A Bracelet For The Outdoors Badass!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other uses of the paracord include;

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

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

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

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

 

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~

Nairobi To Botswana (Overland Tour)

Life on the wild side. Bunduz

Life on the wild side. Bunduz

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

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

Brian, shows off some shots

Brian, shows off some shots

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

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

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

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

The comfortable overland truck allowed work and play :-)

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

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

Many photographers were part of the pack! photo by Brian

Many photographers were part of the pack! photo by Brian

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

A beautiful hillside jsu past Namanga in Tanzania

A beautiful hillside just past Namanga in Tanzania

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

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

Pay attention; This is how to pitch a tent.

Pay attention; This is how to pitch a tent.

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

Adventurers in Shariff's house at Iringa, Tanzania.

Adventurers in Shariff’s house at Iringa, Tanzania.

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A couple picnic on the shores of Lake Singinda in Tanzania

A couple picnic on the shores of Lake Singinda in Tanzania

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

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Chitimba beach in Malawi.

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Merry Christmas! Party in Chitimba.

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

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Let’s go snorkelling!

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Negotiating for a canoe ride from a fisherman’s village

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Diving into Lake Malawi!

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

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Some volleyball, anyone?

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Some WiFi on Kande Beach?

 

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

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Pitching tent in Chipata

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The warm bar at Mama Rula campsite

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

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Luangwa bridge in Zambia

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A busy shopping mall in Lilongwe, Malawi.

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

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Victoria Falls Waterfront

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

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The last sunset of 2015 over river Zambezi in Zambia.

Lady Livingstone pic

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

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

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The imposing Victoria Falls Bridge

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

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

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My turn to bungee came faster than I expected!

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An inspiring young adventurer (Sid) takes the leap!

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

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A shot of River Zambezi from a chopper

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

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On the elephant ride!

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

Video Rafting Just before

They set off to do the rafting!

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

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Happy New Year from Livingstone!

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

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

Ferry crossing

Ferry crossing from Zambia into Botswana. Photo by Ali Said

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

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

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

 

Important Information

Event: Livingstone New Year’s Tour 

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

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

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

Organizer: http://www.bunduz.com/

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

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

 

 

Kenya Meets Ethiopia (Road trip)!

Kenya meets Ethiopia! ;-)

Kenya meets Ethiopia! 😉

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

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

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

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

Beautiful morning as we departed from Nairobi

Beautiful morning as we departed from Nairobi

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

The adventurers on the Jambo African Adventure Tours safari to Addis

The adventurers on the Jambo African Adventure Tours safari to Addis

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

A truck working in a farm in the Tiamau area

A truck working on a farm in the Timau area

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adventurers at a watering hole in Hagre Maryam

Adventurers at a ‘watering hole’ in Hagre Maryam

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

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

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

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

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

Yigra Chefe, welcomed us to coffee

Yigra Chefe, welcomed us to coffee

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Twelve Tribes of Israel, Shashamane

The Twelve Tribes of Israel, Shashamane

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

A beautiful African girl in Shashamane

A beautiful African girl in Shashamane

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

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

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

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

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

Adventurers enjoying a sumptuous meal at our guide's home

Adventurers enjoying a sumptuous meal at our guide’s home

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

People enjoying the healing waters of Wondo Genet

People enjoying the healing waters of Wondo Genet

A little clothes and ornaments store outside the Wondo Genet hotsprings

A little clothes and ornaments store outside the Wondo Genet hotsprings

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

The express way into Addis Ababa

The express way into Addis Ababa

The fast electric train in Addis Ababa

The fast electric train in Addis Ababa

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

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

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

A busy street outside the Addis Ababa University

A busy street outside the Addis Ababa University

A beautiful street of down town Addis Ababa

A beautiful street of down town Addis Ababa

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

My ticket into the Menelik & Taitu's memorial museum

My ticket into the Menelik & Taitu’s memorial museum

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

The Entoto, St. Mary's church

The Entoto, St. Mary’s church

Othordox faithfuls outside the Entoto St. Mary's church

Othordox faithful outside the Entoto St. Mary’s church

A section of the St. Mary's church

A section of the St. Mary’s church

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

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

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

Shiro Meda Market, Addis Ababa

Shiro Meda Market, Addis Ababa

An aerial view of Addis Ababa from the Entoto hill

An aerial view of Addis Ababa from the Entoto hill

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

Injera is served!

Injera is served!

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

A beautiful Ethiopian girl at a pastries shop in Awassa

A beautiful Ethiopian girl at a pastries shop in Awassa

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

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

A tourist boat in Lake Awassa

A tourist boat in Lake Awassa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adventurers enjoying a boat ride on Lake Awassa Jambo African Adventures

Adventurers enjoying a boat ride on Lake Awassa Jambo African Adventures

A long canopied avenue along the shore of Lake Awassa

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

The pack of adventurers relaxing after hours of exploring Awassa

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

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

The dry river bed of River Merile

The dry river bed of River Merile

Jolly adventurers set out the dinner table along River Merile

Jolly adventurers set out the dinner table along River Merile

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

Dinner is served! Shirts off and dig in! 🙂

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

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

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

We loved Ethiopia!

We loved Ethiopia!

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

Ethiopia, I will certainly be back :-)

Ethiopia, I will certainly be back 🙂

Important Information

Currency: Ethiopian Birr

Language: Amharic and English (minimal)

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

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

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

Naivasha Relay 2015 (Hash House Harriers)

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

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

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

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

Runners all set to start the relay at Dagoretti

Runners all set to start the relay at Dagoretti

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Any opportunity to rest under a shade was gladly grabbed

Any opportunity to rest under a shade was gladly grabbed

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

Children running to catch the Naivasha Relay action

Children running to catch the Naivasha Relay action

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

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

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

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

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

Children woke up bright and early to spectate the relay

Children woke up bright and early to spectate the relay

 

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

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

 

Every runner who finished their stage was received in celebration

Every runner who finished their stage was received in celebration

 

Hashers mingled freely with the locals

Hashers mingled freely with the locals

 

A runner ponders over his strategy for the run

A runner ponders over his strategy for the run

 

Hashers cheering on their teammates

Hashers cheering on their team mates

 

Trust Hashers to spare some time to dance during the relay

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

 

There was lots of adventure to capture!

There was lots of action to capture!

 

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

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

 

The Naivasha Relay trail is quite picturesque

The Naivasha Relay trail is quite picturesque

 

The little shade available had to be shared :-)

The little shade available had to be shared 🙂

 

I had a selfie moment with the kids watching the race

I had a selfie moment with some kids watching the race

 

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

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

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

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

Photography and documentation by: Macharia Njuguna, @macharianjuguna

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 6TH Edition Koroga Festival

The sun rose to a beautiful day, the kind that calls you out to play. This is exactly what we needed for memories were certainly going to be made! It was the 6th Edition of the now famous Koroga Festival.

People having fun at the Koroga Festival

People having fun at the Koroga Festival

The Nairobi Arboretum had been totally transformed to be a perfect venue for this event. The main tent had safari seats, Masai shukas and straw on the ground ready for the music lovers who would grace this occasion. We got in and settled well in advance. Needless to say, we picked the best spot; close enough to see the expected artists on stage whilst not too far inside just in case it became too hot.

Evidence that everybody loves Koroga Festival :-)

Evidence that everybody loves Koroga Festival 🙂

The music was bumping played by the good old DJ Adrian who’s a maestro on the decks! People arrived in huge numbers, dressed to impress and ready to have fun. Like in many Kenyan events, ‘Nyama Choma’ (barbequed meat) and beer featured heavily. Carlsberg was one of the main sponsors. Shortly Fena came on stage and she sure did not disappoint. The groovy beats to her songs got many a person on their feet and dancing, setting the perfect tempo for the event!

Nameless with his captivating dancers on stage

Nameless with his captivating dancers on stage

Next on stage was Nameless with his bold captivating dancers who moved their bodies with subtle naughtiness, the grace of angels and the agility of acrobats. The crowd sang along to every song Nameless did. His music is either way too popular or the age group represented here was largely drawn from those who grew up in the late 90’s and early 2000, and they sure know how to party! In his performance, Nameless invited his celebrity wife (Wahu) on stage to dance with him. She drove the crowd wild as she gyrated against him. She can dance! As Nameless finalized his performance, he paid tribute to the late E-Sir who’s young and promising music career was cut short through a tragic road accident back in 2003.

Nameless invited his wife Wahu to dance with him on stage

Nameless invited his wife Wahu to dance with him on stage

Eventually it was time for the main act of the day.  The crowd went wild with cheer as the lady Yvonne Chakachaka graced the stage with her troupe. She gave an electrifying performance with several interludes where she spoke about her love for Kenya, reminiscing her first time in the country way back in 1987 when she was hosted by the legendary Fred Obach Machoka. He was also present to greet the crowd.

Yvonne Chakachaka on stage with her troupe

Yvonne Chakachaka on stage with her troupe

Yvonne belted out the crowd’s favorite tunes from her many albums. From her beauty and the dance moves she has, it would be impossible to think that she turns fifty this month! She is an African queen in her own right and she made this 6th Edition of Koraga Festival a splendid success! It was loaded with fun and blissful entertainment. I totally look forward to the next.

Yvonne Chakachaka performs to the cheering crowd!

Yvonne Chakachaka performs to the cheering crowd!

 

The Ultimate Road Trip, #Day 2 (Jinja – Lake Bunyonyi)

At the River Nile view point on the early morning of #Day 2

At the River Nile view point on the early morning of #Day 2

Throughout the night of #Day1 I could almost feel Nicki tagging on my hand and purring in my ear saying ‘Mash, we are in Jinja!  You have to take me out early and capture the spectacle that the great River Nile is..’ I was therefore up very early that morning. The river however conspired with the fog against Nicki and I to have it’s splendour concealed in a coy manner. It was as if Nicki and the river were playing a game of hide and seek like two potential lovers out in the woods! Right there I concluded that the Nile is male because my Nicki is certainly female.. 🙂 With little cooperation from the River Nile, Nicki and I insisted and managed to get some shots for your viewing;

Fog hangs over the magnificent River Nile in Jinja, Uganda

Fog hangs over the magnificent River Nile in Jinja, Uganda

A lone fisherman boats across the vast River Nile on a dull morning.

A lone fisherman boats across the vast River Nile on the dull morning of Day 2.

On this second day of the Ultimate Road Trip we needed to travel through Uganda (from Jinja through to Lake Bunyonyi) cutting across from the east to the west of the country, covering about 544km! This was quite a journey ahead of us, and we had been briefed as much on the previous night by Mukhtar (the trip Captain). Everyone got up early, and by the time I got to the breakfast area the tables had been neatly laid out by the Bunduz.com crew and the adventurers were enjoying the meal served out under the open morning sky.

Breakfast is served in Jinja, Uganda on #Day 2

Breakfast is served in Jinja, Uganda on #Day 2

Going by the adverts posted around the camp, it was clear that there are many activities that guests can undertake in and along River Nile. There is kayaking, white-water rafting, Quad biking and mountain biking. We however did not have the opportunity to indulge in any of the activities due to the time factor. We aimed to arrive at Lake Bunyonyi within the afternoon.

Kayaks positioned at the entrance of the camping grounds in Jinja

Kayaks positioned at the entrance of the camping grounds in Jinja

We hit the road early on this day, and the adventurers were upbeat. The Beast cruised the roads of Uganda with the prowess of a local adventurer. The mood within the truck was elated and this was certainly a good thing as we had a long road ahead of us going by the brief given by our trip Captain. As we drove across Uganda, it was evident how fertile this land is. The many hills spread all over the country were covered in deep healthy green vegetation that made entire way quite scenic.

Leaving Nile River Explorers Camp in Jinja

Leaving Nile River Explorers Camp in Jinja

 

Ali Said, the biking adventurer prepares to leave Nile River Explorer's Camp in Jinja

Ali Said, the biking adventurer prepares to leave Nile River Explorer’s Camp in Jinja

A briefing from the trip Captain, Mukhtar Sidi of Bunduz.com

A briefing from the trip Captain, Mukhtar Sidi of Bunduz.com

The road soon led us to a dense forest on both sides of the road which is popularly know as the Mubira Forest. This area hosts an informal market of hawkers who majorly sell foodstuff. Top on the list of items sold is the ‘kuku choma’ (roast chicken) on sticks. In my many travels into Uganda, I have always noticed that these chicken pieces are way larger than the regular size. It also caught my attention that they only sell the roasted thighs. Why not sell the rest of the fowl too? Anyway, curiosities aside; this chicken has a succulent burst of slightly charred and smoky flavour which keeps travellers buying more! Is this chicken or a wild bird? This question has always been left pending on all my travels and this was no exception.  Mukhtar (http://www.bunduz.com/) went down into the market and bought pieces enough to feed any adventurer who was curious to have a taste. We had a ‘kuku choma’ party, which came in handy for some of the adventurers who had indulged in some liquids that led to their body systems craving for something ‘meaty’.. 😉

A lady presents her chicken to the adventurers aboard the Beast at Mubira Forest Market

A lady hawker presents her chicken to the adventurers aboard the Beast at Mubira Forest Market

Mukhtar our trip Captain, negotiates with hawkers while making a purchase

Mukhtar our trip Captain, negotiates with hawkers while making a purchase

I zeroed in on the 'kuku choma' kitchen. The yawning couldn't wait to get his piece! :-)

I zeroed in on the ‘kuku choma’ kitchen. The yawning fellow couldn’t wait to get his piece! 🙂

Ali the rider became an instant hit to the idlers at the Mubira Market. :-)

Ali the rider became an instant hit to the guys at the Mubira Market. 🙂

The 'Kuku choma' party in the truck. Oh, that succulent roast chicken!

The ‘Kuku choma’ party in the truck. Oh, that succulent roast chicken!

The next stop was at the point where the Equator cuts through Uganda. Splitting the north and southern hemisphere within inches of each other! One can literally have their legs spread over the two hemispheres at this point. Due to the frequent tourist visits to this site, a sprawling collection of curio shops has come up selling all sorts of African art in form of sculptures, ornaments, musical instruments and fabric. The adventurers, particularly the ladies got an opportunity to shop here.

Adventurers at the Equator in Uganda.

Adventurers at the Equator in Uganda.

'I am excited that I can shop!' She said.

‘I am excited that I can shop!’ She said.

We were soon back into the truck and proceeded with our journey. We had covered quite much of the intended distance by now. Inside the truck the adventurers were a buzz with activity. Chitchat was loud as some people preferred to enjoy their drinks, few decided to keep to themselves by either listening to music, reading or taking a snooze. Whatever one chose, the Beast had just the right space for it. Talk of comfort on the road!

At the drink corner where the 'DJ' had his post.

At the drink corner where the ‘DJ’ had his post.

Taking it easy as she reads a book

Taking it easy as she reads a book

The ladies comparing items they bought at the curio shops along the Equator

The ladies comparing items they bought at the curio shops along the Equator

Soon the Beast came to a halt at an open field, and it was time for lunch. The crew quickly disembarked and laid out the tables in record time.

Adventurers help themselves to the well stocked table, thanks to the Bunduz.com chef

Adventurers help themselves to the well stocked table, thanks to the Bunduz.com chef

There had been several stops on the way, and therefore we rushed through our lunch in order to make up for lost time.

Mukhtar reiterates that we need to rush to make up for lost time in the schedule

Mukhtar reiterates that we need to rush to make up for lost time in the schedule

We continued on our journey, and I enjoyed the view of the picturesque landscape of Uganda which is dotted with many hills. We came a cross an interesting structure atop a hill which looked like something out a UFO movie. Well, see it for yourself and be the judge if fatigue was slowly building images in my overly creative mind. Anyone who may know what this structure is, feel free to share.

The strange structure atop a hill on our way to Bunyonyi in Uganda.

The strange structure atop a hill on our way to Bunyonyi in Uganda.

A beautiful mosque I spotted on our way

A beautiful mosque I spotted on our way

The long way ahead to Lake Bunyonyi

The long way ahead to Lake Bunyonyi

We unfortunately couldn’t cover up for the lost time on this day. We got to the Lake Bunyonyi Overland Resort after dark. Again, I couldn’t do much of site seeing here as it was pitch dark, and the clouds were hanging low. We were quickly assigned to our rooms as the crew got ready to prepare dinner. Just before dinner, there was a heavy downpour which instantly changed the temperatures to a deep low. Not even the rain could dampen our adventurous spirit, we went on to keep it going!

An adventurer watches the heavy downpour at Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda

An adventurer watches the heavy downpour at Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda

A sumptuous dinner is served at Lake Bunyonyi

A sumptuous dinner is served at Lake Bunyonyi

We had to enjoy a drink at the inviting bar, despite the heavy downpour

We had to enjoy a drink at the inviting bar, despite the heavy downpour. Looking forward to #Day3

 

Event: The Ultimate Road Trip

Period: #Day 2 (29th Dec 2014)

Distance: Jinja (Uganda) – Lake Bunyonyi (Uganda) Approx. 544km

Organizer: http://www.bunduz.com/

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

The Ultimate Road Trip, #Day 1(Nairobi – Jinja)

‘Hello Mr. Macharia. I trust that you are all set and ready for the ultimate road trip. We shall be meeting tomorrow at 6am so that we can be well on the road by 6:45am. Kindly, keep time.’ This call from Mukhtar Sidi of (http://www.bunduz.com/) who was to be the road trip Captain kept ringing in my head as I slept on the night prior to the safari. Needless to say, I was up by 5am and on my way to the meeting point by 5:45am. I was excited about the trip! I found a few of the other adventurers already boarded onto the truck. The Bunduz.com staff was at hand to receive me and pack my luggage into the truck. It was actually nice being in the middle of the city Nairobi so early in the morning. The air was so cool and fresh. The skies were clear, and the streets appeared so clean and beautiful without the mammoth crowds that ‘invade’ them during the day. I couldn’t help it but take a few shots with my newly acquired ‘baby’ Nikon D5200 that I christened Nicki.

Bunduz.com staff assist with the loading of luggage just before the start of the eight days road trip

Bunduz.com staff assist with the loading of luggage just before the start of the eight days road trip

Some of the adventurers sadly did not keep time, and this did not go down very well with the trip Captain who is quite strict about the itinerary schedule. One actually had to catch up with us while well on our way out of the city!

Mukhtar of Bunduz.com calls clients to make sure they arrive at the meeting point on time.

Mukhtar of Bunduz.com calls clients to make sure they arrive at the meeting point on time.

The overland truck smoothly growled it’s way out of the city. It felt sturdy, just as it looked with it’s large all terrain tyres and the compartments that swallowed into storage all our supplies and luggage for the eight days journey. It’s angelic white body created an impression of cocky confidence like that of a matador who chooses to wear a white suit into a dusty bullfight arena. On both sides of it’s belly were the words ‘Life On The Wild Side’ that stood out like tribal tattoos on the arms of a mighty wrestler. These words quietly promised us an adventure of a lifetime. From how it gracefully handled bumps and bends on our way out of Nairobi, to how the gears shifted smoothly in silence, and also how cushy the seats felt; I was certain we were in the vehicle right for the job! A rugged wrestler, that moved with the grace of an angel, and gave the comfort of a mother. I named the truck ‘Beast’.

The 'beast' that made it all possible. Early morning on the day of departure

The ‘beast’ that made it all possible in the early morning of departure

As we made our way further out of the city, I learnt from Mukhtar that my good old friend Ali Said would be joining us on the safari. He would however not be with us in the truck, but on his motorbike! I thought he was insane to conjure up the idea of riding on two wheels over 3,200km, but being a biker myself I secretly envied him as I knew he would experience the adventure with all his senses on alert. No chance to snooze or booze!

Ali Said, the adventurous rider on his African Twin motorcycle (750cc of raw power)!

Ali Said, the adventurous rider on his African Twin motorcycle (750cc of raw power)!

We needed to travel from Nairobi all the way to #Jinja in Eastern Uganda. A distance of about 580km. This seemed like it was going to be one long day, noting that no one was quite speaking to the other. I knew that something had to be done to break the ice. Usually, the camera sort of does the trick and so shortly I was clicking away on Nicki. Taking shots of the truck occupants at random. This sort of shook up things a little bit and I started getting a smile here and there.

Adventurers each minding their own business as we started the safari. This wouldn't last :-)

Adventurers each minding their own business as we started the safari. This wouldn’t last 🙂

Before the 'Bhajia' ice-breaker, Beast did a good job of comfortably accommodating the adventurers who to escape into work or reading :-)

Before the ‘Bhajia’ ice-breaker, Beast did a good job of comfortably accommodating the adventurers who chose to escape into work or reading 🙂

The best ice-breaker however came when one of the adventurers (Shakeel) left the truck, boarded Ali’s motorbike and came back with bags of ‘Bhajia’ (an indian delicacy prepared by frying slices of potatoes in a spicy paste and served with chilli). He threw a potato party and invited everyone to it! Going by how the adventurers dug into the food, I could bet my money on that few if any, had taken breakfast that early morning 🙂 Food certainly got people talking! From then on I baptized Shakeel as the ‘Bhajia Hero’.

The 'Bhajia Hero' invited everyone to his potato and chilli party. What an ice-breaker!

The ‘Bhajia Hero’ who invited everyone to his potato and chilli party. What an ice-breaker!

Conversations started, laughter was audible and people started moving around in the truck. Friendships were being formed and this clearly indicated that we were on for an awesome trip! I was drawn into the beauty that our land Kenya is, as we drove further up country and Nicki did not disappoint in capturing this for your viewing;

A scenic section in between Naivasha and Nakuru

A scenic section in between Naivasha and Nakuru

The beautiful tea zones of Kenya in the Rift Valley

The beautiful tea zones of Kenya in the Rift Valley

A street in the beautiful city of Kisumu, Kenya.

A street in the beautiful city of Kisumu, Kenya.

On this day, we were in a race with time. We needed to make it to the Malaba border between Kenya and Uganda. The aim was to get to Jinja before dark. Packed lunch was served in the truck. A well balance meal of sandwiches, an apple and a packet of juice which I really enjoyed. The sandwiches were made with love, thanks to the Bunduz.com team. We made it to the border, and I really wanted to test the new pass-card that allows Kenyan, Ugandan and Rwandese citizens to cross into any of the three countries by just producing an identity card and not necessarily having a passport. I was issued with the pass immediately I availed my Kenyan ID card and conveyed my intention to cross into Uganda. I can confirm that this works efficiently and it is an indicator that the East African Community is making paces in the right direction. It is however sad to note that Tanzania is yet to sign up to this!

Adventurers enjoying the scenery on our journey to Jinja

Adventurers enjoying the scenery on our journey to Jinja

Soon we were in Uganda and headed to Jinja. By now, most of the adventurers knew each other by name and were already talking and sharing drinks which they had certainly not carried in short supply 🙂 Some of us were slowly being soothed to sleep by Beast’s clam and steady growl. Then suddenly someone shouted out , ‘Mash, look! Calvary is in Uganda!’ I immediately jumped up and instinctively grabbed Nicki ready to swing into action. I managed to get a good shot of the cross on the hill. I however still do not what it’s all about. Kindly anyone reading and knows what the cross on the hill is, feel free to share.

'Mash, look! Is this Calvary in Uganda?'

‘Mash, look! Is this Calvary in Uganda?’

An imposing hill that looks like a giant warrior protecting the village at it's foot

An imposing hill that looks like a giant warrior protecting the village at it’s foot

Time seemed to fly past and eventually the sun hid behind the hills as darkness crept onto the land. It would soon be dark. Unfortunately we wouldn’t make it to the camp in Jinja early this evening as it had been planned. The several stops along the way delayed the intended schedule.

A golden African sunset in rural Eastern Uganda

A golden African sunset in rural Eastern Uganda

We eventually got to the Nile River Explorers Camp where we put up for the night. The place was dark, and I could not quite explore much since I was quite tired. The Bunduz.com team quickly set up our kitchen and prepared us a sumptuous dinner which was served underneath the stars and beside our faithful Beast.

The trip Captain, Mukhtar allocated tents to the adventurers at the Nile River Explorers Camp

The trip Captain, Mukhtar allocated tents to the adventurers at the Nile River Explorers Camp

Dinner is ready!

Dinner is ready!

Adventurers munching away underneath the stars as Beast takes a rest besides them.

Adventurers munching away underneath the stars as Beast takes a rest besides them.

Finally I had my space to lay down and rest in readiness for #Day2

Finally I had my space to lay down and rest in readiness for #Day2

Event: The Ultimate Road Trip Period: #Day 1 (28th Dec 2014) Distance: Nairobi (Kenya) – Jinja (Uganda) Approx. 580km Organizer: http://www.bunduz.com/ Documentary (photos & writing) by: Macharia Njuguna (https://adventurewithmash.wordpress.com/)

Of Tusks, Rivers & Machines (Tsavo East)

Hello there, good people!

I recently had the opportunity to visit the scenic Tsavo East National Park (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsavo_East_National_Park) which is one of the oldest national parks in Kenya, having opened its gates in 1948!

Mash snapping away!

Mash snapping away!

I entered the park through the Voi, Manyani gate which is just one of it’s three gates widely spread over it’s imposing perimeter of 13,747 square kilometers. I was there on a work related mission, but by now I know you know how I do; I mixed work with a little pleasure and brought you several photos in which I share my experience with you 🙂

Construction of a steel bridge over Galana River

Construction of a steel bridge over Galana River

A steel bridge is being built over the wide and snaking Galana River, under the employ of the Kenya Wildlife Services, funded by the European Union. This bridge is somewhat controversial in the sense that different park stakeholders are looking at it in totally different perspectives! The Kenya Wildlife Service sees the project as a major step towards easing their fight against poaching. The bridge will make more parts of the park accessible to the game rangers and therefore make possible the protection of wildlife from poachers. On the other hand, conservationists view this project as a major tamper with the Eco-system of the park! They feel that this will set a precedent for so-called ‘development accelerators’ (roads, railway lines, electricity cables) to now shamelessly be passed through the park! What do you think? (share your views in the comments section)

The wide, tranquil and snaking Galana River

The wide, tranquil and snaking Galana River

 

Men building piers on which the steel bridge will rest.

Men building piers on which the steel bridge will rest.

 

'Robots' at work at the Galana River

‘Robots’ at work at the Galana River

The beauty of the Tsavo East National Park cannot be ignored. The park is generally flat, consists of semi-arid areas and savannah grasslands which are the habitat to a large number of animal species which includes the ‘Big Five’ (Lions, Elephants Buffaloes, Rhinos and Leopards) as well as a host of bird species. I wasn’t lucky enough to sight all these animals, but I sure had my fair share of animal sightings (elephants) and scenic natural features! Check them out 🙂

It's lunch time, do you care to join me? The jumbo seems to ask

It’s lunch time, do you care to join me? The jumbo seems to ask

 

A jumbo peeping at me through a thorny bush.

A jumbo peeping at me through a thorny bush.

 

A grown elephant plays with it's young one

A grown elephant plays with it’s young one

 

A family of elephants peacefully grazing away

A family of elephants peacefully grazing away

 

A young elephant walks to catch up with the rest of the herd.

A young elephant walks to catch up with the rest of the herd.

Tsavo National Park also boasts some beautiful scenery which I was glad to have had the opportunity to take several shots of. At this time it was sweltering hot and most animals tend to hide in the undergrowth in search of the much needed soothing shade.

A male & female Ostrich advance towards each other. An ostrich dance in the making (the attraction is real) :-)

A male & female Ostrich advance towards each other. An ostrich dance in the making (the attraction is real) 🙂

 

Entry to the Lugard Falls, name after Frederick Lugard the British soldier and explorer

Entry to the Lugards Falls, name after Frederick Lugard the British soldier and explorer

 

(Lugard Falls) The enchanting series of white water rapids on River Galana.

Lugards Falls. The enchanting series of white water rapids on River Galana. (Notice the beautiful shapes curved out in the rocks by the torrent water)

 

River Galana is home to a large population of crocodile. They all tend to converge at the Crocodile Point where there are less rocks and the water is quite tranquil. It serves well as a hunting and a breeding ground.

River Galana is home to a large population of crocodile. They all tend to converge at the Crocodile Point where there are less rocks and the water is quite tranquil. It serves well as a hunting and a breeding ground.

 

It was too hot on this day, not one crocodile was in site!

It was too hot on this day, not one crocodile was in sight at Crocodile Point

 

The tranquil Galana River

The tranquil Galana River

The construction of the steel bridge over the Galana River is almost complete. I can’t help but keep wondering whether this will develop into another human-wildlife conflict or it will actually contribute to the efforts of conserving and protecting the wildlife and the park’s Eco-system. Only time will tell..

The digging continues. The bridge will soon be up over the Galana River.

The digging continues. The bridge will soon be up over the Galana River.

 

Our trusted friend (Ford Ranger) got us to the park and back home. Even she couldn't stand the sweltering heat; she had to hide in the shadow of the concrete mixer :-)

Our trusted friend (Ford Ranger) got us to the park and back home. Even she couldn’t stand the sweltering heat; she had to hide in the shadow of the concrete mixer 🙂

It was my pleasure having visited the Tsavo East National Park, I would highly recommend that you take some time too and make a trip down there. Get to see what our beautiful country (Kenya) has to offer!

Important Information;

Distance from Nairobi: 331 KM (Approximately 4hrs 30min drive)

Terrain: 

Good smooth tarmac from Nairobi to Voi

Rough dirt roads within the park (4×4 vehicles highly recommended)

Park Entry Fees:

Refer to this (http://www.kws.org/export/sites/kws/about/downloads/Entry_Fee_Leaflet.pdf)

What to carry:  

Hiking boots, Drinking water, Camping equipment (if you intend to stay overnight) Also useful are: Binoculars, Camera, Hat,

Sunscreen, Sunglasses, Guidebooks, Mosquito repellant and Waterproof jacket.

Where To Stay:                

Voi Safari Lodge, Ndololo Tented Camp, Kingfisher Tented Camp, Satao Camp

Activities:  

Game viewing, Trekking, Bird watching

NOTE: Always Follows the Park Rules!

 ~MASH~

 

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

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! 🙂

The wide and beautiful Olkaria spa

The wide and beautiful Olkaria spa

As I immersed myself into the spa, I felt proud that on completion of this facility my country Kenya will have joined the leagues of other nations that have attracted tourists over time through their natural spas. These are countries like Turkey which has the Hamam spa, Costa Rica which has the Thermal Baths and New Zealand which has the Wahkarewrewa natural spa. Once the Olkaria natural spa is complete, it will have a steam bath and sauna in addition to the hot water pools.

My friends and I enjoying time in the Olkaria spa

My friends and I enjoying time in the Olkaria spa

It is said that the spa has good natural skin treatment elements that have been known to heal some skin diseases like psoriasis. Therefore, as much as we were here to have fun, our bodies were also gaining protective qualities from these waters!

Whie inside the spa, one didn’t feel the urge to leave as the engulfing warmth felt like a massage being conducted allover the body at the same time! I walked around the entire pond with my entire body (to the neck) immersed in the water. It was a great feeling!

Julie enjoying the natural treatment in the spa. The smile says it all! :-)

Julie enjoying the natural treatment in the spa. The smile says it all! 🙂

Kama & Trish share a moment at the Olkaria spa! ;-)

Kama & Trish share a moment at the Olkaria spa! 😉

As we floated by in the spa, laughter could be heard and jolly faces seen! Time flew by faster than we wanted it to, and this was an indication that we were definitely having a blast! The sun was fast retreating behind the hills and as much as we wanted to stay, it was time to leave the spa and head back to Nairobi before nightfall. This was quite a treat to our adventurous selves and I would definitely recommend the experience for you, your family and friends!

The children's spa bath at Olkaria

The children’s spa bath at Olkaria

Location: Olkaria Natural Spa, Naivasha

Distance: About 110km from Nairobi

Accommodation: There are several campsites within the Hells Gate National Park, and many camp sites and hotels along the Moi south Lake Road

Parke entry fees: Kshs. 300.00 per adult (Kenyan citizen) and 15USD for foreign tourists

Spa entry fees: A minimal fee to be introduced on completion of the spa facility

What to carry: Sun glasses, Sun screen, Light clothing, flip-flops , a swimming costume, towel and a camera to capture the moments

-MASH-

Motorbikes on Fours!

Motorbikes on Fours!

Motorbikes on Fours!

Not too far from the city of Nairobi, there is a place that is nothing less of the wild (full with the savannah terrain and wildlife) where I go to ride monster motorbikes on fours; Quad Bikes!

The place is set in a savannah grassland spotted with thorny shrubs and the occasional rocky hills. The road to the place is quite treacherous and a 4×4 vehicle might be a good idea. However, the place is still accessible with a small vehicle whose owner doesn’t mind a little shocks battering 😉

On arrival we were welcomed by the establishment’s owner and now friend, Mr. Wamae. Our keen intent was to ride the quad bikes out into the wild and through the motorcross track. However Mr. Wamae, persuaded us to first take a walk through the entire place so that we could know what they had to offer.

Parked quad bikes

Parked quad bikes

The establishment boasts a well lit lounge area built in wood. The lounge is accessible using a woody staircase which leads you into a space filled with comfortable sofas, a tv set and a plausible music system. There is no better place to enjoy the breeze and a slight view of the plains! The lounge area over looks the swimming pool and the green lawn below patched with tented bandas serving as more relaxing spots for the visitors. Adjacent to the pool there is a well stocked bar with a wide sitting area and a view outward to the plains. Visitors here can also order meals from the establishment’s kitchen which is ran by a very able chef (this we learned after we ordered our lunch)!The place also has several accommodation rooms whose furniture is artistically built in wood to complete the feel of being in the wild! I automatically fell in love with the place, and what it had to offer!

The lawn and pool area

The lawn and pool area

After the tour, we immediately headed out below the lounge area where the quad bikes are parked. Here we met the riding captain who in very good spirits took us through the simple rules of biking out here in the wild. He also provided protective gear to make sure that we were ready for the ride. A helmet, like while riding any other motorcycles is essential here. It is also advisable to have a padded riding jacket on as well as riding boots to ensure minimal injury in the event of a mishap or accident while riding. We geared up good, and before we mounted the beasts on fours we were requested to sign a risk consent form that absolved the establishment of any liability in the event that any of us got injured while riding. I recommend having personal insurance to cater for such incidents 🙂

Geared up and ready to ride!

Geared up and ready to ride!

We revved up the machines and out we rode into the savannah. Leading the pack was the riding captain who acted as the guide on the trail to ensure that we used a route where we would have maximum fun in terms of, the wildlife we came across and the terrain we passed through. The rougher the terrain, the better! 😉

Revving it up!

Revving it up!

On our way we came across the beautiful sight of antelopes grazing in the grassland and they dashed away in a startled hop on hearing the growling engines. We were also lucky enough to encounter towering giraffes foraging on the acacia trees that spotted the grassland. On hearing the engines, they also took to a graceful run that seemed to be in slow motion due to their long legs! What a beautiful sight! We also came across a heard of elands grazing, and these huge animals were not afraid of the sound of engines. They stood their ground, raised their heads as if to ask, ‘do you have to interrupt our feeding time?’ and watched us as we rode past them. Herds of wilderbeasts and zebras could also be seen grazing out in the plains!

The trail

The trail

Gracefully running giraffes

Gracefully running giraffes

Wilderbeasts crossing the road

Wilderbeasts crossing the road

An Eland

An Eland

The quad bikes raised dust as we sped through the tough terrain leading to the motorcross track through the grassland. The uneven ground helped me enjoy the capabilities of the four-wheeled motorcycle as it bumped, twisted and skidded. My hands strongly gripped the handle bars and played with the clutch and brakes to make sure that the monster was in my control! There is no better feeling than this. I felt like a matador handling a raging bull by the horns! Note: You have the choice of a manual or an automatic quad bike.

Ride on!

Ride on!

We eventually got on to the motor cross track which was the true test of the quad bikes and what they can really do. The track had steep ascends and descends, uneven gullies, wide rumble sticks and unexpected bends! The track is essentially built to surprise the rider and the machine. This calls for good handling of the quad bike for maximum enjoyment.

In the motor cross track

In the motor cross track

Going down a steep descent

Going down a steep descent

The ride is quite tiring, but the fun sure does over-ride the fatigue! We eventually got back to the camp, enjoyed a meal and relaxed by the poolside bar listening to some good music and enjoying a drink or two as we chatted away.

After the long ride

After the long ride

I would recommend that you take some time and immerse yourself in the quad bike riding fun!

Establishment: Lukenya Motorcross

Distance:  Approx. 39km from the Nairobi city centre

Map:

Getting to Lukenya motorcross

Getting to Lukenya motorcross

Get out there and have fun!

-MASH-