Mount Kenya National Park, Kenya
5 worthy days on UP…
I made it!
Mt. Kenya summit was my last planned adventure of the trip. A 5 day trek with guide, porter, and cook. Just what I needed, mountains! Making my trip pretty well rounded. The summit was Point Lanana, the 3rd highest peak on Mt. Kenya at 4985 meters, over 16,354 feet. The hike was excellent, full of spectacular views and full of very unique flor y fauna. Not many bugs with few animals though elephants and lions can climb up to 3,400 meters. Well that’s it folks my trip to East Africa. Thought i’d keep it short since i keep saying i will.
Now if you want more details, read below.
The trip started on another long bus ride, this time from Jinja to Nakaru, a bus locals negotiated me onto (from off the highway) because i somehow missed my reserved bus. Cool! Had I had time on my rest day I might have learned that the border was super close and I could have taken one of many passing taxis and then a bus. Yeah, live and learn. Then in Nakaru (on the way to Nairobi) I had to take a bus to Nanyuki on a fast and very bumpy but pretty ride.
Arriving the tour company came to get me, they told the driver to drop me at the police station….over protection! The Next morning we were off to the start of Sirimon trail head at 2,600 meters…for a walk along a road for 3 hrs…yeah!…not…hate when treks start on roads…just make a path!
First night I camped, cold but not bad. Views were superb which made up for the dirt road walk. Ate in mess hall with other trek groups either headed up or down. No heat, bring warm clothes and drink the tea, cafe and cocoa. Seriously I had so much tea my bathrooms breaks smelled the like. I was used to Nepal where the camps generally have a chimney for heat so this was unexpected in my mind…
In the morning we headed out on a 7 hour trek (every multi-day trek does this, almost nothing day 1, day 2 huge jump, then either a summit and return (long day) or relax day then the longest day). First part was rolling high hills and not the coolest of plants but I still took photos…jaja then the second half was literally amazing!!! Mt Kenya appeared, another river, cool plants, birds, flowers, everything!!! Plus the route flattened after we reached 3400 meaning only 300 meters more to gain to reach our base camp for the next 2 nights!
So the best part of this trek was that you drank the water fresh from the rivers. Seriously, no filter, clean and pure. Also the whole trek the guides remained with cell service! Wow like neither of these occur much in the developed world!!! In US, you enter mountains and chao signal…and clean water I have literally never seen that except for underground springs. I couldn’t get over it. (western world…isn´t it supposed to be modern and the best??)
So day 3 I could have summited but instead we trekked locally. I felt fine, no altitude sickness, nada. That was not the case for others. One girl on the same summit group struggled all the way from the first camp and then during the night at base had to be taken down because at 3 AM she couldn’t breath. Another was at the first camp, a couple, they went up to base camp but the guy had to come down (before summit) because he was vomiting too much. Besides those more serious cases the rest intending to summit had severe to average headaches and some were a bit nauseous. So its important to know high altitude can be dangerous and any symptoms should be communicated and should be addressed. It is different for each individual and with each summit. You need adequate time for a safe summit. I believe my past summits helped me and that my body responds well to altitude. I do get affected sometimes. Once in Peru, Colca Canyon, I had a bad headache because of the quick and drastic changes in altitude in 1 day; also sometimes it makes me tired…but that is generally it for me.
So day 3 I spent hiking locally…up and down smaller peaks…we did 2 to various lakes because if not you summit for 3 hours then nothing. Got some good exercise…jaja well and i also think it did me in because I ended up hurting my Achilles Tendon….again :(. Obviously I still summited but by the end of the 5 days I thought I´d ruptured it…i didn’t because I would not be able to support myself on it but my runner self freaks out quick with leg injuries!!!
We did the summit the next day at 3 am. Poley poley (slowly) to the top but as my guide says, i have an above average pace…just imAgine a fast one, gesh. We actually had to wait to summit the final leg because we arrived too early…jaja!
The summit was the coolest, it was full moon and we used its natural lighting the whole way. It was so amazing…and very lucky. I had brought my summit clothes along on the trip (hate that it takes up so much space), yes and I Carried it nearly a month before use!!! Some clothes I did borrow from the agency…gloves…ski pants, poles, extra hat. Their gloves were not the best and my fingers got cold..but not as bad as my feet. I decided to use Nike’s trail running shoes (Wildhorse) super comfy, great traction but at summit too breathable so my double layered socks got sweaty and therefore cold…but at summit the mind was distracted and I forgot my body´s yelling completely.
The Summit was very windy but had a place to kind of hide from it. There was a bible there (locals consider it a holy site and therefore others too), the Kenyan flag, survey markers, plaques but most of all spectacular views and a great sunrise. Worth it, yes!
My favorite view was the shadow of Peak Lenana on the rest of Mt. Kenya, the layers of stratosphere and their colors, the Moon and Venus and finally my acknowledgement that the earth revolves…on summit I looked up and saw the big dipper only it was upside down….I was jaja star struck!
We lasted 15 minutes at summit maybe 5 more just below but down was like 2 hours vs the 3 up. Breakfast and short nap then off we went to the 1st camp…very long day some 12 hours hiking. One last night camping then that road again and off to Nairobi to enjoy my last whole day.
That’s right I finished the day I was to leave…flight at midnight…ya know rest when dead motto. I would have liked to enjoy the whole day being as it was only a 3 hour bus ride to Nairobi from Nanyuki….unfortunately the agency owner decided to join me…uh or keep guiding me….I found it annoying being as I didn´t want to spend the day on the bus before a 30 hour flight!!!!!!!
Besides the fact that we clearly clashed personalities, travel ideas, and lacked communication, I did squeeze in a stop at the Kenyan equator, buy my dad a shirt ($$), give away the rest of my clothes and shoes, managed to negotiate a late visit at the National Museum at closing and make my flight (good dinner and local coffee as well) :). All this with 3 buses instead of the 1, 2 max it should have been, worst lunch ever, too touristy and long of a gift store stop (at least it was on the way to Nairobi), being ****** at owner, and then I felt bad for the taxi driver who would be stuck in horrible traffic to return home from the airport and also got caught by police without his license when dropping me off…wow! The traffic back up was nearly to the airport, which is normally 45 min from city without normal traffic (I felt bad for the guy as I had nothing extra to give him but cookies for the long night ahead)
By the way the Nairobi National Museum is WELL WORTH a visit for both its grounds and exhibits. Very cool history section (no time to see it well) a snake park (no time), plenty of animals (stuffed), some art, and more history (human). Kenya Equator crossing, there are multiple, all have the same sign, once I saw 2 signs, 1 with a map of Kenya…also I was told that at the summit we actually pass the equator.
Flight back was ya know long but the layover in Belgium made all the difference…French sandwiches, Belgium dark chocolates, gofres (waffles). The Nairobi airport wasn´t bad just the entry was tricky…lots of traffic to even enter terminal drop-off/pick-up and then a slow line to get inside the terminal (with people cutting in line and random fights – not physical)…took about an hour to enter but actual check-in was a breeze…and then it was tourist shops galore to get last your knick knacks near the gates : D.
Well I’m back in Panama now. Hope you enjoyed East Africa with me! Happy New Year! (today is February 1, my official new year… 😉