Mt. Longonot – 2nd May 2021

Mt. Longonot is a stratovolcano located in the Great Rift Valley in Kenya and about 2 hours drive from Nairobi. Depending on the route used and the current ongoing road works on Waiyaki way, I’d suggest the earlier you leave Nairobi, the better as traffic cause by trucks especially as you descend the escarpment can really eat into your time. It also helps to start the hike early as the sun can get hot from as early as 8:00 a.m. and since it is an easy and accessible hike, sometimes it can get very crowded.

First time I ever hiked in 2016. I met the most mazing people up this trail. Much love Njuguna and Amiani.

First time I hiked Mt. Longonot was in January of 2016. I needed something distracting from day to day and so I signed up. It was such an experience and remains the most important decision I ever made. I had the wrong gear, bag, clothing and basically everything I had on was wrong for the mountain. As we circled the crater, the heavens blessed up with heavy downpour. I had no rain gear and so the drenching was to the bone. Been a rookie, I had not brought a change of clothes with me and so the journey back home was simply nerve wrecking. I suppose we all learn from our experiences because that was the beginning of greatness.

When I went to Longonot in July 2020. Notice the damage from the water erosion.

In July of 2020 when I returned for my third time, It was interesting to note how disruptive water erosion can be to the landscape. There was massive gullies on the ground which would in no time become a hazard. As you can see above, the damage done by the water as it found its path downhill was screaming for remedy. I am happy to report that there are new paths away from the gullies and therefore safe for all kinds of hikers-including the children.

July 2020 hike

A lot of work has gone into controlling the erosion as witnessed in the May 2021 hike. I think the Kenya Wildlife Service personnel took advantage of the lockdown and the reduced numbers of hikers on the trail. The gabions that had been erected have been reinforced, there are sand bags on strategic places along the steep slopes and the ground erosion has been filled with some coarse sand. There is a section that has some loose soil as you descend from the summit so watch out for that. Your face mask and sunglasses will come in handy if there’s someone ahead of you otherwise wait for the dust to settle.

Notice the sand bags along the slopes

The other new developments on the mountain is that the summit signages have been redone. There is also a cross on one side of the summit inscribed “Stat crux dum volvitur orbis” which is Latin for , “The cross is steady while the world turns”. I have seen many people run round the crater twice or thrice so if this is your cup of tea, it’s perfect for you. Just start early.

The data from the hike:

Tips to Hikers

  • Carry your sun hat. The sun can be unforgivingly hot.
  • Bring enough water. 2 liters plus.
  • Mountain weather changes without notice. Do not forget your raingear.
  • If you are playing music, pay attention to your environment.

Njoki.

Mt. Kenya : 11th – 13th Dec 2020

About 5 months back, four of us agreed that we needed to attempt this hike…again. Three of us had attempted it back in 2018, one of us made it to the summit, here. We kept fit by running, walking and taking on hikes whenever we could. There was more confidence in us getting to point Lenana. We contacted Hikemaniak and they helped us get everything sorted for the hike. Their planning and professionalism is top notch!

Day 1 : Old Moses Camp

This was the first time camping on a major hike-it was the option we had gone for-having experienced the mountain bandas accommodation previously. With the C-19 pandemic, we thought camping would be a better option; after all, we were two couples.

The trek from the Sirimon gate to Old Moses is 9 km on a winding tarmac road. We got to camp about 4:00 p.m., changed into warm clothing-it had rained on our way, I got a quick nap then we went a few meters up to the bandas to catch the sunset. A week back, one of the bandas at Old Moses was burnt to the ground. We had done a day hike to Old Moses on 21st November before the incident and so this was a rather sad sight.

Our assigned chef made us some really delish dinner which we devoured under the stars and called it an early night. It was not as cold as I had anticipated-possibly because the camping site was surrounded by trees hence breaking the wind. However, the grass and tents were covered in ice when we woke up but we were happy it hadn’t rained that night.

Day 2: Shiptons Camp

The sun shone on our faces that morning as we left for Shiptons camp 14 kms away. I shivered a little when I recalled how altitude sick I was two years back on this same hilly terrain. I had however had some good sleep, enjoyed my meals and had nil mountain sickness symptoms. We all had runny noses that morning but nothing alarming.

There’s that terrible feeling I get at high altitude that’s indescribable. It hit me as we walked through the bog…it’s as though your body is giving in, you’re tired, upset, there’s not enough oxygen, you want to move but your body doesn’t want to. It’s at this point that I question my decision to hike and think about my bed.

Her majesty in all her glory, her snowy peaks and clouds hovering around her loomed in front of us. It was breathtaking. We kept moving amidst the strong winds that were slapping at our cheeks in the valley. Beautiful birds chirped away cheering us on. Humphrey who was our lead guide from Hikemaniak kept encouraging us to keep at it. I was mentally exhausted but I had to keep moving. Mountain weather changes in a blink and it would have been dreadful were we to get drenched in torrential downpour.

A hot cup of tea and warm heavenly popcorn awaited as we got to camp at around 5 p.m.. My heart was in my mouth as the clouds cleared and for a moment she was right in front of us! It was as though she was welcoming us, or mocking us. Whatever it was, I felt small. She was majestic. I gulped my tea and changed into layers of warm thermo tops and bottoms in time for dinner.

Summit Night

Summit pants, jacket and fleece tucked tight into my sleeping bag, I blocked everything out and closed my eyes at about 7:30 p.m.. I could hear chatter in the dining area from the tent about 3 hours later. There was a group that had gotten to camp later that night. It was a surprisingly warm night. It of course was freezing outside but my hands and toes were warm enough and hence I was able to get some decent sleep, waking up at 2:00 a.m. in readiness for the daunting summit.

After some tea and biscuits, day bags on our backs, headlamps piercing into the night, off we went. One of us who had summit in the 2018 attempt couldn’t join the party as she developed a cough that worsened in the night. Someone would watch over her as we got tortured. The peak is 4 kms from base camp but is a dreary encounter because of the high elevation and altitude gain. About a kilometre into the hike, everything I had for breakfast was up and spewed to the rocks. I felt some relief from the nausea.

We snake our way towards the stars. The outline of the mountain with her fiery peaks daunting us. Every often I requested our lead guide for the night to allow us get some rest. To maintain body warmth, you have to keep moving. I was exhausted. At some point my fingers hurt so bad from the cold I couldn’t feel them. It was as though thousands of small needles were piercing into my skin.

The one thing that kept me going was the fact that I was in perfect form despite the nausea and I was looking forward to the sunrise. The sun brings with it a rebirth in the mountains and I tend to forget my troubles even after being thrashed by the stinging cold and wind. The hues of orange are in the horizon painting the peaks of Nelion and Batian in lovely golden petals.

Nausea clawed at my throat, my stomach contracting fiercely and once more, everything including bile was out as Lake Harris welcomed us. It’s like nothing I remember in 2018. It’s a desert and the water levels have substantially reduced. Nonetheless, such a beauty. We have to keep moving because of the glistering snow; we have been told it can cause partial blindness. Our polarized glasses on, eyes on the summit.

Lake Harris in the background as we head back to camp-after summit

I have found it absolutely helpful hiking with people I can laugh with amidst the tears in the mountains. The motivation I got from everyone went a long way. Humphrey, thank you for pushing me – I’m sorry for the several dagger eyes I threw your way :-). Nothing prepares you for this slightly over one kilometre stretch to the summit. It’s gruesome and more so when you come across other hikers who are descending. You envy them.

I wonder why people attempt the other peaks. They’re technical and look murderous. We get to summit about 7:15 a.m.. The beauty from up there is to behold. A few minutes after freezing the beauty from up there, we’re headed back to Shiptons camp. The descent is terrible. Loose rocks, steep decline, the previously frozen ground has melted away leaving slippery slopes. The sun has warmed us up though and we get rid of some of the heavy summit clothes.

This would be the longest day in the mountains. Returning to base camp after 10 a.m., we packed our porters bags, downed some lovely breakfast and off into the valley we went. By time we got to Old Moses 32 kilometres later, we were over it. It had been an epic encounter.

As I scribe this, my feet are up, hair shampooed and fresh, outline of the mountain kilometres away, feeling great within, ready for the festivities. We are at some lovely Airbnb in Nanyuki, Bongo Court. Many thanks to Hikemaniak for putting together our itinerary and Humphrey for keeping up with all the madness up there. Asanteni sana!

Tips to Hikers

  • Listen to your body and let whoever is in charge know should you feel unwell.
  • Do not overload your day bag. It will only wear you down.
  • Easy does it. It’s not a race. Move at your pace.
  • Throwing up comes with incredible relief so do not shy away from painting that mountain :-).
  • The elements up there will be brutal-sun, wind, biting cold. Wear appropriate clothing and keep moisturizing your face and lips-Arimis/milking jelly does wonders.
  • Tip those porters, guides and chefs. They are life savers up there.

Njoki.

Mt. Suswa – 10 Oct. 2020

It’s a beautiful Saturday morning as we pick our Maasai guides at Suswa town. Chocking dust finds its way into the bus, leaving a layer on our clothes; the surgical masks help with filtration to some extent. The dirt roads have deteriorated over time and we had to drive across dry river beds in some sections-flash floods in the area are notorious for sweeping away roads. Some locals had gotten wind of the bus and decided to barricade the road with rocks. The older Maasai guide was tasked with negotiating with the locals who finally let us through after about 20 minutes.

The drive to the starting point from the Suswa town takes slightly over two hours. This is heavily as a result of the impassible dirt roads. By the time we started our ascent, it was about 10:00 a.m. and the fiery sun was blazing gloriously. Taking in the breathtaking landscape around us, we disappeared into the trees. I came to learn that Mt. Suswa lies in the Mt. Suswa conservancy and spreads across three counties – Kajiado, Narok and Nakuru.

This is one hike I had been looking forward to for a long time and I was excited about experiencing Mt. Suswa’s beauty and fury. The ascent is mild and unending but quite a friendly terrain. We get to summit at about 1:00 p.m. and enjoy our lunch after snapping away the perfectly rugged views.

The views from the summit are out of this world.

The irony about this hike is that the decent is the uphill task. Loose rocks lie in waiting and some are hidden in the long grass along the steep descent. Absolute concentration is required to avoid falls and ankle injuries- Acacia tree thorns are numerous too and one has to keep dodging them. I do not mind descents but i particularly did not enjoy this one. We had a hiker in the group who twist their ankle twice. There were more injuries in our other group that was behind us.

Heavily pregnant clouds threatened to pound on us and should this have happened, there are high chances we would have spent the night in the wild. Luckily, we just got a drizzle to cool down our bodies as civilazation welcomed us back. The curious children approached, followed by their dog and as their culture demands, they bowed and the Maasai Moran touched each of their heads as a sign of blessing them.

We completed the hike at around 6:15 p.m. and it was not until 2 hours later that the other group of hikers arrived. As we waited in the bus, some boys came by and one of the hikers gave them leftover sandwiches and sausages from lunch. I was intrigued by their genuine innocence and curiosity. They deliberated about the sausages and agreed to peel them off. The sausage peels were given to their dog and so was the ham-they ate the bread :-).

Tips to hikers

  • Carry your headlamp to hikes – you never know when you’ll need it.
  • Invest in the right hiking shoes and socks. The hikers who got injuries all had sneaker shoes.
  • Carry some pain killers with you. The medic could be further ahead or behind in case of an injury.
  • Cut your toe nails – some descents are very unfriendly.

Thank you Kiprono for allowing me to use some of your images and Relive compilation.

Njoki.

Sleeping Warrior, Ugali and Saucer Hills-3 Oct. 2020

In building my endurance for a major upcoming hike in 2 month’s time, this attempt was going to be an ultimate contributor to my vision. The last time I was up this trail, my health wasn’t at 100% and my body completely gave in at Ugali hill. The scorching sun as I remembered it is unforgiving and there are hardly any trees-should you forget to bring a hat, you’re in for a rude baking. Located in Elementaita in the Great Rift Valley, this is a spectacular hike and only about two hours drive from Nairobi.

We set off towards the shoreline of Lake Elementaita, the sun rays shining brightly on our faces, excited chatter from the hikers, melodies from the heavy thud of boots humming away. The lake water level has risen considerably in comparison with the last time I was there. The guide had to lead us away from the lake as the path normally used by the locals had been swallowed by the water.

The Sleeping Warrior in her majesty looks intimidating as you get closer. It helps that the ascent is zigzagged and on the Warrior’s ‘tummy’ and not the ‘chin’. What caught my eye were the mulberry trees at the foot of the hill! They have done a complete face-lift to the vicinity and when they are grown, the area will be privy to some level of micro-climate. This place is generally very dry and hot; unimaginable that anything can flourish.

Sun beating on our heads, we start the ascent only stopping for brief moments to take in some air and wipe the dripping sweat off our brows. We summit at about 11:25 a.m. and stop briefly to energize then start the descent. This is a harrowing encounter for anyone in the wrong shoes due to the loose rocks. Some of the hikers had to support themselves on their butts and hands; let’s remember that the rocks and soil had been baking for the better part of the morning :-).

There’s some development at this side of the hill too. What was formerly bushes is now a hive of construction to one side and a flourishing aloe vera plantation to the other. The narrowing path I was dreading which was initially covered in prickly vegetation and rocks is now a winding dirt road. It is just incredibly amusing as we make our way to Ugali Hill.

This ascent is steeper compared to where we were coming from and the steaming sun does not ease the situation. We take about 30 minutes to get to the summit where the howling winds welcome us. There are some some young trees which over the coming years will be great windbreakers. Everyone finds a spot away from the wind where they seek refuge and have their lunch. By 1:30 p.m. we head off for our last summit.

Ugali Hill summit

We are leading the pack-about 12 of us. The rest of the team is possibly an hour behind. Energy levels restored and we commence our Ugali Hill descent which is quite friendly. The Saucer ascent takes your breath away for a few minutes and the balance of it is mild. The summit is the highest peak among the three hills and the views from up there are picturesque. We make our descent and complete the hike by 3:30 p.m.

Views from Saucer

Data from the hike

Tips to Hikers:

  • Desist from shorts and three-quarter pants-the sun is unfriendly and so are the bushes.
  • Go for long sleeved tops because of above.
  • Proper hiking boots are recommended-the descents can be chaotic and there are numerous acacia tree thorns along the trail that can pierce through your sneaker shoes.
  • REMEMBER TO CARRY YOUR HAT.
  • The sun is unforgiving; use sunblock.
  • Carry enough water; 3 litres should do.

Njoki.

Elephant Hill : Aug 2020

This is an old photo from my first Elephant hill hike in 2016.

When my hiking family and I agreed to attempt this hike, it was because of the self-drive option-we were assured to beat the 9 p.m. curfew. Having been to Elephant Hill before and the uncertainty of mountain weather, the group had agreed to a turn-around-time of 1:30 p.m.. Whether one had summit by this time or not, they had to turn back.

Early rise and we head off by 5:20 a.m., getting to our destination 2 hours later. The first team arrives and we hit off for the trails by 7:45 a.m.. It’s 10 degrees but it warms up as we start our trek, despite the perpetual raindrops. On a normal day, this would be a slow hike, allowing hikers to acclimatize due to the high altitude. We however had to keep moving and only took a short break an ‘Energy Point’ before getting into the bamboo forest.

It is a daunting hike as we slide our way through the wet floor only stopping at the ‘Point of Despair’ to re-energize. I was tired and the thought of the descent kept creeping in my mind, giving me cold chills. The last time I was here, I stepped on a slippery rock and landed on my behind – for a week I was in utter pains. The most strenuous bit for me is normally from the Point of Despair to ‘The Tail’ because of the steep elevation. Taking in as much oxygen as I can amidst controlled breaths, I keep moving. I have a heavy bag which is a mistake as it weighs me down.

Hubby takes my bag after The Tail because high altitude and I are not friends- it was a fast paced ascent. We keep resting as often as my body called for it and summit by 12:10 p.m.. I’m exhausted but happy at the same time because we beat our turn-around-time by over an hour. One of the signs of mountain sickness is lack of appetite. I skip lunch, sip on orange juice and after a few photos, we start our descent.

On our way back, we meet a lady who fell and injured her knee. We administered first aid and she’s willing to keep moving to the summit. It is not okay that she is injured and by herself . We say our pleasantries and move on. With the wrong shoes and socks, the descent can leave your toes screaming. We have our gloves on as we get into the Bamboo Forest in anticipation of the ‘battle’. To avoid sliding and falling, you have to hug the bamboo trees and clutch onto vegetation that can hold your weight :-). We run our way through the thicket after exiting the wet bamboo, completing the hike at 3:28 p.m.

Tips to Hikers

  • You can self-drive. A 4WD car is recommended due to the rough road leading to the hill. With mountain weather, rain is normally unannounced.
  • Carry your gloves. It can get extremely cold as you ascend and they also come in handy at the bamboo.
  • Do not overload your day bag. That weight will weigh you down.
  • Hydrate hydrate hydrate. This will help ease any altitude sickness.

Njoki.

Mt. Kilimanjaro : Feb 2019

I have no good reason for having not put this together earlier. I’ll do my best in highlighting the most important bits. This remarkable hike was made possible by Xtrym Adventures (https://www.xtrym.com). Look for me if you need the juice :-).

Day 1 : Sunday 24 February

We left Nairobi at 5:00 a.m. for Marangu in Tanzania (1860m) getting there by about 1 p.m.. The paperwork was sorted, we met our guides, porters, chefs and waiters, had some awesome lunch and were good to head to Mandara huts (2720m). Beautiful day, excited chatter, butterflies danced about as we made our way through the trees that were rough with age and disappeared into the sky. Just about 6:30 p.m., the rain started pounding heavily on us. The canopy possibly helped but by the time we got to camp 2 hours later, we were soaked.

Day 2: Monday 25 February

There’s something about a bright morning in the mountains. Raises the energy levels. We get ready for Horombo huts (3720m). The pace is slow, suggish., to help with acclimatization. I fell in love with the accommodation; nothing comparable with what we have at Mt. Kenya. Hikers can camp if they wish but our package was the boarding option. Everyone is in one piece as we get to Horombo. The elevation is quite mild, vegetation lush and the serenity that nature beholds makes it an enjoyable hike.

Day 3: Tuesday 26 February

This is a slow day for us-acclimatization day to Zebra rocks and back to camp. We don’t have to rise at the crack of dawn. All we needed to take with us was water. Hydration in plenty is a must in the mountains- 3 to 4 litres per day at the least. We leave camp at about 9:00 a.m. and are back in time for lunch. This slow day was important to us because day 4 is the toughest and most daunting.

Day 4: Wednesday 27 February

It’s an early rise and we hit the road to Kibo huts (4720m) right after breakfast. We’d walk through an alpine desert all day. Sun scorching hot trying to burn any bare skin. It’s sort of hot, but cold wind blows across our faces. Gaiters are important. Not for the rain but the intense dust. I had butterflies in my stomach. There was was something about the piping wind and scavengers flying above us that made me flinch.

Kibo huts. It’s cold…biting cold. The rays of mellow sunlight are deceiving. We clean up, dress warmly, have early dinner and have to sleep by 6 p.m. after the briefing by our lead guide. We would to be up by 10:00 p.m. in readiness for the summit. The mood was somber as we sluggishly layered up for the cold night that awaited. I possibly had 2 hours of intermittent sleep.

Summit Night : 27/28 February

I hardly had any breakfast. I could tell that soon enough, I would be throwing up. Our summit attempt starts by 11:00 p.m.. A few steps into the hike and everything that was in my stomach is out. I feel alive. We have over 10 guides with us who sing and cheer us on for the better part of the night. I am grumpy and tired by 4: a.m. as I question my decisions and long for my warm bed. We had hot ginger water served in the night which helped ease the altitude sickness.

I get to Gilman’s Point (5685m) at around 10:00 a.m.. I’m super tired and so are my other fellow hikers I find lying on the dirt. There was a group that was already headed to Uhuru. I wasn’t sure I had the energy to summit considering we had to walk back to Horombo huts. I had a chat with my guide and he convinced me to walk to Stella Point (5756m) . Gathering my remaining energy, we took off as some of the hikers decided to turn back. It’s always important to respect your body and turning back shows you’re strong enough.

As we head to Stella Point, I developed this sharp pain on my lower back. The ascent had been quite steep and this may have contributed to the discomfort. The path was slippery with frozen snow. We walked over an hour but with the excruciating pain, I wasn’t going to summit. After some photos at Stella Point, we had to turn back.

The descent is easy, similar to skiing but on very fine sand. The shoes and hiking socks have to be the right fit else walking like a duck afterwards is assured. There’s a hot meal awaiting at Kibo Huts after which we head to Horombo Huts. We got to camp slightly after 6:00 p.m.. Drenched in sweat, tired to the bone, ecstatic to have faced Kibo. They don’t allow more than one night at Kibo due to the high altitude.

Day 6: 1 March

Our last day in the mountains. We packed our bags for the last time, danced with the crew, and head off for Marangu gate. All I have in mind is a long, hot bath and a comfy bed.

Tips to Hikers

  • Lower beds are better and warmer.
  • Slow does it, take it easy in the mountains, acclimatize.
  • Get the right socks-the last thing you want is blisters.
  • Cut those toe nails short!
  • Get a day bag that you can strap around your mid and chest sections.
  • Listen to your body and alert your guide if feeling unwell-you’d rather turn back than end up hospitalized.

Njoki.

Kiou & Kalembwani Explore

My hiking buddies and I were absolutely elated about this hike as it was going to test our endurance. Being the first major hike we were attempting since March, our excitement levels were at the roof. It would also be the first time we were hiking with Hikemaniak. The drive to Kilome in Makueni County was approximately 2 hours from Nairobi; commencing around 6 a.m.

By the time we started the ascent, the sun was magnificently genial. It was going to be a hot day but nothing would wipe away our smiles. We all had our masks on-embracing the new hiking normal. The rocks were unrelenting, the sun steaming, dry bushes and grass pricked on our skin as sweat spiraled down. The terrain was unfriendly. Possibly because the trails had been abandoned for a while.

Despite the scorching sun, we had summit Kiou Hill by around 11 a.m.. We had a long way to go and the descent would not be easy judging by the landscape.

The Kiou summit where paragliding in Makueni normally takes off from.
At the Kiou Hill summit.
The perfectly formed rocks along which a river flows during the rainy seasons.
The dry riverbeds tell a story of drought and erosion … the paradox.
There were wet patches along the sandy riverbeds painted by hoof marks
Enjoying the descent.

We walked along the dry riverbed that snaked towards civilization. We exited close to our starting point and crossed the Mombasa-Nairobi highway towards Mt. Kalembwani. According to Kiprono’s Relive, it took us 5h 9m covering 10.4km.

Kiou Hill

We had our socially distanced lunch before attempting Mt. Kalembwani. It was possibly 28 degrees but felt like 35! Do not attempt this hike in the wrong attire-and do not forget your hat.

Our socially distanced lunch

The weather was super hot as we strolled towards Kalembwani; heat was bouncing from the already heated ground. From a distance, it seemed as though it would be an easy climb. The terrain was unfriendly and the sun unforgiving. I kept hydrating and slowly scaled the hill, never stopping. In about one and a half hours, we had summit.

My hiking buddy Nzilani and I with Kalembwani in the distance

During the descent, I had an encounter with a snake. I hate and fear snakes in equal measure and I do not mean to scare anybody. I’m highlighting this so that y’all are watchful during your hikes. It was a steep descent and due to the loose rocks, sliding and falling was quite easy. I slide. The snake must have been living it’s best life and enjoying the hot sun. It was startled. I caught a glimpse of it’s mid to tail as it slithered through the stones. I was terrified as I ran in the opposite direction screaming like a mad woman. Moral of the story, watch your step as you hike.

The complete Mt. Kalembwani trip took us (according to Kiprono’s Relive) 2h 47m, covering 6.2km. We took off for Nairobi by 4:45 p.m. and was home by 8:00 p.m., well ahead of looming 9:00 p.m. curfew :-).

Mt. Kalembwani

Tips to hikers: have your long sleeved tops and cargo pants, proper hiking boots, don’t forget your sun screen, hat, change of clothes-for after the hike, enough water (3 or 4 litres should do).

I have borrowed some of my photos from my friend Mbuthia-thank you sir for the amazing landscape images and from the Hikemaniak professional photographers. Kiprono, thank you for allowing me to use your Relive compilations.

Njoki.

Crater Lake, Naivasha-Kenya

This is a gem that every lover of nature should have in their list. It’s hidden off Naivasha highway; if you have been to Hells Gate National Park, same direction only that Crater Lake is farther up the road. It is about 30 kms from the highway. We had been looking forward to getting back into hiking after being locked up since March and so this was a welcome relief.

To my fellow hikers, this will not count as a hike because it comes to an abrupt end just as your body starts warming up (statistics below). Its beauty and tranquility is however worth your time. There is also a camping site and you can also go on a game drive. In entirety, it is very family friendly and hence a deserved getaway from the hustle and bustle. A hotel sits within the property but due to the pandemic, they have had to close their doors until further notice.

Choose to wear cargo pants and a long sleeved top as opposed to anything else should you choose to hike it. Possibly once normalcy resumes the long grass and vegetation around the lake will be tamed but why find out the hard way? The grass will leave unnecessary cuts, thorns will prick your skin and you’ll generally your body will be screaming should you choose to expose it.

The water levels have risen to a point of damaging some parts of the hotel-the pool was completely swallowed.
Distance round the crater lake
Altitude is actually lower than Nairobi!

Njoki.

Kilimanjaro Half Marathon-2019

This year, the weather was perfect; the rains had poured a little the night before and the morning air brushed gently on our faces. We had descended Mt. Kilimanjaro about 24 hours ago and were super pumped. At first it seemed like a suicide attempt but that morning, my body felt great and lighter. Maybe I had lost some weight in the course of attempting to summit Kibo :-).

Moshi is fairly low, about 800m, and coming from the 5,700’s we were bound to suffer. Sometimes after hikes I feel like I have oxygen overdose…yeah I know that sounds crazy. It’s always a hive of excited runners; some have crossed oceans with friends to be here, others like us have been hiking and decided to take home a medal, others are running the marathon then attempting summits. It’s always a mix of beautiful cultures represented; why we love the outdoors.

The first half of the marathon is uphill and that requires absolute endurance. I prefer the descents. Her majesty the mighty Kilimanjaro is smiling at us today. She’s not shy as she shows off her snowy peaks and beaded clouds hang around her like a pearl necklace. The lush vegetation greets you as you make your way along the winding road as the children cheer you on.

During my runs, I always identify a pace-setter from the crowd. This way, I’m able to run at an almost comfortable yet constant pace, slightly above my comfort zone. When the identified target slows down, I quickly identify another and this way I remain focused for the entire duration. Looking back at the photos, there’s this lady who was behind me, for the entire run! I bet several of us use this pace-setter tactic.

If you are interested in the Kilimanjaro premium lager marathon or half marathon for that matter, it’s an annual event, on the first Sunday of March. Ensure to book your hotel months before (early planning always helps) and get one that’s close to the Ushirika stadium (start point) for convenience purposes. Also, carry some money with you during the run. You will need it afterwards.

What satisfaction feels like after a half marathon

Njoki.

Kipipiri

‘We were hit hard by the rain the whole day!!’…this was the first statement I heard in relation to this mountain from my fellow adrenaline seeking friend. What stood out during our conversation was how beautiful the forest was. I knew for a fact that I had to attempt.

Off we set on a beautiful Saturday morning. As a hiker, one is always ready for the rain. Mountain weather is absolute rubbish! One minute you’re sun-bathing, the next you’re soaked. The weekend before this, we could hear the thunder from the other ridge that is home to Rurumueria http://www.safirinajays.com/rurumueria/. I was geared up for whatever weather the mountain was willing to serve us that day.

The start of the ascent

From the onset, it’s a never-ending gradual ascent, this is never fun, but it sort of allowed me to acclimatize. Slow does it always. At an elevation of about 3,349 meters ASL, it’s important to take it easy. The path leading into the forest is a canopy of trees. The birds were chirping and the fine breeze swept by briskly. It was going to be a beautiful day.

Anyone in shorts that day for sure must have nursed cuts or pricks and danced in the shower that evening. The path narrowed the deeper we went into the forest and we all had to move in linear motion due to the overgrown vegetation.

Someone got hit by altitude barely an hour into the hike and lagged behind with one of the guides. She was determined to keep pushing and having experienced altitude sickness many times before, I absolutely was in her shoes. The forest vegetation (especially the flowers) was such eye candy and I decided to test the iPhone camera prowess…

It always amuses me how cows feed at high altitude. Maybe the air is much fresh up there? No…not much oxygen. I think the grass must be grassier and tastier up there :-). Away the cows lazily munched the grass. Anyway, there were some bones we came across of some animal that must have been preyed on years back, survival of the fittest at its best.

This hike was a breath of fresh air. It had been a while since I thoroughly enjoyed being on high elevation. The sun was out-though for the better part of the hike we were hidden under trees. There’s some rejuvenation that the rays of the sun give especially after enduring the biting cold of the morning-I can’t explain it, you’d have to experience it.

Snacking for energy provision
One of the waterfalls along the way
Yeeeeeey we summitted and lunch was a welcome idea

Lunch in the mountains is always welcome (of course upon summiting), unless you’re altitude sick at which point you cannot stand it’s sight. My expert in making amazing pasta, sausages and pepper was not around but he had done me the honors and I thoroughly enjoyed my meal.

Summit smiles

Strength, endurance and everything else left in me after summiting was required to descend. When I read ‘Into Thin Air’ (a book about the Everest disaster of 1996), I fully understood the reason many people die while descending the Everest-they deplete all their energies when ascending, forgetting that they will need to descend. . Gathering my energies, off we went.

Exiting the forest

It was a lovely hike, the forest was beautiful and the company amazing. This is one hike I’d like to attempt again in the near future. I probably loved it because of the greenery :-).

Njoki.