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Eating lunch with the birds of Lake Baringo

The Baringo tourism circuit is not just a destination for travellers who aim to go off the beaten path, but also for starving foodies seeking delicacies

Harriet Akinyi @PeopleDailyKe

The beauty of Baringo and her environs is legendary, comprising a dazzling array of colourful birds, spectacular sunsets as well as the indigenous Njemps fishermen.

Island Camp hotel is well known for its cold soups at lunch (potato, avacodo, gazpacho (or leek) but what fascinated me about the place is dining with the magnificent view of Lake Baring in the foreground.

For starters, Chef Rutto Kenneth served me cheese tomato on toast soup. However, I am used to being served hot soup in hotels and was really surprised when he brought me cold soup.

“Because of the heat in this place, the soups are normally chilled.  However, should you desire something hot the cold soup can be warmed,” he explained, smiling as he placed the bowl of soup on my table.

I tasted it and I’ve never tasted anything more delicious, oozy and golden like cheese on toast. The tomatoes added a bit of flavour and the tangy taste complemented the cheese perfectly. Frankly, it was my first time to even try such a combination, as I’m not a cheese fan.

During the previous night, I had a chance to sample their bruschetta with special toast as a starter. I can’t say that I’ve mastered all these Spanish or French names they use to describe meals in our hotels, but the bruschetta is toast with tomato and olive oil.

On this sultry day, the lake was calm, with no ripples in the dark brown water as if frozen in time. From the tall trees around the lake’s edge came not a sound. 

Some birds occasionally flew nonchalantly to my table to try their luck on my kindness, seeking morsels of food. It was my first time to witness the yellow weaverbird and the common bulbul feast at the small pieces of food I could throw at them. 

A cool breeze from the lake swept the restaurant.  From a distance, I could see fishermen from the Ilchamus community trying to make a catch.

I was amazed by how, despite the fact that their unstable-looking fishing vessel was made from what looked like hollows from the trunks of some indigenous tree, it floated perfectly on water. Were they not afraid of crocodiles?

I was soon done with the toast and the chef brought me grilled fillet with pepper soup. “Red or white wine? asked the chef. 

I opted for red wine as it’s a bit mild. Rutto said the fish served was caught from Omega farm, which was started by Bonnie Dunbor, one of the directors of Island Camp. 

The farm was established to restock the declining population of indigenous tilapia on the lake as well as offer employment to the locals. Being a fish lover, I loved how tender it was and the fact that it was boneless made it easier to devour.

Next up was dessert. Being a chocolate lover, I opted for chocolate mousse, which is lighter and fluffier than its cousin the pudding.

I think it also melts faster on the tongue. Its lighter texture comes from whipping air into the mixture. Apparently, it gets the airy consistency by folding whipped egg whites or whipped cream into the base mixture. 

Belching under a clean napkin, I thanked Rutto for the meal, looking forward to a quick nap before an evening game drive.

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