Mount Longonot Hike

July 11, 2012 12 comments

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.

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[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?

*Confirm current rates in case of change.

Additional Photos Credits to :Lynette Rattos & Goldi Flocks

A Visit to Voyager Ziwani Camp – Heritage Hotel

June 5, 2012 1 comment

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. This one began with us grabbing coffee for breakfast and fueling, destination, 257km away from Nairobi to Voyager Ziwani Camp – Tsavo West National Park. I enjoy touring Kenya by road as I absorb majestic scenery.

A couple of minutes later we were along the Nairobi – Mombasa highway towards Emali, 100 km from Nairobi through beautiful, vast savannah, greened thanks to the long rains. The road is smooth and after making a turn at Emali for the 100km drive to Loitokitok, nature gave us its best as far as the eye could see. It was beyond my imagination– with the Chyulus on the left in Tsavo West and Kilimanjaro hidden by dark clouds further on the right.

Tarmac winds through land that depicts wildlife up until two hills on either sides of the road that seem to open up a world of stunning beauty, more like a welcome to the land of wildlife. Two hours after we left Nairobi, we reached Oloitokitok for a tank refill. It’s a border town and Tanzanian cell phone service providers welcome us, giving us an idea of how far south we’d gone. Some 57km with a bit of off road driving, we were welcomed by friendly staff to the shadow of the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro.

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On our first night after a nature walk and dinner, I jotted this note in my notebook at 2155Hrs. These words best describe that particular moment:

I’m warm in bed (many thanks to the surprise hot water bottle) writing this note at Voyager Ziwani in Tsavo. It has been a rainy evening but I’m not complaining at all. It’s my first time to spend a night in tented camp out in the wild and so far I love it! It’s a completely new experience. Adrenalin rushes whenever a hippo stares blank at you from the pool or when you hear birds shake tree leaves. The air is so fresh with a scent of the wild. My shoes got muddy and when I looked down to wipe them my eyes were met by ants building colonies and dragon flies following my every step. There’s so much Life and I feel embraced by mother nature.

The environs are music to the ears. Crickets, birds singing (over a hundred species of them!) and river water flowing down a stream from the hippo pool. Right now my tent zip is shut and I have a whistle by my bedside (keeping in mind what we were told earlier “If the animals disturb you, blow this.”) I was also told that later after midnight, once the generator is switched off, hippos will graze right outside my tent!

Earlier today, at around 4:30pm, we took a nature walk round the pool. We saw crocodiles, a family of hippos that number over 40 huge ones and so many different species of birds. It’s mind blowing. Our guide, Salim, is a walking encyclopedia, with so much info and you realize where you fit (well, hopefully not in a food chain..) Looking forward to seeing hippos graze! G’nyt.

At 2am I was woken up by hippos grazing a couple of feet away from my pillow on the other side of the tent! I didn’t move an inch and in pitch dark, I aborted the plan to use my flashlight to take a look at motomoto. I woke up the following morning to the sound of birds singing and I stepped out of the tent onto the green campsite.

It’s a night to remember; no telephone disturbances, sleep is so sweet and nature just has a way of soothing you to maximum relaxation. Ziwani has an amazing restaurant and bar serving a wide variety of delicacies. There’s a bonfire area where traditional dances are performed. I highly recommend a visit. Truly memorable. Other activities you can embark on include night game drives in Tsavo, ranch tour of Gicheha farm, trips to lakes Chala and Jipe, tours of World War II battlefields including the “Sniper Tree’ and “Salaita Hill”, the Adventurers’ Club for keeping children active while on safari and so on.  Bird watchers are guaranteed a fabulous time. Learn more here.

There’s an airstrip right next to the camp and if you opt to drive down, use a 4X4 with fuel enough.

Below is a brief video of the camp. I’m editing a better one with the tents, nature walk, etc.. Visit this link again soon. Feedback is welcome under comments sections or tweet @eGichomo. Enjoy!

One of East Africa’s most established and innovative ‘safari names’, Heritage Hotels offers seven Kenyan properties in three different brands: Voyager Safari Camps and Beach Resorts in Tsavo and Mombasa; the famous Intrepids Camps in the Maasai Mara and Samburu, and the Great Rift Valley Lodge at Lake Naivasha; and the luxurious five-star Mara Explorer tented camp and the romantic Arabian isle hideaway of Kipungani on Lamu Island.

General Information on Heritage Ziwani Camp

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Day 8 Isiolo – Nairobi [Turkana Expedition Finale]

April 30, 2012 11 comments

Turkana Expedition was a great success. 8 Days later, over 1,800 km on tarmac, rough terrain, mud, sand, bare and fertile land, sunny and rainy weather… we were concluding the Northern Circuit with a 201 km drive from Isiolo to Nairobi through Nanyuki.

We checked out of the grand Sarova Shaba Hotel at 10am. It was a smooth ride to Kongoni Camp in Nanyuki later in the afternoon for lunch. By 4:30pm we were headed to Nairobi and arrived safely at 9pm. Monday traffic welcomed us back to the city with a hug. I was already planning my next safari!

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Turkana won my heart; from its friendly people, the magical scenery, and its serene natural environment. It’s a place I’d love to go back and check up on how everyone is doing. The experience humbled me; opening up my mind and making me appreciate my surrounding, personal space, culture as well as access to basic needs. Since the trip I’ve adjusted my mentality towards comfort, enabling me look at life from a broader perspective and eliminating the lack mentality.

The trip created a buzz across social media with comments on this blog as well as numerous tweets. Below are some of them:

I’d also like to introduce to you one of the Professional Photographers that accompanied us, Dipl. Ing. Hartmut Fiebig: Chairman of The 50 Treasures of Kenya Trust. Twenty years ago, he cycled from Egypt to South Africa, through Kenya, and our magnificent country won his heart. I was honored to interview him during our stop at Merille Town and here are his wise words:

[YouTube Interview] W.I.P. Kindly check later.

The Turkana cultural festival will be held 18th-20th 2012 May at Loiyangalani. This will be a mind blowing exhibition of talent and cultures bringing all the tribes living near L. Turkana together. Don’t miss it. #TembeaKenya!

“In terms of scenery, the Northern Circuit I like it most.. because it has 
so many beautiful hills...” – Zack Kihato, Driver Guide, Gametrackers Safaris.

Special Thanks & Credits

 The Kenya Tourism Board │WebsiteTwitterFacebookYouTube

The National Museums of Kenya│WebsiteTwitterFacebook

Citizen TV Kenya and @shirogaitho for running The Northern Circuit feature│YouTube

Karuwe Wachira : Professional Photographer extraordinaire │Website

Zack Kihato (aka. Zack Bauer) – Professional Driver Guide Gametrackers Safaris

All readers and travel enthusiasts from around the world! You inspire my writing.

Day 7: Marsabit – Isiolo

April 29, 2012 3 comments

Sunday the 29th, 9AM breakfast was served in Marsabit. The weight of the journey was already being felt and I had my eye allergy (dust) to show while others had Nairobi Fly marks. We were 422 km from Nairobi and 222 km from our day’s destination, Isiolo.

Marsabit is very green and it had rained the previous night. The soil is red and fertile. The morning had heavy cloud cover. We were off to Isiolo, driving through patches of dry, dusty land.

Read more…

Day 6: Koobi Fora – Marsabit

April 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Early Saturday morning, after the night spent in laughter under the display of billions of stars, we prepared for yet another day-long drive. It’s a drive through dry and arid areas. Through Chalbi and Koronia deserts. Hot, dusty, sandy and bumpy conditions. A drive “back to Kenya” as most of the locals of Northern Kenya call it. Read more…

Day 5: Koobi Fora

April 27, 2012 4 comments

Most of us had lost track of days and funny thing, the relaxing feeling of it being a Friday still kicked in. From dusk, everything was unfolding in a unique, relaxing manner.

Breakfast was served at 8:30am and the lake could be seen contrary to the previous night since we arrived at nightfall. There was no telephone network and a sudden ‘isolation’ feeling kicked in. I am not complaining though, it’s good at times to detach yourself from the usual emails and phone calls routine (especially through inevitable ways such as in this case). Read more…

Day 4:Loiyangalani – Sibiloi National Park (Koobi Fora)

April 26, 2012 2 comments

That was some good night sleep. Everyone had rested well, thanks to The Pool! A full course breakfast was served and it was time to proceed with the adventurous journey.

The most effective and accurate weather forecast used in Turkana is word of mouth. You get to know about the roads you’ll use from people coming from the opposite direction. We did that and it was confirmed that the waters had subside and laggas were not so bad but very challenging. Destination, Sibiloi National Park.

The road north looked as below. Read more…

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