Travel and Photography Blog
Without a doubt, this was one of my favorite places in Kenya and my preferred in Naivasha. Crescent Island is actually a peninsula on Lake Naivasha. This site serves as a refuge and home to many wild animals, including zebras, wildebeests, gazelles and numerous types of birds. Since there are no predators in this sanctuary, you can walk freely among them!
We arrived in the afternoon after the day’s hottest hours had passed. On the way to the reserve we got very close to a couple of giraffes that had come out of the sanctuary to eat from the trees of neighboring farms and lots of gazelles resting in the shade under acacia trees.
Once we were inside the reserve we met the owner, Mrs. Linda. We had a very enriching and fun conversation that I will never forget. She has dedicated the last 40 years of her life to protect the sanctuary and the animals that live there. Listening to her stories was very interesting for Dany and for me as well. Mrs. Linda is a very intelligent, cultured, brave and fun lady; she speaks several languages and has travelled a lot. She even shared with us her memories of a couple of days that she spent in Mexico. She and her husband are admirable people that fight every day to protect the peninsula and its animals, a result of their deep love for nature.
After leaving the office where we paid 30 USD each (20 USD for students / 15 USD for children), we walked for a couple of minutes until we reached the top of a small hill in the center of the peninsula. From there we enjoyed a wonderful 360-degree view. On the top we found a guard and we asked him where the visiting buffaloes were, so that we could avoid their area. The buffaloes don’t live there, but they like to visit the reserve because they feel safe there; as a human, it’s best not to get close to them because they can feel threatened and attack, sometimes with fatal results. We continued walking the opposite way and saw many giraffes resting, zebras grazing alongside wildebeests, several types of gazelles and, next to the jetty, many birds, such as pelicans and eagles.
When we wanted to get closer to the giraffes, we suddenly smelt rain coming and a dark cloud started approaching. We took some very impressive photos of the sun concealed behind black clouds of rain and nearby animals. After a while, a light drizzle had started and by the time we reached the office we were drenched. We thought about walking back to the main road, but with the heavy rain coming down we had to pray for a miracle. Fortunately, Linda helped us getting a ride back to the road. A very pleasant Norwegian family that was also visiting the reserve agreed to take us in their vehicle although there was no space left. I had to sit on a guy’s lap while Dany sat on the vehicle’s floor wiping the window in front of the driver so it wouldn’t fog up. We spent the whole way joking around with the family while the driver navigated his way around a muddy road; needless to say, it was an incredible experience!
What to do
If you like animals and you’re around Naivasha, you should definitely visit this sanctuary. You can spend many hours trying to get as close as you can to the animals and take amazing pictures while walking at your own pace. At the center of the peninsula there are fewer trees, but you can find zebras and wildebeests grazing; you will also see many holes dug by hares. Near the trees that surround the peninsula, there are giraffes and other animals resting in the shade. Next to the jetty there are lots of birds and, if you’re lucky, you might see a hippo or two. At the top of the hill you can enjoy the view of the lake and the rest of the peninsula. If you feel like it, you can hire a guide for free (tips are appreciated) so that he can help you cover the whole place and explain about the animals.
How to get there
You can reach the peninsula either by land or by water.
Land: The easiest way to get there is with private transportation provided by your hotel or travel agencies. The price usually includes round-trip transportation and the reserve’s entry fees. However, the cheapest way is by public transportation, which we chose. For 70 shillings we took a matatu from our hotel (Camp Carnelley’s) towards Naivasha, but we got off before reaching the town, right in front of the sign indicating “Crescent Island Game Sanctuary”. We were received at the gate by a friendly guard who let us in and showed us a map that helped guide us. We walked for 2 kilometers amid farms and cattle zones, and we passed by green areas with wild animals that had left the reserve. We even saw the corpses of a zebra and a wildebeest that had been eaten by hyenas the past night. After a while, we arrived at the reserve’s first gate where we had to explain that we wanted to visit the sanctuary. The guard showed us to the second gate and left us there, very close to the ticket office.
Water: The other way you can reach the sanctuary is by taking a boat. There are a couple of agencies and hotels in Naivasha that can take you to the peninsula by boat. The price is per boat, not per person, so it’s convenient to look for other travelers and split the cost. The boat will leave you at the sanctuary’s jetty and from there you must walk. The boat will wait to take you back to your take-off point. Camp Carnelley’s boat charges 3,500 shillings for the trip.
Remember that most animals are more active in the mornings and evenings. During the hottest hours (at noon), they hide and it’s more difficult to see them.
If you like animals, plan to spend lots of time at the peninsula, from two to three hours. If you’re planning on taking an organized tour, ask beforehand how much time you’ll be able to spend at the reserve to see if it’s what you’re expecting.
Don’t get too close to the animals. Even though they tend to hide from humans, a giraffe’s kick can kill an adult, so keep your distance.
Take a raincoat, as the rain is very unpredictable.
If you’ll arrange your tour through a travel agency or your hotel, insist on paying the admission fee upon arriving at the sanctuary. There are a couple of agencies that forge fake tickets; by doing this, they can take you to a different sanctuary with a similar name (imitators) without you realizing it, or your admission fee might end up in the wrong pocket.
Web site: http://www.crescentisland.co/index.html
Written by Stephany
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