Run Wild; Lewa Marathon 2016

“I have been running 26km every week since March, in readiness for this marathon! Grueling is what the terrain was, and the sweltering heat didn’t make it any easier; thank heavens for the misting stations along the trail! I am tired to the bone, but hey, it’s all for a good cause!” Said Fred after finishing the Run Wild Run For The Wild 2016 Lewa Marathon.

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On the road from Nairobi, I traveled with a bunch of happy, singing Hashers all set to take part in a marathon that has made it to the world’s list of top ten ‘must do’ marathons. The Lewa Marathon is revered in the world of runners as one of the toughest marathons in the world! Knowing this, I figured that the pomp and dance the Hashers had was something in the lines of a war-dance conjured to imply courage as they forged forward to the war; The 2016 Lewa Marathon!

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There’s never a dull day in the Hash House Harriers movement!

Commitment to conservation of wildlife and its habitat in Kenya was hallmarked as the Lewa Marathon marked it’s 17th Anniversary; this time hosting over 1300 participants drawn from 28 countries all over the world. A growth in leaps and bounds from the 150 participants the marathon hosted in 2000, the inaugural year.

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The Safaricom Lewa Marathon is one of the major sporting events in Kenya and in the circles of runners all around the world. The energy of the event and its participants was almost tangible! As early as the first bird chirped to wake the world, runners could be seen pacing up and down their camps as they warmed up their muscles prior to the marathon. There are those that were to run the half marathon (21km) and the elite runners who would cover enter trail of the full marathon (42km).

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Early morning as the runners sponsored by MMC Africa Law get ready for the marathon

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The energy of the event and its participants was almost tangible!

The Lewa Marathon gave the spectators as well as the runners the exciting possibility of encountering wildlife on the trail. The picturesque landscapes were enthralling like snippets straight out of a Disney film! Like the proverbial bite and blow from a rat, I assumed the marathon was treacherous for the runners and the natural beauty of the Lewa conservancy was the reliever.

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Spectators were treated to picturesque landscapes as they cheered runners in the Lewa Marathon

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An ostrich stands vigilant at the Lewa Conservancy

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Mama rhino and child, out for a morning snack at Lewa

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Striped beauty of the zebra stands out in the Lewa plains

 

Young and old runners gave their best and pushed hard! Every pant, muscle cramp and foot sore being their symbol  of commitment to the spirit of wildlife conservation. Through the undulating dirt tracks cutting through the breathtaking Lewa Conservancy, runners sweat it out, with some running strong and others shuffling their feet with an aim to make it to the next water-point and eventually to the finish line.

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John Ruengo pushing hard. At 86 he is the oldest Kenyan marathoner.

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All terrain vehicles came in handy while moving from spectator point to the next

As I moved from one spectator point to the next, I was glad to have met one of the child competitors in the Lewa Marathon. The kids take part in a 5km race and are awarded medals on completion of the set distance.

“What is your name?” I asked the shy boy walking towards me with a medal dangling around his neck.

“Moses.” he replied in shaky voice. “I see you finished the race. What position were you?” I inquired.

“I don’t know. I am so tired, but happy that I got a medal.”

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Meet Moses. One of the finishers in the 5km Children’s race at the Lewa Marathon.

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Some ran strong while others shuffled on to the finish line

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Determination was written allover her face

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I will keep going, no giving up!

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Effective cooling; A runner goes though the misting station!

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A determined runner goes past other marathoners at the Lewa Marathon

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A 2013 Virgin London Marathon Finisher pushing to finish Lewa Marathon 2016

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“I have to keep going,” So James seems to tell himself.

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He entertained spectators as he asked for Tusker at every water-point

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Spectators cheered on the marathoners to the finish line

As Hal Higdon said, The pride in finishing a marathon is much greater than all the pain endured during the marathon! This was evidenced by the celebration from the various teams, after a grueling day on the trail. Closest to me was the team sponsored by  MMC Africa Law. After a few hours of cooling their heels at the Bunduz camp, it was back to party time!

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Finished the marathon, and had no energy to show off the medal

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Oh yes, we finished!

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The MMC Africa Law team celebrates after the Lewa Marathon 2016

I believe that many a runner will agree with me in saying that, Finishing a marathon is a state of mind that says anything is possible! To the runners in the Run Wild Lewa Marathon, the organizers, the sponsors of the various teams in the marathon, the journalists covering the event, the entertainers and the ever so kind spectators handing bottles of water and energy bars to the runners, we finished the marathon!

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Finishing a marathon is a state of mind that says anything is possible!

 

Important Info:

Event: Safaricom Lewa Marathon 2016

Location: Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Isiolo

Distance: 254km from Nairobi

Pictures & Documentary: Macharia Njuguna

Trip and Camp Organizer: Bunduz (Mukhtar Sidi)

 

On The Rocks.. (Rhino Charge 2016)

On the rocks is how I wanted my drink served after a long day out chasing after charge cars. On the rocks is where every competitor and spectator that made it to the Gauntlet found themselves. On the rocks is where I found my relationship with Safaricom degenerate to when I found out that the gauntlet was their guard-post, yet there was no network coverage!

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On the rocks at the Rhino Charge 2016 gauntlet!

“Should you ever go to your village and not connect to your Safaricom line, this is the guy to call.” That is how I had been introduced (on the eve of the charge) to the signal guru that Safaricom had dispatched to the Rhino Charge 2016 venue. As I paced up and down the gauntlet, I couldn’t help but wonder where and how he had lost his mojo. I later met him and he explained  in an embarrassed mumble, from underneath a Safaricom branded cap that; it was difficult to get network coverage at the gauntlet because it was smack in the middle of a depression. I walked away and stripped him of the title guru in four steps; a letter down with each step.

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Communication satellites at Longonot on our way to Rhino Charge 2016

Rhino Charge 2016 was set in the vast and picturesque Narok County, the home of the world renowned wildlife reserve; Masai Mara! As we drove there aboard Ki-Pumpum, I wondered what adventure the charge had in store for us this time around. Would I be able to get good shots? Is the terrain taunting enough for me to maybe get a shot of a charge vehicle toppling over several times and back on it’s four wheels? Would I be in a position to visit most guard-posts and spy on charge vehicles as they tore ravenously through the thick bush in a bid to win the top prize? I had to wait until the charge day to find out.

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Bunduz adventurers relaxing on arrival at the venue. Ki-Pumpum rests in the background.

For the past 27 years, why does a group of people get out into the wild to find a new trail where millions of shillings are torn away in the form of all-terrain vehicles that maneuver a 12 point circuit spreading over approximately 100km, in a duration of 10 hours? One would wonder. Year in, year out, why do spectators throng the often harsh environment to witness embellished vehicles clamor over rocks and tear through bush while driven by enthusiastically calculative crews that stop at nothing unless their vehicle is reduced to a heap of junk metal? As I retired to my safari chair right by the Bunduz camp bonfire, I watched spectators share their tales from the charge day that had just ended. As we braved the cold dark night of the Masia Mara, I quietly scrolled through the shots I had taken, and that’s when it all dawned on me; the spirit of the Rhino Charge is one charged with the resilience of a people committed to the conservation of the Kenyan wildlife, nature and catchment areas through the protection of mountain echo-systems. The spirit of the Rhino Charge will stop at nothing to see that conservation is upheld!

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No Bush Too Thick! No obstacle will stop the spirit of Rhino Charge

This year, the Rhino Charge raised Kshs. 139,000,000.00 for the Rhino Ark and Kshs. 4,400,000/- for the host community! Of note is that the top two fundraisers were indigenous Kenyan teams. Team Magnate Chargers and Car #23, led by Stanley Kinyanjui and Peter Kinyua respectively. In celebration of the success that Rhino Charge 2016 was, I made sure to bring you some shots of the action… 🙂

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Spectators follow the Rhino Charge from a vantage point

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Spectators look on as Car #36 clamors over a rock

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Rev up that rock!

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A runner leads Car # 42 out of a thicket

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A Masai Moran adorns Peter Kenneth a spectator in traditional regalia

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As they pondered the best route down

 

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The host community loved the show

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A Rhino Ark official looks on as Car # 40 maneuvers a rock

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Let that model pose not fool you. The ladies driving Car #19 had super skills!

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No lugga too deep!

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A spectator engrossed in the action packed gauntlet

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Through it all, and stopping at nothing!

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Just a scratch, let’s push on!

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There is only one way down this rock!

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A contortionist of a vehicle! SimTank #TeamChomz

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Team Frying Squad had spider looking modified vehicle

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Off to the next guard-post

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Go straight through that bush!

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Hang on, can I find a better route?

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Team mates hang on the side to stabilize Car #40 as they leave the gauntlet

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This is the winner of Rhino Charge 2016!

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Car #62 was the highest fundraiser towards Rhino Ark. They raised Kshs. 14,500,000.00

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Car #23 driven by Peter Kinyua raised Kshs. 11,000,000.00 towards the conservation efforts of Rhino Ark

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From the full adventure cooler box Stronger Simtank, refreshments flowed freely as spectators enjoyed.

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A charge car leaves the venue. It was time to say goodbye.

~MASH~

7 High Adrenaline Adventures in Kenya

I have always found myself drawn to adventures that have high adrenaline activities tucked somewhere in the itinerary. In my recent travel escapades, I have noted that activities once tagged as a preserve for the daring are now a staple sought by many a traveler!

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Some take part in these activities to pursue that rush that leaves a soul feeling indomitable (albeit for a few hours), others do it to earn bragging rights among their peers, while others truly seek that spiritual angle of being one with nature while in a solo stand of defiance; more like the dance battle some animals indulge in prior to a steamy session of passion!

Whatever your reason to seek out these high adrenaline activities are; I hereby give you a list of the seven must do activities (in Kenya) to leave your heart with a drum-thump of a pump!

# 1 SKYDIVING

Get into a noisy cessna 206 plane with no door, hit heights of up to 12,000ft and jump out! Show me madness if this is not it! Leaping from these dizzying heights is certainly not for the faint at heart. The ‘lunatics’ at the Skydive Diani have taken this a notch higher; with oxygen systems installed in the powerful and fast bird that tears through the hot and humid Diani air at ease, you can now join them in a 22,000ft jump (highest jump ever done in Kenya) and fly through the blue reaching terminal velocity of up to 200km/h in a 55 seconds free fall of pure adrenaline! A smooth parachute landing on the Diani Beach will calm your nerves with the scenic 5,000ft gentle drop back to earth. For only Ksh.35,000/- this is an experience you certainly don’t wonna miss!

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#2 PARAGLIDING

You know you are an adrenaline junkie if soaring high like a bird soaking in the picturesque scenery below ever made it to any of your day dreams! Dream no more, head out to Kerio Valley and make this a reality! Jumping off high hillsides or cliffs and setting out into a flight high above the earth is a lifetime experience worth taking. With no age restriction, no prior training or experience required, Paraglide Kenya  can tailor-make a flight for you. For the sane nature lovers, a gentle scenic flight would be in order while for the ‘nutters’ seeking the rush, an adrenaline-filled joy ride would be the best serving. For only Ksh.8,000.00 be a bird high up in the sky for 15-20min!

Paraglide (Kenya)

# 3. BUNGEE JUMPING

Until you have climbed up the 60 meter steel structure with the sole intention of jumping off it’s edge and down towards the torrential Tana River, then you cannot quite call yourself an adrenaline junkie! As you climb up to bungee, the wind blows against you as if in a torment to measure your determination to jump. 220 steps later, you are at the top and in the jump cage. Your view below is that of Sagana, the Tana River and the farm lands on its banks. Observing the highest standards of safety your upper body is harnessed and an elastic chord is tied around your feet. As soon as you assume the ‘Jesus position’, you are ready to bungee!  3,2, 1… and off you leap! Some say they feel their heart float, while others say they feel it in their mouths during the free fall until the bungee rope kicks in. For as little as Ksh.5,000.00 find out what you will record as your experience!

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#4. WHITE WATER RAFTING

Common sense will dictate that we avoid torrential rivers, particularly those with whirling rapids and falls. On the other hand, adventure sense will nudge us to wonder what it feels like to be engulfed in a rapid or tossed down a waterfall as one with the raging water! White water rafting is the white-knuckle adrenaline thrill waiting to serve you this very experience. River Tana provides grade 3- 5 rapids depending on the seasons. Grade 5 rapids are something close to dancing with the devil or step dancing on the edge of a strict cliff! On-board an inflated raft, armed with a sturdy plastic paddle and shielded by a slight helmet and a life jacket, be the warrior that braves the raging waters, the occasional menacing sharp rocks and live to tell the tale. Savage Wilderness will arrange your date with the rapids.

White Water Rafting

#5. JET SKIING

Water in oceanic abundance has a thrill in itself. Swimming has its limitations and may even come-off as not ‘dangerous’ enough for an ardent thrill-seeker. Now imagine riding an agile fast machine in the open ocean and accelerating from zero to speeds of about 60km/hr in just a matter of seconds! If this has started to sound tantalizing in any way, come out and declare self a daredevil! Jet skiing is your thing! Get down to Mombasa and rent out a jet ski from as little as Ksh. 2,500.00 and zoom off into the vast ocean.

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# 6.  MOTORCROSS

Be it on two wheels or four wheels, nothing beats the feeling of igniting a motorcycle engine, pushing in the clutch, hitting the gear shift into one and letting go of the clutch to set off into motion raising a trail of dust as the monster bike swings into action! Adrenaline rush is almost squarely synonymous with motorcycle riding. Various locations offer exhilarating dirt bike trails. Some trails are demarcated (http://www.chakaranch.com/), while some cockily tear through the wilderness, literally passing among herds of wilder-beasts and giraffes as they forage in the Kenyan grasslands (http://www.lukenyamotorcross.co.ke/) From as little as Ksh. 5,000.00 get onto a buggy or a quad bike and race your friends through the dusty or muddy rough terrain of the unbeaten tracks!

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#7. ZIP LINING   

On a harness attached to a cable (30ft above the ground), you will be propelled by gravity between two points across the Machakos People’s Park! You will have the option of choosing between the 200m or 300m long cable. The speeds vary depending on how you’d like to enjoy your ride. No where else in Kenya will you find a zipline this long, this high and integrated into a truly spectacular park setting. With the buzz of activity below you and depending on how good or evil you are, you just might feel like Santa flying over chimneys on Christmas eve or like a witch flying her broom in the night! Ha ha!

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~MASH~

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

Roaring Monsters For Charity! (Rhino Charge 2015)

 

I made me some new friends who fear no lions :-)

I made me some new friends who fear no lions 🙂

Ahead of me I had a day filled with nothing but exciting adventure! My sole intent for the day was to chase after largely morphed, roaring monsters of cars with humans tightly clutched on their frames as they tore straight through virgin bush; just to capture some piece of the action for posterity’s sake!

By the bonfire at the Bunduz.com camp

By the bonfire at the Bunduz.com camp

Excited by the adventure the next day had promised to be, I sat by the camp fire and took a generous swig of some good old whisky. I looked up at the stars and listened to the peace that the night was. I smiled for I knew come day-break, this very peace would be torn into a ‘war-zone’ of machines battling it out for supremacy! The Rhino Charge 2015 was here!

Mukhtar Sidi of Bunduz.com briefs campers on arrival at Namnyak Conservancy

Mukhtar Sidi of http://www.bunduz.com briefs campers on arrival at Namnyak Conservancy

Adventurers in the www.bunduz.com overland truck to the Rhino Charge 2015

Adventurers in the http://www.bunduz.com overland truck heading to the Rhino Charge 2015

Our journey from Nairobi was smooth, thanks to the always well prepared http://www.bunduz.com team. The excitement in the overland truck was tangible, with the adventurers chatting away in excited tones and taking many a photograph of the beautiful country that Kenya is. We were however keen on ensuring that we got to the Namnyak Conservancy in Samburu County before 6:00pm as had been advised by the Rhino Charge officials. They had warned that anyone arriving later than that would not be allowed into the venue.

The Picturesque Namnyak Conservancy in Samburu

The Picturesque Namnyak Conservancy in Samburu

At the crack of dawn, I woke up to the singing of birds in the wild lightly laced with the distant roars of the monster cars as they approached the parade ground where they’d all converge prior to the flag off. Soon the machines were all lined up and seemed to flex their muscles to each other with each rev of the engines, their full beam lights peering through the darkness of dawn seemed like mean eyes trained at each other to proclaim war. The chargers held tightly onto the monsters as they wheeled around. Every now and then they hurdled together and converse in hush tones like anxious warriors planning their strategy of attack.

The monster cars of the Rhino Charge 2015 at the dawn parade

The monster cars of the Rhino Charge 2015 at the dawn parade

 

Full beam lights seemed like mean eyes declaring war!

Full beam lights seemed like mean eyes declaring war!

 

With every rev the machines seemed to be flexing their muscles!

With every rev the machines seemed to be flexing their muscles!

 

The parade of might!

The parade of might!

Rhino Charge was first held in 1989 to raise funds for the construction of the Aberdare Electric Fence. Following its success, the project has since been extended to cater for the conservation of Mt Kenya and Mau Eburu. Rhino Charge is a world renowned off-road motor-sport event, as well as major fund raising activity for the conservation efforts of Rhino Ark, the charitable trust which works towards the protection of Kenya’s ‘Water Towers’. The event combines motor-sport, adventure and fun for the purpose of environmental conservation. http://www.bunduz.com organizes adventure parties to this event every year!

Book your next safari adventure with Bunduz.com

Book your next safari adventure with http://www.bunduz.com

I say one is as old as the tune they dance to in their head! This was reaffirmed by the age diversity displayed in the competitor teams at the Rhino Charge. Teams comprised of ladies and gents of all ages each seasoned in their skill either by schooling or experience, some were however evidently out to have a good time and raise funds for the charity!

The tune in his head tells him so! What an interesting fellow!

The tune in his head tells him so! What an interesting fellow!

 

Car No. 64 looking mean and ready with the team aboard

Car No. 64 looking mean and ready with the team on board

 

Car No. 47 had an all ladies team (The Girls With The Pearls) They wore pearls on their hats and round their necks :-)

Car No. 47 had an all ladies team (The Girls With The Pearls) Like amulets, they wore pearls on their hats and round their necks 🙂

The action begun and all the 64 chargers  sped off into the wild. They had 13 guard posts to visit in 10hrs, scattered over about 100 square kilometres of rough terrain. The team that returns to the point where they started, having visited all the other posts covering the shortest distance wins the competition.

Car No. 16 heads out at the start of the race

Car No. 16 heads out at the start of the race

I visited the gauntlet which was an area comprising of three successive posts that the organizers had set aside as the spectators zone to view the competitors in action. I took a few shots here, but I was itching to catch the monster cars in action on treacherous terrain and not at a section where they came to ‘smile and pose’ for the camera. I met a jolly good couple that was also dying to catch the real action and off we went in search of other guard posts using the Rhino Charge map. We sure did catch some action!

The Charge began early in the morning.

The Charge began early in the morning.

 

A charge vehicle tears through bush from the gauntlet

A charge vehicle tears through bush from the gauntlet

 

In out of a lugga as the ladies cheer!

In out of a lugga as the ladies cheer!

 

A monster car emerges from the thicket!

A monster car emerges from the thicket!

 

A runner goes ahead of the pack to check and advise of the terrain

A runner goes ahead of the pack to check and advise of the terrain

 

A little dented, but not out!

A little dented, but not out!

 

No bush too thick is what the Bundu Fundi lives by!

No bush too thick is what the Bundu Fundi lives by!

 

Let us zoom out of this gorge!

Let us zoom out of this gorge! This standard, unmodified Land Rover actually completed the circuit!

 

We've got this one in check!

The mean monster car tackles a gulley

 

Arriving at a guard post

Arriving at a guard post

The 2015 edition of the Rhino Charge thankfully only had minor incidents recorded. One charge vehicle (Car No. 32) however went up in flames following an electrical fault. Car No. 18 dropped out of the race with only 67 metres to finish, as it dragged on with broken engine mounts, non-existent brakes and lost wheel nuts, the starter caught fire and blew the entire electrical system! All teams involved were unharmed and out of danger.

Car No. 32 goes up in flames

Car No. 32 goes up in flames courtesy of BRCK

 

Car No. 64 needed some extinguishing before they could finish the race!

Car No. 64 needed some extinguishing before they could finish the race! Courtesy of BRCK

 

Ladies encountered some radiator problems

Ladies encountered some radiator problems

Of note is that I was able to connect to the internet and update my followers on the happenings of the Rhino Charge, thanks to WIFI set up by Liquid Telcom, Safaricom and BRCK. This was certainly commendable and seeing the local community enjoying internet service was heart warming. I wondered what the morans were surfing through on their phones, could it have been YouTube videos of Chris Brown or news about Bruce.. I mean Caitlyn Jenner? 🙂

At the Craftsman guard post where the Liquid Telcom WIFI signal was the strongest

At the Craftsman guard post where the Liquid Telcom WIFI signal was the strongest

The day was finally over, and as I retired back to my host Bunduz.com campsite I had to fight my mind from wondering where the next Rhino Charge will be held. I had good fun here, and no doubt I pray to attend the next!

Bonus Pics:

Resting at a guard post

Resting at a guard post

 

What route should we take from here?

What route should we take from here?

 

Thanks for keeping my beer chilled as I raced :-)

Thanks for keeping my beer chilled as I raced 🙂

 

I need to fix where that noise is coming from!

I need to fix where that noise is coming from!

 

Security was tight at Namnyak

Security was tight at Namnyak

 

Food was in plenty at Namnyak thanks to Bunduz.com and Mc Frys

Food was in plenty at Namnyak thanks to Bunduz.com and Mc Frys

 

Rhino Charge 2015 was not short of beauties :-)

Rhino Charge 2015 was not short of beauties 🙂

 

The faces of happy www.bunduz.com clients after the charge

The faces of happy http://www.bunduz.com clients after the charge

Macharia Njuguna, Mukhtar Sidi and Ali Said of Bunduz.com at the end of a long and fun filled charge day!

Macharia Njuguna, Mukhtar Sidi and Ali Said of Bunduz.com at the end of a long and fun filled charge day!

Event: Rhino Charge 2015

Location: Namnyak Conservancy, Samburu County, Nothern Kenya

Photography and documentation by: Macharia Njuguna, @macharianjuguna

Adventure and safari organized by: http://www.bunduz.com

The Ultimate Trip, #Day 7 & #Day 8 (Kampala – Eldoret – Nairobi)

It had been seven days of travel, but even the fatigue did not dampen the spirit of the adventure enthusiasts! With such a bunch of adventurers it was easy for me to reaffirm my resolve that I will be a life-long sucker for adventure and travel!

An animated discussion on our way down from Kampala

An animated discussion on our way down from Kampala

We left Kampala headed into Kenya through the border town of Busia. We had been afraid that the queue at the border would have been long and therefore delay our schedule, so we left quite early in the morning. Despite having done everything according to plan, we still experienced delays at the border as the Ministry of Health officials on the Kenyan side had to take us through the Ebola screening.

The beautiful sunset as we made entry into Eldoret

The beautiful sunset as we made entry into Eldoret

We eventually made it to Eldoret at dusk, The Beast clambered his way through a narrow rough road that led down to a tranquil riverbed that hosts Naiberi River Campsite which is designed to take its guests way back to the stone age with a little touch of modern day luxury. Darkness quickly set in and we did not have much time to explore the campsite. We however had time for a little catch-up party in my room! These adventurers are certainly an unforgettable lot!

The party is on!

Turn up!

As we had been warned by the Team Captain Mukhtar, Eldoret was quite cold by night. We dressed warm and the had our sumptuous dinner hurdled around the fire.

Dinner is served

Dinner is served

In need of that warmth :-)

In need of that warmth 🙂

The Naiberi stone cave became an instant hit with us. We trickled into the bar to enjoy a drink or two while shooting away on the pool table. The cave is believed to have been once inhabited by the ancient Sirikwa tribe of a bygone age.

The stone cave bar fireplace

The stone cave bar fireplace

Let's shoot some pool!

Let’s shoot some pool!

Relaxing in the stone cave bar

Relaxing in the stone cave bar

The chilly weather didn't allow us to enjoy this beautiful swimming pool :-(

The chilly weather didn’t allow us to enjoy this beautiful swimming pool 😦

Early the next morning we all woke up to the beauty of the campsite that we hadn’t experienced in the night. The river flowed over rocks making a rhythmic hum which added to the tranquility of the campsite. The cottages stood beautifully built in logs and thatched in straw.They looked like traditional monuments with a touch of modernity.

The comfortable cottages

The comfortable cottages

Naiberi River Camp had the honour of hosting Bill Gates on an overnight stay in 2009!

Naiberi River Camp had the honour of hosting Bill Gates on an overnight stay in 2009!

We left Eldoret early with an aim of getting to Nairobi in the afternoon of the eighth day. We made a stop over in Naivasha where we had our last picnic lunch.

It was time to leave Naiberi River Camp

It was time to leave Naiberi River Camp, Eldoret

A beautiful, clean street in Nakuru town

A beautiful, clean street in Nakuru town

The adventurers took this opportunity to thank the awesome http://www.bunduz.com crew for being extra studious with their work during the eight days adventure!

Lunch is served

Lunch is served

Adventurers, Shoaib and Mbugua gave a vote of thanks to the Bunduz crew

Adventurers, Shoaib and Mbugua gave a vote of thanks to the Bunduz crew

We left Naivasha, and headed straight down to Nairobi. The eight days journey that had taken us through three countries and treated us to a whole world of adventure was now over. Through this experience, lasting friends had been fostered. Adventurers are a peculiar lot; we were not sad that this trip was over but instead looked at it as an opportunity for us to have yet another tour to a different place and build more memories! We left that duty in the able hands of The Trip Captain, Mukhtar Sidi of http://www.bunduz.com As we say in Kenya; ‘Kazi kwako Mukhtar!’ (The ball is now in your court, Mukhtar)

"A rugged wrestler, that moved with the grace of an angel, and gave the comfort of a mother. I named the truck 'The Beast'

“A rugged wrestler, that moved with the grace of an angel, and gave the comfort of a mother. I named the truck ‘The Beast’

The man who made it all possible! Mukhtar of Bunduz.com

The man who made it all possible! Mukhtar of http://www.bunduz.com

Eventually we were back to Nairobi, where the journey started! A special thanks to http://www.bunduz.com

Event: The Ultimate Road Trip
Period: #Day 7 & 8 (3rd and 4th Jan 2015)
Distance: Kampala (Uganda) – Eldoret (Kenya) – Nairobi (Kenya) Approx. 655km
Organizer: http://www.bunduz.com/
Documentary (photos & writing) by: Macharia Njuguna (https://adventurewithmash.wordpress.com/)

The Ultimate Road Trip #Day4 (Kigali)

Early morning on the tour of Kigali

Early morning on the tour of Kigali

On this day I woke up quite excited that it was the last day of the year 2014, we would soon be ushering in a new year and this is always seen as an entry into new beginnings and clean slates for next twelve months. Unlike me, many make new year resolutions on this day listing down things they will never do again and those that they intend to do more often. I made a resolution to always preach peace wherever I may be. I dreamt of a world dwelling in peace and harmony. I resolved to push on with my photo-project (https://askmyshoe.wordpress.com/) which is my little contribution towards fighting tribalism in my beloved country, Kenya.

Genocide

Genocide

We visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial. I really did not know what to expect, and the silence in the truck that morning confirmed to me that all the other adventurers were also quite anxious about the visit. On a hill with neatly manicured grounds and intentionally arranged rows of flowers stands a large white building that has stored in detail the horror that befell Rwanda in the year 1994.

The Kigali Genocide Memorial

The Kigali Genocide Memorial

We were welcomed by the very friendly staff of the memorial centre and they gave us a quick introduction to the facility. We were going to take a self-guided tour of the museum aided by a map of the facility and a hand-held audio play gadget that has a voice recording narrating about each numbered stop of the centre.

The map and audio play hand-held device

The map and audio play hand-held device

From the movies we have watched about the atrocities that happened during the Rwanda genocide, nothing comes close to the horror that is recorded in the memorial centre. It left me wondering what would fill a human mind with so much anger and hatred to yield into a massacre of a people. It made me sad to imagine that bad politics sort of has the power to reduce men into animals! Rwanda saw it, and made an effort to ensure that future generations understand how dark those times were for their country so that they can endeavour to never go back to that.

The main entrance into the Kigali Genocide Memorial

The main entrance into the Kigali Genocide Memorial

Just before we started the tour of the museum, I had to pay a small fee so that I could be allowed to take photos inside. I wanted to bring you some of the shots so that you can have a feel of what is recorded;

The peaceful and beautiful country Rwanda was before the war. They are on their way well back to recovery.

The peaceful and beautiful country Rwanda was before the war. They are on their way well back to recovery.

European tourists follow the horror of the genocide in the pictures

European tourists follow the horror of the genocide in pictures

Identity cards previously indicated whether each Rwandese person was a Tutsi or a Hutu

Identity cards previously indicated whether each Rwandese person was a Tutsi or a Hutu

The genocide spared no one. Not even children.

The genocide spared no one. Not even children.

Tourists drawn into the story of the genocide told in the museum

Tourists drawn into the story of the genocide told in the museum

A room that holds some photos of people who lost their lives during the genocide

A room that holds some photos of people who lost their lives during the genocide

Skulls and some personal belongings of those massacred in the genocide. Some skulls have bullet holes while others have clear machete cuts

Skulls and some personal belongings of those massacred in the genocide. Some skulls have bullet holes while others have clear machete cuts

Clothes recovered from mass graves where a majority of the victims had been buried

Clothes recovered from mass graves where a majority of the victims had been buried

Some of the innocent children killed in the genocide

Some of the innocent children killed in the genocide

A section of the mass graves where some of the many victims are buried within the centre

A section of the mass graves where some of the many victims are buried within the centre

Some names on the wall where the genocide victims are listed

Some names on the wall where the genocide victims are listed

An adventurer takes a guided walk around the genocide museum

An adventurer takes a guided walk around the genocide museum

It took us slightly more than two hours to tour the facility. My heart bled for what Rwanda had gone through, and it was great to see a people so united on the path to recovery and building a strong nation. I prayed that all leaders in this world may lead selflessly and for the sake of their citizens and not their selfish interests. I said a silent prayer for my country Kenya, that we may slay the monster of tribalism so that it may never threaten the peace we know like it attempted to in 2007/2008.

Adventurers catch up after a tour of the museum

Adventurers catch up after a tour of the museum

The integrity of Rwandan people was to also come out while we were on a tour of the museum. As Ali the biking adventurer sat at the museum’s lobby,  a lady who was one of the curators walked up to him and asked to know his name. She engaged him in a conversation finding out if he had ever been to the museum before and where he was from. Ali, being who he is was totally into this conversation. I mean, she was a beautiful lady, he’s a biker and most often than not those two find their way to each other either by accident or intent. 🙂 When Ali told her that he had visited the place about two years ago, she went into the office and came back with a wallet which she handed over to him. Ali was ecstatic! He had lost it on his last visit here. It was intact. Not a single coin or card was missing!

His wallet was intact after losing over two years ago at the genocide museum

His wallet was intact after losing it over two years ago at the genocide museum

The day raced past me. There was so much to see and to reflect on at the genocide memorial. Soon it was time for lunch and as usual, the Bunduz.com crew did not disappoint. We had a picnic lunch right on the museum’s beautiful grounds overlooking a section of Kigali on a neighbouring hill.

Lunch is served

Lunch is served

We later left the genocide museum and took a truck tour of the Kigali city. We then ended up at the Kigali Serena Hotel which would be the venue for the new year’s eve party. The adventurers were all excited about it and procured tickets to the party right on the spot, with the help of our trip Captain, Mukhtar Sidi.

Kigali Serena Hotel

The venue of the New Year’s eve party, Kigali Serena Hotel

I bet most of you have watched the popular movie about the Rwanda Genocide dubbed Hotel Rwanda. While on our way back to where we were putting up, we stopped by the Hotel Des Mille Collines where the movie was set!

Hotel

Hotel Des Mille Collins

Later that night we attended the New Year’s eve party at the Kigali Serena Hotel! It was an awesome party! Our trip Captain (Mukhtar Sidi Bunduz.com) through his many connections was able to secure a VVIP party section for the adventurers. We danced, drunk and had loads of fun as we ushered in the new 2015!

The ladies arrived dressed to kill!

The ladies arrived dressed to kill!

Mukhtra (Bunduz.com) with some of the adventurers at the New Year's party

Mukhtra (Bunduz.com) with some of the adventurers at the New Year’s party

Ushering 2015 in style!

Ushering 2015 in style!

Ladies enjoying the ambiance of the Bunduz.com VVIP party section

Ladies enjoying the ambiance of the Bunduz.com VVIP party section

The faces of joy! Happy 2015!

The faces of joy! Happy 2015!

Mash and Mukhtar of Bunduz.com at the Kigali Serena Hotel.

Mash and Mukhtar of Bunduz.com at the Kigali Serena Hotel.

Happy New 2015! May it be filled with blessings and adventure enough to constantly rejuvenate your soul!

Road Trip Organized by: http://www.bunduz.com/

Documentary and Photos by: Macharia Njuguna (https://adventurewithmash.wordpress.com/)

The Ultimate Road Trip, #Day3 (Lake Bunyonyi – Kigali)

She’s dazzling in her beauty. As she basks in the tantalizing Africa morning sun, I can’t help but notice the reflection of the inviting lumps around her. The sun soothes her in the day but also takes up her water, but the night often creeps in and wets her with a gift of the very water in form of rain. In her calmness, she’s silent of her unrivaled depth. She attracts many, and on this day Nicki and I were trapped in her web of charm. No rush, we were taking it nice and easy. Like many she has cast her spell on before, we had to leave after our morning session with her. She will however be forever etched in my mind with indelible ink. I also left with a promise to return and enjoy more of her. Oh beautiful Lake Bunyonyi!

Lake Bunyonyi (The Place Of Many Little Birds)

Lake Bunyonyi (The Place Of Many Little Birds)

Reflection of the lumps around the beauty of Lake Bunyonyi

Reflection of the hills around the beauty of Lake Bunyonyi

Lake Bunyonyi boasts of unrivalled depth at 2,952ft (2nd deepest lake in Africa)

Lake Bunyonyi boasts of unrivaled depth at 2,952ft (2nd deepest lake in Africa)

On this day we needed to cover approximately 141km  of good road to make it to Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda. We therefore took our sweet time and enjoyed the morning at Lake Bunyonyi Overland Resort with a plan to head out at 1100hrs. Some of the adventurers opted to take boat rides, while others strolled around the resort and the rest just whiled the morning away somewhere close to the ‘watering hole’ – the bar 🙂

On a narrow jetty at Lake Bunyonyi

On a narrow jetty at Lake Bunyonyi

The cabin houses at Lake Bunyonyi Overland Resort

The cabin houses at Lake Bunyonyi Overland Resort

Cottages overlooking Lake Bunyonyi

Cottages overlooking Lake Bunyonyi

I had been hopeful of doing a jet ski ride here, but the management had a disappointment in store for me; the machines were out of order. What a bummer!

A statue of a fisherman returning home from a fishing expedition. He sure got some love form the ladies :-)

A statue of a fisherman returning home from a fishing expedition. He sure got some love form the ladies 🙂

The group was quite excited about the trip. It somehow gave me a feeling that, to many Kigali was the highlight of the safari. I bet because that’s where we would usher in the New Year. Soon we all gathered around the Beast and off we took the road towards Kigali.

The fellows having a chat on what they expected in Kigali just before we left Lake Bunyonyi

The fellows having a chat on what they expected in Kigali just before we left Lake Bunyonyi

On our way out of Bunyonyi the Beast came to a halt and one of the adventurers shouted from the back, ‘Mash! Hapa ndio mwisho ya pesa yako!’ (Mash, the money you paid can only get you here!) That was his funny way of saying that Mukhtar our trip Captain was calling me outside the truck. So I climbed down and he requested that I take a photo that will include Beast and the biking adventurer (Ali) in one shot. I was elated at this request as it connoted that he was appreciating my photography work 🙂 I took position, Nicki in hand and I could almost feel her smile as I clicked away at the moving motorbike and the growling beast in the background. Little did we know that those would be the last shots Nicki took for the trip. Happy with my work, I climbed back into the truck. When I got to the top of the side ladder, Nicki suddenly flung off from my shoulder as I swung to jump into the truck. I stretched out my left hand and let out a yelp in a desperate effort to save her, whilst my right hand held firmly onto the ladder. I missed and down I watched her go. Everything in my world went silent as she cut through the air on a flight to the ground, it all happened so fast yet it seemed to be in slow motion to my eyes. Blaaam! Nicki hit the ground and I saw her body parts fly away from the impact. I climbed down the truck and into a bush to retrieve the broken parts with the help of our trip Captain. We found them. Nicki suffered a severe crack right across the front of her body. This was devastating for me, as we were just getting to know each other, and so far it had been so good. I sunk into a corner seat and silent mourned Nicki. I however quickly consoled myself that my insurance would take care of her, and also that Nicki wanted me to have fun on this trip. This consolation and a few encouraging words from some adventurers got me back into action, only that this time I used my Samsung cell phone to take the photos. She turned out well too, and for this purpose I christened her Sally!

Ali, the biking adventurer and Beast in the woods of Bunyonyi. (The last photo I took with Nicki)

Ali, the biking adventurer and Beast in the woods of Bunyonyi. (The last photo I took with Nicki)

We went through rural Uganda on our way to the country’s border with Rwanda. Of note is the fertility of this land and the work ethic of it’s industrious people. We saw busy rural towns with evidence of thriving business, construction of buildings and roads, as well as cultivated lands which I can foresee providing lasting food security for the Ugandan people.

A busy street in Kabale, rural Uganda.

A busy street in Kabale, rural Uganda.

A church under construction on a hill.

A church under construction on a hill.

Before long, we arrived at Gatuna. The border town in Northern Rwanda. We thought that this would be a quick stop where our passports would be stamped and we head on our way. However, this changed when the Rwandan immigration officials decided they needed to check every single bag and the truck for any plastic bags. Plastic bags are not allowed into Rwanda. I lauded them for this noble step in consciously safeguarding their environment from pollution, but I also think it would be advisable for them to communicate this to travelers well in advance to avoid delays at the border.

Gatuna, the border town between Uganda and Rwanda

Gatuna, the border town between Uganda and Rwanda

Two hours painfully spent at the Rwanda border, we proceeded into the country towards Kigali the capital city. Rwanda surely is the country of a thousand hills. There seemed to be a hill jutting out of the ground everywhere one turned. The green vegetation on the hills went on to make the complex of hills quite a breathtaking sight!

Beautifully cultivated hills in Rwanda

Beautifully cultivated hills in Rwanda

The Beast gently came to a stop at a beautiful spot, carefully selected by the Bunduz.com crew as the place we’d have our picnic lunch. The elegant Beast rested as the adventurers stepped out of it’s belly. This was a rare sight in this remote village of Rwanda and shortly we drew a group of curious youngsters who arrived on bicycles. The boys cycled and some had lady pillion passengers who were plastered in roughly applied make-up, adorned in shiny earrings, dressed in slightly mismatched clothes and clutching to their threadbare handbags. They were dressed to impress, beautiful in their village innocence. We mingled with them, shared our lunch and soon some adventurers came up with ideas of keeping busy with the village bicycles!

The picnic lunch spot overlooking tea fields in rural Rwanda.

The picnic lunch spot overlooking tea fields in rural Rwanda.

Beast resting in front of one of the beautiful hills of Rwanda

Beast resting in front of one of the beautiful hills of Rwanda

The curious youngsters with their bicycles

The curious youngsters with their bicycles

An adventurer cycles away

An adventurer cycles away

'If this bicycle gets a flat tyre!' an adventurer warns another. :-)

‘If this bicycle gets a flat tyre!’ an adventurer warns another. 🙂

As the Bunduz.com crew prepared the lunch, I took time to really acquaint myself with Sally. I had neglected her since Nicki came into my life 🙂

Ladies jump, loving the beauty of the tea fields.

Ladies jump, loving the beauty of the tea fields.

Mukhtar our trip Captain arrives in style.

Mukhtar our trip Captain arrives in style.

Lunch is served!

Lunch is served!

I could somehow make out what his t-shirt read. 'Blame the dog' ha ha

I could somehow make out what his t-shirt read. ‘Blame the dog’ ha ha

Ladies enjoy lunch while overlooking the tea fields

Ladies enjoying lunch while overlooking the tea fields

We continued on the road towards Kigali. The adventurers were in high spirits and they downed the lunch time meal with an assortment of drinks as the ‘DJ’ played music as chosen by the ‘revelers’. It was a party allover again! As we entered Kigali, the adventurers couldn’t contain their excitement and they broke into song and dance. We made a grand entrance drawing more attention to ourselves than we needed to. As the pedestrians turned to look at Beast in awe, I could almost hear his growl bellow full of gloat now that he had ferried some jolly fellows from a far land. Rwanda, most of us loved you before we even met you! From the tales of angelic beauties gracing this land, to gigantic beer bottles served in their bars and exquisitely clean streets, we were here to take it all in. Rwanda, show us what you got!

Ali zooms past the Beast on our way to Kigali. He was certainly excited too!

Ali zooms past the Beast on our way to Kigali. He was certainly excited too!

An informal settlement on a hill in the outskirts of Kigali

An informal settlement on a hill in the outskirts of Kigali

The view as we entered Kigali

The view as we entered Kigali

We were soon settled in Hotel Beausejour which is friendly and very welcoming. We settled in and already started loving the Kigali hospitality.

Hotel Beausejour in Kigali

Hotel Beausejour in Kigali

This would be my resting spot for next two nights in Kigali.

This would be my resting spot for the next two nights in Kigali.

While in Kigali, I contacted and met up with some friends from Kenya. Accompanied by a few of the adventurers, we sampled the beer, partied and danced the night away!

Skol and Primus. Popular beers in Rwanda.

Skol and Primus. Popular beers in Rwanda.

Good times at CarWash 2 in Kuchira.

Good times at CarWash 2 in Kigali

Adventurers out at a club in Kigali

Adventurers out at a club in Kigali

Event: The Ultimate Road Trip
Period: #Day 3 (30th Dec 2014)
Distance: Lake Bunyonyi (Uganda) – Kigali (Rwanda) Approx. 141km
Organizer: http://www.bunduz.com/
Documentary (photos & writing) by: Macharia Njuguna (https://adventurewithmash.wordpress.com/)

The Ultimate Road Trip (Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda)

New Year's Road Trip 2014!

New Year’s Road Trip 2014!

Three Days in 8 days of an overland trucking adventure!

Three countries in 8 days of an overland trucking adventure!

Like every journey, this one of 1,600km and 8 days of overland trucking adventure has started with the first step! Off to Kigali, through Jinja. The ultimate New Year’s adventure thanks to Bunduz.com @[504978663:Mukhtar Sidi Bunduz.com] #Adventure #Kenya #Uganda #Rwanda Get updates on adventurewithmash.wordpress.com

#Day 1 (28th Dec 2014)

https://adventurewithmash.wordpress.com/2015/01/08/the-ultimate-road-trip-day-1nairobi-jinja/

#Day 2 (29th Dec 2014)

https://adventurewithmash.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/the-ultimate-road-trip-day-2-jinja-lake-bunyonyi/

#Day 3 (30th Dec 2014)

https://adventurewithmash.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/the-ultimate-road-trip-day3-lake-bunyonyi-kigali/

#Day 4 (31st Dec 2014)

https://adventurewithmash.wordpress.com/2015/01/24/the-ultimate-road-trip-day-3-kigali/

#Day 5 (1st Jan 2015)

https://adventurewithmash.wordpress.com/2015/02/22/the-ultimate-trip-day-5-kigali-lake-bunyonyi/

#Day 6 (2nd Jan 2015)

https://adventurewithmash.wordpress.com/2015/03/10/the-ultimate-trip-day-6-lake-bunyonyi-kampala/

# Day 7 & 8 (3rd and 4th Jan 2015)

https://adventurewithmash.wordpress.com/2015/03/31/the-ultimate-trip-day-7-day-8-kampala-eldoret-nairobi/

Mt. Longonot, The Ascent!

Mash, seeks more climbing adventures for 2014!

Mash, seeks more climbing adventures for 2014!

My wake-up alarm went off, blaring my favorite wake up tune at 0545hrs on 3rd January 2014. I had slept readily packed for the trip and by about 0630hrs we were well on the road to the meet-up point, where we were to link-up with the rest of the pack. The mission was to climb Mt. Longonot!

Mt. Longonot

Mt. Longonot

This is however not where the story begins. The story begun on 1st January 2014, when my family and I were invited to a New Year’s barbeque party at the Wildebeest Eco Camp in the leafy suburbs of Karen, Nairobi. Here we not only made merry, but also met a bunch of really cool people whom (on striking conversation) I discovered were quite adventurous! Before long, we were buried deep in chitchat on how beautiful a country we have and the many adventure escapades one can undertake here. Shortly we were talking about this blog and I shared my ambitious intention to climb several mountains this year. I learned that the group was in the planning stage of a Mt. Kenya climb, and in preparation they were to climb Mt. Longonot in a day’s time. Needless to say, I hopped on and into their plan and as they say, the rest is history! 🙂

The good road down to Longonot

The good road down to Longonot

Mt. Longonot is located in the Great Rift Valley, southeast of Lake Naivasha approximately 60km from Nairobi. We took the Mai Mahiu route (Old Naivasha Road) which is the most scenic route down to the floor of the Rift Valley.

Mai Mahiu, a settlement just before getting to Longonot at the Great Rift Valley floor

Mai Mahiu, a settlement just before getting to Longonot on the Great Rift Valley floor

Power cables running down the escarpment to the rift valley

Power cables running down the escarpment to the rift valley. Mt. Longonot in the background

We arrived at the Mt. Longonot National Park gate, where the team made the final adjustments to their gear making sure that each would be comfortable on the ascent. On paying the park entry fees, we all congregated and took some instructions from our guide for the day (Mr. Kanja from http://www.dawntreader.co.ke).

Preparing for the climb

Preparing for the climb

Stretch that muscle! :-)

Stretch that muscle! 🙂

The pack listens to Guide Kanja's climbing tips

The pack listens to Guide Kanja’s climbing tips

He gave the climbing tips which included; asking the team to remain together on the ascent, nobody should wander off the trail and into the bushes, we were to all keep a pace comfortable for everyone in the pack and the one that stood out the most for me was that the climb would be daunting, and the trick to keep going was to ensure that one foot was always in-front of the other. Off we went into the park to conquer the Longonot!

Off to conquer Mt. Longonot!

Off to conquer Mt. Longonot!

I had climbed this very mountain back in 2011 with my two close buddies (Nick & Joash) and to some extent that was a battle of the boys on who was in the best shape to climb. I climbed in 45min. This time I was determined to push myself to doing it in 30min. However, my intention was dashed when our guide said we all needed to stick together (a pack of climbers climbs only as fast as their weakest link). This created an opportunity for me to enjoy nature’s beauty, capture shots documenting the adventure and also to take time and wonder at how great our God is in his creation!

Welcome to Mt. Longonot National Park

Welcome to Mt. Longonot National Park

The trail up the mountain is a gradually steep footpath often interrupted by shallow gullies dug out by run-off water. This caused us to be in a single file for the better part of the climb. The mountain is mainly covered in short shrubs and thick savannah grass. It is therefore wise to wear trousers for the climb.

Single file going up Mt. Longonot

Single file going up Mt. Longonot

The sun was sweltering hot and with every step up the mountain the feet became heavy. I however knew what to expect on the ascent and therefore I decided to take time and enjoy the little interruptions along the climb. I let myself listen to the constant buzz of the insects in the grass, I allowed myself to enjoy the rare waft of dry wind over my sweaty face and I was glad to be in the distraction of the birds flying by. Every once in a while I would dash up to the front or lag behind of the pack to snap and capture beautiful moments on my camera. I was delightedly lost in the splendour of nature!

A lone short tree, standing tall amongst short friends. :-)

A lone short tree, standing tall amongst short friends. 🙂

Soon it was easy to know why it was necessary to stick as a group. Notice the warning sign!

Soon it was clear why it was necessary to stick as a group. The warning sign! (Caution; Be ware of buffaloes)

A neat picnic site within the Mt. Longonot National Park

A neat picnic site within the Mt. Longonot National Park

A few meters up the mountain, we came across a group of elderly nuns who were determined to reach the peak. I was very impressed by one of them who seemed to be the eldest. She was dressed in her official garments, armed with a wide-rimmed cotton hat and a walking stick in hand. She took every step with a gait burdened by age, yet she could still afford me a smile and a greeting as I went past her on the climb. She was to later find us at the peak, minutes before we set off on the climb down! She reaffirmed it for me that no one is ever too old to get out on an adventure! 🙂

The elderly nun climbing Mt. Longonot

The elderly nun climbing Mt. Longonot

We soon came to one of the rest points on the trail, and here the pack was glad to shelter in the shed from the hot sun. The shed was a good spot to catch a breathe and snack lightly to gather the much needed energy for the rest of the climb. KWS (Kenya Wildlife Service) has also built an ablution block at the rest post where climbers can relieve themselves before proceeding on the climb. I can only imagine how uncomfortable it would be for one to pace up the mountain while battling not to answer a call of nature. So, Kudos KWS!

Resting and sharing energy snacks at a rest point along the trail

Resting and sharing energy snacks at a rest point along the trail

As we proceeded on the climb, I realized that the higher we went the steeper the mountain became. It was harder to keep a grip of the ground, the trail had mild meanders around boulders of eroded rocks and the vegetation became thinner. We soon came to a point that was so steep such that some of us had to go on all fours to make headway! At this point, KWS has tried to make it easier for the climbers by laying down concrete steps on a stretch of about 30m at the steepest section of the trail. This was somewhat disappointing for me since I would expect a climbing trail to be as natural as possible. I am sure you all have your views on this, and it will be good if you can share them in the comments.

A steep section of the trail

A steep section of the trail

The steep section of the climb. Notice the concrete steps.

The steep section of the climb. Notice the concrete steps.

A beautifully eroded section of the mountain

A beautifully eroded section of the mountain

The peak seemed so close, yet so far. My feet were hot inside my shoes and my skin was sweating underneath my clothes. My body was slowly being lured by fatigue, but I fought on. The silence was audible as we approached the peak, partly because the chitchat in the pack had died down (possibly as each one tried to concentrate their energy on the climb). Chests were taking in heavy gasps of air, muscles ached, some feet slipped in their slow shuffle up and some even stopped to catch a breath, but we kept pushing on. Soon we were at the top of Mt. Longonot!

Finally at the peak of Mt. Longonot! Dance to that!

Finally at the peak of Mt. Longonot! Dance to that!

Mt. Longonot, conquered!

Mt. Longonot, conquered!

Exhilarating was the feeling that engulfed me as I looked down the beautifully rugged slopes of Mt. Longonot! My lungs appreciated the pleasantly fresh air and my eyes could not have enough of the picturesque view! In the afternoon of a bright sunny day, the view was so vast and clear that I could actually see Lake Naivasha from this vantage point. We (the entire pack) had done it!

The beautifully rugged slopes of Mt. Longonot

The beautifully rugged slopes of Mt. Longonot

A breathe taking view from atop Mt. Longonot. Notice Lake Naivasha in the background

A breathe taking view from atop Mt. Longonot. Notice Lake Naivasha in the background

Mt. Longonot

Mt. Longonot

Awed!

Awed!

We had climbed 3.1km (3100m) of jagged terrain, and all our bodies were yearning for was that much needed rest and rejuvenation. Almost instinctively, we all hurdled into yet another resting shed at the top of the mountain and shared the remaining supplies amongst ourselves. Cheerful chatter ruled this break and I noticed a smile of gratification (for completion of the mission) on everyone one of us!

Resting in a shed at the peak of Mt. Longonot

Resting in a shed at the peak of Mt. Longonot

A section of the Mt. Longonot crater rim

A section of the Mt. Longonot crater rim

I was willing to go round the full circumference of the crater (7.2km) but we only made it to 3km before the pack unanimously agreed that we wouldn’t make it round the crater, and therefore we had to start on the climb down.

Our attempt to go round the crater

Our attempt to go round the crater

We climbed down the mountain, this time at a much faster pace due to the ‘obedient’ gravitational pull. My toes inside the hiking sneakers felt swollen in the heat, my knees trembled with every step down and I jerked into an involuntary run every time I came across an unfriendly slope. 🙂

Our guide Kanja (www.dwntreader.co.ke) assist a climber down the mountain

Our guide Kanja (www.dawntreader.co.ke) assists a climber down the mountain

On all fours to make it down safe. That steep!

On all fours to make it down safe. That steep!

These feet can now tell a tale about climbing :-)

These feet can now tell a tale about climbing 🙂

On our way down, got lucky to spot graceful giraffes grazing

Lucky to spot graceful giraffes grazing, on our way down

My body was tired, covered in dust and caked sweat when we got back to the base of the Mount Longonot. I was glad to find a block that has showers and toilets where we all freshened up before moving to one of the eateries (Old House shop & restaurant) near the park gate for some nyama choma (barbequed meat) and ice cold Tusker (beer).

Old House, the restaurant

Old House, the restaurant

To the pack (Nduta, Angie, Ben, Ikua, Jackie, Kanja, Ruguru, Sijenyi, Gladys, Kariuki) Kudos! 🙂

The pack. We did it! :-)

The pack. We did it! 🙂

It was an awesome trip and a great way to usher in 2014, the year in which I intend to indulge in more climbing adventures!

Different angle shots from atop Mt. Longonot

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Location:

Mt. Longonot lies south-east of Lake Naivasha in the Great Rift Valley, Kenya.

Approximately 60km from Nairobi City Centre, about 1hr drive.

Distance up Mt. Longonot (to the rim): 3.1km

Distance round the crater rim: 7.2km

Park Entry Fees:

East African Citizens: Kshs. 350.00 (Adults) Kshs: 250.00 (Children)

Residents:                   Kshs. 700.00 (Adults) Kshs. 350.00 (Children)

Non Residents:           USD. 30.00 (Adults) USD. 20 (Children)

Where to stay:

This is mostly a day’s excursion. However, one has the choice of staying at the many hotels and campsites in Naivasha which is not far (Cray Fish Camp, Fisherman’s Camp, Sopa Lodge, Enashipai among others)

Activities available in the park:

Hiking, Climbing, Bird Watching, Wildlife Watching

What to Carry;

Drinking water and energy snacks, camera, binoculars, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, comfortable climbing boots, comfortable trousers to climb in, guidebooks  and camping equipment if you intend to stay overnight (at a nearby campsite)

-MASH-    Macharia Njuguna

A Sandals, Sand & Lenses Affair..!

A new year for more adventure :-)

A new chance for more adventure 🙂

2013 is the year that was! Happy New Year, my good adventurous people!

First, allow me to apologize for not having posted anything within the month of December 2013. Well, as it happens to most of us I was sort of burnt-out from my day job. I however still managed to use my reserve energy to do a little travel just to get my mind off the daily routine and actually relax.

Mash, relaxing in Mombasa

Mash, relaxing in Mombasa

I visited the city of Mombasa for the second time this year. I however did not indulge in much activity and just opted to hang around the hotel (Kenya Bay Beach Hotel), yes I visited the establishment yet again and as always, they did not disappoint. I had in my mind to bring you my followers and readers a little of the Mombasa experience and therefore as I packed my sandals and shorts, I threw in my camera and lenses to make sure I could get you some shots. I spent most of my time on the white sandy beaches either taking a morning jog, watching the activities on the beach as I sipped my cold drinks from the creek above, or taking leisure walks in the evening. Here are some of the shots from the Mombasa trip;

Beautiful morning

The sun rises over a tranquil Indian Ocean on an early morning

The sun rises over a tranquil Indian Ocean on an early morning

A long stretch of the North coast beach

A long stretch of the North coast beach

Water Vessels

Anchored boats on an early morning

Anchored boats on an early morning

Speed boats in the shallow waters of an early afternoon

Speed boats in the shallow waters of an early afternoon

A old log boat anchored in the ocean

A old log boat and modern boat anchored in the ocean

A single sail boat with a sole sailor on board

A single sail boat with a sole sailor on board

A Baracuda Team divers' boat

A Baracuda Team divers’ boat

Anchored boats in the high evening tide

Anchored boats in the high evening tide

Activities

A kite surfer prepares his equipment as a passing sailor looks on

A kite surfer prepares his equipment as a passing sailor looks on

Two horsemen ride on the beach as a kite surfer does his thing in the background

Two horsemen ride on the beach as a kite surfer does his thing in the background

A cyclist peddles hard under the hot afternoon sun

A cyclist peddles hard under the hot afternoon sun

A camel carrying a passenger is guided along the beach

A camel carrying someone is guided along the beach

Two horsemen look on as a group prepares for a speedboat ride

Two horsemen look on as a group prepares for a speedboat ride

A 'flying-dragon' kite hovers over a camel on the beach

A ‘flying-dragon’ kite hovers over a camel on the beach

The beach on a busy afternoon

The beach on a busy afternoon

A group of tourists takes a ride in a wooden sail boat

A group of tourists takes a ride in a wooden sail boat

A family walks past the figure of a lion curved in the sand

A family walks past the figure of a lion curved in the sand

A handler and his camel take a rest on the beach

A handler and his camel take a rest on the beach

Scenery

A beautiful view from my room at the Kenya Bay Beach Hotel

A beautiful view from my room at the Kenya Bay Beach Hotel

Kenya Bay Beach Hotel from my room

Kenya Bay Beach Hotel

Patrons relaxing by the poolside at Kenya Bay Beach Hotel

Tourists relaxing by the poolside at Kenya Bay Beach Hotel

Palm trees along the beach

Palm trees along the beach

That was an awesome way to slow down and recollect on the year ending.

Sneak Peek into 2014: I intend to indulge in more adventures and particularly of the climbing and/or hiking kind 😉

Let’s have ourselves an adventurous 2014!

-MASH-

Torrential, Thompson Falls!

Thompson Falls

The torrential Thompson Falls

Over the past weekend I spent some time in Nyahururu, a town east of Nakuru and approximately 2hrs 30min away from Nairobi. As we left Nairobi, it was a dull cloudy morning with slight showers and we hoped that the weather would be better at our intended destination.

Gloomy cloudy Nairobi

Gloomy cloudy Nairobi

We drove down using the Nairobi – Nakuru highway and diverted down into Gilgil. The entire way was dull with the occasional drizzles. We eventually got to Nyahururu which was also wet and quite gloomy. We attended a friend’s baby traditional dedication and within no time it was dark.

Thompson Falls Lodge

Thompson Falls Lodge

We decided to put up at the Thompson Falls Lodge. This is so that we could get a glimpse of the of the famous Thompson Falls. As we drove into the establishment, the constant hum of the pouring waterfall could be heard through the quiet of night! It had been quite a while since I had viewed the falls and I just couldn’t wait for the morning so that I could see it again.

The main lodge building

The main lodge building

The British colonial style accommodation section

The British colonial style accommodation section

The Thompson Falls Lodge is a beautiful place built in the British colonial days and style. It still has an attractive charm of old, particularly in its architectural design. The buildings are unique and the combination of wood and stone in the structures give them a rustic touch, complimented by the well manicured lawns. The rooms are well kept and the staff are quite friendly as well as helpful. The establishment also has a souvenir shop to cater for the visitors who wish to carry with them something to remind them of Nyahururu.

The picnic lawn. Notice the falls at the far end

The picnic lawn. Notice the falls at the far end

A lounge banda with the souvenir shop in the background

A lounge banda with the souvenir shop in the background

A horse grazing in the lawn

A horse grazing in the lawn

Thompson Falls is a 74m scenic waterfall along the Ewaso Ng’iro river which emanates from the Aberdare Mountain Range. In the morning as I walked down to view the falls, I could feel the breeze with water droplets falling on my face as the water hit the rocks below and splashed back up. To have access to the falls one has to pay a gate charge of Kshs. 50.00 and it sure is worth it. There is a rail guard protecting the visitors from falling down the cliff and it also works as a view point.

The torrential Thompson Falls, Nyahururu

The torrential Thompson Falls, Nyahururu

While at the falls view point, I saw people of all walks of life who had come to see and experience the beauty of this natural feature. They mostly walked, sat or stood in couples as they awed at this beautiful creation.

A couple enjoying the beautiful sight of the Thompson Falls

A couple enjoying the beautiful sight of the Thompson Falls

There is a stairway that takes one down to the foot of the waterfall through a thick canopy of tall indigenous trees! This would be an awesome experience hearing the sound of the water crushing on the rocks and having the splashing droplets in the breeze right in your face. I however couldn’t do it as there was a depressing notice that warned of insecurity on the way down. It insisted that one had to be accompanied by a guard down the cliff.

A warning notice

A warning notice

I also came across some business-minded ladies and gentleman who were adorned in traditional regalia and they roamed the expanse of the view point hoping that the visitors would ask them for a photo moment which they charge a minimal fee of between 50/- and 100/-. 🙂

Traditionally clad businessman and ladies! :-)

Traditionally clad businessman and ladies! 🙂

Mash enjoying a juice on the neat lawn

Mash enjoying a juice on the neat lawn

It was soon time to leave as we had a long way to cover back into Nairobi. It was a good trip and I can’t thank God enough for this beautiful country (Kenya) that he has given us!

Leaving the lodge

Leaving the lodge

The main entrance to the lodge

The main entrance to the lodge

Distance from Nairobi to Nyahururu: 186km

Accommodation: Thompson Falls Lodge (approx. 5,000/- for a double room)

Activities: Visit the Thompson Falls, Visit the Equator crossing, Close proximity to the Aberdare Mountain Range and the Lake Nakuru National Park

Costs:

To view the waterfalls: 50/- per person

To picnic at the lodge: 150/- per person

For anyone who wants to have quiet getaway into the upcountry, I would definitely recommend a visit to the quiet town of Nyahururu and a stay at the quiet and beautiful Thompson Falls Lodge.

-MASH-

Hot, Wet and Natural! (Olkaria)

Sunny morning at Cray Fish Camp.

Sunny morning at Cray Fish Camp.

During my recent short stay in Naivasha ( a market and tourist town located north west of Nairobi), I remembered reading an article in the Business Daily back in 2012 about a natural spa that was being built by KenGen at the Olkaria Geothermal fields which are located about 33km from the town, and only 13km from Cray Fish Camp where we were putting up. It was a must visit!

Mash

Mash at Olkaria spa

After a rushed breakfast at the Karuturi Club House, we all boarded the vehicles and proceeded down the Moi South Lake road towards the Olkaria geothermal fields. The road is smooth, without many vehicles and it can be tempting for one to speed. This was however not the case this time, as we were captivated by the panoramic view of Lake Naivasha on the right side of the road. The visible wide expanse of the lake, combined with the soothing warmth of the early afternoon sun and the lazy breeze seeping through the open car windows  gave one a feeling of deep tranquility!

Beautiful Lake Naivasha

Beautiful Lake Naivasha

After leisurely driving for about half an hour, we arrived at the Olkaria Gate where we had to pay a park entry fee of Kshs. 300.00 per person albeit the fact that the tickets we had purchased in the late afternoon of the previous day read that we were allowed entry for the next 24hrs!

Olkaria Gate into the Hells Gate National Park

Olkaria Gate into the Hells Gate National Park

To avoid paying additional park entry fees for the vehicles, we parked outside the Olkaria Gate and opted to walk in to the Geothermal Fields which were several hundred meters away from the gate. We packed what we thought we needed at the spa in backpacks and within minutes were off, walking towards the Olkaria Natural Spa whose construction was partially done but was now open to the public. This will be the biggest natural spa in Africa and it is built to accommodate about 500 people at a go!

Olkaria natural spa bath under construction. (File photo courtesy of Nation Media Group)

Olkaria natural spa bath under construction. (File photo courtesy of Nation Media Group)

The natural spa has four interconnected hot water lagoons. The first, second and third lagoons have diameters of 30, 40 and 70 meters while the fourth, a child’s pond measures 10 meters wide.  It is also said that the spa which is to be known as the Direct Use Centre,  could also host a geological and geothermal museum tracking the development of geothermal resources in Kenya as well as progression of global technology for converting steam into economic activities.

A building under construction on the site

A building under construction on the site

Happy people walking to the Olkaria spa from the main gate

Happy people walking to the Olkaria spa from the main gate

On our arrival an attendant at the natural spa walked up to us and gave us a quick introduction to the site. He advised us that only those who promised to adhere to the rules of the spa would be allowed to sign in on the visitors’ book and also use the spa. We were a well mannered group and we listened to the attendant keenly as he read out the spa regulations. There was nothing he read that was out of this world, so we all signed in and off we went into the spa! 🙂 Of note is that;

– No visitor is allowed to go to the hot spring reservoir which emanates smoke (an indication that it holds super heated water from the bowels of the earth) and is enclosed with mesh wire to keep everyone well at bay for safety reasons

– Users of the spa are not allowed to dive into the hot water as the bath pool is not conducive for this due to its shallow depth

Elaborate Signage

Elaborate signage on some of the spa regulations

The spa is wide and full of inviting baby-blue coloured water. On one of the sides, there is a temporary shower in the open through which each visitor must go before entering into the waters of the spa.

Mash with the wide Olkaria natural spa in the background

Mash with the wide Olkaria natural spa in the background

I quickly changed into my swimming shorts and went on to discover how the hot natural spa would feel to the body. As I went into the pool, the water was hot and I estimated it to be at about 30 – 35 degrees celcius. As soon as my toes came into contact with the water, the rest of body was sure it wanted to feel the warm caress of these waters! 😉 As I went further in, I found out that the lagoon has stairs to the depth of the pool.

Mash inside the Olkaria Spa in Naivasha

Mash inside the Olkaria Spa in Naivasha

I watched my friends get into a ‘contained’ thrill as they themselves ventured into the spa! It was evident in their faces why the spa regulations had to be so boldly announced; because on setting foot to the tantalizing water, one would be easily tempted to rush in with a dive so as to have the entire body enjoy this feeling!  Once inside the spa waters, the regulation that ‘Swimming Costumes Must Be Worn’ is not too welcome a rule, but we worked hard to abide! 🙂