Excerpt from the African Icons Book chapter: The Great Rift Valley. Kenya
There is something about safari life that makes you forget all your sorrows and feel as if you had drunk half a bottle of champagne, bubbling over with heartfelt gratitude for being alive.
Karen Blixen, Out of Africa
Way Out of Africa
The Great Rift Valley is a perplexing place, and always has been. People have lived here since there were people, and pre-humans (as well as the ancestors of the great apes) before that. The rifting created great troughs where water collected, and the volcanoes that accompanied the faulting spewed out wonderfully fertile soils. It was all anyone, or any animal, could ask for and life has consequently thrived there.
But the Great Rift Valley is not one thing, rather it is a confounding geological phenomenon; it has been described as “lots of rifts” but even that does not adequately define the interconnecting complex of faults and grabens that dice up much of East Africa. There are two main systems of deep earth trenches in East Africa: the main, Eastern or Gregory Rift, and the Western or Albertine Rift. The two branches look like upstretched arms separated by the 1,300-kilometre wide East African Plateau on which lies the largest of Africa’s great lakes, Lake Victoria.
The Albertine Rift is flanked by some of the highest mountains in Africa including the glacier-chiseled Ruwenzori, or Mountains of the Moon, and holds most of the biggest lakes including Lake Tanganyika, the longest and second deepest freshwater body on the planet. Other significant lakes of this system include Edward, Albert and Kivu. Being discrete, deep and freshwater systems these great lakes are home to an extraordinary number and diversity of freshwater fishes. There are around 1,500 species of cichlids and another eight major fish families, which together with the cichlids represent the backbone of the world’s freshwater aquarium trade today.
However, it is the Gregory Rift that is the more extensive and the one most associated with the concept of a “great rift valley”.
Watch our video below
We stayed at Great Rift Valley Lodge and Golf Resort while photographing and researching this chapter.
A Lodge With A View
Great Rift Valley Lodge is ideally located on Mount Eburru, called Ol Donyo Opurru by the Maasai, which means ‘the mountain of smoke”. The lodge is more like a country, or bush hotel, and by far the most comfortable place to stay in the region. Everything about it impressed us way beyond expectations. The service delivery and attention to detail is on a par with anything we have experienced anywhere in Africa.
The lodge has luxuriant “hanging” gardens that cascade down the many slopes and are most impressive with an array of indigenous trees, shrubs and flowers. Each chalet is situated among verdant greenery with generous views over the Green Eco Park in which it is situated. The vistas extend across Lake Naivasha, the largest of the Rift Valley lakes in the area, and towards the spectacular dormant volcano, Mount Longonot.
At an elevation of 7000 ft the lodge experiences a moderate climate, which is ideal for outdoor activities. The 18-hole golf course has magnificent greens and golfers are expected to avoid hitting the zebras!
Great Rift Valley Lodge has received its fair share of accolades, having already garnered awards such as a World Travel Award as Kenya’s best golf resort in 2011, a TripAdvisor certificate of excellence and a Kenyan Eco-Tourism silver rating. It is in every respect a very stylish destination.
One has to wonder what Lucy might make of it.