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~

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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!

Diani Sky dive (1)

#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!

Zipline Machakos(1)

 

~MASH~

A Hotbed of Cultural Diversity ~ Samburu!

Samburu County

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

Modern, but not lost in westernization

Modern, but not lost in westernization

 

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

Young Turkana men stylishly adorned for the event

Young Turkana men stylishly adorned for the event

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

Samburu, a true gem of Kenya

Samburu, a true gem of Kenya

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

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

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

Keenly following the camel races at the derby

Keenly following the camel races at the derby

A happy Samburu dance

A happy Samburu dance

A war like dance by Turkana warriors

A war like dance by Turkana warriors

A combination of age, composure and beaty!

A combination of age, composure and beaty!

Morans ready to present a jump dance

Morans ready to present a jump dance

Colour is never shot in Samburu

Colour is never short in Samburu

I love my roots!

I love my roots!

Samburu weather supports the Moran dress code

Samburu weather supports the Moran dress code

Friends of a feather, chat together

Friends of a feather, chat together

A wade through the mud to the derby celebrations

A wade through the mud to the derby celebrations

Comfortable in her well arranged necklong ornaments

Curious

Curious

All set for the pomp and dance!

All set for the pomp and dance!

The soloist with an angelic voice

The soloist with an angelic voice

To show our joy, we dance

To show our joy, we dance

A man shares his tobacco with a female friend

A man shares his tobacco with a female friend

I don't wonna miss out on anything

I don’t wonna miss out on anything

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

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

For her, life went on unperturbed

For her, life went on unperturbed

Wide rimmed neck pieces

Wide rimmed neck pieces

Young girls show up for the clebrations

Young girls show up for the celebrations

A male soloist leads a female choir

A male soloist leads a female choir

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

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

Undeniable patriotism

Undeniable patriotism

On the journey of life

On the journey of life

Alone in a crowd

Alone in a crowd

Beautiful friends

Beautiful friends

Ladies in stylish hide clothes

Ladies in stylish hide clothes

"What say you?"

“What say you?”

She hid, I sought :-)

She hid, I sought 🙂

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

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

Camels got gear too! :-)

Camels got gear too! 🙂

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

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

Colour that makes life beautiful

Colour that makes life beautiful

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

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

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

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

She let me take her photograph and asked to see it

She let me take her photograph and asked to see it

Her shyness couldn't hide her beauty

Her shyness couldn’t hide her beauty

"Is this bead out of line..?"

“Is this bead out of line..?”

He cleaned his teeth in readiness for the pomp

He cleaned his teeth in readiness for the pomp

It's on! Boogie down!

It’s on! Boogie down!

"Did you see that..?"

“Did you see that..?”

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

His jacket played a good backdrop for this shot 🙂

Not even the grey could take away their colour and beauty

Not even the grey could take away their colour and beauty

I had to blur him out to get the beauties

I had to blur him out to capture the beauties

The Morans' hangout spot

The Morans’ hangout spot

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

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

Friendship is, enjoying the derby together

Friendship is, enjoying the derby together

The ladies man!

The ladies man! They danced around him.

Selfie on a camel back

Selfie on a camel back

"We are with it!"

“We are with it!”

The crowd at the Camel Derby evening fun fair

The crowd at the Camel Derby evening fun fair

The sturdy moran seemed to stand guard of his community.

This sturdy moran seemed to stand guard of his community.

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

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

Location: Maralal, Samburu County, Nothern Kenya

Photography and documentation by: Macharia Njuguna, @macharianjuguna

Adventure and safari organized by: www.bunduz.com

The Maralal International Camel Derby (26th Edition)

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

The people of Samburu County

The people of Samburu County

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

A participant in the Camel Derby race

A participant in the Camel Derby race

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

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

A moran in his regalia at the Camel Derby main venue

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

The beautiful Maralal Safari Lodge

The beautiful Maralal Safari Lodge

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

Tourists riding the single hump dromedary camels of Samburu

Tourists riding the single hump dromedary camels of Samburu

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

A camel whisperer

A camel whisperer

 

Security was tight at the 26th International Maralal Camel Derby

Security was tight at the 26th International Maralal Camel Derby

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

Morans discussing what to expect at the Camel Derby

Morans discussing what to expect at the Camel Derby

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

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

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

 

As the camel race began

As the camel race began

 

A head to head camel race!

A head to head camel race!

 

Spectators keenly following the camel race

Spectators keenly following the camel race

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

Morans all set to do a traditional dance

Morans all set to do a traditional dance

 

Samburu ladies belting out a tune

Samburu ladies belting out a tune

 

Samburu youth in a playful dance

Samburu youth in a playful dance

 

What a beautiful traditional choir dressed in skin clothes!

What a beautiful traditional choir dressed in skin clothes!

 

A section of the audience enjoying the traditional dances

A section of the audience enjoying the traditional dances

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

The very able two-man South African band

The very able two-man South African band

Tusker, the world's best beer from Kenya

Tusker, the world’s best beer from Kenya

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

The Bunduz.com and Warthog Expeditions team!

The Bunduz.com and Warthog Expeditions team!

 

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

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

 

The triathlon team walks to the start line

The triathlon team walks to the start line

 

Camels speed off at the start of the triathlon race

Camels speed off at the start of the triathlon race

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

Location: Maralal, Samburu County, Nothern Kenya

Photography and documentation by: Macharia Njuguna, @macharianjuguna

Adventure and safari organized by: www.bunduz.com