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ChallengeMy Experience

LUCKY ME

Looks like I’m always chasing waterfalls. Or maybe they keep chasing me. Since in every recent hike I encounter a new one. In the colonial days they would all have my name tagged to them. You know just like Thompson did.

It’s a Trek weekend and we have planned to take it easy. That has been our strategy whenever we want to save for a major/expensive getaway. We are planning on going to Lake Jipe, it is further South to where I live. Needs a little bit more planning and that means slightly more expensive as defined by our cheap rates. 

Ndakaini Dam popped up within our list of places to go. It is closer to Nairobi that means the budget is lenient on our pockets. Allan has it covered for us. He is the one responsible for all the logistics on this one. A week before the hike, he sends the details, we all go through the requirements, make slight adjustments and we are good to go. 

We are driving there, I guess it’s cheaper that way. We have a guide with us. No one knows the place well, not even the guide. So he hires a second local guide. 

The drive is easy, most  of them are. The view is scenic. Tea plantations being interrupted by a few buildings. The air is pure, that’s what we came here for. 

An hour or so later, we make a stop by the side of the road. The guide pops out of the car in front and signals that this will be our starting point. We haven’t met him before, so greetings are in order. Nice to meet you Dan. He introduces the 2nd guide. Her name is Mary and this is her neighbourhood. She grew up surrounded by the green tea farms.

She knows the area well. What she doesn’t know is how fit we are so she asks us to stretch before we start. Oh sorry that was Dan. He asks us to take turns. We are 10 adults and 2 little ones. So that makes a set of 12 stretches. Make it 11, Theo is too shy to instruct his seniors. 

It is his first nature walk with The Trek team. Welcome home Theo. He is only 6 years old. Let’s see how it goes. He seems excited. 

Mary then briefs us on what to expect and how long it might take us. That’s easy for us given that the previous month most of us were on top of Mt. Ololokwe by 6:00 am.

Theo rushes forward. He is 6, so the energy levels are still high. His strategy is to always be ahead of the team. Unfortunately, he has to wait for us from time to time. That’s when he starts itching all over his body. Oh by the way he calls me Dad. ‘What a way to introduce your son Kris?’

He comes running to me, scratching his body and almost teary. ‘I’m being bitten by insects Dad’ he screams. His last stop was a siafu path. Google that. They are all over him now. And you all know where they like to strike. They are silent climbers until they get to where they feel the most warmth. At his age he’s got an oven with him. Hehe. He has to strip naked. A bit shy at first but the jaws are too much to handle. The men gather to his rescue since we can all feel his pain. Each one of us is tasked with an item, a shoe, a sock, his shirt, trousers. We scan for any mandible left and we are back on the trail. 

The river flows down the hill. It’s a steep climb, that could only mean one thing. A waterfall. It’s a rocky trail but we all manage to get through. Majestic it is. It thunders down the fall and forms a pool above the rocks. We need photos so we all pose for some. Then we notice there is no river flowing after the fall. Interesting. All the waterfalls I’ve been to are unique in some way and this is no different. The fall disappears underground beneath the rocks we have been trailing on and reappears further downhill. My first underground river I guess. Awesome. 

Mary has a friend, strangely enough his name is Joseph. How Biblical. I hope he doesn’t moonlight as a carpenter as well. Hehe. We have 3 guides with us. How safe. Dan offers to carry Theo through some of the trails. That was part of the package. Thanks Dan.

We are walking through tea farms, a few of which are being plucked. Joseph is good with his environment and he details every question we ask him. Now I am conversant with how tea farms make money. It’s quite a lucrative business, especially if you are the owner. He then points to a tree. ‘That’s a male avocado tree.’ I knew of Pawpaw. Nature is interesting. God thoroughly thought everything through.

We hit the tarmac, we are being told there is another waterfall close-by where we can dip ourselves. That’s why we came today anyway.

None of us is sweating so far. Not even Theo, despite being a first timer. There is a steep climb down, but the locals have made it easier with some makeshift stairway. There it is, what we have been looking for all along. Such a beauty, the waters are turquoise. I think. It’s deep and the rocks in and out of it are very slippery, but we must dive in. I don’t have a bath tub at home. So this accounts for my ice bath challenge. I tread through it towards the falls. Abdi calls me a litmus paper and this time I am red. So he sits back and watches. 

Salma joins in. She calls me dad too. We swim towards the falls and pose behind it for my profile picture. I hope Salma will use it too when she gets her social media page up and running. I’m shivering. It’s time to head back. But first, a Trek pose. I love those.

Heading back is usually a slow paced silent walk. This is no different. Along the way we decide where to eat. It’s an old restaurant by the shores of Ndakaini Dam. Ndakaini Dam resort. Food is by order and the least will take 30 mins. We need something to hold down our hunger, so we order some tea with eggs. While they prepare we take a walk along the Dam. It’s the Dam that supplies drinking water to Nairobi residents. It’s fenced. I guess to reduce pollution. So no one can get quite close to it. We enjoy the serene view. Magical.

Tea is ready, it took longer than promised. It’s a bad habit that most restaurants have developed. But we are used to it now. Low expectations always, remember?

We are about to leave, then we meet the owner of the restaurant. He is 66 years of age with a straight stature. Smiling, he walks towards us to inquire if everything is alright. We ask him for a few more slices of bread. Allan must be starving. He comfortably gets some for us. Then begins with his passion for travel. He has already lived part of my dream. He mentions he has an overland truck and that’s where all my interest shifts to. He pulls out his phone and flashes amazing photos to us. He has driven South to South Africa and back. On roads that most of us binge watch on YouTube. He is also a cyclist. He has his bike at the back of his modified Ford Raptor. I have been pinching myself that I’m getting older and haven’t done much yet. This Man (Njiri), has just replenished my spirits. 

He gives us travel tips. One of them is we need money but the most important of them is finding a partner(s) to travel with. I am Lucky, I have got the Trek Team. Next Destination: Lake Jipe

Trip Expenses (per person) – Kids don’t pay

Transport (own cars), Fuel – Kes. 650 per person, Lunch – Kes. 575, Guide – Kes. 1000, Snack – Kes. 238. Do the Math

Important contacts: Mary – +254707921013, Dan – +254734715798

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