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ChallengeMy Experience

I NEEDED THIS…

A beautiful scenery before my eyes, that’s what I needed and that’s what I got. The previous weekend I was on travel by the beach, but this time it was different. The heat and humidity was still there but the rainfall was also with it. I had also traveled for work so that meant being locked up in AC filled conference rooms until evening. By the time you are out, it is either dark or raining. I didn’t get to enjoy the beach that much. But still it’s the beach.

Luckily the following weekend was a trek weekend, and like I said. I needed this. There is some excitement that comes with it. It wasn’t clear if we are going for a hike or if we are going camping at Lake Jipe. We have been postponing Lake Jipe for a while now, so it was top of our May travel list. We needed numbers to make it happen and we kept falling short of the minimum. Do you mind joining us? We are a budget team, but rich with laughs.

A few days to the weekend, we decided it’s a hiking weekend, so again Lake Jipe can wait. 

Table Mountain was our alternative. Don’t worry, this one is cheaper than the one you already know of. We are not flying anywhere. There is one within a 3 hours driving distance. 

5 of us have committed to it. So basically that’s only one car needed. A bit of a squeeze but, we’ll be fine. We met in town at around 6:30 am, we had scheduled to depart at 5:30. But, things happen. We are picking one along the way at Gitaru. 

Along the way, 2 of us had to drop off. They got an emergency call. Luckily we had 2 cars with us, so they comfortably drove back.

We proceed, just the 3 of us. 3 gentlemen in a car, so you can guess what conversations we are having. We have some good music as well. I tried finding some good old school hits that all of us can relate to.

It’s an easy drive. No pit stops at all. Nobody complains. We are a rare species. 3 hours later we are at the base. We had a contact person. Charles, I was referred to by another awesome traveler. Whitney, she runs her travel company – Solive Travel. Make sure to pass by her social pages. 

Charles is in uniform. He works for the community as part of the conservation team. That’s cool, right? We exchange greetings and he hands us over to Joseph. Another cool member of the community. He will be our guide for the day. He directs us to the starting point. We are a high energy team and right away we are at it. One of us hasn’t hiked for a while. I can hear his panting from a few meters away. We get to the first top. We have been warned that there are several peaks. That doesn’t scare us though. We pause. At the horizon we can spot a pink lake. “That is Lake Elementaita” Joseph mentions. The pink is Flamingoes. They are back after a while. They had migrated when the lake was full of water. An interesting fact that Charles mentioned a while back is that they lay only one egg per year, so that makes them a bit of an endangered species. 

Did I mention how beautiful this place is? I don’t think so. Well, this view is stunning. It has been raining a lot lately and the eyes can’t get enough of the green. It is just amazing. 

We are walking through farms, it’s the planting season, the maize is still knee high so it makes it a little bit easier to wade through the farms. 

There is a factory closeby. I learnt about it in Geography when it was still GHCRE.

Kariandusi.  It is a diatomite factory. I can’t remember the details, it’s been more than 20 years now. All I know is that I learnt about it and now I am having a field visit. I should introduce Trek to primary schools. They’d probably love Geography more or whatever they call it these days. 

We pose for photos, there is a railway gliding through and a huge sign. It’s a train station I’m told. Less operational now. This country was well connected back then. I wonder what changed. Hehe.

We proceed, the locals are tending to their farms. It’s always rude to just pass by, so we say hello to most of them. They are super friendly as well. That makes me wonder what really happens during the election period. We turn against each other just because we are told to. 

Joseph keeps us on our toes. He is not letting us catch any breaths. Abdi is panting again. So he decides enough is enough. He stops, sits down and asks for his snacks. I am his butler for the day. So I rush to him so that he doesn’t collapse out of exhaustion. Just kidding guys. He is a strong dude. 

The view keeps getting better and better as we gain altitude. We are in between mini hills. I have to stop as well. It is super quiet. Feels like a nice meditation spot. 10 minutes later we are back on our feet. Our bodies are now used to the torture. We are not scared of breaking knees anymore. Then Joseph stops, looks at us and says we have to climb here. This is the table mountain. The rest was just a warm up. It’s an 85 degree climb, 86 maybe. Hehe. I’ve got those terminator eyes. We all stand back and watch Joseph do it first. One foot on the ground while the other is raised almost to chest high just to get to the first stepping stone. It’s a challenge, that means I love it. There are no ropes, I have deep finger prints so that will be my grip for the day. Abdi goes first. We are all laughing. Just for the F**k of it. It is a tough one, I must admit, but that’s what we left Nairobi for. He is up. Evans is next, he is quiet, that means he has already calculated his steps. It’s easy for him. We are all up. It is always, save the best for last, right? Then this is the lastest. I know that that is not English but that’s the only description I’ve got.

We sit, take our shoes off and enjoy the view, the breeze and the little snacks that we all brought. This is what we are getting for just under Kes. 2500. Let me break it down since we are all having a break. 

We drove here, which cost us Kes. 2000 for Fuel. We paid Charles Kes. 2900, of which Kes. 2000 was his guide fees and 300 bob per person for some hidden gem that I’ll try to describe later. Then we bought lunch which cost us Kes. 1400 again at some hidden spot later on. Add some snacks and a tip for Joseph and you get just over 2000 bob per person. I think that’s as low as it can get really.

All that goes up must come down. I loved compositions back in high school. All the similes,  idioms, proverbs etc that didn’t make any sense. At least I get to utilize them on such. I told you the climb was 86 degrees, well the descent felt like 90. One has to squeeze through a tiny hole, it’s like an entrance into a mining tunnel. You have to navigate your steps correctly or else, well. No words for that. 

One person at a time, Joseph is also struggling and he has been down this path at least once every week. There is nothing to hold on to. So you have to use your butt to make sure you have enough grip on the ground. That applies to most of the path down the hill. Evans has hiking boots, he is having a fun day. No slips. For the rest of us, we thought this was our usual Karura trail, we came with Kipchoges finest. We are built well though, so we navigate our way slowly until we get to a point where we can look back and feel gratitude as we stare at what we have accomplished. 

Our downhill trail is quiet, we spot more farms. Evans is a farmer and he actually lives close to where we are hiking, okay not very close but he knows the area well. He was a potato farmer sometime back and I am always curious about agriculture. It’s amazing how much knowledge we have among ourselves. 

Joseph leads us through the paths. It starts getting bushier again, then we hear the sound of a streaming river. That is what we needed. Between the bushes people are chatting and laughing. It is the villagers enjoying what village life is all about. Though this one has a twist to it. There is a swimming pool and it is heated. What more luxury does one need after a 3 hour hike? Even hotels in the city struggle to heat their pools. This one is done by God himself. He sure likes these people. It is a community built pool and they were creative enough to add a hot shower to it. Water comes from a spring nearby, they have fenced it to protect the water from being contaminated. They have redirected the water to this amazing pool. Since they are relying on the 300 bob we paid they are still setting a lot of this up. There are no changing rooms so we have to strip in front of everyone else. None of us is shy so we all strip and get in. Don’t get so excited yet. We have our costumes on. Hehe.

One of the downsides is that villagers utilize the shower which hangs by the pool. Soapy water floats close to where we are and that makes us call it a day. It was worth it though. We give our suggestions to the leader about creating a camping spot. I am sure that’s on their agenda in case the funds are available. The trek back is an extremely quiet one. Probably everyone is reflecting on the beauty that the world has to offer. At least I am.

We are back at our starting point. Charles is there. Still in uniform. We make our payments and ask where we can just chill and have lunch. “Follow me, I’ll show you”. He states. He has a motorbike with him and he takes the lead. That was the best question we asked the entire trip. Thank you Charles. This is an amazing spot

 We are right by the shows of Lake Elementaita at the Capital beach gardens. Charles hands us over to Flora and leaves. We make our lunch order and find a shady spot on the ground where we can just rest. Abdi closes his eyes for a quick nap. Evans and I and chatting over a can of Balozi. I wonder what heaven looks like. Flamingoes are right by our side. Picking whatever they are used to picking from the water. Afar we can spot the Sleeping Warrior and Ugali Hills. “We have to watch the sunset at this beach.” Abdi suggests. We are an easy lot so we soak it all in. Even after our meal we just sit there doing nothing but soaking it in. I needed this, I guess we all needed this.

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