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Photos of Lake Bogoria Spa Resort:The ideal place to stay when you visit Lake Bogoria,Kenya

Located only five minutes away from Lake Bogoria  is Lake Bogoria Spa Resort.

I had a short stay in the Resort and took amazing shots to give you a glimpse of what your stay will be like when you visit. They have a wide array of accommodation options to choose from ranging from executive suites, cottages, junior suites,standard rooms and camping.

The key attractions to enjoy during your stay its proximity to Lake Bogoria, the unexploited rich cultural heritage of the nilotic people including the Njemps, Tugen, Turkana and the Pokot and finally a natural heated pool from the hot water geysers that is said to be therapeutic.

Accommodation at the resort starts from Ksh.17500 for a standard double room for residents and USD 311.00 for a standard double room for non-residents.

Here are some photos of the Resort to help you plan for your visit and stay in Baringo.

Part of the road towards the resort.
Front view of the Resort.

Dining area.

Back porch of a room.

Swimming pool.

 

Baringo can be super hot, but a selfie right before a dip doesn’t hurt anyone…
The campsite.
Can you spot the ostriches?
Entrance to the natural pool.
The therapeutic hot water spa.
Natural hot water stream. I was surprised to see fish swimming in the hot water…

 

A bridge across the river in the resort.

There you have it!

For more information about Lake Bogoria Spa Resort, contact them on +254727925397 or check out their website here.

 

 

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Top places to visit in Baringo county:Lake Bogoria

We have a new feature in our blog that will cover never seen photos of places I have have visited! These photos are meant to highlight key attractions in the different destinations and inspire you to visit while giving you an idea of the top attractions and things to do!

To start us off, spotlight will be on Lake Bogoria in Baringo  County.

Entrance to Lake Bogoria National Reserve.
More info about the reserve.

 

Well there you have it.

I hope these are enough photos to inspire you to visit Lake Bogoria.

 

 

 

 

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Climbing Mt.Kenya, attempting Point Lenana (4985M): The story behind the glory

As I had previously mentioned in part one of my Mt Kenya experience, I suffered from a terrible stiff neck on the first night of the hike which messed my whole experience-ish. The nights were severely cold and at some point I felt like I wasn’t going to make it.

I was so tired of this mind game, the never ending rocky slope, the kilometers that kept piling and a tough journey that came with no title! I was done. Completely. I wished everyone the very best and decided to just make it to the T- junction that led us to Lake Michaelson; our next camp.

Several attempts to start summiting proved futile until something strange happened.Determination.

I started walking slowly following the other guys footprints. There was no one in sight. The only option I had was to keep going.

I was barely moving, but I covered some distance.

After about an hour, I saw the first lot from our group crawling back. They had summited!They had an accomplished look on their faces but the exhaustion was evident as well. They were not talking much.

Somehow discouraging but I never gave up hope.I kept at it. It was probably going to take me three hours to go up,come down and catch up with the rest.

They were not sure I’d make it back on time with the moody weather. I was not sure either.

As I made the second turn up behind a huge rock, I saw Abbas; the leading guide. He was carrying two bags and encouraged me to go up. I mean if Abbas cheered me on, it was doable.

I crawled, sat, walked, stood but pushed on.

As I made it to the second turn, I saw Charles.

Charles was the other guide. He gave me painkillers the day I could barely walk. When he saw me, his eyes lit and he gave the warmest smile ever, stretched out his arm took my bag and held me.

‘I have met a guide who’s told me they left you struggling to come up, but they are not sure you’d make it past the fifth step! That you’ve struggled to make it this far, I will take you to the summit. I don’t mind going up for the second time. You are truly resilient.’ He told me.

Who wouldn’t get renewed strength with such encouragement? I had to make it.

Surprisingly enough, I did remarkably well thereafter.

Charles was heaven sent. I don’t know how he did it but the next thing I saw was Lewis glacier which is the largest remaining glacier but is quickly receding, I could see the Austrian hut; the camp set up by the Austrian Alpine Club, clouds, Batian and Nelion peaks stood there majestically as well, then alas! a ladder that led to Point Lenana! I instantly forgot everything else. I no longer had the neck and muscle pain. I smiled sheepishly at myself. If only I was this patient with myself always.

The fast receding Lewis glacier.
One moment there are no clouds, the next time its clouds all over.
Still can’t figure out where all this strength came from…

Snow 🙂

Batian checking me out…

At this point, I cared less about catching up with rest. I mean, I was at the summit, the view was breathtaking, Charles was there with me, I was the highest standing Kenyan in Kenya on both feet at that time and I had my camera! What more could I had asked for?

The final climb…
Well, seems like the victory pose world over…
The Bible at the summit.

Never seen such beauty before.
….Go where eagles fly…
The most deserved break!

I went, I saw, I conquered. Victory tasted so good!

Were it was not for Charles, I probably I would not have summited.

Me and Charles!
Charles…the friend with a golden heart.

There you have it! Summiting wasn’t easy, but I did it anyway.

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Summiting Mount Kenya:Sirimon-Chogoria route in 5 days(Part 1)

Mt. Kenya is the highest mountain in Kenya and the second highest in Africa. It has three peaks namely Batian,Nelion and Point Lenana in that order.

Mount Kenya National Park receives an estimated 16,000 visitors per year. Apart from hiking and mountaineering which are the most popular activities at the park,game viewing,camping and bird watching is also common with both local and international visitors.

Hiking Mount Kenya is not easy and can not be taken on without preparation. You just do not wake up and decide you want to hike Mt.Kenya. It takes months of training and preparation.

A careful consideration has to be made when choosing a tour company for the important 5 day hike that might be a matter of life and death if not planned by an experienced tour planner.

I booked my hike with Xtrym Adventures back in January 2017 for the April hike. There has to be at least four mandatory preparation hikes,all adequately spaced out within the four months. It is during these hikes that you get to experiment with your new gear so you don’t get disappointed with improper gear and the discomfort that comes with new shoes and gear.

The cost of the hike was charged as follows;

  • Citizens-Ksh 27,000
  • Residents with work permits-Ksh 30,000
  • Non Residents-Ksh 25,000 plus KWS park fees of USD 260.

The above cost does not cover tips for the guides, cooks and porters. It also doesn’t cover for the prep hikes. While budgeting, it is also important to set aside enough money for buying hiking gear which costs an arm and a leg. The easiest way out is renting. Duncan of Xtrym adventure hooked us up with Chris Tembo who rents out mountain gear at the best rate in town.

With more than sixteen organized group trips to Mt.Kenya and countless others to Mt.Meru and Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Ruwenzori at the border of Congo and Rwanda plus a host of many other mountains, Xtrym adventures was the most suitable candidate for the job.

The last prep hike was at Ngong Hills, which is approximately twenty two kilometers from Nairobi city centre. It was during that hike that we got to meet the entire team(popularly referred to Team Xtrym Adventures Mt.Kenya Easter 2017 Edition) and have a final pre-departure meeting. From the onset, a whatsapp group was put in place for ease and convenience of communication.

It takes a total of five days to hike Mount Kenya starting from Sirimon gate and finish at the Chogoria gate.

We set off on Thursday 13th April and finished on the 17th of April 2017 as follows.

Day 1

We departed from Nairobi at around 6:00 am. Everyone else kept time apart from me. It was a bit embarassing to hop into the bus and everyone is settled waiting for you.

There was anxiety in the air. I was scared too. The horror stories, altitude sickness and trekking for an estimated 80km in total wasn’t something to look forward to. We made two quick stops for breakfast and the other one in Nanyuki at the Equator.

Shortly after leaving Nanyuki, Duncan made it so clear that if there was anyone who wasn’t so sure about the hike, then Nanyuki would be the best place to turn back…There was a piercing silence there after. Stuff suddenly got real.

Arrival at Mt.Kenya National Park…

We arrived at Sirimon gate at around half past midday. When we got there, it was straight to business, off loading the bus, taking lunch, introduction to the porters, guides and cooks. So for the twenty five of us, there were twenty five porters . Your porter is in charge of your main bag.

The bus ready to leave after dropping us.
Sirimon gate.

 

Quick lunch.
Duncan and Abbas the lead guide looking at the future.

 

My babies.
The pairing session.

After a brief introduction, the porters and the cooks left quickly with our luggage for the first camp.

With the lighter day bags, a nine kilometer tarmacked stretch to Old Moses camp,a full tummy and a not so hot sun wasn’t a bad idea after all.

Sunset at the mountain was magical! However, as soon as the sun sets the weather drastically changes and temperatures drop sharply.

Sunset in the mountains.
Cool Kids.

We arrived at Old Moses camp at dusk. The camp sits at 3,300m high. It is basic, dunk beds, benches, two washrooms and a tiny common sitting area. The frigid cold at night was out of this world. Popcorn, biscuits and hot black tea came in handy! Remember, showering is not an option during the first four days and your core business is walking.

 

The cooks did remarkably well with the food. Their consistency with quality and variety and serving meals on time gave me something to look forward to at the end of each day.

Day 2.

The day started at around 6:00am. Sunrise was spectacular and the peaks could be seen from the camp. I wondered why we needed so many days to finish this hike. I mean the peaks were just there.

Breakfast was quick, so was the stretching/workout session. However, all was not well with me. My chances of summiting began getting slimmer because of a stiff neck from the previous night. So painful was my neck that the thought of going back home crossed my mind. There were strict instructions not to take any form of medication and the pain balms and ointments were not working. Tough times.

Waiting for sunrise.
Breakfast.
The peak from Old Moses camp.

 

Stretching session.

Plan of the day was to walk to Shipton camp which is at 4,200m high. The hike was an estimated 17km and was to take any where between 6-8 hours.

We crossed  Likii valley and Mackinders valley.The crystal clear rivers, streams and plants I got to see for the first time. This was the first time in my life I drank directly from a river.

The never ending slopes were a mix of steep and gentle. The pain in my neck was growing and having my day bag on my back made it even worse as the pain radiated to the back of my head and my shoulders. I missed every laughter and joke. This was the time I started questioning the choices I make in life.

I was there physically but at home emotionally. However that did not stop me from taking photos of the enchanting landscape and the obviously tired but cheerful friends.

Old Moses camp from a distance.
The one and only sign post I saw in the entire hike.
Beautiful valleys.
More slopes and streams.

 

Wabbie!

Wabbie,Judy and the magician.

Tanya!
Nnenna!
Enchanting landscape.
Crystal clear streams.
Foggy hill tops.
Cute tiny bridges.

By the time we were stopping for lunch at Likii river, I was so beat and out. A quick estimated had me thinking of wherethe energy to finish the other half of the hike was going to come from. If we were to cover 17km, and we were halfway it only meant we had about 9km to go. I couldn’t eat. Everyone was so supportive and I remember Robert removing stuff from my bag to make it lighter. A quick nap as over lunch, painkillers and a hot water bottle did the magic.Somehow.

The long walk after lunch wasn’t as bad because of the diminishing pain. The scenery, plants endemic to Mt.Kenya, cute mountain rodents and the now very conspicuous peaks made it more exciting.

 

 

The long after lunch walk to shipton was quiet and uneventful. Vegetation was beginning to thin out as we started the rocky terrain. The higher we kept going the colder it became and got worse when the sun went down. Day two was tough.

When we got to the camp, there wasn’t as much excitement as the first night. This was the same night we were supposed to summit. We had four hours to freshen up, eat, overdress , sleep and get ready to summit.

I was not ready. I was scared and weak.

Day 3.(Summit Night)

No sooner had I closed my eyes and zipped up my sleeping bag than I had the wake up call. How now?

I grudgingly woke up, packed my bags then went for tea. The temperatures outside must have been minus a thousand degrees! My hands were freezing despite the two layers of my sub zero gloves.

On the summit day, the hike is meant to start at exactly 2:00am especially if it is a big group like ours. There were some delays but we eventually set off. Biting cold, lack of enough sleep, a throbbing head and a weak body was the story of my life.

The unspoken rule of hiking has it that the weakest hikers lead the pack. The first one hour of trying to get to 4,985m at sunrise from 4,200m was just ok. My body was pulling me back in as much as my mind was all made up for summiting. The breaks became too frequent and the rest of the team slowly but surely widened the gap with permission.

We were left lagging behind with Racheal; who had a bad case of altitude sickness that only got worse the higher we climbed. The only way she was to helped was to get to Lake Harris then start heading down to the next camp. On the other had, I was so weak with a slight headache. I could not even lift my own legs.

If there was that one time I felt so helpless in my entire life was summit day. Thank God for Habbakuk aka Haba Haba who helped with my day bag, held me by the arm and practically walked with me. Bless his soul. Duncan was there for moral support and entertainment and watched over Rachael together with Ken. He even labeled us ‘Team Machozi’.

The ascend was the toughest part of the entire hike. Steep rocky slopes with some eroded sharp edges and loose gravel and feeble legs.

The intention was to get to the peak at sunrise but that proved impossible because even the leading pack was moving with difficulties.

Sweat, tears, doubt and a possibility of not making it the summit was frustrating. The only thing I wanted was to get to lake Harris then figure out my next move.

Haba Haba the guy who came to my rescue!
Habbakuk, Ken and Racheal.
Abbas the lead guide and Nnenna!
Sunkissed Batian peak. The sun came to early!
Habbakuk again!
Jeremy leading the pack despite not being in shape.
Agenda of the trip; hike, walk then hike again.

The next hour was very quiet. Soon after we were at Lake Harris.

Lake Harris

At this point, Duncan had to release Habakuk and Ken. I wanted them to go summit as well.

The leading lot was about 45 mins away, I thought I could make it to go up with Habbakuk and Ken, but I was so weak.

Point Lenana was so near yet so far.

They say nothing is impossible to a willing heart. I removed two layers of my clothes, drank water; lots of it, took sultanas and an energy bar then sat for a while. I felt a bit energetic and decided to follow the rest of the guys. However, there was a problem. There was no way I was going up alone. The options I had were to wait for the other guys to come down after two hours then request one of our guides to go with me or to go down with Duncan and Rachael. Sitting next to the very cold breeze of Lake Harris for two hours at such high altitude was a recipe for a slow death. I did not want to die slowly.

The more time we took to reach to a decision the more Rachael worsened. The only solution was to go with Duncan and Rachael without summiting. Well, there went another ‘machozi’ moment.

As I absorbed what just happened and what was about to happen,something miraculous happen,a hiker and his guide showed up from Shipton and Duncan requested them to tag me along to meet my group.

No sooner had Duncan disappered than the guide told me they were in a rush and they needed to rush. Wow. Anyway, I released them but decided to take a step at a time to the top.No going back.

Check out part two of this series and find out whether I summited on not.

 

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20 photos that will inspire you to visit Mount Kenya.

Summiting Mt.Kenya was one of the items in my 2017 travel bucket list. I knew I was going to tick it off my list but had no idea how and when exactly.

As luck would have it,I met Duncan of Xtrym Adventures  in a Fam trip organized by The Kenya Tourism Board and as they say,the rest is history.

After the Mt.Kenya Easter 2017 Edition,I am strongly convinced that it is one of the best local tour companies I have gone on a trip with.

Here are 20 photos taken during the hike  that should inspire you to look up Xtyrm Adventures for the next expedition.

Sunset as you approach Old Moses camp from Sirimon gate.
Batian Peak as seen when  approaching Shiptons camp using the Sirimon-Chogoria route.
When they say clear,clean spring water I guess this is what they meant.
The summit from a far.
The never ending valleys and tarns.
More peaks and tarns.
Sun kissed Batian Peak.
Lake Michaelson as seen from what the guides call the gate.
Tiny Lake Harris
Couldn’t get enough of Lake Michaelson.
Vivvian Falls.
Camping at Lake Michealson.
Just chilling and enjoying the scenic view.
Found the grass growing on the rocks intriguing.
Scenic, isnt it?
More tarns, valleys and eye catching landscape as seen from Lenana peak.
Sweet Victory…see mum, I made it to Lenana Peak!
Glacier between Lenana and Batian peaks.
The great gate a commonly referred by locals.
Whenever you see these kind of grass in the mountains, be sure the place has not be polluted one bit!
I was not sure whether this was fog or clouds… but I told my friends I touched the clouds..he he.

Look out for a comprehensive post about the Mt.Kenya hike shortly.

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Linda Matama- The ultimate definition of travel goals

The first time I saw Linda Matama’s Instagram’s page my jaw almost dropped. She had practically done everything in my bucket list and wasn’t about to stop.

A mix admiration, inspiration with tiny sprinkles of jealousy and envy had me visiting her page every so often to see where she had visited since the last time I checked. I think my biggest heartbreak was when I discovered she had even gone to Santorini in Greece!

If there is one person I wish to trade places with in matters travel then it has to be her! I caught up with Linda and she had this to tell us about herself and travels!

           Who is Linda?

Linda is an open minded experience collector.

Why do you travel?

 To feel alive, to breathe, to shock my senses, to have a story to tell and to inspire others to do it too.

 Favorite thing about travel

The unexpected.  Social media pictures always look like its all fun but in the background, a lot happens and they are not always good or comfortable. All these experiences shape me. I am always surprised at how I handle the different situations I come across.Also Hotel beds are so comfortable.

 How many cities have you been to?

21 countries and 52 cities. I keep finding myself somewhere in Asia.

 What factors do you consider before settling on a tourist destination?

Adrenaline Activities.

For a while I based my travels on festivals, now I narrow down an activity and the rest of the sightseeing becomes an added bonus. For instance, top of my list was LaTomatina. From it I toured Europe with Friends. Lantern Festival was the basis of my Thailand trip. Call me a festival hunter.  I went to Sabah, Malaysia because they have what is now the 2nd longest Island to Island Zipline in the world (It was first, got knocked off the food chain). Went to Macau because I wanted to dangle off a very tall tower because skydiving didn’t test my fear of heights enough. I went to Cape Town for Shark cage diving. I went to Sagana to jump off a waterfall.  You get my drift. My travel mantra is: On every trip, do something that reminds you that you’re still alive.

 What is your favorite airline?

Qatar Airways, I love their service, I love their food, I love the leg room, I love their very many discounts and special offers…but I’d like to give a special mention to Air Asia because they waited for me on the runway for about 15 minutes past departure time.  My group and I were going for the Lantern Festival in Thailand from Hong Kong. We underestimated the size of that airport. Takes almost an hour to get to the boarding gate from check in. You need to get on a train, up and down several escalators, get on a bus that has to wait until it gets full before it takes you to another terminal, go up more escalators, get stuck behind people on security checkpoints who don’t believe that it is your name being called on the PA. Flights going to Chiang Mai for the festival had been sold out months before. The available ones were quadruple the price and very few. Those lovely people at Air Asia knew we couldn’t miss that flight. We met an air hostess holding a board with our names before we even got to the escalator taking us to our gate. We made eye contact and she took off running. Naturally we followed, chasing our names and our Lantern dreams. It was quite a sight. We entered the plane and the passengers started clapping. I didn’t notice, all I noticed was our luggage (which made it to the plane way earlier) was being returned on board because they’d almost given up on us. The Lantern festival turned out to be my most memorable experience to date. Grateful I didn’t miss it. Moral of the story, don’t underestimate the time required to get to the airport. Also, I need to follow my own advice because I have still missed flights after this.

 Five things you can’t travel without?

Phone. I take a lot of my pictures with it. Which also means always walk with a power bank and a power bank for the power bank and a universal adapter 

My favorite Blue sweater that can double as a scarf, from Vivo Active wear. All is right with the world when I wear it.

Comfortable walking shoes; even when they mismatch everything you are wearing. I generally walk a lot when I travel. That is how I shed off all the food I indulge in when not traveling.

Wet wipes or hand sanitizer because germs are everywhere.

Medical stuff like painkillers, tummy relief and bandages because I’m clumsy and like street food

How do you afford travel?

Save and personally plan the heck out of every detail, this helps save costs, oh and save. I don’t look at travel as leisure. It’s a necessity and I plan for it in my monthly expenses even when I’m not going anywhere.  I have an account with a standing order and every month some travel money is put aside. I know its easier said, but you never spend money you don’t have. If its out of reach, you wont touch it.

 How does Kenya compare to the different places you’ve been to?

Our weather can’t be compared. I’m convinced some countries like India have 2 suns, one on your left and on your right.

 What is your worst travel experience

I have many, and as you experience them, they are the absolute worst…at that time. I have even sworn off some countries and airlines, but later when you think about it, it becomes an exciting story and you’d give anything to go back. Most recent was when the pilot told us to prepare for landing then minutes later said he can’t land because of bad weather and was not given landing clearance . Then he tells you not to worry because you have enough fuel to circle the skies for an hour. At that point  you set a timer and start biting your nails. That experience is even worse when you have an hour to catch a connecting flight.

But that was not as bad as the time I lost my passport on my first solo trip. In a strange country, your passport is life. I did not realize I didn’t have it until I got to my hotel and needed it to check in. After emptying my entire suitcase on the hotel floor right at the check in counter(at that time shame is something you hear about but don’t really know), I knew I was in trouble. I’d landed at midnight. Airport was 45 minutes away. I made a few stops along the way, like stopping by a Mc Donalds because c’mon!! I can be bribed with food. Before I started traveling, I used to work for food. But I digress. So the hotel refused to let me store my luggage, I’d not checked in yet (even though they had my booking details…tsk). I walked out with my now messed up luggage, a bucket full of tears and a nervous breakdown. I had to retrace my steps, starting with the cab that dropped me from the airport. I didn’t have enough money because I was hoping to change local currency the next day and cabs don’t take credit cards and this was post Iber. My help came in the form of a cab guy parked outside with many others outside the hotel. While the others stared at a weird lost looking black girl, he came to ask if I needed help. He removed his taxi meter and helped me retrace my steps as a good Samaritan. Now I befriend cab guys in every place I go. Long story short I’d left the passport at the airport. 

 One country you’ve been to that is overrated?

I want to say Dubai but there are a lot of people who would want my hide for that. Maybe its because I have been there several times and its lost its appeal… or the fact that its not affordable. It’s affordable to go, and has gained a lot of popularity amongst travel agents, but once there anything worth doing (except the dancing fountains) cost money. A lot of it. So a lot of people end up spending their holiday walking around malls because its too hot to go outside.

 Hotel or camping?

Hotel because the bedding accept me as one of their own and the hot showers wash away the stress at the end of a rough day.

 Most important travel tip?

 If you book hotels, activities, car hire by yourself always go online and see reviews before you make the bookings. Online vendors are not always honest and you can learn from other people’s experiences. Trip advisor is especially good for this. And after a trip, go there and leave your review, good or bad. It will help a lot of people you’ll never meet.

 Have you ever missed your flight?

So many times, I am starting to wonder if I have a problem that needs to get checked. The silliest reason for missing one, was because I thought we had enough time to see a sunrise in Venice. Most of the time the airline can put you on another one of their flights, some for free if you have a good reason but if you are not lucky, you have to book another and it can be costly

 What are your future travel plans?

I would really love to experience the Lantern festival again but I don’t have a set plan for it. What I plan to do though is visit a bit of the colder destinations. I have chased the sun too long and its time to get out of my comfort zone. First on that cold list is Canada and Iceland.

 What is in your bucket list?

There is not enough space here to write down the list. Every day I discover and add something new. There is so much to do, it’s overwhelming. I have a travel bucket list and all round life bucket list.

Follow Linda on Instagram and get to see for yourself what travel is!

 

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Railway Transport in Kenya:The past and the Future

One of the items in my 2017 bucket list is to travel from Nairobi to Mombasa and back using the good old Uganda Railway.However, I remember my mother telling me funny stories of how a trip from Nairobi on her way to school in Nyanza was always filled drama. See, back then Kenya Railways was vibrant, functional and had a regular schedule. There were no bus companies like Mash,Modern Coast,Easy Coach e.t.c. Comfort and travel could never at one point be used in the same sentence.

She told me of how Lunjes and Jang’os traveling up country from Nairobi and vice versa were an interesting lot. They always transported beds, utensils,mattresses,chicken,sacks of maize and beans, millet,cassava and sweet potatoes. Each of them insisted on guarding their luggage hence hogging the little space that was meant to be shared. If you were lucky, they sometimes would allow you to carry their chicken in exchange of space.

They were also the same people who bought anything edible that was peddled by hawkers on each stop along the way. These were mainly ‘sim sim'(Sesame’s seed sweets),groundnuts, bananas, mandazi and roasted maize. As evening crawled in,oxygen became the rarest and most precious gas. Opening the windows was prohibited because of the biting night cold.Accessing the ‘washroom’ which was mostly a hole in the rare end of the train,was impossible considering the luggage and sleeping passengers. By the time everyone got to their destinations, the fatigue, constipation and mental exhaustion was unavoidable.

I derive thrill from such things and so I just wanted to try it out and see if it is any different now.

‘Sadly’ I might not get to experience that cheap thrill.

A lot has changed since that time. There has been the development of a faster and effective transport system, better roads and urbanization slowly changed the narrative as well and rail transport  became less popular. This led to negligence and irregular schedule. Such factors slowly but surely guaranteed a shift from the meter gauge railway.

Fast forward to the year 2017, a bigger and better railway system is about to be unveiled.

Despite the political controversy surrounding its development, I must say that the Mombasa-Nairobi SGR has put Kenya in the map in matters Railway transport compared to the previous Meter gauge railway.

Phase one of the project starts from Mombasa and ends in Nairobi.

The Mombasa station of the meter gauge railway. Image source:internet
Mombasa Terminus of the SGR project.
The Nairobi Railway Station of the Uganda Railway.                                                                                                                     Source:Internet
The new Nairobi Terminus.

The railway has eight intermediate stations. Intermediate stations are like ‘bus stops or stages’ these are stations along the railways that are not the main stations like Mombasa and Nairobi.

Each of the intermediate stations has a unique design. Informed by either the culture of the people in the areas they are located or the first letter of the name of the area.

Voi Intermediate Station. Designed inspired by the letter V.

 

Mtito Andei Intermediate Station, Design as letter M.

 

Kibwezi Intermediate Station inspired by the makuti roof thatching used by communities around the place.

The intermediate stations have a ticket area, baggage area, waiting bay,VIP area, facilities for people with disabilities, car parking area, and a freight yard.

Ticketing area.

Freight yard in the background.

Then, there are twenty three passing stations. These are basically the railway control area. The passing stations has four railways that eventually joins up to become one. (loop lines). They are used to control train movement on the railway, prevent collisions and basically give express trains priority in the event that two trains are going in opposite direction.

One of the twenty three passing stations.(control centers.)

There will be express passenger trains that only make short mandatory stops in the intermediate stations.

There are a number of super bridges along the railway with the Tsavo super bridge being the tallest. It is located at Tsavo East National Park.

Tsavo super bridge.
Mazeras super bridge.
Voi super bridge.

The SGR railway is fenced all the way from Mombasa to Nairobi. This is done for security purposes.Culverts have been constructed in specific areas to allow people,vehicles, animals and rivers to pass through to the other side.

Trials are still in course but word on the ground have it that it might take anywhere between four to six hours to get to Nairobi from Mombasa and vice versa. However, this is to be confirmed.

Some test trains on track.

The Mombasa-Nairobi SGR is to to be officially launched in June 2017.

Maybe just until then will I be able to check that item off my bucket list. This time only without drama. Maybe.

 

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Hiking Nzaui Hills, Makueni County.

Contrary to popular belief, Makueni County in Eastern Kenya is not a desert,neither is it an expansive flat land with thorny bushes with drying crops and hunger stricken animals.

Allow me to introduce to you the Makueni County I went to last weekend for a hike. As the rest of the country wallowed in the continuing drought with visible repercussions, there was a different narrative from this side of the republic.

Rehabilitated land, irrigation schemes, gabions and mixed farming was heavily evident. Fertile slopes that would have otherwise been left to all sorts of erosion had been put to profitable agricultural use. This might not be the script in entire county but it holds water for the areas I passed through.

From the lessons learnt after Mt.Longonot hike, I was much wiser on this one and wanted to make it as comfortable as possible. This meant proper gear, more water, more fruits and energy bars!

The estimated time of departure was 5:30 am EAT. According to the info sheet circulated earlier, it was clearly put that anyone arriving late was to be left behind. Well, I did not want to that person. So despite the insomnia and the three hour sleep, I was right on time.

Nairobi, Kenya at 5:30 am.

The first stop was Makongo in Makueni. It has a nice view point of the green hilly country side with hanging clouds,busy ants and a snaking tarmac road that made lazy turns between hills.

About an hour or so away was Nzui shopping center.This was the second stop. The tour bus we were traveling in couldn’t go further into the rough terrain,therefore we had to seek alternative means of transport to Matuluni shopping center where the hike was scheduled to start.

The two options we had were motorbikes or Toyota Probox. I had heard so many funny stories about Probox such as its supernatural ability to carry twenty people yet it has a capacity five,its imaginary turbo engine etc. Let’s just say after that ride, I understood why it has a ‘comfortable’ capacity of fifteen and twenty if you stretch it!

After about fifteen minutes, we were at Mituluni. All ready to start the hike. The weather was conducive for the day considering it had rained the previous day.

Nzaui hills is under Kenya Forestry and being a virgin trail, we were assigned two guides, one at the front and the other behind us just in case we got lost.

The terrain was moderate, no steep slopes and has the best landscape views.

A round hike was about 20km and it took approximately six hours.

The best aspect of the hike was the shade provided by the forest canopy.

About six kilometers into the forest, the gentle slope came to an end and a steep slope with undefined paths led to the first summit. That was the toughest part of the hike because the bushes were almost the same height as the tallest of us and one had to find their way through the thicket.

On approaching the first summit, you are presented with a view that instantly erases any memory that might be left of the tough ascent,the panting and sweating.

Summit two which was steeper was about thirty two minutes away. The bush gets thicker, the legs heavier and eyes narrows as one tries to make their way through.

As it is always true with hiking, the epitome is getting to the summit.

Nzaui hills proudly stands in the heart of Makueni County and can easily pass as a watch tower. From above, rivers, ox bow lakes,farms, shopping centers and homesteads can be seen as miniature structures.

The summit is a huge rock and has a perpendicular slope.

After enjoying the view at the top, the guide took us to a gentler slope during the descent and within a few hours were were back at the starting point in the shopping center!

The descent was scenic and picturesque. There were lots of soft wood trees and dried branches,millipedes and birds.

For this and similar hike experiences contact:

Xtrym adventures and Bucketlist Travels.

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Meet Rebecca Amo,the unapologetic globe trotter!

Who is Rebecca Amo?

Amo is a free spirited chic, easy going with lots of energy, selectively bubbly and on the lookout for intriguing adventures. I am super athletic and easy going when in the right mood ~extrovert. I also have this introverted side to balance the equation; That is get immersed in soul food books, solo back packing travels around the world, meditate and soul search in the mix of it all.

Ubud,Monkey Forest in Indonesia.

What inspires you to travel?

My forever young spirit and attitude,history,a yearn to learn new cultures,desire to try different foods, explore villages, meet different people,discover myself and most recently, books!Last but not least, the satisfaction I draw from putting Kenya in the map! Am that patriotic! I enjoy explaining where in Africa Kenya is and yeah, we girls travel solo too!

Egypt.
Jakarta.

Has travel changed your life?

So much! Travel has uncovered in me resilience, risk taking, spot on financial management, patriotism, love, peace, gratitude and awakened my consciousness on living in the now-present moment (Most difficult thing we suffer as humans),can’t leave out the love for soul food books.

Yoga retreat,Bali.

How many countries have you been to?

30 Countries so far adding 4 more this year!

India

What is your scariest travel experience?

Crossing Okavongo delta on a dilapidated ferry that looked like open rafters / dhows used by traders on the Indian ocean in ancient times,with the knowledge that if the caricature of this transport medium gave in, nothing and nobody would survived! Keep in mind, I am not a great swimmer.

What is the most underrated travel destination in your opinion?

In Kenya? Takaungu

Elsewhere? India, especially by Kenyans.

What is the riskiest thing you’ve tried during travel

Shared a room with a stranger (A man) in a dingy hotel at the Zambia border while back packing to South Africa, my first amateur excursion as a solo traveler! This was after I offered my room to a gentleman who was in the same bus,enroute to Zimbabwe, also stranded but couldn’t share a room with another guy! I was so naive! This stranger tormented me with sexual advances that I had to sit up all night watching football.Looking back? This guy could have actually raped me.For some reason, I was soo composed and stuck to my gun and fought back. Crazy! I can’t do it ever in my right mind…

How do you afford travel?

I literally save up for my travels.I work for my travels amongst other priorities…I also have a great network of friends around the world who help in playing host in some of the destinations I have been and will be in future.

Dubai.

What are some of the disadvantages of traveling the world as a Kenyan?

Mmmmh, generally, destinations that need visas can really make it hell because you need good financial proof to obtain a tourist visa, if you do get one, it does not guarantee entry to the destination country.The immigration of the destined country has a right to deny you entry.The other thing is,if you are female, there are some assumptions on why you are traveling alone that can be annoying if not condescending. Being black puts you on drug trafficking scrutiny among other annoying checks that you might just miss a connecting flight if scheduled for one and lastly, the assumption that I am Nigerian?While my passport reads Kenyan?….doesn’t go well with me!

Strangest food you’ve eaten abroad?

Snail and raw meat.

Bush or beach?

Bush!Now that I leave by the beach…..everyone needs a beach front address!

Best book or movie you’ve read about travel?

Motor cycle diaries .

Warmest country you’ve ever visited?

Indonesia.

Angor Wak,Cambodia.

What sacrifices have you made in order to travel?

I don’t have assets like land as most of my peers, at present, I don’t want anything that ties me down physically, I can pack up any time.I believe there is time for everything.Now, travel takes precedence.

What are your future travel plans?

Well, I have split my travels in the 4 quarters of the year and as per my leave days.

For 2017, I plan to go to;

1.Europe- France and UK in May/June for pleasure and watch sevens rugby team in the mix.

2.Pilgrimage-Jordan &Israel in October, this is a treat for me and my mum.

3.Festive season end year-Australia in December, time to make merry right?

I just started working on Jordan & Israel itinerary this month…..it is a challenge to get a Jordan visa while in Kenya.

2018;

1. Tembea Kenya- Lake Turkana

2. Paragliding in Switzerland

3. Explore Barcelona ,Madrid & Party in Ibiza-Spain

4. Explore Morocco and attend Africa largest salsa dancing congress

5. Machu Picchu trek in Peru.

Best items you have checked off your bucket list?

Hahahaha…….

1.Egypt pyramids.

2.Cruise on River Nile.

3.Snorkeling in the Red Sea.

4.Axum and Lalibella BC under ground orthodox churches in Ethiopia.

5.Taj Mahal in India.

6.Auroville in Pondicherry- India.

7.Stayed in an Ashram in Vellur, South India.

8.Climbed and summited Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

9.Ngongoro crater and Lake Manyara in Tanzania.

10.Back packing Road trip from Nairobi to South Africa.

11.Empire State building ,statue of liberty and wall street in New York.

12.Desert safari and desert camping in Dubai.

13.Ferrari world in Abu dhabi.

14.Ango Wak Temple in Cambodia.

15.Full moon party in kho pagan island -Thailand.

16.Floating market in Thailand.

17.Rice fields  and Olowatu Blue point in Indonesia

18.Yoga retreat in Bali

19.Garden by the bay in Singapore.

Tricks and tips for young people who want to travel?

1st. Master your context: This is with regards to your life obligations and what you know is your reality.Be realistic and flow…..Nature will conspire and make your travel dreams achievable.

2nd.  You will never have enough money! So, with the little that you have, move! Start small, domestic tourism,then regional and international travels thereafter. Time is now, remember nothing happens in the future!

3rd. Once you get bit by a travel bug:-Trust me, anything is and will be possible and with the law of attraction, you will surely pull lots of positive vibes to your travel dreams!

 

 

I hope you are fired up to travel as I am!! Rebecca is serious travel goals!

Enjoy till the next post!

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Hiking Mt.Longonot

Domestic tourism in Kenya has been on the rise in the past five years. As an ardent local traveler,affordable domestic tour packages provided by local tour operators are the best things to happen in these wanderlust corridors.

Day tours or one to two nights out of town have gained popularity amongst Kenyans because of their affordability and the fact that they are mainly held over the weekend hence no interference with normal work week schedule.

Last Sunday, Xtrym Adventures  one of the leading organizers of adventures, safari and hikes in Kenya hooked us up with yet another group that was going to Mt.Longonot.

The cost of hiking the mountain, park entry fees, half a litre of water and transport to and fro Nairobi was all valued at Ksh.2,199 (Approx USD 22)

Mt. Longonot is about 60Km from Nairobi,Kenya. It located inside Mt.Longonot National Park. A trip from Nairobi will be slightly less than an hour to the gate of the park. The scenery as you descend Maai-Mahiu road is breathtaking. This is where you get to see the floor of the Great Rift Valley and even appreciate the mighty Mt.Longonot as is rises majestically to a thick cloud above.

Once we approached the park’s gate, the mountain looked like kid’s play.Easy stuff. Our guide mentioned we will be back to the gate after approximately six hours. Honestly we did not understand why… I mean seriously this hillock shouldn’t be a hard nut to crack.

Time is an important factor to consider when you are planning this hike. The earlier you begin the hike the better.Because then, the sun won’t be so hot. I guess the toughest task would be hiking with a heavy bag in scorching sun.

When we got to the gate, we stretched (vital to avoid muscle pull), paid at the gate then proceeded.

Mt.Longonot as seen from the gate.

There is a stretch that leads to the foot of the mountain. Zebras and Impalas can easy be spotted grazing.I did not see any monkeys though…I assumed they were still asleep.lol.

The initial stages of the ascend were effortless. But the events to unfold later made me want to take back my words. The trail slowly but surely became steeper and thinner and the peeping sun finally come out strong. The terrain was dusty but we soldiered on. I asked how long before  we got to the peak and everyone burst out laughing. I needed no answer clearly. We were no where near the peak.

Well, I guess sometimes you only need someone to laugh at you to ignite the fire inside.

The steeper the terrain ,the tougher I became. I had to prove a point you know…(Wrong mentality…but it was fun…)

Eva, my pal, did exceptionally well too. It was hard to imagine we were sweepers at some point.

Truth be told,hiking is not for the faint hearted and has nothing to do with physical strength. It all about attitude and mental strength. It is also not about competing with the rest, but just finding your own way to get to the top. Sometimes you lead, other times you are led.

After about an hour or so, we were told that the peak was a few meters away. That statement gave us a little more energy to soldier on. There was apparently a small hut at the top of the hill. Once you begin to see it, then be sure you are almost there. The hut is the first place you can sit and replenish.

A few minutes later, not only did we get to the hut, but also to the first peak!

The ‘Hut’
First peak.

We were allowed a ten minute break to breath and grab something. Be advised to carry some lucozade, a banana, apples or grapes. You will thank me later.

The next phase was a trek around the rim of crater. The view was encouraging. This was the point where Naivasha,Lake Naivasha and its environs could be seen in perspective. The Rim of the crater is said to be 7.2km. However it felt like 14.4km ?.

Aerial view Mt.Longonot. Source:Internet.

Phase two started out well. We were energized and excited to go round the rim. The excitement was soon to come to an end when I was told there is yet the highest peak of the mountain that we were to cover. This only meant, twice the initial effort and thrice the attitude.

The slopes were steeper here, the loose volcanic gravel beneath the feet proved difficult to just walk. Then there was a thick layer of dust. In my opinion, that was the toughest part.

Type of rock and sand in the trail.

The second peak, Kilele Ngamia.

In about one and a half hours we reached the second peak. Well the highest. It is called Kilele Ngamia. It was completely worth the effort. The view was so refreshing that any pain and struggle experienced earlier is quickly forgotten.

Nothing happens here apart from photos. From Kilele Ngamia, the rest of the hike was easy. It was mainly descending.

In about an hour, we were back to the little hut. Which has notoriously been named the ‘watering hole.’

Nothing feels as good as ascending and going round the rim!

Going down using the same route was at that point easier… Did I mention were were leading the pack that whole time?

Before long we were back to where we started.

All beat and tired and about 5 hours later.

What more would you like to know about this hike?

Hope to see you hiking soon!

You can also check out Africa Outdoor Safaris for more details.

Till the next post…

Be sporty!

 

 

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