I think it’s safe to say that 2020 took quite a lot from us but also opened our eyes and hearts to appreciate the seemingly small freedoms we previously took for granted.
I did not go for a single hike in 2020 but in January 2021, I was ready to rectify that situation. I planned a hike to Kamweti, one of the many hiking trails on Mt. Kenya but that was not to be again because of reasons beyond me. Then on a random Friday evening hang out with my friends, another hiking plan was born; this time to a different hiking trail still on Mt. Kenya National park via sirimon route.
We drove up to the Sirimon gate which is about 17 km off the Nanyuki-Meru highway.
At the gate, there was a quick registration process, temperature checks and payment process. One of the rangers asked to see my camera because apparently you have to pay for some cameras before taking them into the park. We then drove up to Old Moses camp where our hike would begin.
Our plan was to get to a point known as the view point but one of us got altitude sickness along the way so we had to find a spot to rest the head back. We got to experience a bit of the views and vegetation on our path as well as meet other hikers along the way.
I didn’t get the full hiking experience I hoped to get but I left with lessons… For instance I know that this is the easiest route to summit Mt Kenya up to point Lenana. You can start your hike from Sirimon gate to old Moses, Old Moses to Shipton camp and finally Shipton to Point Lenana. I hope to do it later this year and will be sending an invite out for anyone that would like to join.
I also had the most amazing photoshoot at our picnic spot and came home with a bunch of beautiful photos that will always remind me of that experience. Did I mention I changed into a dress mid hike for the photoshoot?
Here is what you need to know about hiking Mt. Kenya via Sirimon route
1. You can only pay via MPESA or card. No cash allowed.
2. Currently the cost is Ksh. 250 for Kenyans, $30 for non-resident and Ksh. 600 for the vehicle.
3. KWS does not provide a guide unless you have made prior arrangement. My advise is get your own guide in Nanyuki. They are more reliable. (happy to recommend one)
4. Even if it is sunny, it gets really really cold. Dress appropriately
Let us make 2021 a year for more outdoor activities and a year to appreciate our beautiful country.
Thank you for reading. Please leave a comment or question and remember to share.
A special thank you for following and engaging with me on this platform for the last six years.
I will always approach life from a small-town vibe. It makes experiences more fantastical. Landon Liboiron.
At face value, Nanyuki is a small town but you will be amazed by the number of things you can do here. I always found it interesting pre-covid when my friends would drive all the way from Nairobi only go to the one hype night club similar to the ones in Nairobi (nothing wrong with that) then go back home and talk about their road trip to Nanyuki having barely experienced Nanyuki at it’s full potential.
Here is a list of unique things you can do in Nanyuki and it’s environs that will gurantee you come back.
1. A stop over for a photo-op at the equator sign… Nanyuki is one of the 3 towns in Kenya at the equator. I know I should have a photo of this but you know what they say…a prophet is never celebrated in their town.
2. A game drive at Olpejeta conservancy because we’re you even here if you didn’t go to see all the big five and the chimpanzees at olpej? I could write a book about this destination but today I will let the photos speak for me.
3. Go for a hike to either Old moses in Mt Kenya National park via Sirimon gate or the famous Ngarendare forest for the canopy walk and a swim at the natural blue pools. I haven’t been to old Moses (the things we take for granted) but I have been to Ngarendare twice.
4. If you are the amusement park kind, Bantu lodge is your go to place. I can’t promise it will wow you but it has some unique activities such as a boat ride at the dam, a sky walk over an old Italian war dam and so much space for kids to run around.
5. This one is for the adrenaline junkies like myself…Mt.Kenya climbing gym. It looks like a simple climbing tower but believe me you have to really work for it. My first ever attempt took me 50 minutes of pain to get to the top and my life has never been the same.
6. Go for a swim at what I think is the best swimming pool that has ever been made at he luxurious Maiyan resort. There is host of other activities at Maiyan such as fine dining, horse riding but the pool is my favorite because it is heated, has incredible views of Kenya, loldaiga hills and I can only leave you to find out what happens at sunset.
7. Let me let you in on a secret… A drive to Laikipia North is a free game drive. On this road I have seen rhinos, lots of elephants, dikdiks, gerenuks, reticulated giraffes, the endangered grevy zebras and a host of other wild animals all for free! In addition to this I have interacted with wonderful people from the Maasai community and been treated to unique rock formations as well as picture perfect landscape. Take this drive early in the morning and thank me later.
8. I cannot in good conscience end this post without telling you the best sunset spot in Nanyuki… The peaks hotel rooftop. You can enjoy a meal and a sundowner drink here. What makes it more special is the flowers and the Mt. Kenya view.
~This list is a mere highlight of Nanyuki experiences and it is mostly based on my experience so I am definitely biased. More to come later.
~ All the places I have listed are within a 50 KM radius from Nanyuki.
~ The costs are as follows…Olpejeta-1400pp 700kids (Check the rate card for the festive season), Mt. Kenya Climbing -600pp, and Old Moses-430pp. The rates for the other places vary depending on what you would like to do.
~Accomodation options in Nanyuki range from budget B&Bs, homestays, Airbnbs, to 5 star hotels. Check out Ivy’s post on Airbnbs in Nanyuki.
~ In other news commercial passenger train services return to Nanyuki this Friday…Do what you must with that info.
Remember you can always reach out to me for more detailed information. Thank you for reading.
There is no time to be bored in a world as beautiful as this. Matt Hogan
I first saw the Koija community starbeds in 2016 while on a game drive at Loisaba conservancy. They were ran down and abandoned at the time at the time but I remember making a mental note that I would really like to come there someday. Enter 2020 with all its shenanigans and my friend R casually mentions that the Koija community starbeds have been renovated and open for business. Very quickly we came up with a plan and reached out to a few of our friends for what will go down as my most memorable weekend this year.
Background The Koija community starbeds are located in Naibunga lower community conservancy in Laikipia North, Laikipia county. The larger Naibunga conservancy comprises of 9 group ranches koija, munishoi,Ilpolei, Ilmotiok, Kijabe , Nkiloriti, Musul, Tiemamut and Moropusi… you can easily guess in which of the ranches the koija community starbeds are located (hint…the name betrays them). Getting there This is a hard one not even google maps /offline maps can help but I will try my best to break it down. From Nanyuki town, turn left onto the C76 (Nanyuki-Rumuruti road). Drive for about 8 kilometers and turn right on the Doldol road. There are many signs so you can’t miss it. After approximately 13 kilometers you will get to Naibor town where the tarmac ends. Continue straight towards Mpala ranch where there is a well graded murram road that cuts through to a small town called Il motiok. From here there is no landmark to refer to which means you need to have someone that knows the area to guide you. Lucky for us we had Patrick, an excellent driver who was familiar with the road and was an excellent guide. He knew all the wildlife we came across and would sometimes backup to allow us to get the best shots. He also gave us an excellent African massage… only the occupants of his Landcruiser would understand this. I would recommend getting the big north to give you a guide if you are not familiar with the area. I have said before on this blog that a drive through Laikipia north is always a free game drive and this wasn’t any different. We spotted the endangered grevy zebras, the plain zebras, a lone elephant bull, leopard tortoise, dikdiks, impalas, reticulated giraffes, vulturine guinea fowls and the best sighting was the black-backed jackals. On the way back we added a hartebeest and gerenuk to our list.
Hello Koija After 3 hours on the road, we arrived to a warm welcome by Elijah and his team. After a brief introduction & the waiver form signing ceremony, we were shown to our bandas. I had a lot of pinch me moments because that is what you do when something you have wanted for so long comes to fruition. There are a total of 4 bandas. Banda 1 and 2 are en-suite while banda 3 and 4 are connected and share a bathroom and washroom. Each banda can accommodate two people but you can request an extra bed especially for the family banda. All the bandas are on the banks of river Ewaso ng’iro with friendly neighbors such as the rock hyrax. Across the river is Loisaba conservancy where on a good day you may have wildlife sightings. I only spotted 2 giraffes and a tawny eagle which is good enough. The best way to describe the bandas is a partially covered structure with a thatch roof and no doors. The bed looks like a wooden cart (quite literally) and can be wheeled outside onto the deck should you wish to sleep under the stars. Sadly it rained for the better part of our stay here we only managed to wheel the bed outside on the last morning.
At the restaurant there is a sundown deck where we spent the better parts of our days chatting away and listening to the best of Beethoven thanks to yours truly. Thinking about the teasing and laughter makes me smile as I type this. My friend from Loisaba conservancy told me how there is a leopard that sleeps on the tree next to my banda and I decided I wasn’t going to be scared alone so I told the rest of the group at the bonfire.
Koija cultural Manyatta After the best morning of breakfast and lots of banter, Ellie came to get us for a wonderful afternoon at the koija cultural manyatta which is a short drive from the lodge. The women welcomed us with a dance, then a lesson in cleaning a gourd with special acacia tree which can be used to store milk for up to three days. Then there was a fire lighting ceremony and a dance by the morans. A few of us got the ladies of the Manyatta together for a little chat on medical and financial issues before going for some beaded items retail therapy. Every item on sale here is handmade by women from this community with support from beadworks Kenya under the northern rangeland trust.
Until next time koija Our last afternoon at koija community starbeds was spent in bed taking in the view one last time and chatting away. This trip was truly memorable and I cannot wait to go back.
Snapshot 1. The cost is Ksh.4,000.00 per person per day. The lodge is owned by the local community so a stay here is a chance to give back to them. 2. The lodge is on self catering basis but there is a chef on site so it is upto you to come up with a meal plan and buy your groceries. 3. Nanyuki is your last shopping stop so make sure you get all your supplies there. 4. There is little to no cellular network coverage making this the best place to disconnect from the world. 5. A 4WD is highly recommended. There are a number of luggas (dry sand riverbeds) that can only be navigated by a serious 4WD vehicle.
6. The area is generally hot during the day but it gets quite chilly in the evening so remember to pack accordingly. 7. You can make your booking directly through the big north here or you can contact me to make the transport and meal plan for you. (yes I have a little practice)
If anyone asks me if I have ever slept outside I would say yes proudly and go ahead to tell them how much I loved it. I hope you are inspired to add the koija community starbeds to your bucketlist. Until the next destination, thank you for stopping by. Normalize sleeping under the stars.
To awaken alone in a strange town is one of the most pleasant sensations in the world. You are sorrounded by adventure. You have no idea what is in store for you but you will, if you are wise and know the art of travel, let yourself go on the stream of the unknown.
At first the corona virus was a strange foreign virus that emerged in Wuhan, China. Then it started making its way around world and before we knew the world came to literal stand still. Fast forward to March 2020 when the first case of Covid-19 was reported in Kenya. Things escalated quickly so the government had to implement radical measures to curb the spread of the virus. After a few month of fear and uncertainty, we now had better information the world and the country slowly started opening up again. Many people, including myself were a bit skeptical about travelling again for obvious reasons. Today I share a travel guide on travelling from Nairobi to Mombasa by bus in the era of Covid-19.
I am certain a lot of people have been hesitant to get back to travelling due to the fact that it means interacting with strangers. I however believe we just need to adapt and embrace new ways of going about this whole travel business like buying your bus ticket online and using cashless payment methods. Thankfully, Quickbus, an online ticketing system for buses covering long distances such as the Nairobi-Mombasa route was recently launched in Kenya. This platform not only allows you to get your e-ticket from the comfort of your phone but also gives you a virtual tour of what your experience on the bus is going to be like. You can also book your bus ticket via USSD *203# or simple send “book” on WhatsApp to +254711000078
There are those that still prefer to purchase their tickets from the booking office… This is still allowed however, one has to go through a thorough screening and sanitization process. The mode of payment is purely cashless to minimize contact as much as possible. At the waiting area, adjacent seats are clearly marked so as to maintain the recommended distance and automatic dispensers are strategically placed around the waiting area. Incase someone’s temperature is above the normal threshold (37.5 degrees) or presents other Covid-19 symptoms, the bus company has designated isolation areas to hold the “patient” as they await further guidance from the ministry of health.
Under normal circumstances, the journey from Nairobi to Mombasa by bus takes about 8-9 hours but considering the curfew is still in effect and all the additional safety measures that have to be taken, you have to arrive at the bus station at least an hour before departure time. This is to give ample time to go through the screening process, temperature checks and sanitization of both the passengers and their luggage. You will be required to sanitize your hands before getting into the bus station, after interacting with the security officers and before boarding the bus. The seats in the bus are clearly marked to indicate which seats to use and which ones not to use. Quickbus allows you to choose your seat while paying for the ticket. You are also required to properly wear a face mask for the entire journey. If you have been to Mombasa by bus you know it is tradition for the buses to stop at Mtito wa Ndei. This has not changed but you have to sanitize before alighting and while boarding the bus again. At the Mombasa terminus, expect a masked officer checked your temperature and directed you to the hand-washing/sanitization station before allowing you to go out and explore beautiful Mombasa which is home to the most incredible beaches and breathtaking sunsets.
What to expect
You will be required to fill the ministry of health form where you will be required to provide your contact information and travel history for contact tracing incase of someone from the bus tests positive for covid-19. This applies if you are travelling by bus from Nairobi-Mombasa and Mombasa to Nairobi
It now costs more to travel to Nairobi from Mombasa and vice versa since the bus cannot carry passengers to capacity as in the pre-covid era.
You will be required to have your facemask on throughout your journey… this is non- negotiable.
The journey will take slightly longer than usual because of the additional safety measures… remember to be patient and positive.
Lastly, you will definitely feel strange and possibly anxious about being around strangers and this is perfectly okay as long as you observe all the covid-19 prevention protocols. After the whole process 8+ hour journey, you are free to go and explore good old Mombasa. On the next post I will highlight where to go and what to expect at the popular tourist sites in Mombasa.
Please feel free to ask questions or give more imput on travelling under the new normal based on your experience.
A journey is best measured in friends rather than miles. Tim Cahill.
Sometimes you meet people in the most unexpected ways. They become your friends. Their friends also become your friends and such is life. Such kind of friendship is what led us to Kendi’s cottage in Giakanja on the Nyeri-Othaya road to celebrate one of us.
Getting there was pretty straight forward but we still needed Francis, the caretaker to show us the way once we got off the main road. He had this huge smile and enthusiasm that assured me that nothing could possibly go wrong.
He made sure we were all settled in then left us. The cottage feels like home and it’s all warm and cozy. It has 3 bedrooms, 5 beds which is ideal for families or a group of friends. It has an open kitchen plan with an island and most of the kitchen basics are provided. If you like reading, there is quite the book collection for both adults and kids.
The outdoors are equally beautiful especially on a sunny day.
There is a dam a few meters from the property that is perfect for maybe a hangout, a photo op or both.
This was mostly a relaxing weekend so we didn’t explore much of Nyeri. I can however tell you that Kendi’s cottage would be a good base camp for all Nyeri and environs adventures. The ones that come to mind are Zaina falls, Abadare national park, Mt. Kenya National Park, chinga dam and many others.
2 things that didn’t sit well with me… Showering in lukewarm water because the hot water situation was not happening and the caretaker being all over our space 2 hours before check out. Other than those two issues, Gathoni weekend was truly amazing and memorable. Cheers to friendship and travel.
Have fun tembea Kenya but remember to stay safe, sanitize and wear your mask.
Ps. To book Kendi’s cottage here is the link on airbnb.
At it’s best, travel should challenge our preconceptions and most cherished views, cause us to rethink our assumptions, shake us a bit, make us broader minded and more understanding. ~Arthur Frommer
Dar Es Salaam, A coastal city in Tanzania that holds a special place in my heart. It has been my go to place when things get rough and I am happy I got a chance to visit again in January after a very tough end of 2019. I have captured my experience which could also serve as a travel guide if you ever want to take this trip.
ROAD TRIP! My friend and I took a Dar lux bus from Nairobi- Dar Es Salaam which cost us KSh.3, 500.00(Tsh.75, 250.00) each. The bus leaves Nairobi very early so I did not see much on the road but I remember catching the sunrise somewhere in Kitengela.
We changed our money through a guy who came into the bus just before we got to Namanga. He gave us a rate of 21.5 (Ksh.1=Tsh.21.5).
While on the other side we changed currency through my bank which luckily for me has branches in Tanzania.
If you do not have a Kenyan passport, you need to fill for your temporary pass on ecitizen, take note of all the required documents and present them to the immigration officer at the border. That will cost you Ksh. 350.00. The pass is valid for 1 year and can be used to access any East African country and South Sudan.
You will also need to have your yellow fever card with you. If you don’t, you can get the vaccination at the health facility at the border. The card is valid for 10 years.
Here are a few places you can get vaccinated. (please note the cost varies depending on the facility).
Port health clinics (all Kenya border entry points)
Seaports and airports
Nairobi city hall
Private hospitals (Nairobi hospital, Aga khan, Mater hospital, MP shah among others)
The immigration process was really smooth unlike my experience in 2015. The two governments have since implemented (OSBP) one stop border post where there is a Kenyan immigration officer and their Tanzanian counterparts in the same place to make the process more efficient.
THE REAL JOURNEY BEGINS
We had a chance to purchase local simcards at Namanga but declined. Turns out we should have because roaming charges are ridiculous! For 450 Kenya shillings you get 50 mbs on Airtel! Let us not even talk about safaricom.
I described the scenery on my post road trip. The drive was more beautiful than I remember but sadly I didn’t get to see Mt. Kilimanjaro because of the cloud cover. We stopped briefly in Moshi and again in Korogwe.
BEACHES AND MORE BEACHES
We spent half the first day resting in the house and the other half chilling in Mbezi beach, a public beach in Kinondoni district. We just sat there and enjoyed the sunset although it was on the opposite side of the ocean. It was not so crowded but there were the occasional beach boys intruding.
This is a public beach in the Oyster Bay area. It is not the cleanest or safest of beaches but we had such a good time here we went twice. It is a perfect spot to chill while looking at the ocean front sipping some cold pepsi or whatever and speaking maritime. From the beach you can see a queue of ships waiting to be allowed entry into the Tanzanian port. It is even more pretty at night when the lights are on.
I didn’t take any photo here
From the moment I decided to take this trip to Dar, I knew that even if I didn’t do anything else, I would have to go to Mbudya Island. This marked the second day of our trip and the highlight of my trip.
We had a few logistics issues that morning but we made it to Mbezi beach by midday. Since there was only two of us we paid Tsh. 30,000.00 (Ksh.1, 935.00) for a return trip on a boat from the beach to the island. The charges vary depending on the size of the group. I have a phobia for open waters so I sat in my corner holding on for dear life the entire boat ride while young bestie was having the time of her life.
Here is a breakdown of all the costs for the island based on our experience.
Boat ride to and from the island Tsh. 10,000.00 (Ksh. 470.00) per person
Park entrance fee (it is a marine park) Tsh. 27,400 (Ksh.1, 275.00) per person for East Africans
Shed/sitting area: Tsh. 15,000 (Ksh. 700.00)
Lunch cost us Tsh. 25,000 (Ksh.1, 165.00). We had fries and fish. Ps you can bring your own food and drinks.
We spent our day chilling in and out of the ocean. Other activities at the island include forest walk, snorkeling and water sports.
Watching the sunset in Mbundya island was pure magic and a dream come true.
The island is beautiful and well taken care of. The photos below will give you an idea of what to expect.
Kariakor market comes highly recommended but the reviews on trip advisor were not very encouraging…leave your valuables at home they say, if you are a foreigner the price doubles or triples and the thing about Tanzania is you can’t hide the fact that you are a foreigner. Your Swahili betrays you so you will be asked a lot if you are Kenyan or Ugandan.
We settled for mwenge market opposite Mlimani city mall which was close to where we were staying. It is quite pricy but I got some really cool stuff to remind me of Tanzania. My friend Ru taught me the easiest item to buy that will remind you of a place /country is a fridge magnet and so I have a little piece of Tanzania on my fridge.
HOW TO GET AROUND
Dar Es Salaam is a vibrant city. There is both Uber and Bolt to get you around. In most cases we settled for bolt bajaj (tuk tuk). The cab drivers in this city are quite something though…one left us in the middle of a street and we were not sure where we were supposed to go. He didn’t give us a chance to locate our exact destination which turns out wasn’t very far. Another one tried to steal from us by saying the cost was Tsh. 4,000 instead of Tsh.3, 000 because he knew we didn’t have internet to check the app. Another one started the trip before he got to the pickup point. Tanzanians can smell out foreigners just from the way you speak and sadly some few bad ones will try to take advantage of this…be alert.
Another option for getting around is public transport (dala dala), Matatu in Kenyan context. We never used this because we most probably would have gotten lost and had to start a now life somewhere in Tanzania! Next time we will ask though.
My parting shot… Some Tanzanians are either very Conservative or entitled people depending on how you look at it. If you are a black woman, watch out how you dress. I understand Dar is a hot city but you dont want to be caught up in an uncomfortable situation. In 2015, I was almost attacked at the Ubungo area because my dress was apparently too short (just slightly above the knees). Caucasian get a free pass but young black women will be called names and probably physically attacked.
The rules don’t apply at the beach though.
Have you been to Dar Es Salaam? What was your experience?
Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb.
2019 has been a great hiking year. I found a new hiking squad that has been consistent, super fun and always coming up with new hiking destinations. We have done three hikes together and made a lot of beautiful memories along the way. The idea of hiking the sleeping warrior/ugali hills first came up from one of us during our first hike together in Ngarendare forest in May this year.
Initially we were to make all the arrangements without the help of a travel agency but thanks to a few unreliable tour operators we decided to join a group (Matembezi traveller’s club) that happened to be hiking the same place on our proposed date.
I am not a big fan of group activities due to the dynamics of getting everyone in sync. It is really hard to get everyone to respect the group dynamics and keep time. We were supposed to leave Nairobi at 6.30 AM but the bus and a few people were late. We used the Nairobi-Mai Mahiu route which is quite scenic, made a brief stop at the view point and another at Buffalo mall Naivasha for supplies.
We then had to wait for someone at the Gilgil weigh bridge so by the time we got to the starting point for the hike it was 11.00AM. It was already hot and in my head I was like here you go again Mukuhi the master of hiking in the sun!!!
The hike started at the shores of Lake Elementaita… A beautiful, blue and surreal start. I saw flamingoes for the first time in my life though from a distance.
Unlike my previous hike at Mt. Ololokwe, the terrain here was friendly because we didn’t have to go up any steep hills… Well at least not for the first 10Km. We hang out, took photos walked, watched the rich bird life in the lake, walked some more and at some point got diverted to some hot springs which turned out to be the joke of the day. Let’s just say they have nothing on Lake Bogoria.
After the short stint at the hot springs the walk started to become exhausting and the sleeping warrior hill seemed to be drifting further away instead of getting closer.
Back story… If you look closely at the hill from a distance it literally looks like a sleeping man (head, neck and torso) so someone decided he is a warrior hence the name sleeping warrior.
By the time we got to the base we were tired and hungry so we took a short break then proceeded to conquer the hill. It was a tough and unpleasant experience for 2 reasons:
1.The sand was loose so we kept sliding or sinking in the sand.
2.The was no clear path to follow and the shrubs made it really hard to move without injuries.
I was afraid of falling and getting bruised by the shrubs. Luckily it wasn’t a long climb. (no photos were taken during the ascent)
The most fulfilling part of any hike for me is always the view from the top. This one did not disappoint. We had a few moments to take it in and socialize.
We started our descent and were all psyched for the next hill. It drizzled a bit and for the first time in my hiking life I had fun going down the hill. When we got to the base we learnt that we had to walk for about 30 minutes to the next hill (Ugali Hills) and that is the point when I decided I had had enough.
Instead of going up Ugali hills, my friends and I decided to walk back to the bus. We met a few kids from the local village whose only sentence seemed to be “give me biscuit.”
As our hike came to an end and we were treated to a beautiful rainbow at the end of the hiking trail. It almost felt like an apology to my now aching body and to remind me to always appreciate beauty in nature.
Lake Elementaita is a salt water lake in the great Rift Valley Kenya. It is home to over 400 species of birds, different fish species, insects and vegetation. The litter problem has been common in all the places I have gone hiking and this was no different. To keep hikers from throwing plastic waste in the lake and its environs, there are two very cool trash points but given the size of the lake I hope there is more. This is one of the cleanest hiking trails I have ever been to but sadly some people from our group discarded their water bottles and we had to clean up after them.
1. The sleeping warrior/Ugali hills hike is an easy day trip from Nairobi but if you like you can set base either in Nakuru/Naivasha or one of the hotels at the shores of lake Elementaita.
2.Make sure you have proper hiking boots with a good grip to avoid falling as the sand at the hills is loose.
4. If you can, wear a long sleeved top to avoid getting pricked by shrubs or getting a rash from the plants.
5. Carry lots of water… It is a long long walk. Grapes and apples always come through for me.
If you have been on this hiking trail, feel free to add more observations.
As always thank you for reading.
Go out and experience nature and remember to share…
Life is meant for spectacular adventures. Let your feet wander, your eyes marvel and your soul ignite.
For those who have been following my very inconsistent blog, Mount Ololokwe is not new on these streets.
I first saw this table mountain in 2017 on a random road trip to Marsabit with my friend. We took a few photos as we drove by and moved on without giving it much thought. Getting to the top of the mountain never really crossed my mind at that time but fast forward to March 2018 my interest in hiking was born…
After my Mt. Longonot summit, I felt confident enough to go for more hikes so my friends and I planned a hiking trip to Mt. Ololokwe. We set out early from Nanyuki but everything about that day was just wrong. We got stuck in a lugga (dry sand river bed) then I started feeling unwell within the first 10 minutes of the hike. I struggled up to the halfway point and then we had to call it off and go back down.
Later that night, we had a puncture, lost our spare wheel and were stuck in the cold up to 3AM the next day before we figured out how to get home… Despite the streak of bad luck and mishaps, I promised myself I would go back to the mountain and hike to the end (I actually wrote ‘hike Mt. Ololokwe to the end’ on my 2019 planner).
In August 2019…I connected with a group of photographers and film makers from Nanyuki who felt that we should do a hike/photography challenge. Since I had been to the mountain before, these amazing guys gave me the honor of planning the trip and to watch it come to fruition was a dream come true.
We got to the base of mountain in time for the most beautiful sunrise. We made our payments, got a guide (sadly not Jackson from 2018) and then we were on our way.
Everyone was in high spirits which kept us motivated on our way up. We would stop occasionally to take in the view, film and take photos…
When we made it to the “summit” I literally felt my body become light and although I was trying to play it cool I was overwhelmed and felt such a huge sense of accomplishment. Standing on that mountain top looking out to miles and miles of empty spaces was pure magic.
I thought getting to the summit was the hard part but turns out I was wrong. Going down was tough. I felt like I couldn’t control my body but at least I was in the company of my witty new friend miss Maureen. The stories kept us going all the way to base camp where we were treated to a really delicious meal prepared by Sabache camp.
I didn’t like our guide for this hike… He came off as rude, acted as if he was bothered by our questions,refused to go at our pace and didn’t take us to the very end of the mountain.
Apart from that I had an amazing hiking experience which cannot fully be captured in these photos.
I hope you like them as much as we did.
If you ever want to visit Sabache camp, call Dipa +254726991597… He will organize everything for you…
There is a big world out there, you do not have to feel stuck in your tiny corner of the planet. You do not need to ask permission or wait for someone to tag along. Go seek adventure and see who you can become.
I have been putting this post off for a very long time now. I first considered visiting Kisumu as a tourist destination in 2016. I loved it so much that I have gone back every December since then. Over the years, I found excellent information on all the good spots to visit on OCD and safari 254. I visited some and saved some for the next visits but so far here are my best finds…
A Lake Victoria sundowner
If you are big on sunsets like me, I don’t think you will find a more magical experience than catching the sun set at the shores of Lake Victoria.
My first experience was at the Kiboko bay beach resort (sadly this is now closed) but you can still have the same experience at the neighbouring establishments… Hippo point, Kisumu yatch club or Jambo Impala eco-lodge.
I also had beautiful sundowner moments in Homabay, another lake side town 112 kilometers from Kisumu city. I found a good view point at the Homabay pier but that is all this town has to offer as far as tourism is concerned. The area around Homabay is also very prone to hyacinth therefore not the best views of Lake Victoria and of course no boat rides during hyacinth season!
Rusinga Island has hands down the best lake views. I doubt hyacinth ever makes it to this side of the lake but rumor has it that when the Mbita bridge opened, hyacinth migrated to ‘other places’. Rusinga Island lodge is quiet, serene and unpolluted and the best place to set base. Catch the sunset at the pier, watch out for fisher men setting up for their nights work and listen to the crashing waves in the evening but be ready for some serious mosquito bites.
I have read that the best way to experience Rusinga Island is by taking part in the annual Rusinga island festival. I have not been on the neighbouring islands (Takawiri and mfangano) but I hear they are worth checking out.
There is not much to write home about here. I believe the national museums of Kenya could do so much better but my guide Salim from Meru made the experience worth while. I loved the aquarium snake park and I also loved Mzee Odero’s homestead which depicts what a traditional luo homestead should look like.
At the end of the compound tour, there is a group of very lovely traditional dancers who hail from the local community. You get to join in the dance and support them by leaving a tip.
By the time I got to Kit mikayi, it was day 5 of my trip and I was starting to feel a little homesick. These feelings disappeared as we drove into the area because it reminded me of home. The open spaces and rock formations of Laikipia north except there is a story behind this particular rock.
Kit Mikayi directly translates to the first wife. The story goes that a man named Ngeso would visit the rock every morning and whenever village elders came looking for him, his wife would tell them that he went to see his first wife(the rock).
The guide was excellent making sure I was safe showing me where to step and since this was a solo trip he was also my excellent photographer.
I got to join in yet another dance with the lovely people of kit Mikayi. This dance was very special because they inserted my very Kikuyu name in the very Luo song.
I have made a lot of good memories on this side of the country. From goofing around in the rice fields of Ahero, to taking scary boat rides in different sides of Lake Victoria, attending a church service at Oyugis and enjoying a sundowner at the beautiful Rusinga Island. Beautiful experiences await you in the lake side counties. Give it a try.
If you are in a beautiful place where you can enjoy sunrise and sunset, then you are living like a lord.
On this day four years ago, I hit publish on my first ever blog post. I neither had a clear sense of direction as to what I wanted my blog to become nor what my motivation was but I knew it was always going to be about nature. Refer to my first post here and see how poetic and cliche I was but still… If I was to go back I wouldn’t change it.
A few months in, life happened and for 6 months I silently battled depression. I have never been one to open up about my struggles so the blog and photography became my escape. My friend had given me a Nikon coolpix camera which really came through for me. I took it everywhere with me and literally never missed any sunset.
As time went by, I started a bit of travel here and there but I was quite limited in terms of resources. The universe is interesting because it sent me friends and networks that have taken me to places that previously only existed in my wildest imagination. I don’t think there is a time in my life I have ever been as disconnected with the world as then but nature, a little bit of travel and sunset chasing kept me sane and quite literally became my saving grace.
People start blogging for different reasons… I guess in my case I needed an avenue to express myself and escape from my problems. Over the years I am glad it has evolved to a platform to feed my growing passion for travel, hiking, appreciating nature and in my small way promoting conservation education.
I remember standing on random Nairobi rooftops waiting for the sun to go down because in that short period when everything turned golden I felt a sense of hope. Anyone that has gone through depression understand that hope is usually in short supply and you need just enough grace to survive the day.
2015 tested me and also taught me a lot. I still chase sunsets, landscapes and wildlife and even if I am at a good place in my life, they still give me hope.
Here are some of my favorite sunset photos taken over the years from a number of places I have been lucky enough to visit. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do.