Origins, Patterns and Conservation of Biodiversity in East Africa

Naivasha. Boat trip to Crescent Island, geocaching & student presentations – June 7

Blog post 3: Group C: Rachael, May, Allen. Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Today was our last full day in Lake Naivasha, and dare we say it was the best one yet. We awoke to a cacophony of birds this morning, and a beautiful sunrise backdropping our tents, trusty safari bus, and some hippos. We started our morning fairly early with a lovely boat ride across Lake Naivasha, which was led by our boat guides, Jeremy and Nixon. Seeing our camp from the lake gave us a new perspective and showed us several new bird species, such as the Goliath Heron and the Great White Pelican. Our intrepid boat guides were very knowledgeable and had keen eyes, pointing out rarities such as Intermediate Egret, Sacred Ibis, and Hamerkop. We also saw plenty of hippos as we cruised along the lakeshore towards Crescent Island, a game reserve and tourist hotspot. Mount Longonot loomed in the distance, and tulip farms edged the shoreline of the lake. We arrived at Crescent Island at around 8 AM, and met our guide, Steve (not Lougheed). Crescent Island is the western edge of a crater impact basin of Lake Naivasha, and is reminiscent of savannah, with species such as Common Zebra, Ostriches, Thompson Gazelle, and Wildebeests. We got the chance to see some rarer species such as the Fisher’s Lovebird and the Bat-eared Fox. In our opinion, though, the cutest species was the Dik-dik – a tiny antelope. We noticed some abandoned building on the shoreline of the lake that demonstrated to us the inevitability of nature over humans and the unstoppable power of the riparian water level shifts, which we all found to be a valuable learning tool. As we were returning, we collected water samples to measure the alkalinity of the lake. Hippos flanked us as we made our way back to shore, giving us a bit of a fright. Our guides navigated us back safely, and we managed to get some great snapshots of the hippos.

Despite our long morning of activities, our day was far from over. In the afternoon, we continued our presentations on biodiversity articles, with topics such as coral bleaching and biodiversity sensitivity. Our presenters Kaida, Grace, Rachael, and Sol all did wonderfully and sparked fascinating, collaborative discussions. Prof. Wang touched upon the alkalinity of the water samples we collected earlier. It was an insightful extension upon our speaker, Silas, from yesterday. There was an intense geocaching competition among the three groups. The competition that was set up by our professors and their helpers, Allen and Arjun, was a great opportunity to practice our GPS skills and learn about Kenya’s history and biodiversity. Allen and Arjun hid nine questions across the campground for our teams to locate using GPS coordinates, and we spent the late afternoon searching for and answering them. The competition got confusing when primates, either monkey or human, took one of the questions from its hiding spot. Despite that, we learned a lot and had tons of fun. The competition was fierce, and we bought the winners some drinks from the campground restaurant.

After a delicious dinner. Including a Kenyan staple, ugali, Prof. Wang led a lecture on water issues in Kenya, projected on the side of our bus. Carol answered our questions. We retired for the night, eagerly awaiting adventures tomorrow. We had a wonderful time at Lake Naivasha, and look forward to our forays into Masai Mara.

Our Lake Naivasha camp at dawn. Meg to the right. Photo by Allen Tian

Grace, Steve and our boat captain and guide Jeremy.

On the water

Yuxiang’s boat crew

Class photo Crescent Island. Front (from L). Arjun, Kaida, May, Andy, Wei. Back (from L). Our guide Steve, Grace, Rachael, Sol, Meg, Allen, Madeleine, Alyssa and Yuxiang.

Helmeted guineafowl. Crescent Island

Dik-dik. Crescent Island

Goliath heron

Bat-eared fox

Fisher’s lovebird


  1. Mary Dillon

    The photo of the camp at dawn is lovely!

    Once you got safely back to land, it must have been incredible to have seen all those hippos.

    I really enjoyed this part of today’s blog: “The competition got confusing when primates, either monkey or human, took one of the questions from its hiding spot.”

    Thanks for another wonderful installment!

  2. Nu Nu

    Thank you for your blogs. I feel as if I was with you all along. What an adventure trip! I envy you having great experiences. Your hippo picture reminds me of Madagascar movie. I look forward reading more. Please keep blogging!

  3. Thi Ha

    It must be an exciting, fun-filled and very educational trip. I wish I am a few decades younger to be able to join the group 🙂 :).

    Great story telling. Like the part highlighting the likeness in behaviors of human and monkey.

    It must be very frightening to be flanked by Hippo. Anyone got a closeup picture?

  4. Cathy Alex

    I have to echo Mary and say the photo of the tents in the early morning light is so beautiful. And I laughed at the antics of whichever primate was the culprit.

    The boat ride must have given a wonderful new perspective on the region, and brought home many of the issues and topics you’re discussing.

    As a former nature interpreter, I’ve also got to say I’m so impressed by the many different and highly interactive teaching and learning methods being employed. Plus there’s just so many amazing creatures to see! The dik-dik is very adorable, while Fisher’s Lovebird is completely lovable!

    Thank you for including so many pictures!

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