As we reached the western side of the park, we finally caught a glimpse of what gave the park its name-- plumes of steam rising from the earth. Unfortunately, these hot springs were too hot for bathing, but they were being harnessed for geothermal power. The Ol Karia Geothermal Station takes up much of this section of the park, crisscrossing it with pipes and power lines and dotting it with wells and power stations, which makes it a bit less scenic. But we did get an interesting tour from one of the guards.
After 14 km of hiking, we were pretty beat by the time we reached our destination at the far side of the park. While we were sitting and waiting for the bus to take us back to town, a British fellow who worked at the plant drove by and asked if we wanted a ride. And that was how we met Steve, an enthusiastic fellow who had come to Naivasha 25 years ago for a two year engineering project and never left. He was excited to meet some new Americans, so he invited us for the evening to a dance competition at the local country club.
We didn't know what to expect as we pulled up that night to this little bar out in the woods, but it turns out we were very lucky to get a personal invitation to this place. The Naivasha Sports Club has been around since the 1920's or so, when it hosted many wild parties by the Happy Valley crew (the wealthy British who lived in the area). Now there was a new set of folks enjoying the setting, but it was still a members only establishment. Along with the dance competition (which our feet were too sore to participate in), they also served a fabulous meal with duck and ham and deviled eggs and cole slaw, not to mention a fair amount of wine. Much singing and dancing ensued...
That night we also had the good fortune of meeting a lovely couple who had lived all over the world, including some time in Nashville and Atlanta, two of our old stomping grounds. After spending all evening talking with one another, they invited us to stay at their house the following night. We had already planned to hike Mt. Longonot, one of the striking volcanic peaks in the Rift Valley, the next morning, so they offered to pick us up in town the following afternoon.
It was not easy to get out of bed after such a late night at the NSC, but we were lured by promises of a beautiful view from the top. If I had known how hard the hike up would be, I might have just stayed in bed!
But it was spectacular to get to the top of the mountain and look over the rim into a lush, green crater.
Behind us, out spread the Rift Valley, its vast flat plains splashed with sunlight through the impending stormclouds.