Sometimes all you need is a drive. A drive to a foreign place. A place that you have never been before. It must have a name to it though. That’s how you know where you are traveling to. It makes the journey easier. You can choose to travel alone. But for me there is always company to make it even merrier. Just like the saying, the more the merrier. The Trek, that’s the term we refer to every 3rd weekend of the month.
Currently I am really struggling to keep up. Maybe it is just a lack of motivation. The team has reduced in size, and this is a bit demoralizing. However, there is always that one person, or in this case a bunch of people who remind you not to quit. That’s how you know you have created something special. Something worth your responsibility. I guess I’m still trying to get over the hump. Then the joyride begins.
As usual I get a call, “Where are we headed Kris?” “I don’t know.” That has always been my answer since March this year. I remember days when I used to develop annual calendars but these days, I guess my way through 3rd weekends. Like I said, lack of motivation.
Consistency is key, and I guess that’s what I’m good at or getting good at. I have developed discipline in different disciplines. I have jogged every Sunday for almost 6 months even on rainy days, I have swam every day for at least 90 days, even on cold days. I have traveled every 3rd weekend for at least 5 years now. Like I said, consistency. This has never been an individual effort though, there is always someone to keep me in check. The Trek is one of my biggest motivators. I get challenged in so many ways when I am with the team. I get ideas, challenges and even inspiration from this team.
“Hey Kris, too much philosophy this time. When are we going back to the agenda of the 1st sentence?” “Oh right, right. Back to that.”
Well, sometimes all you need is a drive. A drive to a foreign place. That’s Exactly what we did.
A text from Abdi, a week to the trip. Suggests that we can rail to Kisumu and back over the weekend. This excites me already. That’s the kind of push I am talking about. Few minutes later a chat thread began, Sarah has already googled the trail and now we are facing a 12-hour train bound for Kisumu. Well, that can’t be possible, 12 hours is all we have for the weekend, so we can’t really spend it all on the train. I learn new things every day, and today I learnt that the train takes 12-night hours to Kisumu. Crazy huh? “So, what’s plan B?” This is where the planning begins. 6 people in the group already show interest. That’s promising. Plan B has two suggestions in place. One is to take a midnight bus to Kisumu, arrive very early in the morning, experience the Lakeside city, spend the night in Kisumu and take the Sunday morning bus back. The only challenge is I have a team of friends that love photos, not just selfies but well directed photos, and this calls for a few stopovers along the way. The bus only stops when you are ready to run to the nearest bush for a short call. So, first plan B is canceled.
Second plan B is to drive to Kisumu. This is exciting for me, driving is a passion I have developed since I first sat on that seat. Or worse still, I think I’m addicted to cars. We have 2 volunteers for driving guess who the first in line is, Hehe, you guessed it right. The budget is quickly drawn. Ksh. 2000 per person for accommodation, Ksh. 3000pp for fuel, Ksh. 1000pp for food. That’s all. Anything else will be self-catered. That’s how easy planning is when you have the right team. I’ll keep insisting on this.
Another suggestion is that we all be in the same car. Did I mention more people became interested? Well, we are 8 now. A van is all we need. A task that we comfortably hand over to Sarah, our chief negotiator. She can buy your kidney for cheap if you let her.
Now we have a van, an 8 seater Toyota Noah that is just within budget, the challenge is the guy might be arriving from a long trip the same day we are to depart, that’s a risky affair. On to the second negotiator. Evans has secured the same model just within the price range. That is what we need. Someone kept joking that we will be traveling like packed chewing gum. Squeezing onto one another. I’ll be the lead piece since I’ll be in the driver’s seat.
Since we moonlight as trekkers, we must plan carefully on time. Like I said, we only have 12 hours to enjoy the lake city. We agree on departing Nairobi at 6:00pm Friday. It is a 6 hour drive without traffic to Kisumu that means we might get there way past midnight. We decide to make it a 2 night trip. One that gets us closer to Kisumu. That meant spending the first night in Kericho. Waking up in a different city every morning. Just before that we have to get accommodation in Kericho, this proves to be a tough task, but eventually people know people and those people know people with accommodation in Kericho.
We depart Nairobi a little later than scheduled, we have to use the back roads ( we call them bypasses) to avoid the traffic. An hour later we are in the clear. Should be easy from here. Our first pitstop is Naivasha, a quick health break, a meal and some coffee to keep the stories going through the night. It is laughter throughout the way. Traffic is not that heavy. We get to Kericho slightly past midnight. That’s when the drama begins.
The staircase leads us to the fifth floor. We have been as quiet as we can be, then we get a knock on the door. The building’s caretaker tells us that we are loud. Something that we are famous for but not this time. We have been talking, but it is so quiet outside that one might think we are shouting. None of us is drunk or disorderly. 10 minutes later, the power goes off. We have two rooms, only one has power. We pick up the token meter and try to load a few units but nothing is happening. That’s when we realize there is something fishy going on. We call the owner of the building and she tells us the caretaker has switched off the power because we are making noise. Well, that doesn’t sound right so we head down to meet with him. It is a harsh argument but eventually power is restored. Let us leave it at that. It is late.
I hear the birds chirping but the best sound is that of a flowing river. It is right by the building. I walk out to the balcony and the view is why I stopped at Kericho for the night. The land is green, very green. It has been a while since I had such a sight. Beyond the river is what Kericho is famous for, the green gold. The tea plantations roll down the horizon. This is awesome. We need to depart for Kisumu. This time we all keep time. Before we leave this lovely town we must have a taste of the Kericho gold. So we head downtown to the nearest simplest hotel we can find. This has to be one of the best breakfasts I have ever had. It’s the company you know. We hit the road, nothing much to see.
We have just arrived in Kisumu. The timing is right. We have few activities planned for the day but first we need to sort accommodation. The one we had booked has to be canceled since the current tenant is extending his/her stay. I hope that’s how good Kisumu can be. Hehe. We make a few calls and it is proving to be a hustle so we decide to keep looking as we proceed with our activities.
Impala Wildlife Sanctuary: That’s our first stop. We had googled places to visit and this was top of the list. So we had to check it out. A few photos at the gate, it’s a trademark, just in case someone asks me to show them a picture of where I was. We are in, the fees are cheap if you are a citizen, I think this applies to East Africans as well. About Ksh. 200 only you get to see wild animals a few meters from you. I usually have mixed feelings when it comes to caged animals. I totally agree if they are caged for their own safety but not okay if it is taken from the wild just for humans to watch them sleep and snack all day. Some look miserable, like the leopard I’m looking at right now. He is roaming up and down growling wondering when he will be back in the wild. But that’s just my opinion and probably few more within the Trek camp. On the flipside It is supporting a livelihood hence the mixed feelings. I walk through the sanctuary and there is this one spot that has fascinated me all along. The park is right by the lake, and they have seats right next to it. Never seen the lake this angry. The currents are strong, and the water keeps pushing towards the land. It is calming though, so we sit there for a while chatting and just listening to what the lake has to say. It’s 1:30 pm, we need something for our bellies.
Dunga Beach: That’s our next stop. Some guy had approached us while at the sanctuary and mentioned he has the best fish in Kisumu. Well, not that way. But that’s what he implied. We are great people and we like promoting a hustlers business and that’s exactly what we did. We drove down the same road we were at towards Dunga beach. In my head a beach must have sandy shores overlooking the waters. Well, Dunga is different, it’s more of a market place and the main commodity is fish. It is a busy place, not what I expected at all. We find a parking spot, the waters are still rough. Someone approaches us and offers a boat ride ranging between ksh. 2000 and ksh. 5000 depending on the distance and duration. We pass, some people in our team are hydrophobic, the only water they tolerate is that in a basin and probably rain. We call James, the guy who approached us earlier. He directs us to his restaurant, nothing fancy. It is a meal den. Feed and leave. This seems to be the picture around Dunga. He points us to what he vends, we pick our orders and how they are to be prepared. One of us doesn’t take fish. Strange huh? So James has to get some nice beef stew for her. He is accommodating but his management is a bit rude. We take it like soldiers, all we need is our stomachs full. And that’s exactly what we do.
We have one last point to tour before the main event starts. But first we need to rest, we are working on only 4 hours of sleep, and it is starting to take a toll on us. Plus, we have just had Fish and Ugali with a taste of Roe. Yep, I am adventurous when it comes to new experiences. We still have to experience Kisumu’s nightlife and travel back to Nairobi the following day. By the way we managed to get a decent place for the night, so we head there, it’s not far from Dunga beach. Well, change of plans. Before we rest, the team wants to tour Kisumu by day. It is a Saturday, we expected much more than what we are seeing, especially coming from Nairobi where traffic is usually at its worst on weekends.
This is a beautiful city. It is the 3rd largest in Kenya yet it has less traffic. It is decent and clean in almost all the streets we drove through. Well planned, the roads are wide enough and I didn’t see any PSV in the CBD. Probably Nairobi could borrow some tips from here, just a thought. We head back to our resting den. Everything goes quiet within minutes, people are tired and we all retire to our assigned rooms.
Hippo Bay: Our last activity of the day was to drive to Hippo Bay to watch the sun touch the lake waters as it sets. At least that’s what we thought. In my head I have all the poses I will be taking from my camera. Some had even a change of clothes just to get sunkissed. Well, I guess you know where I am headed with this. The disappointment that greeted us as we drove into the so-called Bay. Again, it was more of a market place than a beach. The entrance was muddy with cars parked everywhere. What puzzled me was some guys were offering to wash the cars here. The Irony huh! Our hopes are still high. We came here for the sunset and that’s what we are going to do. We park the car somewhere less muddy and head right to the beach. It is a rainy season and one cloud was determined to ruin our view as much as possible and it succeeded. Well, nature never gives you all that you want. Does it? We head out 10 mins after parking. I think Kisumu could do better with its beach fronts. One of our members has to leave for Nairobi in 15 mins. This meant driving like crazy to the airport just so she catches her flight. Nothing fun, especially for the passengers. Good news is that she made it just in time.
Kisumu Nightlife: I remember someone asking if we can experience Kisumu’s nightlife before we head back to Nairobi. I jokingly said that that is the main reason we are heading to Kisumu. We left our house at around 9:00 pm. Two Trekkers who were coming from Migori joined us and gave us a pin location of where to find fun. A few minutes later, we were there. 9 of us now seated on one table trying to enjoy whatever we had ordered. The music is what we came here for. Nuh! not just the music. It is the experience, the lifestyle that Kisumu is famous for. Few minutes later, the drink has kicked in and most of us are up on the dance floor. We have to shake Nairobi’s stress away. I heard twerking is good for the back, I guess that’s one of the reasons why men die young.
We all got moves, and we showcased them in our little group dance. We target 2:00 am as our club departure time. We are adults, so that’s exactly what we do. It was a lovely night. Especially to just catch up with old friends whom Covid disrupted their Trek plans and schedule. Let’s call it a night.
Travel Back: This is a one liner really. Just kidding. Breakfast is the highlight here. We decided we are not going to eat breakfast within the city so we drove to a Kibanda along the Kisii-Kisumu junction. That’s where we met Enock. Cool guy making his ends meet. We made each other laugh with silly jokes. He is our hero in this entire trip. Next time you travel, support the local economy. They need it more.
The drive back is always quiet. It is on a Sunday and people are wondering what emails they haven’t answered or what deliverables are still pending. We check on maps to figure out which is the quickest but still adventurers’ route to Nairobi. We have several options and the one we came with is none of them. We choose the Nairobi, Sotik, Bomet, Narok route. The drive is fun, we stop at a market to get fresh vegetables for our households. Then we set a path to a beautiful scenic road. The Kericho Sotik road. The green tea covers the ground, and the eyes can’t get enough of any of it. It is just amazing how Kenya is beautiful. We stopped in Narok for a free driver’s meal. Hehe. The best route we had on our map is winding through the leeward side of Ngong hills, it is pouring rain and our low fuel light is on. We can’t take risks. It’s a new road. We abandon the plan and head straight to Mai Mahiu. It’s an easy drive. We are all back home in one piece. That’s that we will be glad for.