Lonely Planet Writer

Pathfinder pics: a walk on the wild side in Kenya

Capture

Lonely Planet Pathfinder, Lauren Yakiwchuk recently visited Kenya to volunteer at the Soysambu Conservancy, where she participated in projects to help local wildlife. Here she shares her experience.

'I jumped at the opportunity to combine my two loves – caring for animals and travelling. Our small expedition group lived at the Soysambu Conservancy, a wildlife reserve nestled between Nairobi and Nakuru in the Great Rift Valley. Every day was an adventure; whether we were monitoring wildlife or gathering metal snares left by poachers, we were always surrounded by wild African animals. This was their home more than it was ours and I could never grow tired of witnessing those beautiful creatures and that stunning landscape.'

The cradle of humanity

'It's thought that our species originated and evolved in the Great Rift Valley. Often times, we forged our own paths, driving across the dry grasslands and through the lush forests. The conservancy property covers 48,000 acres, including Lake Elmenteita, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”

A guiding light

'I never leave home without my guide book. The planning process is the beginning of an exciting journey. Plus, in the evenings, I'd flip through the pages to remember phrases in Swahili, and learn more about the animals that I discovered that day!'

In the wild

'We stayed at cottages in the conservancy where we were continually dazzled at dusk. As the sun began to set, animals wandered into our backyard to drink at the water trough. Growing darker still, more animals sauntered onto the property and before long, the yard became filled with zebra, gazelles, waterbuck, monkeys, and more.'

Free as a bird

'Over 400 species of birds live at Lake Elmenteita, a soda lake in the Rift Valley. This includes 28% of the world's population of the lesser flamingo, pictured here. This lake is also the only breeding ground in all of east Africa for the great white pelican.'

Meet Boo Boo

'While monitoring the endangered Rothschild giraffes, we discovered some that had never been photographed or entered into the database. I was lucky enough to be asked to name one of the babies, so I named this baby giraffe Justin. At the time of taking this picture he was only two weeks old, so young that you can still see the umbilical cord hanging from him.'

Do you love to write about your travels? Or perhaps Instagram is your thing? Find out more about our Pathfinders programme and how you can contribute to Lonely Planet here.