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ChallengeMy Experience


Mount Ololokwe

Well, well, well we did it. We have officially been influenced by Instagram. Who doesn’t want to pose next to one of the most photographed mountains in the world. However, this time from its peak watching down on the world like it belongs to us. Well, to some extent it does. At least for this short while that we live in it or should I say on it. 

We have been planning on this for years. Just like we have done the other bucket listed trips. The last time I was on this route we took photos right on the road beneath us now. We sat on the hot tarmac just to pose next to it so that we can post on our social pages to show others that we travel for leisure. We were headed towards the desert in the North Chalbi. We made a vow that we are going to take on it someday. 

1 year later, you know, just like the movies. We were at it. It wasn’t our main agenda really. All we wanted was to tour Samburu county. We have read about it. Top of our list was Samburu National Reserve. I hear there is a Samburu 5 just like the big 5. That I wouldn’t want to miss on. 

Planning started way back but the real planning started like 3 weeks to the activity. Sarah decided to take the role to plan everything. That meant the rest of us could lay back and wait for the totals and the itinerary. Well, it wasn’t that easy. 

We needed a place to sleep. That became the most debatable topic. I remember waking up to 117 WhatsApp messages. All pointing towards accommodation. We had earlier inquired on the best place to sleep if we wanted to hike the mountain. All sources indicated Sabache camp. The prices were not indicative of what they were offering though. They had a KES. 5000 tag on their basic tent for 2 people. That’s not much really until they send you pictures. We were not satisfied. Their cottages were also a bit pricey compared to what we had on our budget and also compared to what was being offered by other camps around. 

Lion’s Cave was our next option. They have a website that makes us want to sleep with them, sorry to be accommodated by them. Hehe. The only challenge was the distance to the hiking starting point. Interesting thing is that Sabache camp is the ONLY starting point for all those who want to hike Mt. Ololokwe. It is under the community conservation initiatives. That means the locals call the shots. Let me not whine too much. We settled for the Lion’s cave camp and vowed to wake up at 3:00 am to start our journey to Ololokwe. 

The next challenge was getting transport. We have always preferred driving our own vehicles but this was not an option this time. We are headed to the wild. We had 3 priority areas. Have an afternoon drive in Samburu National park, Hike Mount Ololokwe and Drive to Buffalo springs for a dip in the natural pool.

All these could not be achieved by what we use as daily drivers. We needed something slightly tough. Well, this wasn’t that difficult but the budget we had was a bit low. Sheila came to our rescue and we got a tour van for KES. 29,000 all inclusive. Did I mention there were 8 of us? So basically that meant splitting the cost into 8 equal parts. It’s the same we do with accommodation. Whether you are a couple or they term you as single. We total the whole accommodation cost and divide it equally. That way nobody pays more than the other. For this instance the total accommodation cost came to KES. 53,590  for full boarding (Breakfast, Lunch and Supper). I’m sure you did a bit of math so get the details for yourself.
Now we have sorted the TREK’S basic needs – food, shelter and transport. It is time to plan the details.


We wanted to capture as much as we could within the 2 days we had planned for. Based on our usual friend – Google Maps. It was a 5 and a half hour drive to the lion’s cave camp. That meant leaving Nairobi as early as 4:30 am. We all tried to keep time, a bit of delay but nothing much to push our nerves. We were on our way. The roads are fun at this time with less traffic, so maintaining a good speed wasn’t a problem for Polycarp, our driver for the trip. I was seated at the front, which meant staying awake and pressing imaginary brakes whenever Polycarp played checkers on the road. 

Breakfast. Given the departure time most people still had undigested dinner. Our first stop was in Nanyuki about 3 hours later. On such trips I prefer a good meal. Something similar to dinner. That way I can stay full throughout the day. This didn’t take much time. A few snack from QuickMart Nanyuki and we were off again.
The Roads in the North. If you ever travel north, be sure to be stopped by security officers. Not just your regular traffic cops but fully armored security guys. It is harsh up here. There are scares once in a while so one has to stay vigilant. Always carry your ID document because that’s the first thing you will be asked. They even go a step further and ask you to step outside the vehicle just to frisk it. We are all Kenyans so it was a bit easy for us.

A stop by the Ewaso Nyiro River for photos is allowed, so don’t miss the opportunity. There are people harvesting sand, there are others taking a bath right at the banks. There hasn’t been much rain the past few weeks so the river levels are low. I’ll make sure to report this in my next Food security meeting. Most of the region is dry. The little maize crop that was planted has withered. The grass is okay, the animals are gaining their weight back. Damn it, that’s the challenge of traveling as a geographer. Everything becomes a study.

The Lion’s Cave Camp. I could write a whole page on this, but I was told I need to shorten my blog posts so I will stick to the highlights. The location, perfect. The reception, perfect. The views, Extra perfect. The rooms, Perfect. The Food, perfect. I guess that’s it. I’m done with the lion’s cave camp. 

This is injustice, and I am a Just man. So let’s start again. The camp is located about 10 minutes from Archer’s Post – main local town center. Before there we stopped by the river banks just to enjoy the scenery. It is amazing. It is a wide river with very little water. It is full only during the rainfall season and just for a short while. We proceed to the camp. No one has an idea what to expect, we have been disappointed by website searched camps before, but this one the website doesn’t do it justice at all. It is dry but you can tell once you are in there. There is a path that leads to the reception, and this is where the magic lives. The setup is such that you have the full view of the Ewaso Nyiro River. The little water in it has exposed the rugged terrain that the unforgiving river has curved on the rocks. This is history at its best. A step closer to the edge then you get surprised by what the camp has done. It has a curved swimming pool right next to the river that gets flooded when the river is full. That means I am coming back to this place during the rainy season. 

At the reception we met Rogers, a very cool guy. He knows his stuff. He briefs us on the details and directs us to our rooms. They have 3 cottages and 3 tented camps. We have booked 2 cottages and 2 tents at least to cut down on costs. Kindly utilize their website for details. I’m trying to keep this short. We love the rooms. You can do your business while stargazing. Hehe.

It’s lunch time. Food is served. We have been disappointed before but Rogers kept his words. The food is delicious.
The Game Drive. After lunch we head out to Samburu National Park. Like I said, our target is to see the Samburu 5. The park is just right at Archers Post. We are invited by the Gravy Zebra. Yep, that’s one of them and probably the only one we spotted. The rest is an empty drive full of the usuals. You know, gazelles, antelopes, Warthogs etc. Then we spotted a herd of Oryx, Yet another Samburu 5. Oh! What I mean by Samburu 5 is that these animals are exclusive to this Reserve. Then we are notified that a Cheetah has been spotted somewhere. We tried chasing it but yeah, it’s a cheetah and we couldn’t get to it on time. Our time runs out and we have to be out of the Park by 6:00 pm. Before that let’s enjoy the sunset. 

It’s Dark now, time to freshen up as we wait for dinner. My choice of freshening up is to jump into the pool. Then allow upto midnight swimming. But take note it is a jungle out here, so basically it’s at your own risk.Dinner is ready and like I said, Rogers is still proving he is the best in Samburu. One downside is that you have to pay a corkage fee for drinks from outside. And it’s a hefty one. 

Early to Bed and Early to Rise. That is what they say right. That’s exactly what we do. We need to be up and out by 3:00am, our target is to catch the sunrise at the peak. Like I said, Instagram has us by the throat. But At least we are not shaking ass on Tik Tok. We take off at 3:30 and at 4:30am we are at Sabache  Camp. 

We meet Jackson and Simon, our guides for the day. One is Armed. We are warned that the trail has wild animals. Elephants to be precise. It’s dark, so our flashlights are on. Simon is with me at the back, Jackson is leading the way. He has a G3 with him. That’s comforting. I’m glad I stayed in the back, Simon is making me lose breath all the time. He is cracking jokes in a very ordinary way. Kevin Hart would beg for a script from him. He is telling us of the different groups he has been with. Well I guess we are now on his list. Damn.

Honestly, this is my 2nd toughest trail. It is steep right from the beginning. Stretching and Yoga can’t help you on this one. It is rocky and one has to do it in the dark. But we have Simon and Jackson. A great team. We are now at the 1st view point. Simon suggests that we sit here and wait for the sun to rise since it is already late.
At 6:20 an orange ball of fire shows up. Our cameras are not good enough so after a few photos we decide to just enjoy the view as it is. The clouds are also not favouring us. They are blocking most of the Sun. But we still are able to enjoy it. Was this worth it? Maybe, but not as expected.

Now we have to proceed, it’s another 3 kilometers but the terrain is less steep. Nothing much along the way.  The Second Peak is something out of this world. It looks like that spot where Satan took Jesus for his last temptation. We can spot the road from this height. We are at a bird’s eye view. We pose while jumping, we pose while seated and from all the angles you can imagine.

The Climb Back. This is always the most boring part of hiking. Especially if you are not satisfied. You keep wondering what the hell took you out of your recliner seat to come and toture yourself. For this case I am happy I did it, but that doesn’t take the pain from my toes as we are rolling down the hill. The rocks are only adding salt to the injury. Some have knee problems but they keep pushing. 2 hours later we are back to where we started but with something in our bucket. We have bills to pay. We were charged KES. 2000 per person as conservation and Hiking fee. However, it was not clear that the guide fee (KES.2000 per guide for the group) was separate from that amount. We had to inquire as to why and what the hiking fee entails. In the end we paid but thought of pushing for a bad review for Sabache camp. They were not clear right from the beginning. We have been to various hikes and things weren’t adding up here. 

It was noon already, we had requested a late checkout at the lion’s cave camp .Don’t get surprised, they agreed to it. However, they requested that we store all our luggage in one of the rooms. Brunch was ready when we got back. We had one more stop before heading back to the city.

Buffalo Spring. This is a natural swimming pool about 15 mins drive from Archer’s post towards Isiolo. Since it is a Reserve similar to Samburu, you have to pay KES. 500 as entrance fee. Also since they are in different counties the initial ticket does not apply as a free pass for this one. That only applies for the National Parks where the ticket lasts for 24 hours. It is basically a 10 minute drive from Chokaa Gate.  The waters are super clear. You could see your feet through it. We didn’t shower after the hike and this will be our bathroom for the day. Hehe. 20 minutes later, we are out. We are still full from the heavy brunch so no stopping until we get home. My body is tired and my eyes cannot handle the long drive. 1 sheep 2 sheep…That’s it.

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Chris Shitote


Chris Shitote


Chris Shitote

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