1st of July 2012 was a perfect day to head out of Nairobi for some hiking. My recent hike was Ngong Hills which was a total success. After preparing for Mt. Longonot, we met in town at 9AM and the group of 12 hikers headed out along Waiyaki Way in three cars. The weather was gloomy and at 17 degrees everyone was worried whether this was a really good idea.
Adrenaline kicked in after we made a stop at the Great Rift Valley View Point along Mai Mahiu Rd. Mt. Longonot was visible from this point, half covered in clouds. Everyone predicted what a challenge this would be. The 1 hour journey to Mt. Longonot National Park continued, arriving by 11am.
While at the parking lot we met two other hikers, made friends and we summed to a total of 14. Local residents pay Ksh.200* while non residents part with Usd.20*. We noted a big group of The Irish Army doing their training as they ran back to the entrance gate, all worn out. It seemed like some really intense training going on. A notice on the board said that Jones had set a record of 1 hour 20 minutes running up the mountain, round the rim, and back. All ready, backpacks and all, we started the walk. One lady pointed out that now she had all the reason to have as most junk food she could. There was a mixture of fun and excitement as we headed out.
Mt Longonot is a stratovolcano. It has fairly steep slopes covered with volcanic ash. Remember to pack good fitting shoes. Just as we reached the base of the mountain, temperatures rose and cloud cover made the hike really enjoyable.
The mountain can be navigated in two ways: A straight ascend to the top and back down or reaching the top and circumnavigating the crater rim. The crater has a circumference of 7.2Km and on we went!
Once atop the view is magnificent. You get to see Lake Naivasha, a ‘baby crater’ as we called it and this magnificent view of Oloonongot Crater on the mountain. The route round the crater has some steep, challenging areas but totally enjoyable. The summit of the mountain is roughly halfway round and at around 3pm we were at the peak, at altitude 2780M. It was an unbelievable moment as we had a snack and took group photos. It is so scenic and Kenya shows you its best all round as far as the eye can see. The vegetation is unique. I saw some plants I’d never seen anywhere else.
Mountain climbing builds me psychologically. It’s a good outdoor activity in that you may hypothetically view the mountain as a challenge. Before embarking on a hike, you prepare to face the challenge directly. You feel your body wearing out as you climb but you still want to push on and accomplish the task. Once you are at the summit of that Mountain, a well deserved tap on the back fills your heart with joy. Some scream to the top of their voice! It’s an awesome feeling and you are likely to be planning on other mountains to climb already. Life should be tackled like that.
[Video coming soon. Watch Ngong Hills Hike video HERE]
I’m told that rock climbing is also a very good activity with similar personal development challenges. I can’t wait!
All ready to descend, we carried on, round the rim and down along the slope. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds. You have to be careful of the steps you make to avoid slipping or twisting an ankle. We approached the gate and saw different game animals such as zebras, antelopes and giraffes grazing at a stone-throw distance. I felt like nature was rewarding us with such a beautiful sight. Four and a half hours later, Mt. Longonot was aced and I look forward to Mt. Kenya, Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Meru and Mt. Kilimambogo (maybe in reverse order).
What’s your outdoor sport? Which places have you hiked and how did you like it?
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Additional Photos Credits to :Lynette Rattos & Goldi Flocks