Crescent Island: Naivasha’s piece of paradise amidst the noise and haste

Crescent Island: Naivasha’s piece of paradise amidst the noise and haste Photo/ Photo Search

What you need to know:

Crescent Island, is Lake Naivasha best kept secret

Crescent Island is all about acacia woodland, bushy grassland, and papyrus swamps as well as both campsite and residential lodges

Every end of June since 2021, a cacophony of cars, thousands of Nairobians, hundreds of foreigners, and in 2023, tens of Ugandan gentlemen, descend(ed) upon Naivasha county for the World Rally Championship (WRC).

Naivasha, by the way, means ‘lake’ in Maasai – and is the lingual outcome of the mzungu being unable to pronounce ‘enashapai.

Anyway, as others got to chasing after rally cars, partying, and drinking, at WRC stages such as ‘Sleeping Warrior’ – where some nocturnal warriors did have their drinks spiked and were stolen from as they slept (more than 50 cases were reported) – we opted for the oasis amidst the noise and the haste of ‘Naivegas.’

That is Crescent Island, often referred to as the best-kept secret of Lake Naivasha, as you are soon about to discover.

But first, how to get there!

Take the Moi South Lake Road, turn right into the Boffar Residences and campsite, and go to the lakeside lounge called The Hook.

Ask for a manager called Jeff, and for Sh3,500, he will arrange a boat tour and your transportation to-and-from Crescent Island.

Off the Hook, pardon the pun, on the way to Crescent Island, we saw a family of flamingos, crews of fishermen and soaring fish eagles, before landing on the pier of the crescent-shaped island, the result of a submerged volcanic rim, that has two exit points post-tour.

After posing for the landing picture, it was time to pay the entry fees to KWS of this game sanctuary, founded by a now-deceased eccentric English couple in the mid-1980s.

KWS guides come free with the fee, that is Sh800 for local adult citizens, Sh500 for children, and Sh1,100 for residents of Kenya, affordable for the unique experience that you are about to encounter.

But, sometimes, it is better to walk or hike through nature’s gems, without a guide in your ear telling you what you are (supposed) to see.

Crescent Island is all about acacia woodland, bushy grassland, and papyrus swamps as well as both campsite and residential lodges that one can stay in overnight.

We got there at noon and stayed for three hours for an unforgettable afternoon.

Shortly into the leisurely stroll, there were waterbucks eating cabbage, yes, on the grassland just before you get into the museum, a simple one-long wall affair that is a knowledge centre for the visiting school children (none was there that Saturday afternoon).

Off the trail, we went, near a KWS kibanda where mischievous monkeys were trying to steal bird eggs and were continuously thwarted by some angry birds.

Garden of Eden

 Then came the ‘Adam and Eve’ moment that will stay in my mind forever – walking through a grassy plain, right through herds of animals.

Watchful long-horned waterbucks, restless wildebeest, nervous Thompson’s gazelles, graceful dik-diks, zebras so ‘domesticated’ they looked like donkeys-in-pajamas, gnus and quite a few other species.

It finally dawned on me why ‘Out of Africa,’ the 1985 Best Picture movie hit, was shot here on Crescent Island, posing as the Maasai Mara.

After that, it was time to find an acacia tree, that quintessence of Africa, to sit under and have wine and picnic, and this being Crescent Island, we do so a few meters from a gentle gang of giraffes, the most inquisitive one of whom I nicknamed Gidraffe the Giraffe.

After gamboling with the giraffes, it was time to call Omondi the Boatman to come and whisk us back to the mainland, and mayhem (I would later lose a mobile phone at a so-called party island, nearby).

As the boat bopped in the grey afternoon towards The Hook, the best lounge place in Naivasha, with hippopotamus submerged in the waters, it occurred to me that the rally chasers and the nature lovers are hippos.

The former is hip-hop hippos who think they are hip and hype, the latter being hippie hippos who imagine the others to be hypocrites, or at least Philistinish when it comes to the crescent-shaped pleasures of nature.