Monday, July 9, 2012

Lake Elemntaita

Another hike, another burn and no sore muscles. If anything is going to hurt this week, it will be my tank-top-burned back. Sunblock is overrated. Or I just wasn’t built for Equatorial sun. 

Where to begin? I know where it all ends - broken radiator, steam and matatus. The start: ready, steady, go on the so-called 4 hour hike. Lies! Even in the insane, in my opinion, pace at which we were going, we still finished in 6.5 hours. Why can’t Kenyans be honest about time? 

IMG_0660No shade, no shadows – you know it’s bad. Smartly, I brought my Singaporean 30 sunblock with the hope that if it can help keep Asians white, then maybe it will help me too. Would that it could.

IMG_0663See the little mount on the left? That’s how far we made it, AND THEN around on the ridge behind it and back down to the main lodge. 4 hours, my *ss!


Stunning, no? From here we went down to walk by the water passing various types of cattle – cows, cows with horns, little yummy looking kids (those are baby goats) and little yummier looking lambs (all pretty silent when I come to think about it, no mooing and baaing). One of our organizers kept coming back to the end of the group (yep, that’s were I was trailing, enjoying myself and taking pictures) to make sure we don’t get attacked by buffalos. She was way too worried about the buffalos.

The lake was the highlight only until we made it to the skirts of the first hill and enthusiasm was overshadowed by misery. My 3-4 kg backpack was only part of the problem. Despite the fact that I kept eating everything in it and chugging water to make the load lighter, the two zip-ups (apparently the Brits call them jumpers, but that’s just a little too ridiculous) I was carrying were doing precisely the opposite. Exacerbating my gloomy condition was the scorching sun, beating down on us. We broke for lunch around 1 PM on top of a hill with no shade! With my water at boiling point there was little hope of cooling down any time soon.

On we go again soon enough on an even worse trail (after a deceptive stretch going down, the hill was even steeper). Again no shade, no cloud, no wind, no relief from the heat. Running around us up and down the hill collecting people at the back was our guide Benson, a local Masai looking person who must have climbed this a million times since he had nothing on him, only a small bottle of water (ohh and his mobile phone). No wonder Kenyans always win the Olympic marathon gold. Impressive endurance.


Benson restlessly waiting for the last to conquer the second hill. Around 3 PM this was mission impossible for those out of water and the 7-month pregnant lady. This time I wasn’t in that last part of the group and got a longer rest. As soon as they made it to our temporary camp we were up and running on the final stretch to the summit.


Breathtaking! Worth the exhaustion! To the left, the hill where we had lunch is dwarfed by our current location. See how far from the lake we are?  P.S. It only looks dark because it’s taken against the sun. What may seem as lack of heat is a mere illusion produced by an equally overheated camera.

From here on it was all downhill. Less complaining! With the sun heading west, it was losing strength as we were losing altitude. Quickly we reached the bottom of the hill and from then on it was another 45 mins of walking without any incline at a brisk pace. We passed a little village, more cattle, donkeys, dancing African children.

Like most of my stories, this one finished with a Tusker in hand. Or so I thought before we got back on the road.


A distress call made us turn around to help our fellow hikers. Luckily for me, I switched buses and found myself on the working one. With unknown problems at their hands, drivers and organizers could do nothing else but attempt to cram all of us sardines in one bus and get to the closest gas station. This physical impossibility remained untested as the broken bus started and managed to get some of the people to a gas station 500m away.

It took some time to realize that the bus wasn’t going anywhere. I still wonder why anyone thought that was an option. With the pitch dark roads in rural Kenya you want to be any other place but there if your vehicle breaks. As the revelation occurred (together with the steam from the bus’s radiator), a call was made and 20 mins later 2 matatus appeared to take people back to town. The phlegmatic speed at which Kenya operates normally made the matatu appearance seem astoundingly quick.

14 hours later I was back home with barely enough strength left in me to shower and craw into bed. Challenge accepted, challenge fulfilled. Lily out.

1 comment: