A Bracelet For The Outdoors Badass!

If you are a true adventure enthusiast, you will agree that life in the outdoors is no fashion show, but there is a modish bracelet out there that will be seen wrapped around the hands of experienced outdoors-men like Bear Grylls. This bracelet not only looks good, but makes you the outdoors ultimate badass and could also save lives!

Get one of these babies and be a true outdoors badass!

What are we talking about? The multi-functional Paracord bracelets! We have all probably seen these bracelets as they have now become mainstream, with many people sporting them. Most people wear paracord bracelets as a fashion statement. What I need you to know is that these bracelets are not only swanky, but also very handy in instances of having to survive in the wild!

These bracelets are crafted from 3 to 6 meters of the same nylon cord that has been used as suspension lines in parachutes since World War II!

These survival bracelets have proven to be an essential item for any badass adventurer. 🙂

Check out some of the outdoor uses of these 5 in 1 gadgets;

The truth is that a majority of those who wear paracord bracelets will most likely never deploy them in a true survival situation, but as we always say while in the wild; it is better to be ready than sorry! So what is the “survival” part of a 5 in 1 paracord bracelet?

1. Get Your Direction Right! Are you going out to hike a new trail? It is definitely important to have your directions right. These bracelets come with an in-built Military Grade Embedded Compass for precise orientation. To serve you best in the rough of the wild, the compass is abrasion resistant and waterproof!

2. Make A Distress Call! Many dangers lurk in the outdoors and any adventurer should be able to make a distress call whenever caught up in a dangerous situation. In the event of an immobilizing injury, or when lost in the wild, there is no need to sit on a rock and cry. Be an outdoors badass and use the survival bracelet whistle! Blow three loud blasts in quick succession to alert those around you that you need some help. This badass whistle can be heard miles away!

3. Keep Warm or Roast Some Prey! Whenever out in the wild, a fire is one of the most important things to have. Simply put, no campsite will be a campsite without a fire. Whether it is a fire to keep warm, ward off wild animals or send a smoke signal, how about you be an adventure badass and make it using the fire steel and fire striker that comes with your 5 in 1 survival bracelet?

4. Cut Through It! Ever held a tin of beef or sardines in your hand ready to eat after a long hike, only to realize that you forgot the tin cutter right on your bed as you packed? The 5 in 1 survival bracelet will save you from hurtling back to the stone age as it comes with a neat mini-saw or cutter, and you would not need to bludgeon your tin with a rock to access it’s contents! The stainless steel mini knife is zigzag shaped and sharp enough to cut through ropes as well. You can swim or shower with it as it is rust resistant!

The stainless mini knife tucks away neatly into the buckle of the survival bracelet. The compass is set right on top of it for easy access

5. Rope It Up! The main component of a 5in 1 survival bracelet is the 2 to 6 meters paracord. This is a badass rope made of several clusters of nylon fibers which makes it rot and mildew resistant! It is known to hold weight as high as 250kg without snapping, which is the reason it is used in parachutes as it can withstand the force exerted when they launch.

An outdoors badass backpack made from paracord, sticks and a raincoat!

Once the paracord in the bracelet is unraveled, one’s imagination is the only limit to the number of uses it has! Adventurers can use this cord for hacks as simple as replacing a broken boot lace, to building traps for prey if lost and in dire need for food.

Stay on Higher Ground

Adventurers can use this cord for hacks as simple as replacing a broken boot lace

Other uses of the paracord include;

  • Making a shelter – This taut rope can be used to hold together branches while putting up a make-shift shelter to survive a cold night in the wild.
  • Making splint for a broken limb – If you or one of your fellow adventurers breaks a limb while in the outdoors, a paracord can be wrapped around two pieces of wood, to hold the injured limb together until you get to a health facility for specialized care.
  • Use the inner strands as fishing line – One can tear the outer covering of the paracord and pull out single nylon strands which can be tied to a tensile stick or rod to build a fishing rod!
  • Making a perimeter trip line for warning – Paracord can be tied around a selected campsite to act as a ‘fence’ to keep off intruders as well as act an alarm system should anyone or anything opt to trespass.

Get one of these babies and be a true outdoors badass!

Christmas is around the corner, so if your boyfriend, girlfriend, brother, sister, mum or dad is an adventurer, how about you make them a badass adventurer by ordering one of these natty bracelets for them? You can also get cool with your own paracord bracelet and be well on your way to conquering the outdoors!

Place your order(s): njuguna06mash@gmail.com, +254 720734201

 

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Happy New Year, Beach!

“I love this beach!”

That is what he said before he proceeded to do crazy back flips on her. He eventually stopped from exhaustion, and a glint of immense excitement seemed to have permanently patched on his face. He sipped his beer as his chest heaved heavily. He proceeded to dance on her. There was no guessing how much fun he was having with her! Like many before him, she had him in her grip. She of enchanting beauty and from a lineage of exquisite world renowned beaches, played host to us on new year’s eve. Her name is Kendwa beach!

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I loved Zanzibar!

A week before we left Nairobi, I had a meeting with Mukhtar The Head Adventurer at Bunduz. Typical of his meticulous self, he took me through every detail of the 10 day road trip from Nairobi to Zanzibar and back. He mapped out the route we would use and the hotels we would stay in. I had to give it up to him on his knowledge of adventure trails and how he leaves nothing to chance in his planning. I however blame him for not warning us of how much fun we would have on this round road trip that would see us leave Nairobi, go through Arusha, Dare-salaam and on to Zanzibar, before proceeding to Diani, and eventually back to Nairobi.

Arif Huseein and Mukhtar Sidi of Bunduz confer at the Namanga border

Arif Husein and Mukhtar Sidi of Bunduz confer at the Namanga border

Adventure is part of me, I love it and I preach it. I can tell when one is getting a raw deal and when it is worth every dime. This year’s end of year road trip was one of a difference. How you know that a company is mature in it’s trade, is by the options it offers it’s clients. Bunduz definitely did impress me on this one. They have moved away from the traditional way of delivering an adventure package where everyone is bundled into a truck or a van and driven off to the set destination. Bunduz set out the adventure route and gave the adventurers a choice of the activities they wanted to take part in, and on how they wanted to travel. They had the options of the overland truck, land-cruisers and a package for motorbike enthusiasts who wanted to soak in all the fun with wind blowing in their hair 🙂 Talk of diversity!

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All set to leave Nairobi for the 10 day, action packed road trip!

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Adventurers inside the Bunduz overland truck

When we started writing on adventure, only a few Kenyans were interested. Going by the numbers that signed up this time, I can confidently say that the culture of adventure is fast growing among Kenyans of all ages!

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Riders couldn’t help but silently admire the overland truck

From scenic foreign towns, to pristine beaches offering an escape from the busy city life, to those action-packed with thrilling water sports, parties and adventure; there was plenty of options for anyone looking to spend the end of year in style!

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A beautiful road from Nairobi on our way to Arusha

One border, 273Km later we were at the base of the volcanic Mt. Meru in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha. The cosmopolitan town which acts as a tourists center for those on expeditions to Mt. Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti, as well as Ngorongoro had loads to offer. Adventurers were informed of the activities available for the next day as they enjoyed dinner. Later that night we sampled the town’s night life. I will not divulge into that, but the beat complemented the drinks and inspired the moves! Arusha dance. (video)

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Arusha, here we come!

Early the next morning, some of the adventurers set out on a game drive and tour of the world renowned Ngorongoro Conservation Area which lies 180Km West of Arusha. This crater being one of the world’s most unchanged wildlife sanctuaries, boasts of unparalleled beauty. Some of the adventurers opted to explore the town of Arusha. I personally opted to visit a crafts project named Shanga that employs more than 55 physically challenged artists to produce high quality and unique handmade jewelry, glassware and decorative paintings from recycled material. The passion that those at Shanga put in their work can be felt as one takes a guided tour through the establishment. It is a landmark of the African resilience and will to win, despite the odds. It was started by one Saskia Rechsteiner back in 2007.

Meet Moshi, an artist who paints a personalized board of wildlife caricatures as you wait or enjoy lunch at Shanga

Meet Moshi, an artist who paints a personalized board of wildlife caricatures as you wait or enjoy lunch at Shanga

Adventurers shopping at the Shanga shop

Adventurers shopping at the Shanga shop

We also had the pleasure of visiting the little known Lake Duluti. The crater in which it is formed is a subsidiary vent of the Mt. Meru which towers 4,566m over the tranquil lake. The lake has water all year round. It is rumoured that Arusha plans to utilize the water to supply the entire town! The thick forest around the lake is habitat to snakes, monitor lizards, and a large number birds that can be heard chirping from the papyrus reeds.

The little known Lake Duluti, which is only 20 minute away from Arusha town

The little known Lake Duluti, which is only 20 minute away from Arusha town

From a Arusha, we hit a 600km stretch of good road into the former Tanzania’s capital of Dar es Salaam. On our way, we drove along the imposing Usambara Ranges. I couldn’t help but wonder how it would feel to clamber up the rocky faces of the range. Daar es Salaam, the city that grew from a small fishing village now stands beautiful and proud in its humble splendor. It is easy to notice that efforts have been put in place to give this city some order. I was pleasantly impressed by the organized bus system which has seen some roads set aside for use by the blue city buses and no other vehicles. The buses ply the city on an effective time schedule ferrying passengers who no longer have to carry cash, but an automated fare card to board the bus!

The imposing and beautiful Usamabara Ranges

The imposing and beautiful Usamabara Ranges

A short break while covering the several hundred miles to Dar es Salaam

A short break while covering the several hundred miles to Dar es Salaam

A peek from my hotel room in Dar. Notice the blue bus at the bottom.

A peek from my hotel room in Dar. Notice the blue bus at the bottom.

Dar es Salaam felt like being underneath a dump blanket inside a furnace! It was very hot and humid. The most conservative of dressers, found it difficult to stay covered up. Even when it drizzled like it did on our night of arrival, I couldn’t dress in more than just a vest and a pair of light cargo shorts.

Happy adventurers on our way to Dar!

Happy adventurers on our way to Dar!

By this time, all the adventurers knew each other and those of similar exploring interests had naturally gravitated to each other. As you walked down the hotel corridors or dug away at your meal in the restaurant, It was common place to hear murmurs of the activities people were looking forward to undertake in Zanzibar. After one night in Dar, we were on our way to Zanzibar which was to be the epitome of this tour!

It was a two hour ferry ride to Zazibar

The beautiful Dar es Salaam skyline from aboard the ferry to Zanzibar (video)

Bunduz made sure that we traveled in class to Zanzibar. A seat in the the clean, air conditioned, multi-decked ferry dubbed Kilimanjaro VI was a saviour from the coastal town heat. The engines roared, as passengers shuffled down the aisle to board the ultra-modern vessel. An announcement and a departure honk later, the Dar es Salaam beautiful shoreline was fast drawing away from us as the vessel gracefully tore through the Indian Ocean waves. The mood on the ferry was alive and celebratory. Cheerful murmurs were audible as travelers chatted away. I opted to travel on the top deck taking in the view of the turquoise blue water and enjoying the breeze. Some travelers cupped their faces in their palms clearly afraid of sea travel, clutching onto their sick bags just in case their breakfast opted out, others pointed and clicked their cameras randomly in all the directions of the compass, while others plugged in their earphones and hummed to tunes totally oblivious or uninterested of where we were. We were soon out in the open blue sea, no land and no other vessels in sight other than the occasional fishing boat which seemed so tiny and appeared like pins on a giant blue pin cushion. Two hours later, we docked in Zanzibar and the 25$ ferry trip felt worth every dime!

Aboard Kilimanjaro VI, heading to Zanzibar

Aboard Kilimanjaro VI, heading to Zanzibar

A ferry leaving Dar for Zanzibar

A ferry leaving Dar for Zanzibar

Karibu Zanzibar!

Karibu Zanzibar!

Beautiful Zanzibar shoreline!

Beautiful Zanzibar shoreline! (vid)

Zanzibar is a laid back country that is also quite strict about maintaining and conserving its environment in the most natural state. On arrival, the customs officers who stamped our passports on entry also checked our luggage for any polythene bags as they are not allowed into the country. I always find it very encouraging when a country takes its environment seriously. While in Zanzibar, I felt silly to have thought Dar es Salaam was hot! This was the epi-center of the heat!

This was to be home for next couple of days!

This was to be home for next couple of days!

Zanzibar is a bucket list destination for most if not all world travelers! The number of activities and places available to visit left us wishing we had more time in this semi-autonomous part of Tanzania. A tour of the stone town with its Arab traders footprint of narrow streets, minarets and artistically carved doorways takes one back back to the history rich 18th century. For the strong at heart, a tour of the slave chambers can be taken. Seeing the chains and the poor conditions the slaves were held in after capture and before they were taken to the market for auctioning. Some of the adventurers took a tour through the spice island where they were shown the plants from which various spices are made from. The most sought after spices on this tour happen to be ginger and nutmeg, I would love to tell you why, but I would like more if you got to hear it from the horse’s mouth when you take the spice tour 🙂

Happy to have taken the spice tour

Happy to have taken the spice tour. by D.Kola

Chains in the slave chmabers

Chains in the slave chambers. By Steven Kim

Our stay in Zanzibar would not have been complete without an excursion out in the sea aboard a dhow. We took a day tour of the Mnemba Island and its marine life rich surroundings. The clear blue water allowed one to see the little dunes formed by waves on the white sand at the bottom of the sea. It was not strange to catch a glimpse of a solitude fish or shoal of them swimming and minding their own business. It looked so easy do, and we were here to experience the marine life, be at one with the creatures of sea. However, due to our human limitations in water, we had to settle for snorkeling. Others who have more endurance and experience in the water opted to scuba dive. Our vessel of choice was dubbed the Seafari and our Captain ‘Eddie Murphy’. 🙂

Boarding Seafari for a day excursion to Mnemba Island

Boarding Seafari for a day excursion to Mnemba Island

Our Captain 'Eddie Murphy' gives us a brief before departure

Our Captain ‘Eddie Murphy’ gives us a brief before departure

A young adventurer all set to snorkel

A young adventurer all set to snorkel

Zanzibar is a diver's heaven!

Zanzibar is a diver’s heaven!

Let's go, flipper!

Let’s go, flipper!

Beauty out at sea in Zanzibar

Beauty out at sea in Zanzibar

We later traveled to the Nungwi area of Zanzibar to Kendwa beach where the ultimate jump off party was set to be held. All the roads led to Kendwa Rocks, an establishment that holds an electric new years party, year in year out. The popularity of this party was evident from the number of people that thronged the beach. There were revelers from Kenya, South Africa and other parts of the world! The ladies dressed to impress and the fellows spent to make a ‘kill’ 😉 The loud music tore through the air and people danced the night away. I took a walk to the beach and it was refreshing to see couples sitting in the sand, sharing bottles of wine as they waited to usher in the new year watching the lazy waves break on the white sandy shore. 5… 4… 3… 2…1.. the crowd counted, and at the strike of midnight we were treated to a spectacular fireworks show! “Happy New Year!” Everybody shouted as they jumped around in joy! As I sipped my chilled beer underneath the velvety star studded sky, I prayed that this energy and beauty would carry on through out 2017!

Beach party at Kendwa Rocks, Zanzibar!

Beach party at Kendwa Rocks, Zanzibar!

Happy New Year!!!!

Happy New Year!!!! (video)

As if seeking to overdose on beach therapy, we left Zanzibar, made a slight stopover in Dar es Salaam before heading out to the Kenyan South Coast by road. Our next stop was Diani beach! On the scenic route down from Dar to Tanga and through the Lunga Lunga border I could see adventurers going through the photographs they had taken in Zanzibar, and recapping on the escapades they had at Kendwa.

A beautiful diversion off the main highway in Tanzania, cut to allow road recarpeting

A beautiful diversion off the main highway in Tanzania, cut to allow road repair works

We arrived in Diani, Kenya a few hours into the night. Not much could be done as most of us were tired from the day’s journey and some were looking forward to undertaking more action packed activities on the next day. After dinner, some retired early while others opted to experience what the Diani nightlife had to offer. Early the next day, a bunch of us left for a day excursion at the Wasini area of South Coast. The trip saw them go to the unspoiled Kisite Mpunguti marine park which lies in the coral gardens, protects marine life and acts as a breeding ground for migratory birds. As was witnessed in this occasion, it is not rare to spot a school of dolphins swimming and sometimes playing in a way to enchant the visitors to this part of the Indian Ocean!

Understandably, some of the adventurers opted to rest in at the beautiful hotel (Amani Tiwi Beach Resort) where we were putting up. Walking the long white beach, relaxing in the beautiful swimming pool and sipping cocktails from the pool bar, or pampering self at the hotel’s spa were some of the activities they opted to indulge in.

Cheers from the pool bar! Amani Tiwi Beach Resort

Cheers from the pool bar! Amani Tiwi Beach Resort

Amani Tiwi Beach Resort, a true gm on the Kenyan South Coast!

Amani Tiwi Beach Resort, a true gm on the Kenyan South Coast!

The culmination of this tour was by some adrenaline junkies who found it fit to jump 15,000ft out of a perfectly well running plane flown by a sober and able pilot! The Diani Skydive is the company of ‘crazies’ that has people scrambling for a chance to take on this fear-conquering feat. It was difficult to actually get a slot at this time of year. Bunduz had to call Diani Skydive in advance to book the slots! We were greeted by an air of busy fellows and ladies, all in easy wear branded in their company colours. One guy was on his laptop working on the videos of those that had jumped earlier in the day, another was on his hand held radio coordinating the jumps, while another lady welcomed us to the lounge area. Despite them being busy, it was clear that they all enjoyed what they do! Kudos Diani Sky Dive!

Adventurers getting instructions on the best position to enjoy a tandem jump fully

Adventurers getting instructions on the best position to enjoy a tandem jump fully

The jumpers were advised to maintain a ‘happy-banana’ pose and cooperate with their tandem jump instructors to avoid a bumpy or rough free fall from the sky. After the short introduction session, the jumpers were strapped to their skydive gear and off they were whisked to a nearby airstrip for the take off.

Gear on, brave faces on and ready to skydive!

Gear on, brave faces on and ready to skydive!

A mother and two daughters took on the skydive challenge by the horns!

The adventurous Alulu Zain  and her two daughters took on the skydive challenge by the horns!

On the beach, other adventurers had an awesome time relaxing and enjoying the beautiful scenery as they waited to cheer those that were landing from the skydiving. A large T shaped mark made from red cloth was on the beach to guide the jumpers on where to land their parachutes. After a short while they started appearing in the sky as minute objects falling, and eventually open parachutes were visible slowly gliding through the humid air to the beach below.

A landing straight on the red mark!

A landing straight on the red mark!

The ten days action packed road trip that saw us travel extensively through Kenya, Tanzania and Zanzibar was now coming to an end. The spirits were high and I knew we had all made a good decision to start the year with such a bang! As has been custom and typical of the Bunduz crew, this was another exhilarating, well organized and fun filled adventure! It is a little early in the year, but I would be lying if I said I am not already looking forward to the next Bunduz adventure plan, which should be going down soon! I will certainly keep you posted.. 🙂

Adios from the pack of adventurers that rocked the 10 days Bunduz road trip 2016/2017!

Adios from the pack of adventurers that rocked the 10 days Bunduz road trip 2016/2017!

Adventure: 10 days Road Trip; Nairobi – Arusha – Dar es Salaam – Zanzibar – Dar es Salaam – Diani – Nairobi

Distance Covered: Approximately 2,200km

Organizer: Bunduz, Mukhtar Sidi

Documentary & Photography by: Macharia Njuguna

Some Places To Stay: Venus Premier Hotel (Arusha), RainBow Hotel (Dar es Salaam), Zanzibar Beach Resort (Zanzibar), Amani Tiwi Beach Resort (Diani, Kenya)

Nairobi To Botswana (Overland Tour)

Life on the wild side. Bunduz

Life on the wild side. Bunduz

A wealthy African man who is living in his bonus years wakes up one morning with an urgent need to leave a lasting legacy. In his long life he has observed that Africa has all it needs to be self reliant and still have enough to support the rest of the world if need be. He goes out on  search of young men from each of the fifty four African countries and takes them through a good education with an aim of transforming the African leadership to a strong unified state. The wealthy man is in his sunset years, but he dreams of a beautiful sunrise. One man, one sunrise!

It was while on the 15 days overland tour through 6 African countries that I had a conversation that went something like this with one comical adventurer, with a knack of capturing moments beautifully and philosophizing the state of affairs creatively albeit his topsy-turvy demeanour.

Brian, shows off some shots

Brian, shows off some shots

The planning had been on going for a while, and I was looking forward to the adventure like a freshly trained jockey to his maiden race! The day finally came and we set off on the grand road-trip organized and managed by  Bunduz

Mukhtar of Bunduz briefs the pack of adventurers shortly after departure from Nairobi

Mukhtar of Bunduz briefs the pack of adventurers shortly after departure from Nairobi

The first few days had most of the overland truck occupants pretty much keeping to their own spaces and indulging in their personal past times like reading or even typing away some pending work reports on their laptops. I quietly watched, knowing that soon this would be a hive of activity and an anthill of interaction as the days went by. Fortunately, the overland truck catered for everyone including those that insisted on working as we made our way through the picturesque landscapes of our beautiful land Africa.

The comfortable overland truck allowed work and play :-)

The comfortable Bunduz overland truck allowed space for work and play 🙂

I have taken it upon myself to tell the world that which is little known about Africa in pictures and words, and so my joy could not be hidden when I saw like-minded people whip out cameras (from the professional full frames to the phone cameras) to take shots here and there. I caught myself mid-way through a jubilant somersault while doing a never ending mental calculation of multiples, on how many people would be reached through the various platforms that the photos would be exhibited! We have to show the world the gem that Africa is!

Many photographers were part of the pack! photo by Brian

Many photographers were part of the pack! photo by Brian

Someone once said that, ‘We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.’ The experiences we had on this road-trip are second to no other; loaded with the bush feel of adventure, the high adrenaline of  sport and the general excitement of interacting with other cultures as well as soaking in new scenery. It was an open secret that the epitome of this adventure would be in Livingstone Zambia, but this did not stop the jolly good adventurers from savouring every moment of the journey.

A beautiful hillside jsu past Namanga in Tanzania

A beautiful hillside just past Namanga in Tanzania

An adventurous experience of a different culture is never fully achieved without indulging the culinary skills of a people. So I believe. It should therefore go without saying that we tried the ‘chips-mayai’ of Arusha, Tanzania. A roadside finger-licking fast meal that is prepared from a mixture of deep fried potato wedges, pan fried eggs and meat chunks.

The adventure was on, and it was quite entertaining seeing the pack of adventurers immerse themselves fully into the experience. Everyone’s eyes were riveted on the Bunduz crew as they demonstrated how to pitch and disassemble a tent. Rightfully so, as this was the intended mode of accommodation for the next 15 days. The Tarangire National Park played host to us on this night.

Pay attention; This is how to pitch a tent.

Pay attention; This is how to pitch a tent.

Bright and early we set off for the fort town of Iringa, a journey that ran as smooth as a straight upward burst of a space shuttle. This was to however be short-lived because the recent rains had cut off the short-cut route that our able and experienced overland driver had intended to use. We had to turn back and use a route that ended up making this journey excruciatingly long. We made it to Iringa late in the night, and thanks to the Trip-Captain’s connections and kindness, we found a restaurant with our food ready. The place was ran by a friendly Arab man named Shariff. From how he ran his business, he exuded the nomadic resilience to make things happen from the little available. He ran a restaurant, a bar and a disco right on the same floor where he housed his family. They say, any kindness to a traveller is paid back ten fold and I cannot wish any less for Shariff. He invited our tired selves into his house and made sure each of us go the food they ordered for. All 30 of us!

Adventurers in Shariff's house at Iringa, Tanzania.

Adventurers in Shariff’s house at Iringa, Tanzania.

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A couple picnic on the shores of Lake Singinda in Tanzania

A couple picnic on the shores of Lake Singinda in Tanzania

Malawi is known to draw masses of tourists thanks to it’s vast turquoise clear waters of Lake Malawi. We were welcomed to the sandy beach of Chitimba along the shores of this beautiful lake by a Dutch man of heavy build who ran a camp site right on the beach. This being Christmas day, the adventurers were itching to have a party! This happened right on the beach, under the moonlight, where the waves broke on the shore as though in rhythm with the beats wafting through the humid night air from a Beats by Dre speaker that one of the adventurers had. The drinks flowed and dance moves succeeded each other with every new song. As the party went on, we contemplated driving the Bunduz support landcruiser onto the beach for louder music from its powerful music system. This idea was however quickly quashed when our Dutch host told us a story of some South African fellows who had to spend a whole day digging out their landrover from the beach sand after a similar night of beach partying.

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Chitimba beach in Malawi.

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Merry Christmas! Party in Chitimba.

She had the purity of a virgin, the innocence of a girl well guarded in her upbringing and an inviting dangerous playfulness of a free spirit. After Chitimba beach, she wasn’t done with me. She took me to Kande beach and escalated our newly found relationship to second course with no notification or apprise whatsoever. She let me dive deep into her, engulfed me in her water and let me float in her waves. I couldn’t help it, for she made it so easy to fall in love with her. She had me, (and I believe many others) under her spell. She’s the beautiful Lake Malawi!

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Let’s go snorkelling!

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Negotiating for a canoe ride from a fisherman’s village

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Diving into Lake Malawi!

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Scott the dive instructor at Kande beach was a good-hearted free spirit.

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Some volleyball, anyone?

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Some WiFi on Kande Beach?

 

It was difficult bidding Lake Malawi goodbye, but as is the adventurer’s story of life the journey had to go on. We proceeded to Chipata, arriving on an evening that was seemingly cold unlike most of the journey where the weather had been hot and humid. We camped at Mama Rula, a friendly campsite tucked underneath a rich collection of indigenous trees and that boasted a generously stocked bar draped in flags and jerseys of various rugby teams.

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Pitching tent in Chipata

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The warm bar at Mama Rula campsite

As we proceeded down towards Lusaka, it was evident that now everyone’s mind was set on the high adrenaline activities that awaited us in Livingstone. It was common to hear groups of adventurers discussing how it felt to bungee or cascade down a torrential river in a raft. Most accounts were the creation of their imaginations; I once listened in on a conversation where one lady told another that it is very advisable to answer all calls of nature prior to undertaking a bungee jump lest you paint the town ‘soil’. It sort of made sense, ha ha!

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Luangwa bridge in Zambia

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A busy shopping mall in Lilongwe, Malawi.

We finally made it to Livingstone, a traveller’s town whose charm is irresistible! Her neat streets  give an aura of organization which subtly sell out the fact that she was once a very important town. The kind of aura that people who were once rich give when sitting quietly at a bar corner dressed in well pressed but old suits. Livingstone was once the capital of Northern Rhodesia up until 1935. Her closeness to the mighty Zambezi River, and the world renowned Victoria Falls made her a hub of tourist activity full of life in the vibrant kind of way! We settled at a well manicured camp-site right by the banks of River Zambezi, Victorial Falls Waterfront.

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Victoria Falls Waterfront

The friendly staff of Safari Par Excellence were fast in giving us a presentation on all the high adrenaline activities that we could take part in during our stay in Livingstone. Top amongst the available activities were the bungee jump which is 111m down into the Zambezi gorge, water rafting through the whirling rapids of the Zambezi River, micro-light flights over the picturesque Zambezi gorge and elephant rides. Within no time, all the adventurers had booked whatever activity they felt interested in. I overheard one say that they had not succumbed to the bungee jumpers’ ‘peer-pressure’ and quietly deduced that they were too scared to make that leap but had to find a non-fear-exposing way of saying it.

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The last sunset of 2015 over river Zambezi in Zambia.

Lady Livingstone pic

An adventurer takes a shot of the Lady Livingstone cruise in the sunset

The day finally came when we had to all split up and undertake various activities as booked on the previous day. I was particularly envious of the group that had signed-up for the elephant ride as they would get a free sundowner cruise later in the day aboard Lady Livingstone, but I had my own items to tick off my bucket-list. Top on that list was the mind blowing bungee jump. I walked to the monstrous bridge connecting the gorge on whose belly the Zambezi flows, paid for the jump and waited for my name to be called out. I watched people come, jump and go, but I restrained myself from asking them what the experience was like because I wanted to feel it my way without expectations based on someone else’s jump. It was eventually my turn! The bungee crew harnessed by body to the safety ropes and for some reason I had to double check each hook, every rope and almost every stitch of the body hugging harness to which the ropes were attached. I was somewhat scared but determined to face my fear. I inched to the edge of the jump spot and knew it was now or never when the attendant said, ‘toes off the edge. 1, 2, 3…..’ I didn’t hear him say ‘bungeee..’ for I had immediately leaped off the ledge with my arms wide open, but I assumed he had said it as he had for every other jumper before me. The free-fall drop felt like the real version of that dream every child has falling into and endless abyss. My eyes were wide open looking straight at the roaring waters of the Zambezi and the dark sun licked rocks below. I felt as though my heart had turned into a helium balloon of super-light weight and hovered way above me as I dropped. The entire world felt paused and a ringing silence engulfed my surrounding. I have never felt so alone in my entire life. In all of less than 30 seconds the jump and several tosses while dangling from the bungee rope were over. An experience that even I cannot detail enough for you. I felt invincible as I came back up onto the bridge. It felt like a rebirth of sorts where fear did not take the back seat, but was literally kicked out of the bus!

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The imposing Victoria Falls Bridge

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An adventurer peers over the bridge. ‘Can I really jump?’ She seems to wonder

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All strapped and ready to jump. The smile says he’s calm, but the visible thin sweat says otherwise 🙂

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My turn to bungee came faster than I expected!

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An inspiring young adventurer (Sid) takes the leap!

While we tempted fate on the bridge, other adventurers took part in other activities. I had a recount of a micro-light flight from one lady and she described how ‘naked’ she felt flying hundreds of feet above the ground in a ‘contraption’ that felt like a motorbike high on drugs enough to fly. The pilot had a sticker that said, ‘ Don’t scream, I am scared too!’ She however said that the sights of the Zambezi below were exquisite. She was able to view a good expanse of the gorge and the mist blowing from the Victoria falls rose like bellowing white smoke!

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A shot of River Zambezi from a chopper

Those that took the elephant ride recounted of an instance where one of them dropped her hat accidentally and the elephant she was riding picked it up with her trunk and handed it back. Talk of intelligence in the wild!

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On the elephant ride!

Another bunch took on the rapids of the Zambezi on a raft. Only guarded with yellow helmets whose bright colour made them look like play toys not quite the recommend for when one would be crushing head on with rocks 🙂 Their experience was however a tale they told with manic enthusiasm!

Video Rafting Just before

They set off to do the rafting!

We spent the New Year’s Eve in Livingstone. We partied at the camp’s bar where they had a DJ who didn’t come off as very acquainted to his decks, but we raved on anyway. He sort of redeemed himself when he played Kenyan tunes and gave shout outs to our crew who had by now become the centre of attraction drawing attention from the locals and fellow tourists alike! Remaining true to our adventurous spirit, we sampled other parties that were going down in and around Livingstone. We ushered in 2016 in style!

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Happy New Year from Livingstone!

It would be futile to visit Livingstone and not take a tour of the mighty Victoria Falls locally dubbed ‘Mosi-Oa-Tunya’ – The smoke that thunders. As we entered the gates to start the tour, we could hear the thundering pour at the falls. Mist bellowing into the air and regular drops of precipitate were common. The breathe taking view of the falls makes one think of how powerful the Creator is! It took us about two hours to walk the expanse of the cliff from which we viewed the falls, often catching a rainbow form as the mist went up in the sun.

Part of the group made their way down to Botswana which is not too far from Livingstone. The Chobe National Park which is home to a large number of elephant herds was the main attraction here, and it certainly did not disappoint.

Ferry crossing

Ferry crossing from Zambia into Botswana. Photo by Ali Said

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A herd of jumbo in a mud bath at Chobe National Park

The 15 days that we had been away on travel through Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana seemed to have ran faster than anyone of us would have wished. Such is the life of the adventurer. That which has a beginning certainly has to have an end. Soon we were well on our way back to Nairobi, using the route through a town called Mpika in Zambia, Mbeya and Singinda in Tanzania. Of note is that thanks to the never disappointing Bunduz crew, we had an awesome time! Lasting friendships were forged and we lived true to the adventurers’ mantra that says, ‘Live Everyday as if it were your last, because one day you’ll certainly be right!’

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The able and experienced Bunduz crew that made it all possible!

 

Important Information

Event: Livingstone New Year’s Tour 

Period: 15 Day (23rd Dec 2015 to 6th Jan 2016)

Currency: Best to travel with US Dollars when traveling through several countries

Language: All the six countries speak English and other local languages

Organizer: http://www.bunduz.com/

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/bunduzsafaris/timeline

Documentary (photos & writing) by: Macharia Njuguna and guest photographers (https://adventurewithmash.wordpress.com/)

 

 

Kenya Meets Ethiopia (Road trip)!

Kenya meets Ethiopia! ;-)

Kenya meets Ethiopia! 😉

I am not known to be swayed in my ways, but I am now on my second cup of coffee this evening. Previously, you would only catch me sipping on a latte while meeting clients in the cosy coffee houses of Nairobi. Needless to say, the Ethiopian age-old coffee culture has had me well entrapped in its sweet aromatic web and I am certainly not complaining.

Ethiopian coffee served with the tenadam herb to add to the flavour.

Ethiopian coffee served with the tenadam herb to add to the flavour.

As we set out from Nairobi on the early morning of 18th November 2015, the weather that had been gloomy and rainy somehow cleared up and gave us a treat to a beautiful sunrise as if an indication of the beauty we were to be treated to on our road trip to Ethiopia.

Beautiful morning as we departed from Nairobi

Beautiful morning as we departed from Nairobi

http://www.jamboafricanadventures.com/ had put together a 23 strong group of adventurers and crew for this overland safari. We were set to cover a distance of approximately 3,000km to and fro Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Some came with books to read, others with music to listen to while the rest were just looking forward to a jolly good old time. As the bags were loaded up into the truck, I noticed a couple of cameras slung across the shoulders of most of the adventurers a common feature amongst young Kenyan travellers today. They are keen on capturing moments and scenery whenever they travel, and this is encouraging as the world will fast get to know of hidden good in Africa particularly in the wake of fast internet speeds and numerous social media networks.

The adventurers on the Jambo African Adventure Tours safari to Addis

The adventurers on the Jambo African Adventure Tours safari to Addis

“This looks like a farm in Scotland!” I heard one of the adventurers exclaim as we made our way through Nanyuki and the Timau area. Like a lady in a relationship that gets better with time, Kenya treated us to her layers of beauty in different landscapes as we travelled further north.

A truck working in a farm in the Tiamau area

A truck working on a farm in the Timau area

A section of the Ewaso Nyiro river in a semi-arid area

A section of the Ewaso Nyiro river in a semi-arid area

A picturesque hill near Wamba. The road up north is quite well done in most parts

A picturesque hill near Wamba. The road up north is quite well done in most parts

A church captured on an early morning in the Dida Galgalo desert.

A church captured on an early morning in the Dida Galgalo desert.

A truck working on the road construction project to connect Marsabit town

A truck working on the road construction project to connect Marsabit town

A beautiful church that stands on a hill like a sentry to Marsabit town

A beautiful church that stands on a hill like a sentry to Marsabit

We were soon at the Moyale border, and thanks to the good relations between Kenya and Ethiopia we did not need visas to cross over. However, the staff on the Ethiopian side are a little too keen on their lunch break and would rather leave your entry process halfway done than miss a spoonful of it! At 1230hrs they all left the offices and kept us waiting to have the overland truck cleared at 1400hrs. Needless to say this threw a huge spanner into how we had planned our travel time, but nothing was going to dampen our spirits. We kept going, and made it to the small town of Hagre Maryam on a rainy muddy night.

We prepared our picnic lunch as we waited 2hrs to have our overland truck cleared at the Ethiopia Moyale broder

We prepared our picnic lunch as we waited 2hrs to have our overland truck cleared at the Ethiopia Moyale border

The hotel that hosted us in the little Ethiopian town of Hagre Maryam

The hotel that hosted us in the little Ethiopian town of Hagre Maryam

Adventurers at a watering hole in Hagre Maryam

Adventurers at a ‘watering hole’ in Hagre Maryam

We set out early the following morning on a travel towards, the town of Yigra Chefe porpular for it’s coffee. Then proceed on to Shashamane, the land that hosts many repatriating persons from the Caribbean Islands, the Americas and Europe, after 500 acres was given for this purpose by His Highness Emperor Haile Selassie back in 1948.

We made some friends amongst the Gedeo people on our way to Yigra Chefe

We made some friends amongst the Gedeo people on our way to Yigra Chefe

Children on their way to school on a cold morning in the southern Ethiopian highlands (Oromia Region)

Children on their way to school on a cold morning in the southern Ethiopian highlands (Oromia Region)

Yigra Chefe, welcomed us to coffee

Yigra Chefe, welcomed us to coffee

Shashamane received us with a lot of love. The Rastafarian culture which is synonymous with the town preaches love, peace and unity amongst people of all races and every walk of life. This was evident in How Ras Kamba (the vice president of Ethiopia World Federation) received us and how the world acclaimed reggea artist Teddy Dan hosted us in his art gallery.

Ras Kamba gives a talk at the Ethipia World Federation Headquarters in Shashamane

Ras Kamba gives a talk at the Ethiopia World Federation Headquarters in Shashamane

Ras Teddy Dan, gives us a tour of his art gallery in Shashamane

Ras Teddy Dan, gives us a tour of his art gallery in Shashamane

We were also privileged enough to meet the President of the Ethiopian World Federation, Ras Reuben Kush who was to later host us at The Circle of Life hotel in the lake town of Awassa. There are various other attractions in the town of Shashamane, amongst them being the church of The Twelve Tribes of Israel and the Nayabhingi whose followers are known to keep the principle of freedom of conscience and teachings of Emperor Haile Selassie that faith is private and requires no intermediary.

The Twelve Tribes of Israel, Shashamane

The Twelve Tribes of Israel, Shashamane

The night life in Shashamane is very interesting, with many bars, pubs and discos scattered all over the town. It was however of note that none of these clubs were predominantly playing reggea music contrary to my expectation. We were also advised that adventurers need to be cautious in this town due to the local youth who have blindly taken to crime in a bid to ape the Jamaican gangs they read or precariously hear about.

A beautiful African girl in Shashamane

A beautiful African girl in Shashamane

The beauty, kindness and generosity of the Ethiopian people cannot go unnoticed. Despite the language barrier (as most Ethiopians speak in Amharic), people were curious (in a friendly way) about who we were, where we were from and if we needed any assistance in getting to the various places on our itinerary. Our guide in Ethiopia (Biruk) was very helpful and kind to a point where he surprised us with an invite to his parent’s home for dinner and a coffee ceremony!

Our Ethiopian guide with his father, mother and sister at their home in Shashamane

Our Ethiopian guide with his father, mother and sister at their home in Shashamane

Our guide's sister serves the adventurers some coffee at their home

Our guide’s sister serves the adventurers some coffee at their home

Adventurers enjoying a sumptuous meal at our guide's home

Adventurers enjoying a sumptuous meal at our guide’s home

Located in the heart of Wondo Genet about 20km south east of Shashamane and surrounded by forests, are some hot springs that are believed to have healing effects to those who bath in them. We spared a few hours to bath in the springs before we set out on the final leg of the journey to the city of Addis Ababa.

People enjoying the healing waters of Wondo Genet

People enjoying the healing waters of Wondo Genet

A little clothes and ornaments store outside the Wondo Genet hotsprings

A little clothes and ornaments store outside the Wondo Genet hotsprings

Addis Ababa is a unique blend of the past and the present. A combination of African culture laced with some ‘western’ modernity to give rise to a well functioning city with little of the problems associated with other third world cities, like chaotic traffic jams. The express way, leads one straight into the city with no hustles after settling a minimal toll fee. The progressive fast electric train ferrying passengers around the city and its outskirts has also contributed to the reduction of city vehicular traffic.

The express way into Addis Ababa

The express way into Addis Ababa

The fast electric train in Addis Ababa

The fast electric train in Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa is often referred to as the capital of Africa for being host to the African Union Headquarters, a large number of foreign embassies and several arms of the United Nations. Addis Ababa boasts many monuments, museums and churches showcasing the Ethiopian ancient history, religious beliefs and struggles against colonization (Ethiopia was never officially colonized as was the case in many countries across the world). Amongst the key monuments and museums to visit are The Derg monument, The Statue of The Lion of Judah, The Holy Trinity Cathedral and museum, The St. George’s Cathedral and museum, The Meskel Square and the Entoto Hill St. Mary’s Church.

The Yekatit 12 square monument stands in tribute to thousands of matyrs butchered by the Fascist Italian occupiers in 1936

The Yekatit 12 square monument stands in tribute to thousands of martyrs butchered by the Fascist Italian occupiers in 1936

A busy street outside the Addis Ababa University

A busy street outside the Addis Ababa University

A beautiful street of down town Addis Ababa

A beautiful street of down town Addis Ababa

We had the opportunity to visit the Entoto Hill, St. Mary’s Orthodox church which was formerly the headquarters to Menelik II during the founding of Addis Ababa. The compound also has the Menelik and Taitu’s memorial museum. Like in many other churches and museums in Ethiopia, a minimal fee is charged at the entrance and no photography is allowed within the museum.

My ticket into the Menelik & Taitu's memorial museum

My ticket into the Menelik & Taitu’s memorial museum

We drove up the Entoto hill elevated at 3,200 meters above sea level and got birds eye view of the entire city of Addis Ababa! On this day, the church had a service going on and we were therefore not in a position to get in. I however, managed to capture a few shots of the simple church which was once home to the Emperor Menelik II.

The Entoto, St. Mary's church

The Entoto, St. Mary’s church

Othordox faithfuls outside the Entoto St. Mary's church

Othordox faithful outside the Entoto St. Mary’s church

A section of the St. Mary's church

A section of the St. Mary’s church

A clergy holding an Orthodox cross at the St. Mary's church gate

A man holding an Orthodox cross at the St. Mary’s church gate

As we descended from the Entoto hill, we stopped at the Shiro Meda Market where adventurers purchased locally hand made Ethiopian garments and handicrafts at prices that kept getting lower depending on how good at haggling one is 🙂

Shiro Meda Market, Addis Ababa

Shiro Meda Market, Addis Ababa

An aerial view of Addis Ababa from the Entoto hill

An aerial view of Addis Ababa from the Entoto hill

The Ethiopian food did not disappoint. The staple which is injera (fermented teff grain flour pancake) was served in gigantic platters and topped with spice filled curries, vegetables and lots of meat. The adventurers dug into the platters with their hands adding to the richness of African culture which strongly advocates for sharing the little that maybe available.

Injera is served!

Injera is served!

Coffee is a common beverage and we often found it prepared at all restaurants and along most of the streets in Addis Ababa. I formed a habit of sneaking away from the rest of the pack to down several shots of coffee before we embarked on our explorations of the city. I fell in love with the Ethiopian traditional coffee which is made in a process that seemed to be filled with love. The coffee is roasted by hand, ground with a mortar and pestle, and brewed in a traditional coffee pot made of clay (jabena). The dark brown colour so enticing and the aroma so inviting, I was sold to the classy African coffee culture of Ethiopia! I will walk back to my kitchen and brew me a fresh cup of the coffee, as I leave you to let the fun that Ethiopia is sink in and you make that decision to book your own slot for another Ethiopian adventure with Jambo African Adventures starting from 23rd December 2015 🙂

A beautiful Ethiopian girl at a pastries shop in Awassa

A beautiful Ethiopian girl at a pastries shop in Awassa

Our return journey was easy and laid back, having gone through most of the towns along the way. We however made a stop in the lavish lake town of Awassa. We put up at the Circle of Life Hotel which is a stone throw away from the shore of Lake Awassa, owned and managed by a group of Rastafarians, amongst them Ras Rueben Kush who is the president of the Ethiopia World Federation.

As you know by now, I did get you some shots telling the story of our journey back. Enjoy 😉

A tourist boat in Lake Awassa

A tourist boat in Lake Awassa

The beautiful city of Awassa is home to some of the beautiful resorts of Ethiopia. We stayed at the Circle of Life

The beautiful city of Awassa is home to some of the beautiful resorts in Ethiopia. We stayed at the Circle of Life Hotel

The Circle of Life is a little beautiful hotel tucked underneath rich natural flora and fauna that attracts an array of birds

The Circle of Life is a little beautiful hotel tucked underneath rich natural flora that attracts an array of birds

Pelicans and marabou stalks line the shore of Lake Awassa near the fish market

Pelicans and marabou stork line the shore of Lake Awassa near the fish market

A lone boy fishing in Lake Awassa while floating on his innovative raft made of plastic bottles!

A lone boy fishing in Lake Awassa while floating on his innovative raft made of plastic bottles!

Adventurers enjoying a boat ride on Lake Awassa Jambo African Adventures

Adventurers enjoying a boat ride on Lake Awassa Jambo African Adventures

A long canopied avenue along the shore of Lake Awassa

A long canopied and cobblestoned avenue along the shore of Lake Awassa

The pack of adventurers relaxing after hours of exploring Awassa

The pack of adventurers relaxing after hours of exploring the town of Awassa

On our way back, we had a bush dinner along the dry banks of River Merile in Kenya, and the curtain was drawn on our epic road trip from Nairobi to Addis Ababa.

The dry river bed of River Merile

The dry river bed of River Merile

Jolly adventurers set out the dinner table along River Merile

Jolly adventurers set out the dinner table along River Merile

Dinner is served! Shirts off and dig in! :-)

Dinner is served! Shirts off and dig in! 🙂

In the night we made our way back to the city of Nairobi. Curtains drawn.

In the night we made our way back to the city of Nairobi. Curtains drawn.

We loved Ethiopia and I can bet that Ethiopia loved us back!

We loved Ethiopia!

We loved Ethiopia!

Book your slot for when Kenya meets Ethiopia again, with http://www.jamboafricanadventures.com/ between the 23rd December 2015 and 3rd January 2016!

Ethiopia, I will certainly be back :-)

Ethiopia, I will certainly be back 🙂

Important Information

Currency: Ethiopian Birr

Language: Amharic and English (minimal)

Event: Kenya meets Ethiopia (Nairobi to Addis Ababa)
Period: 8 days
Distance: Nairobi (Kenya) to Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) – 1,550km
Organizer: http://www.jamboafricanadventures.com/

Facebok page: https://www.facebook.com/jambo.africanadventures/

Next Ethiopia overland trip: https://www.facebook.com/events/1640356792895566/
Documentary (photos & writing) by: Macharia Njuguna (https://adventurewithmash.wordpress.com/)

Naivasha Relay 2015 (Hash House Harriers)

It was after an evening Hasher’s run around the Parklands area of Nairobi that I heard about the Naivasha Relay. Plumber who is one of the seasoned Nairobi Hashers couldn’t stop on how much of an experience the relay is. As I downed my beer, my adventurous streak started pushing the idea of what an adventure this one would be. I thought of running down the Rift Valley escarpment to Naivasha, the rough terrain, the danger of running into a herd of buffaloes or getting a snake bite while running in the savannah grass and I was sold! I signed up for the relay and ordered another beer 🙂

Hashers getting ready to leave Nairobi and start the Naivasha Relay 2015

Hashers getting ready to leave Nairobi early in the morning and start the Naivasha Relay 2015

The relay route starts at Dagoretti in Nairobi away from the busy highways and off to a dirt-road track that meanders down the Rift Valley escarpment and ends at the foot of Mt. Suswa, covering an approximate of 83 tough kilometres!

Runners all set to start the relay at Dagoretti

Runners all set to start the relay at Dagoretti

Having ran with the Hashers on several occasions, I know that as much as running to keep fit is their agenda it sort of comes a close second to having a great time socializing and partaking of liquids that are known to cause staggers. However, on this day it was evident that everyone brought their ‘A’ game! Hashers were divided into various teams, each team having it’s members seeded (with regard to their running prowess or lack thereof) from seed 1 to 9. Each team member would run a certain distance of the trail at a given time, with some running two or more stages of the race.

The time keeper busy recording time(s) kept by the runners

The time keeper busy recording time(s) kept by the runners

A group of Hash officials are tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that the relay runs smoothly. They are dubbed ‘Mismanagement’ but do not let that tag fool you as they did an impressive job of it! They ensured that time was kept as per the plan, safety of all the runners as well as spectators was observed, venues for accommodation were booked well in advance, heck they even organized to have a sweep car at every stage of the race to lift from ‘shame’ those runners that might have bitten more than they could chew 🙂

An ambulance that trailed the Naivasha Relay runners at every stage of the run

An ambulance that trailed the Naivasha Relay runners at every stage of the run

There were various teams that took part in this relay. I ran as a Seed 2 runner for team Hot Dogs. However, not to say that any team was inferior to the other, but two teams really stood out in my view. These are are the Urban Swaras and the Swedish School team. The Urban Swaras ran as if they were going for the money or their lives depended on it! I may not be privy to the times kept by the teams, but I can put my money on that they covered the total distance in the shortest time. On the other hand, the Swedish school had the youngest runners who turned out to be the most resilient. In the tough conditions of sweltering heat, ankle high dust in some stretches, rocky climbs and steep descents, these kids kept going and finished each stage of the race!

Any opportunity to rest under a shade was gladly grabbed

Any opportunity to rest under a shade was gladly grabbed

We met many locals along the trail, and their glowing faces were a confirmation that the Hashers are a welcome community to their lands every October. I was informed that the Naivasha Relay has taken place every year for more than two decades. There was some teams that actually went handing goodies of books, pens and rulers to the children amongst the spectators.

Children running to catch the Naivasha Relay action

Children running to catch the Naivasha Relay action

Despite the sweltering heat, and the terrain that threatened to be a spirit-breaker at every turn, the runners pushed on and kept some pretty impressive time. At one section I ran and the sun felt like it was dropping nearer to earth with every step I took! My skin was burning in the heat. At some point my imagination convinced me that my hair was melting down and I touched my face in horror, only to smear the many streaks of sweat (some caked in dust) on my entire face. I ran on. I panted heavily as my heart pounded on my chest as if threatening to break out. My thigh and calf muscles felt painfully tight with every step. I could see the few runners ahead and wondered if my eyesight was failing me as they kept growing smaller. I pushed on. The crowd waiting at the finish line was clearly visible and near, but I couldn’t seem to get there! I ran on. I remember praying that angels could carry me to the finish line, but I fast resigned to letting my mind get lost in the beauty of God’s creation around me. I finally finished the race! The Naivasha Relay was a true test of my fitness and I cannot wait to do it again next year!

A runner finishes the race to a cheering crowd at one stage of the relay

A runner finishes the race to a cheering crowd at one stage of the relay

The trail took us to some of the most picturesque areas of the country! Beautiful hills gracefully lined the horizon, some with crater rimmed tops. We had the privilege of running in an environment that knows little if any human interference. This is a run I am willing to do again and again. There’s is no reason why you should not also have it on your adventure calender! 🙂

As you already know by now, I took time to bring you some shots of how the events unfolded. Enjoy.

Children woke up bright and early to spectate the relay

Children woke up bright and early to spectate the relay

 

The daunting rough terrain demanded use of 4x4 road kings!

The daunting rough terrain demanded use of 4×4 road kings!

 

Every runner who finished their stage was received in celebration

Every runner who finished their stage was received in celebration

 

Hashers mingled freely with the locals

Hashers mingled freely with the locals

 

A runner ponders over his strategy for the run

A runner ponders over his strategy for the run

 

Hashers cheering on their teammates

Hashers cheering on their team mates

 

Trust Hashers to spare some time to dance during the relay

Trust Hashers to spare some time to dance and down a beer during the relay

 

There was lots of adventure to capture!

There was lots of action to capture!

 

The dust in some sections of the relay was ankle deep!

The dust in some sections of the relay was ankle deep!

 

The Naivasha Relay trail is quite picturesque

The Naivasha Relay trail is quite picturesque

 

The little shade available had to be shared :-)

The little shade available had to be shared 🙂

 

I had a selfie moment with the kids watching the race

I had a selfie moment with some kids watching the race

 

The Naivasha Relay ended at the Hell's Gate National Park

The Naivasha Relay ended at the Hell’s Gate National Park

Event: The Naivasha Relay 2015 (Hashers) Hash History: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hash_House_Harriers

Location: Nairobi – Naivasha (Through the Suwa route) Approx. 83km

Photography and documentation by: Macharia Njuguna, @macharianjuguna

A Hotbed of Cultural Diversity ~ Samburu!

Samburu County

Modernization is fast spreading throughout Kenya and Samburu has certainly made notable steps towards this. However, the people of Samburu have found a way to marry the comforts of modernization to their traditional ways of life, resulting in a culture full of colour and distinct contrasts to the silent ‘code’ of westernization that is often confused to be the stamp or validation of a community living in modern times.

Modern, but not lost in westernization

Modern, but not lost in westernization

 

Samburu county is one of the few places in Africa where the locals have held on to their traditional ways of life and culture. The name Samburu refers to the people forming the majority of the county’s population. The county however is home to other communitites notably the Turkana, Pokot, Rendille and Borana.

Young Turkana men stylishly adorned for the event

Young Turkana men stylishly adorned for the event

I visited Samburu County during the 26th Edition of the Maralal International Camel Derby and as always, I was glad to be back to this hot bed of cultural diversity; a true gem of Kenya.

Samburu, a true gem of Kenya

Samburu, a true gem of Kenya

As promised, I got some shots in an effort to give you a glimpse and virtually connect you to what the people of Samburu are like.. 🙂

A moran ponders his next move while clutching to his cell phone

A moran ponders his next move while clutching to his cell phone

Keenly following the camel races at the derby

Keenly following the camel races at the derby

A happy Samburu dance

A happy Samburu dance

A war like dance by Turkana warriors

A war like dance by Turkana warriors

A combination of age, composure and beaty!

A combination of age, composure and beaty!

Morans ready to present a jump dance

Morans ready to present a jump dance

Colour is never shot in Samburu

Colour is never short in Samburu

I love my roots!

I love my roots!

Samburu weather supports the Moran dress code

Samburu weather supports the Moran dress code

Friends of a feather, chat together

Friends of a feather, chat together

A wade through the mud to the derby celebrations

A wade through the mud to the derby celebrations

Comfortable in her well arranged necklong ornaments

Curious

Curious

All set for the pomp and dance!

All set for the pomp and dance!

The soloist with an angelic voice

The soloist with an angelic voice

To show our joy, we dance

To show our joy, we dance

A man shares his tobacco with a female friend

A man shares his tobacco with a female friend

I don't wonna miss out on anything

I don’t wonna miss out on anything

Age didn't stop her from being part of the derby

Age didn’t stop her from being part of the derby

For her, life went on unperturbed

For her, life went on unperturbed

Wide rimmed neck pieces

Wide rimmed neck pieces

Young girls show up for the clebrations

Young girls show up for the celebrations

A male soloist leads a female choir

A male soloist leads a female choir

I made new friends. They live in Nairobi and always make an effort to attend and support the Camel Derby

I made new friends. They live in Nairobi and always make an effort to attend and support the Camel Derby

Undeniable patriotism

Undeniable patriotism

On the journey of life

On the journey of life

Alone in a crowd

Alone in a crowd

Beautiful friends

Beautiful friends

Ladies in stylish hide clothes

Ladies in stylish hide clothes

"What say you?"

“What say you?”

She hid, I sought :-)

She hid, I sought 🙂

"All this fun in one ground?" She seemed to ask

“All this fun in one ground?” She seemed to ask

Camels got gear too! :-)

Camels got gear too! 🙂

"Hold on, let's smile for the camera.."

“Hold on, let’s smile for the camera..”

Colour that makes life beautiful

Colour that makes life beautiful

The stick is not only ornamental, but for utility as well

The stick is not only ornamental, but for utility as well

They rested outside the pub. My guess, it must have been full inside :-)

They rested outside the pub. My guess, it must have been full inside 🙂

She let me take her photograph and asked to see it

She let me take her photograph and asked to see it

Her shyness couldn't hide her beauty

Her shyness couldn’t hide her beauty

"Is this bead out of line..?"

“Is this bead out of line..?”

He cleaned his teeth in readiness for the pomp

He cleaned his teeth in readiness for the pomp

It's on! Boogie down!

It’s on! Boogie down!

"Did you see that..?"

“Did you see that..?”

His jacket played a good backdrop for this shot :-)

His jacket played a good backdrop for this shot 🙂

Not even the grey could take away their colour and beauty

Not even the grey could take away their colour and beauty

I had to blur him out to get the beauties

I had to blur him out to capture the beauties

The Morans' hangout spot

The Morans’ hangout spot

Load on her back, but she couldn't resist being part of the spectators

Load on her back, but she couldn’t resist being part of the spectators

Friendship is, enjoying the derby together

Friendship is, enjoying the derby together

The ladies man!

The ladies man! They danced around him.

Selfie on a camel back

Selfie on a camel back

"We are with it!"

“We are with it!”

The crowd at the Camel Derby evening fun fair

The crowd at the Camel Derby evening fun fair

The sturdy moran seemed to stand guard of his community.

This sturdy moran seemed to stand guard of his community.

The shots are meant to make you want to know more about the beautiful people of Samburu County. What better way to do so than to organize a vist of the county? Go experience the warmth, colour and energy of the Samburu!

Event: The International Maralal Camel Derby (26th Edition)

Location: Maralal, Samburu County, Nothern Kenya

Photography and documentation by: Macharia Njuguna, @macharianjuguna

Adventure and safari organized by: www.bunduz.com

The Maralal International Camel Derby (26th Edition)

Mash (adventurewithmash.com) at the 26th International Maralal Camel Derby

Mash of adventurewithmash.com at the 26th International Maralal Camel Derby

I was meeting her for the first time. She had come all the way from the UK and her poise said that she was dying with the urge to explore Africa. She sat there patiently as the porters put together all the supplies we needed for the safari. Something about her demeanour said that she had been through the heat and came out a diamond. She had the confident face of a soldier that had survived battle and purred with the calmness of royalty. As I walked around her, something within me said I could trust her. Being from England, oozing confidence and courage, yet calm; I couldn’t find her a better nickname than Thatcher 🙂

 

Meet Thatcher, the newest addition to the Bunduz.com family :-)

Meet Thatcher, the newest addition to the Bunduz.com family 🙂 (Military Grade)

 

The fellows all set to cover 350km from Nairobi to Maralal

The fellows all set to cover 350km from Nairobi to Maralal

We drove Thatcher out into the night and we were well on our way to the Maralal International Camel Derby, an event that has been held in Samburu County for the past 26 years! This year, just like in the past this event was expected to draw attention from both the local and international tourists. The International Camel Derby is held in the small town of Maralal, the administrative headquarters of Samburu County which is a hive of cultural diversity as it is inhabited dominantly by the Samburu and sparsely by the Turkana, Pokot, Rendile and other Kenyan tribes.

The people of Samburu County

The people of Samburu County

350km later from Nairobi, we got to the Maralal town in the early hours of the morning having driven throughout the night. 122km of that stretch was of treacherous terrain, full of craters for potholes and finely sifted sand that blew up into a huge cloud of dust behind Thatcher as we drove down. She handled tough terrain with the ease of a tank on tarmac! She is a fine new acquisition to the Bunduz.com family!

A participant in the Camel Derby race

A participant in the Camel Derby race

The Camel Derby is an event held to celebrate the cultural diversity of the people of Samburu County as well as their way of life. The camel races are a central attraction of the Derby, but it would not be justice if the colour and pomp brought out by the traditionally clad people of Samburu went unnoticed!

A moran at the in his regalia at the Camel Derby main venue

A moran in his regalia at the Camel Derby main venue

The Bunduz.com crew set up camp for the adventurers who were on this trip at the Maralal Safari Lodge, an establishment located in the Maralal National Sanctuary. It was not odd to see zebras and antelopes grazing within and around the camp.

The beautiful Maralal Safari Lodge

The beautiful Maralal Safari Lodge

The 26th Edition of the Maralal International Camel Derby was dubbed ‘Sporting for Conservation, Tourism and Peaceful Cultural Interactions’ and the money raised would be channeled towards improving community conservancies in an effort to promote eco-tourism within the county. This made it a worthwhile undertaking as it coupled adventure with charity.

Tourists riding the single hump dromedary camels of Samburu

Tourists riding the single hump dromedary camels of Samburu

Early on the second day of the Camel derby, the adventurers woke up to a sumptuous breakfast prepared from the Bunduz.com ever ready kitchen. Nothing beats a full breakfast out in the open and by the pool. The adventurers especially those who were scheduled to race on the camels needed this tranquility to calm their nerves in readiness.

A camel whisperer

A camel whisperer

 

Security was tight at the 26th International Maralal Camel Derby

Security was tight at the 26th International Maralal Camel Derby

In the early morning hours, all the roads led to the Yare Safari Club which was the main Camel Derby venue. The grounds were full of people. The locals adorned in their traditional regalia freely mingled with the scores of tourists as they excitedly walked around the venue to witness all that was on show.

Morans discussing what to expect at the Camel Derby

Morans discussing what to expect at the Camel Derby

As the races began, the road was lined with cheering spectators as the camel riders and their handlers got ready at the starting line. As I clicked away on my camera, I felt the energy in the competitors and the crowd alike. This had the promise of an exciting event! The camels took off at a neck breaking speed with the competitors eyes all set on prize money. However, some camels were not as cooperative and had to be pulled or coerced to run at least half way through the set track. The crowd cheered the competitors on and it felt like we were in one big medieval arena, for a competition that took human brains, animal brute strength and endurance to win.

Spectators lined both sides of the road at the camel race starting point

Spectators lined both sides of the road at the camel race starting point

 

As the camel race began

As the camel race began

 

A head to head camel race!

A head to head camel race!

 

Spectators keenly following the camel race

Spectators keenly following the camel race

After the competition, winners and the losers alike were treated to a great show of cultural dances later in the evening. The morans and their women came out in their best of regalia, showing off the best that the Samburu County has to offer culturally. They sang and danced their hearts out as if conveying their gratitude for the success that the event was turning out to be.

Morans all set to do a traditional dance

Morans all set to do a traditional dance

 

Samburu ladies belting out a tune

Samburu ladies belting out a tune

 

Samburu youth in a playful dance

Samburu youth in a playful dance

 

What a beautiful traditional choir dressed in skin clothes!

What a beautiful traditional choir dressed in skin clothes!

 

A section of the audience enjoying the traditional dances

A section of the audience enjoying the traditional dances

We returned to the Maralal Safari Lodge with the Bunduz.com adventurers who were now quite tired from the events of the day. They were greeted with a warm dinner and as they ate away, the chatter was alive with heroic recounts of what each had been up to during the eventful day. Needless to say, most of us ended up by the ‘watering hole’ read bar, where we were entertained well into the late of night by a very able two-man band from South Africa as we downed bottles of whatever each of us fancied.

The very able two-man South African band

The very able two-man South African band

Tusker, the world's best beer from Kenya

Tusker, the world’s best beer from Kenya

A triathlon race was set for the final day of the Camel Derby. In this race, each team was expected to have three members. One would race on the camel; the other would cycle while another would run to complete the race. Bunduz.com crew and our friends from Warthog Expeditions took part in this race. The participants were very well coordinated, they all gave their best and had fun while racing for charity.

The Bunduz.com and Warthog Expeditions team!

The Bunduz.com and Warthog Expeditions team!

 

Mukhtar Sidi of Bunduz.com mounts his camel in readiness for the triathlon

Mukhtar Sidi of Bunduz.com mounts his camel in readiness for the triathlon

 

The triathlon team walks to the start line

The triathlon team walks to the start line

 

Camels speed off at the start of the triathlon race

Camels speed off at the start of the triathlon race

 

Sarah Reeves of Warthog Expeditions at the finish of the camel race. Henry is on standby to start the bicycle race in the triathlon.

Sarah Reeves of Warthog Expeditions at the finish of the camel race. Henry is on standby to start the bicycle race in the triathlon.

This is one event that I was very excited to attend. I had been to the Camel Derby way back in 2009 and I was glad to see how much the event had grown over the years! In the words of one local, “The Camel Derby is like early Christmas to the people of Samburu!”

Let's call our friends over to share in the fun!

Let’s call our friends over to share in the fun!

 

I made new friends at the 26th Camel derby in Maralal. Lydia the CEO of Tourism in Samburu County and Therese a fun loving tourist :-)

I made new friends at the 26th Camel derby in Maralal. Lydia the CEO of Tourism in Samburu County and Therese a fun loving tourist 🙂

I really can’t sum up all the beauty and fun that I witnessed in this tour documentary, but I certainly took shots that will give you a feel of it so that you can make sure to book your slot for the 27th Maralal International Camel Derby with Bunduz.com come  25th – 28th August 2016 😉

Look out for the next photos-post dubbed, A Hotbed of Cultural Diversity – Samburu

 

Event: The International Maralal Camel Derby (26th Edition)

Location: Maralal, Samburu County, Nothern Kenya

Photography and documentation by: Macharia Njuguna, @macharianjuguna

Adventure and safari organized by: www.bunduz.com