High Adrenaline Triathlon.. The Forest!

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The Forest; an adventure park within Kereita Forest!

What would be the ideal way to spend a Sunday? If your answer is anywhere between, sleeping in, watching movies or enjoying a whiskey while barbecuing with friends, (which simply translates to couch ‘potating’), then this article is meant for you! I am not judging, but I think you seriously need a Bunduz in your life. Allow me to show you why 😉

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The Bunduz team, all set to have fun at The Forest’s inaugural Triathlon competition (2016)

If you would avoid the party on a fine Saturday night so that you are up early on a Sunday morning, ready to take part in an adventure triathlon at a location 30km away from Nairobi and 2,000m above sea level, then this article is not for you because you already know that nothing beats spending an expendable minute while high on adrenaline!

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The map that each team tried to beat in the best time.

I was honoured to be the Bunduz triathlon team Captain. Just as the adventure tours that Bunduz organizes, we decided that our competition ethos would be to do our best in the allocated tasks, but also make sure that we have great fun while at it!

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Our team trick was simple; Stay safe, have fun, endure the trail and have more fun!

If whenever you are handed a disclaimer form to sign, your heart starts to pump with excitement in anticipation of the ‘danger’ ahead, then you are a true blue adventurer and everything Bunduz resonates with you!

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Yes, we signed the disclaimer forms and got instructions on the dos and don’ts of the triathlon trail.

The Forest is a new adventure park that has opened it’s doors in the hinter-lands of Kenya with an aim to interest local and international tourists in locations that have hardly been explored, unlike the coastal beaches and our world renowned national parks!

The Bunduz team was taken through all the safety measures to observe while undertaking two of the sort of technical sports in the triathlon. These are; zip lining and archery. The speed and caution with which the safety team at The Forest operated, gave us confidence that they understood what they were doing. A few rehearsal slides and arrow shots later we were ready to hit the trail!

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Alternative adventure is what The Forest offers!

The first activity was the zip lining! The Forest boasts one of the longest zip lines in Africa, and is ranked among the safest in the world. Armed with all the safety advise, what you are never warned about is how fast you are forward propelled on the zip line! Zooming through the light high altitude thin air, listening to the humming vibrations of the zip, one loses themselves in the picturesque bird-eye view of Keriata Forest, dangling at almost 100m off the ground. The feeling is exhilarating!

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Of utmost importance is paying attention to the Zip line crew instruction to apply the palm brake to reduce speed before landing.

You cannot be told how difficult it is to tear into a sprint, at an altitude of about 2,000m above sea level, right after a 2.4km heart sinking zip line ride. You need to try it! On landing, each team member had to run up a steep hillside trail to get to the station with all the heavy safety harnesses on!

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Running up a steep hillside, to the next competition station right after zip lining.

At this point, a majority of teams had lost some time. Particularly those with skinny zip-liners like ours :-). Being feather-weight does not only have disadvantages on the boxing ring, but on the zip line too! It sometimes means that one cannot propel themselves to the end of the zip line course and therefore have to turn backwards at a 180 degrees angle and pull self to the end and losing precious time. The next activity afforded each team to salvage time lost depending  on how good at archery the team members were. Hitting the bull’s eye saved any team a whopping 60 seconds!

The Forest sought to teach the competitors about Kereita forest ad the community around it through a quiz that each team had to undertake while racing to do the best time on the trail. The questions ranged from what KFS stands for, to exercises that required identifying particular flora ad fauna species as well as acknowledging the wildlife that habitat in the very forest!

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Competitors had to climb up a tall Cyprus tree and ring a bell at its pinnacle before proceeding to the next activity!

We had to run, balancing long logs on the ground and others suspended in the air, maneuver a military kind of assault course before we could move on to the next activity. Touching ground meant having to repeat the entire course and spending more time to complete the triathlon which would amount to losing.

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We mountain biked on a well marked 1km trail that was full of surprises!

The well maintained mountain bikes made it fun riding through the set trail. The terrain was full of surprises, but I remember my cyclist friend (Vincent Mulama) who once told me that whenever you enjoy a steep descent while cycling, do it as you prepare self to suffer an ascent! The twists and turns on the dusty trail were a mixture of pleasure and pain. At this point, most adventurers were tired and had no idea of the hill that awaited them at the end of the trail. It was not uncommon to see competitors pushing their bikes up the hill to the finish line.

 

 

Endurance is patience concentrated, and that is exactly what team Bunduz exercised to the end of the race! Mingling directly with unadulterated nature while testing my physical limits is an experience that I cannot trade for anything else. Adventure has a way of making us know ourselves and those around us better, therefore handing us an opportunity to live life in a realm of deeper understanding and spiritual awareness.

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Take on fear by the horns, and endeavour to see what lies past it; only then can you say you live a limitless life! Team Bunduz!

So the next time you have time in your hands, you will still have the options of lazying around, indulging in unhealthy past times, or strapping on your boots and taking on a challenging, character building adventure! If your choice is the latter, you know whom to call; Bunduz.

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Mingling directly with unadulterated nature while testing my physical limits is an experience that I cannot trade for anything else.

This was a Sunday well spent! The adventure logistics were organized and executed by the able team sponsor Bunduz. You can catch the next big adventure in the offing come December 2016! If you are an adventurer with a knack for exploring new places, experiencing other cultures and partying some while at it, then look no more. Heed to the ocean call and book your slot in the Zanzibar Trip of The Year!

 

Location: The Forest (Kereita Forest)

Distance: About 55.5km from Nairobi

Activities: Mountain Biking, Zip Lining, Archery, Nature Trail Walks

Documentary by: Macharia Njuguna

Adventure Sponsor: Bunduz

Next planned Adventure: Zanzibar Trip of The Year (Dec 2016)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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)

 

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/)

A Hotbed of Cultural Diversity ~ Samburu!

Samburu County

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

Modern, but not lost in westernization

Modern, but not lost in westernization

 

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

Young Turkana men stylishly adorned for the event

Young Turkana men stylishly adorned for the event

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

Samburu, a true gem of Kenya

Samburu, a true gem of Kenya

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

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

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

Keenly following the camel races at the derby

Keenly following the camel races at the derby

A happy Samburu dance

A happy Samburu dance

A war like dance by Turkana warriors

A war like dance by Turkana warriors

A combination of age, composure and beaty!

A combination of age, composure and beaty!

Morans ready to present a jump dance

Morans ready to present a jump dance

Colour is never shot in Samburu

Colour is never short in Samburu

I love my roots!

I love my roots!

Samburu weather supports the Moran dress code

Samburu weather supports the Moran dress code

Friends of a feather, chat together

Friends of a feather, chat together

A wade through the mud to the derby celebrations

A wade through the mud to the derby celebrations

Comfortable in her well arranged necklong ornaments

Curious

Curious

All set for the pomp and dance!

All set for the pomp and dance!

The soloist with an angelic voice

The soloist with an angelic voice

To show our joy, we dance

To show our joy, we dance

A man shares his tobacco with a female friend

A man shares his tobacco with a female friend

I don't wonna miss out on anything

I don’t wonna miss out on anything

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

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

For her, life went on unperturbed

For her, life went on unperturbed

Wide rimmed neck pieces

Wide rimmed neck pieces

Young girls show up for the clebrations

Young girls show up for the celebrations

A male soloist leads a female choir

A male soloist leads a female choir

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

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

Undeniable patriotism

Undeniable patriotism

On the journey of life

On the journey of life

Alone in a crowd

Alone in a crowd

Beautiful friends

Beautiful friends

Ladies in stylish hide clothes

Ladies in stylish hide clothes

"What say you?"

“What say you?”

She hid, I sought :-)

She hid, I sought 🙂

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

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

Camels got gear too! :-)

Camels got gear too! 🙂

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

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

Colour that makes life beautiful

Colour that makes life beautiful

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

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

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

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

She let me take her photograph and asked to see it

She let me take her photograph and asked to see it

Her shyness couldn't hide her beauty

Her shyness couldn’t hide her beauty

"Is this bead out of line..?"

“Is this bead out of line..?”

He cleaned his teeth in readiness for the pomp

He cleaned his teeth in readiness for the pomp

It's on! Boogie down!

It’s on! Boogie down!

"Did you see that..?"

“Did you see that..?”

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

His jacket played a good backdrop for this shot 🙂

Not even the grey could take away their colour and beauty

Not even the grey could take away their colour and beauty

I had to blur him out to get the beauties

I had to blur him out to capture the beauties

The Morans' hangout spot

The Morans’ hangout spot

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

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

Friendship is, enjoying the derby together

Friendship is, enjoying the derby together

The ladies man!

The ladies man! They danced around him.

Selfie on a camel back

Selfie on a camel back

"We are with it!"

“We are with it!”

The crowd at the Camel Derby evening fun fair

The crowd at the Camel Derby evening fun fair

The sturdy moran seemed to stand guard of his community.

This sturdy moran seemed to stand guard of his community.

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

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

Location: Maralal, Samburu County, Nothern Kenya

Photography and documentation by: Macharia Njuguna, @macharianjuguna

Adventure and safari organized by: www.bunduz.com

The Maralal International Camel Derby (26th Edition)

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

The people of Samburu County

The people of Samburu County

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

A participant in the Camel Derby race

A participant in the Camel Derby race

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

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

A moran in his regalia at the Camel Derby main venue

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

The beautiful Maralal Safari Lodge

The beautiful Maralal Safari Lodge

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

Tourists riding the single hump dromedary camels of Samburu

Tourists riding the single hump dromedary camels of Samburu

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

A camel whisperer

A camel whisperer

 

Security was tight at the 26th International Maralal Camel Derby

Security was tight at the 26th International Maralal Camel Derby

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

Morans discussing what to expect at the Camel Derby

Morans discussing what to expect at the Camel Derby

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

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

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

 

As the camel race began

As the camel race began

 

A head to head camel race!

A head to head camel race!

 

Spectators keenly following the camel race

Spectators keenly following the camel race

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

Morans all set to do a traditional dance

Morans all set to do a traditional dance

 

Samburu ladies belting out a tune

Samburu ladies belting out a tune

 

Samburu youth in a playful dance

Samburu youth in a playful dance

 

What a beautiful traditional choir dressed in skin clothes!

What a beautiful traditional choir dressed in skin clothes!

 

A section of the audience enjoying the traditional dances

A section of the audience enjoying the traditional dances

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

The very able two-man South African band

The very able two-man South African band

Tusker, the world's best beer from Kenya

Tusker, the world’s best beer from Kenya

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

The Bunduz.com and Warthog Expeditions team!

The Bunduz.com and Warthog Expeditions team!

 

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

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

 

The triathlon team walks to the start line

The triathlon team walks to the start line

 

Camels speed off at the start of the triathlon race

Camels speed off at the start of the triathlon race

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

Location: Maralal, Samburu County, Nothern Kenya

Photography and documentation by: Macharia Njuguna, @macharianjuguna

Adventure and safari organized by: www.bunduz.com

Roaring Monsters For Charity! (Rhino Charge 2015)

 

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

I made me some new friends who fear no lions 🙂

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

By the bonfire at the Bunduz.com camp

By the bonfire at the Bunduz.com camp

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Picturesque Namnyak Conservancy in Samburu

The Picturesque Namnyak Conservancy in Samburu

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

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

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

 

Full beam lights seemed like mean eyes declaring war!

Full beam lights seemed like mean eyes declaring war!

 

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

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

 

The parade of might!

The parade of might!

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

Book your next safari adventure with Bunduz.com

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Charge began early in the morning.

The Charge began early in the morning.

 

A charge vehicle tears through bush from the gauntlet

A charge vehicle tears through bush from the gauntlet

 

In out of a lugga as the ladies cheer!

In out of a lugga as the ladies cheer!

 

A monster car emerges from the thicket!

A monster car emerges from the thicket!

 

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

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

 

A little dented, but not out!

A little dented, but not out!

 

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

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

 

Let us zoom out of this gorge!

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

 

We've got this one in check!

The mean monster car tackles a gulley

 

Arriving at a guard post

Arriving at a guard post

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

Car No. 32 goes up in flames

Car No. 32 goes up in flames courtesy of BRCK

 

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

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

 

Ladies encountered some radiator problems

Ladies encountered some radiator problems

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

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

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

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

Bonus Pics:

Resting at a guard post

Resting at a guard post

 

What route should we take from here?

What route should we take from here?

 

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

Thanks for keeping my beer chilled as I raced 🙂

 

I need to fix where that noise is coming from!

I need to fix where that noise is coming from!

 

Security was tight at Namnyak

Security was tight at Namnyak

 

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

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

 

Rhino Charge 2015 was not short of beauties :-)

Rhino Charge 2015 was not short of beauties 🙂

 

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

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

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

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

Event: Rhino Charge 2015

Location: Namnyak Conservancy, Samburu County, Nothern Kenya

Photography and documentation by: Macharia Njuguna, @macharianjuguna

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

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

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

An animated discussion on our way down from Kampala

An animated discussion on our way down from Kampala

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

The beautiful sunset as we made entry into Eldoret

The beautiful sunset as we made entry into Eldoret

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

The party is on!

Turn up!

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

Dinner is served

Dinner is served

In need of that warmth :-)

In need of that warmth 🙂

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

The stone cave bar fireplace

The stone cave bar fireplace

Let's shoot some pool!

Let’s shoot some pool!

Relaxing in the stone cave bar

Relaxing in the stone cave bar

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

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

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

The comfortable cottages

The comfortable cottages

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

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

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

It was time to leave Naiberi River Camp

It was time to leave Naiberi River Camp, Eldoret

A beautiful, clean street in Nakuru town

A beautiful, clean street in Nakuru town

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

Lunch is served

Lunch is served

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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