With Brian and Christine married it was time for a few more Kenyan excursions. Though some were close to home (such as day hiking and trail running in the Ngong Hills) the real adventures lay days away in the wilds of the Kenyan countryside. For these amazing trips, and for the friendship of those I shared them with I owe a debt of gratitude – to Brian’s mom Maito and her friends Njenga, Gatimu and Barbra on our trip to Mt. Kenya, and our guide David who packed more into a three day safari than I thought possible. I’ll let the pictures speak largely for themselves though they do little justice to the warmth, vibrance, and sheer excitement of the culture and environment I experienced everywhere in this amazing country.
Looking into the Great Rift Valley while hiking in the Ngong Hills Nature Reserve.
Brian and Mwangi (my given Kikuyu name) after running to the summit of Ngong Hills.
Brian, Gatahi, Ben, Maito and I atop the Ngong Hills.
Eugenia and Richard, a farmer we met while hiking.
Some of Richard’s cows enjoy the evening light over the Ngong Hills.
Heading north out of Nairobi on the Thika Superhighway. I think this proves I haven’t even come close to the carrying capacity of the Camel!
Freddy enjoying the playground at Brian’s Uncle’s resort in Mukurwe-ini.
The world awaits – a signpost at Wachira’s resort.
A bicycle, and an idea for what to do once I leave Kenya.
Friendship and accommodation with Maito’s friend Gatimu at his house in Nyeri.
Eugenia, Maito, Freddy, and Barbra at the start of our hike on the slopes of Mt. Kenya.
Baboons roam freely around the buildings of the park headquarters.
Barbra, Eugenia, Njenga, Freddy, Maito, and Tristan veer to the left to avoid a little elephant dung.
Mt. Kenya (5,199 m – 17,057 ft) rises in the distance.
Maito keeps Freddy and Tristan company on the uphills.
Some kind of mushroom.
Barbra, Freddy and Tristan taking a break
Maito, Freddy, Barbra and I.
Reminiscent of the awesome logging lorries near Fraser Hill in Malaysia.
Njenga and Freddy bushwhacking in a bamboo stand.
Eugenia, Freddy, Maito and Barbra pose at our lunch and turnaround spot – the Percival Bridge.
Moments before this we saw real monkeys swinging through the treetops. Tristan is not one to be outdone.
Downtown Naro Moru, about 25 km west of Mt. Kenya.
A street vendor ready to repair tarps, clothing, or whatever else needs a needle and thread.
Getting produce and fresh meat for dinner at a Naro Moru market.
Street punks in Naro Moru.
Downtown Naro Moru. – HDR Composite
Setting up camp at Njenga’s ranch on the Naro Moru River. His grand house-to-be is under construction in the foreground.
Maito, Eugenia and Barbra enjoy the campfire.
A delicious goat stew in the works over the campfire.
Njenga prepares the evening tea.
At the equator in Nanyuki with Eugenia, Barbra, Freddy, Maito and Tristan. Five months earlier and a third of the way around the world Tristan and I were on this same imaginary line at Mitad del Mundo, Ecuador. I suppose it’s a small world after all!
Barbra’s grandmother Shosho loads freshly cut sugarcane into her land rover to take home for our afternoon snack.
Eugenia and Shosho arriving home to Shosho’s magnificent estate.
Eugenia, Shosho, Freddy and Maito relax in the sunroom before we tour the estate.
A machine on Shosho’s farm to cut napier grass into edible size chunks for the cows.
A wood burning water heater.
Shosho and Miato walking toward the river on the far edge of Shosho’s property.
Eugenia and Barbra brave the frigid waters to find skipping stones.
A warm goodbye to new friends and time to leave the tranquility of the countryside bound for Nairobi.
After a day or two back in Nairobi to regroup we soon set out on a Bonfire Adventures led tour to the Masai Mara, home to the largest annual migration of animals in the world. Our safari turned out to be during the height of the 2012 migration and over the course of a few days we got within arms length of more gigantic, hungry wild animals than I could keep track of.
Ready to turn off the dirt road and begin the 47 km (30 mi) off-road ride of a lifetime to the entrance of Masai Mara. New kidneys will be available at the destination.
One of the better sections of the “road” in to the Mara.
The crew (clockwise from left): Gachanja, Eugenia, Mwangi, Diana, ?, Sara, Ken, Charles, ?, Brian, and our amazing guide David.
Our accommodations at the Manyatta Camp.
Eugenia and Gachanja moving into our camp / hotel room.
A Topi, one of the fastest antelopes in Africa that can reach speeds of 80 km/hr (50 mph).
Any idea what this animal could be?
Not really too much to say here: it’s an Ostrich.
Gachanja, Eugenia and Charles getting dinner back at camp.
Eugenia, Gachanja, and I inside our mosquito net shrouded beds.
A beautiful Serengeti sunrise means it’s time to go find some animals eating breakfast.
We found the lion, but where’s his breakfast?
Anyone in the mood for Zebra?
Apparently the lion felt is more of a Wildebeest-for-breakfast kind of day.
David navigates our vehicle to the next sighting with an uncanny intuition about where the animals are.
Meanwhile there are ample spotters peering out the roof.
An African Buffalo enjoys a slightly less gruesome breakfast.
African Savanna Elephants, who can live to be 65-70 years old. Strangely their age is limited by their teeth; similar to humans they have several sets of teeth that emerge at various points in their life. Once the last ones wear away the elephants can no longer eat and die of starvation.
We didn’t know this group, but somehow the scene seemed very telling.
Egyptian Geese in flight over the Savanna.
Millions of Wildebeests dot the Savanna in every direction.
And not all of them get along.
A den of lions naps in the shade….
While their father patrols the area….
And we proceed to get a flat tire not 50 meters away!
Not ideal tire changing conditions, but somehow we managed it fairly quickly. Apparently a nearby hungry lion nearby is great motivation!
Something hiding in the trees.
Eugenia, Gachanja, Tristan and I standing on the border of Tanzania and Kenya, where the Serengeti National Park borders the Mara.
Posing with one of the park rangers who will accompany us on our hike along the Mara River.
Crocodiles basking on the bank of the Mara River.
Hungry hungry hippos.
A Mwanza Flat-headed Agama lizard.
Apparently Tristan, like Pinocchio, got his wish: “And someday, I’m gonna be a real monkey!”
Two vultures fight over the remains of a Zebra while a dozen others circled in the sky above.
Cell phone towers in Kenya are disguised as comically as they are in the US.
The third day of the safari we toured a traditional Maasai village, partaking in manly jumping competitions, learning their fire starting techniques, crawling into their cattle pens, and seeing the interior of their manyatta houses.
Gachanja, Eugenia and I pose while the village chuckles at us city folk.
Two sticks, a machete, some dry grass and 30 seconds is all these guys need to get a fire going. Awesome.
Blowing into the burning embers that will soon have the dry grass aflame.
And once that fire was going Eugenia and I decided to take them up on their offer to be branded as Maasai warriors.
The exterior of a manyatta house, made of a mixture of fresh cow manure and dirt.
Saplings bound together form the structure within the walls of a manyatta house under construction.
In the kitchen of a manyatta house. The entire house has only one tiny window to reduce the number of mosquitoes inside. It was extremely dark inside, this exposure was equivalent to 20 seconds (f / 3.5 @ ISO 200)
Showing off another sign of warrior status – severe ear distension. Much of his other ear was gone, supposedly “eaten by a lion in battle.”
Finally it was time to give the kidneys one last run for their money on the road back toward Nairobi. Sadly this also marked the end of my time in Kenya. My words have been spare in these entries – there is so much to tell and yet words do little justice to my month-long introduction to Africa. In short, Mwangi can’t wait to return. Asante sana rafiki wangu!
Springboks to good times, great friends, and a rapid return to Kenya!