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
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.