Another early morning at Elsamere field study center! We started our day at Hells Gate National Park. Large cliffs perimeter the park and are also a very common nesting sights for raptors. Not until you stand next to the cliffs do you really appreciate its vastness.
Zebras grazing in front of the cliffs at Hell's Gate
In order to see the raptors in the cliffs, binoculars were needed and even then the birds were quite small. The only way we could really see the birds well was through a telescope! It was awesome watching the birds in their natural habitat. We saw Verreaux’s eagles, Lanner falcons, harrier hawks, augur buzzards, and even Ruppell’s vultures. Clearly, Hells Gate is a haven for raptors!
The park is also home to two gorges; an upper gorge and a lower gorge, which were formed in part to flooding and El Nino storms. Lake Naivasha used to reach the top of the gorges; 100 meters higher than it now sits today! A man named George, a member of the Massai tribe, guided us through the gorge. George, who carried a walking stick made from camphor tree, was very knowledgeable about the area and aided us in climbing the tricky and slippery rocks. The walk through the gorge was beautiful! It’s amazing what nature can do.
View from inside the gorge during our hike
After our hike through the gorge, we got on the bus and headed to two of KenGen’s geothermal plants. KenGen is an electricity company that produces geothermal, thermal, hydro, and wind energy. This plant is the only energy plant in the world that lies in a national park. Cyrus Karingithi, Assistant Manager of Resources Development at KenGen, guided us around the plant. The plant smelled strongly of sulfur and was very noisy. Although the plant was smelly and loud, it was fascinating to see the ins and outs of a power plant.
The group discussed energy usage in Kenya with Cyrus. KenGen wants to increase their wind and geothermal usages. In order to do so, they need to build more sources. KenGen plans to build a geothermal plant at the exact spot that we set up a telescope today in the park viewing raptors. Wind energy, although a very clean sources of energy, kills birds as they fly into the turbines. Unfortunately, raptors are not the first priority for KenGen when deciding where to set up their next plant. Hopefully someone can conince KenGen to take the raptors into consideration. Maybe a student’s work can convince them!
What a great day all around! Looking forward to a lecture from the editor of Swara magazine and a trip to Soysambu!