What hiking with a baby really looks like: Chasing giraffes at Crescent Island

Serendipity is how I can say we per-chanced upon one of the most beautiful and scenic spots in Naivasha: The “Crescent Island Game Sanctuary”.

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We were meant to be heading to the Menengai crater in Nakuru, when ubiquitous traffic police with their speed guns forced us to make a detour into Naivasha. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise because forget the Nairobi National Park, in Crescent Island you literally get to be chill with the animals as close as you are brave enough to possibly get!

Crescent Island is located on Lake Naivasha, Kenya in the Great Rift Valley, 100 km from Nairobi, about a two hours drive. Surrounded by water, it is actually a peninsular and is accessible by boat from East or West as well as by road.

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The shores host abundant bird life including pelicans, cormorants and fish-eagles with their haunting cry. If you are enthusisatic about photographing the fish eagles the guides have fish which they use to attract the fish eagles to catch. However this is discouraged as it is causing them to lose their hunting skills and be dependent on fish from the tourists / visitors.

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There were tonnes of animals too. Much more than I have ever seen at once in any one park at a time. The Wildebeeste, Waterbuck, Zebra, Gazelle, Hippo and giraffes. It was a beauty to behold. The great thing is that they are not shy at all!  They were very much at ease mingling with humans.  I guess this is because the sanctuary is not fenced allowing the wildlife on the mainland to come in as they lose their habitat to development and the ever increasing population.

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From Crescent Island its very easy to see Mount Longonot, close to Hell’s Gate National Park.

The visit was just lovely. Absolutely mzoori!

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Part of the beautiful scenery all around 

Now to the baby part: 

“Get your traveling in now, because you won’t be able to do it once you have kids.”

If I had a dollar for every time I heard this statement before I had a child, I wouldn’t have had one! And, sadly, the more I heard these words, the more I started to believe them. But travel has always played an important role in my life, so the thought of giving it up to raise my child was out of the question and so here I am trying to make it work.!

Food:

I made this trip when my little girl was about 6 months. To be honest the planning part was a little hectic, as she hadn’t quite transitioned to solids yet. I was still mostly her sole source of nutrition and so it was tricky nursing whilst hiking and driving. What was even more worse? Having to plan on this last minute because we were originally headed to Nakuru.

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When baby wants. She wants. And she wants it right now.. Little one wanted to kill us because we delayed her meal time. Note the look of exasperation on both my and the nanny’s face! You best be prepared 😀 Please remember to have baby’s milk and warm water on standby or at least easily accessible on the trip and on the hike.

Planning:

I love planning my trips to the proverbial T and I was a little worried that I would miss out on the experience because I didn’t have the details I needed at hand when we decided to go on a hunch. We didn’t even have the general directions to the place. It didn’t help that we were delayed because a lot of precious time was wasted with the altercation with the police. Before I had my little girl, being lost was sometimes its own adventure, but now with an unpredictable sometimes cranky one, every step counts and I want the most direct (read shortest and fastest) route from point A to point B. Thankfully we didn’t get lost (Much gratitude to Google Maps) and other than hunger she was very happy to be out in the wild. As far as planning goes, what I learnt from this experience is that if Plan A doesn’t succeed always have a back up plan B. Leave room for unplanned mishaps and always make the best out of bad situations.

Leave room for unplanned mishaps and always make the best out of bad situations.

Moving around:

I’m not very good with conventional child carriers. I don’t know if it is because my girl is a little on the heavier side but my back hurts so bad every time I use a carrier even for a measly 15 minutes, right from when she was just a few months old.

I have since found wearing / wrapping up my baby (the traditional African way, with a leso / khanga) much more easier for both my little one and myself. She loves it. My particular favorite is the ring sling carrier from  Toto Wraps. This wrap is heaven sent.  I carry it everywhere. To church, for grocery shopping, to the clinic. It never leaves the diaper bag for one reason – comfort. I was able to nurse baby as we walked, easily shifting her from back, to side and front positions.

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Remember to protect the little ones from the direct sunlight too. A little cap / hat will do.

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Peekaboo! 

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Making new friends with other mommas on the trail

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We also had a stroller with us. Which helped a lot especially since it is tiring to hold a heavy baby for a long time. If you can, go with a stroller. Crescent Island is very stroller friendly with paths that won’t give you much grief pushing the little one along. Also the stroller can double up as a changing pad or nap cot. And also act as storage for the diaper bag and other items for the trip.

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So this is what hiking with a baby actually looks like. Other than the rigorous planning, checklists and what seems to be a mountain load of bags, not too bad after all.. Huh? 😉

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Stay classy prepared parents who dare travel with their little ones. As always, in it together 🙂

 

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Useful Information:

The charges for the boat ride across the lake to the Island and back was Kshs. 3500. This is competitive and negotiable from the different service providers you will find at the shore.

Entry Fees into the park (for Residents):

Adults: Ksh 1,000
Children: Kshs 500

There are guides on a first come first serve basis, with no additional charges but please remember to have some tips for them.

The park is open daily at 8am – CLOSED at 6pm. Additional information and directions here.

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