|Tuesday 24th July - Kenya - Lyongalani
It just so happens that the American students were all leaving Koobi Fora this morning, heading south to Lyongalani just like we planned to do. Their research time is now over and they are all heading home within the next week or so.
They were up early and left a couple of hours before us so that meant that we didnt have any queues for toilets or showers. The facilities at Koobi Fora are basic but clean and good. The site itself is amazing with view across the big lake, herds of topi grazing in the distance and then nothing apart from a big sky and a huge expanse of open, stark country covered in golden grass. It must have been quite an experience to have been based here for 6 weeks!
In our more limited experience of Koobi Fora it does have a couple of other impressive characteristics a mighty wind and a ferocious band of mosquitoes. The sound of the gale howling around the tent last night was almost scary at times. On a few occasions Andrew, in the role that Jane calls the sacrificial male, descended the ladder in the dead of night to check that the tent was still securely anchored to the ground. Keziah slept soundly through it all, but Naomi was a bit perturbed, crying out Mummmmyyyy at one point and then crawling over to her parents side of the tent to spend the rest of the night with us. Andrew, Jane and I didnt sleep very well the noise of the wind was just too loud.
There were no lasting ill-effects from the wind, but unfortunately the same cannot be said for the mosquitoes. We realised there were mozzies soon after arriving at Koobi Fora so we put on long sleeves, long trousers and insect repellent. Thankfully the children havent got any bites, but the rest of us do particularly Jane who has lots of them.
We left this morning at about 10am. The road was very rough and at times very faint, but we had some directions from the university group, so that was helpful. Countryside is far too soft a word to use for the land that we drove through. It is harsh, rocky, at times desert-like, more like a lunar landscape than anything earthy but also very beautiful. We caught up with the students and overtook their convoy but other than that we drove for hours without seeing any other sign of humanity.
Lake Turkana was out of sight for most of today, reappearing towards the end of our journey as we approached Lyongalani, a little town on the lake shore. At about 4.30 we pulled into Musaretu, a campsite run by a local womans project and set up our tent there.
The girls have taken two Baby Anabelle dolls with them and it is very amusing to see peoples reactions to the dolls. When we were in Turmi, the Hamer people were fascinated by the dollies, almost nervous of them at first. Here the Turkana and Samburu people at the campsite are similarly interested. At one point we drew quite a crowd of people who wanted to see and touch the dolls.
In the afternoon we spoke to a man at the campsite who worked for a charity in the Lyongalani area. He kindly took us up to his house to view the sunset over the lake. His house was in an incredible position above the lake and it was a wonderful place from which to appreciate the beauty of this far-flung place.
The American students arrived a couple of hours after us and also set up camp at Musaretu. They are a friendly group and we have had good chats with quite a few of them. One even gave us his African wildlife field guide a great book that will be really handy for us over the next few weeks. Thanks!