Kutch in the Vijay Vilas Palace. Now, we know what ‘happy holidays’ can really mean!

MANDVI BEACH01

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Crossing the uncharted territory: Chaari Dhaand

Its 4 am and I am driving on a surface that looks more Martian than that of our planet. The baked, grey earth over which we are driving is the Rann of Kutch. The stars are shining overhead in an ink black sky. We have no maps, no road signs or signals, no GPS coordinates and no roads to take us to the destined place. Our SUV, racing at a speed of 25 Km/hr looked like a space shuttle on the rugged surface of mars.

Being blessed with the beatific sight of huge flock of flamingos at Lake Neruru in Kenya, my yen for catching a glimpse of them in the Indian mainland was fuelled. This brought me to probably the most arid and tantalizingly beautiful landscape in the country – Rann of Kutch. I reached Bhuj with a set goal of capturing flamingos. From the beginning of my trip, the omens were bad. I had landed in the wrong season and this being a dry year hadn’t attracted many birds. But situations like this, often compel you to take the less travelled by route. A grand revelation came when I learnt that the manager of the Royal Orchid resort, Mr. Neeladri Das, was himself an avid birder and adventurer. It didn’t take me much time to rope him in this booty business. And that brought me, at 4 am, in a completely unknown surface with no landmarks, in search of flamingos. I am at Chaari Dhaand, a lesser known wetland in the midst of Rann. It does find a mention in the travel map of Kutch, but looking at the desolateness of the place, one can spot, that it is a less travelled by place.

handofcolors_Flock of Flamingos

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