We can’t resist the call of the open road. Give us a blue highway, the autobahn or a muddy path to who-knows-where. We won’t really care… we’ll going. We don’t really need a why, either… we are set to travel. I feel like being on the road pours out excitement like sunshine through fine white linen. No smile compares to the one cracked by the joys of travelling, ok maybe an M-PESA message 🙂 . Easter was here, a great time for family. My sister, Pauline, the second born child (I have 4 big sisters, yep! I’m the last born *hides to go feel important* haha) had called us a week earlier asking if we wanted to visit her in a town that’s located in Northern Rift Valley, 382 kilometers away from Nairobi. Approximately six and a half hours away. Kitale is the town. If using a matatu, it would cost 2000bob to and fro depending on the time of the year. We opted to leave early to avoid the Easter holiday traffic on the Nakuru highway. There we were; my two sisters(Serah Rono and Liz), my brother-in -law(Dave Rono),Walter and I at 4am starting our journey, we did a number of stopovers on the road including Eldoret to visit our friends. We got to Kitale at 2pm. The journey was awesome, we talked the whole way, pretended to be instrumentalists and famous singers…we enjoyed almost all the songs from our different playlists, call us the Kings and queens of lip-syncing. It was our own James Corden carpool!…our dreams are valid and sometimes vary to meet reality when these dreams are clearly long shots…
It was an amazing reunion, we found my mum there, her friend had tagged along, my brother-in-law (Mwas), My nephew and niece(Joy and Asaph). My big sister,Carol…her husband and kids were missing 😦 , they’re in another continent, we missed them!) That evening was a catch-up sorta evening. We had candle-lit dinner outside (Let me just mention,the Kiburu kids know their way round the kitchen, the set-up did justice to the food). After dinner, the ladies cleaned the kitchen and packed kitchen stuff and the guys packed tents, mattresses and sleeping bags and loaded them in the cars. Looking at the things packed, one would have thought we were going for weeks! This was no ordinary camping, we were surely glamping. The destination was Mt.Elgon National Park and we were going to hike one of the major peaks of Mt.Elgon called Koitobos (4,222 metres (13,852 ft), a flat-topped basalt column in Kenya.
We left the house at 7am, its a 30 minutes ride to the park. It took us 45 minutes because as my family would explain, ‘the bloggers had to take photos’ :-D. At the gate we paid 350 bob for 8 adults, I had carried my school ID (if you are a student always carry yours while on a safari, you just never know), they charged Joy and I 250 bob each as entry fee, Asaph is less than 3 years,he entered free of charge. Then we paid 3,000 kshs for the guide (a KWS ranger is required to accompany you,this means you are safe 😀 , you know where to go and you get to know a lot about the place as well). For the five seater car it cost us 600 bob as entry fee and for the van 1200bob. Camping fee for the 8 adults cost us 2400 bob(300 bob each) and for child and student(Joy and I), 150 bob each. In total we paid 10,000 at the gate. For foreigners the charges are different $30 entry, $12 for the vehicle and $35 for the guide.Oh yes, the park provides logs of wood for free for your camp bonfire at night. 🙂
For the 10 seater van,tents and mattresses we used we got them from a company called Migration Trackers and Safaris. It operates round the Western circuit of Kenya(that is Kakamega county, Bungoma county, Busia county and Vihiga county). They charged us 8,000kshs/day for the van. If you would like to be accompanied by a driver, it would cost you 10,000kshs/day this would be inclusive of the fuel cost. For the tents it cost us 500bob per tent and we took 5. As for the mattresses, they charged us 100 bob for one,that is per day..we took 10. The company also provides camping accessories(portable gas cookers, utensils and sleeping bags)…To reach them for bookings and info call 0720 707179. We paid them a total amount of 11,500kshs.
We did a short drive through the forest. Our first stop was at one of the slopes of the mountain, we wanted to hike up and go see the Kitum cave. Kitum cave is well known because this is the only place in the world where elephants go underground into the caves at night to scrape the cave walls for the salts the rocks contain.
The vegetation in the forest is low in sodium so the elephants come here to satisfy their salt need. As the guide explained, the caves are also famous for the two instances of Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever being contracted here. It is a deadly virus that is closely related to Ebola. The slope wasn’t steep, so we went with the kids too and my mum and her friend made it too. Just at the entrance of the cave we spotted fresh wall scrapings by elephants using their tusks. The guide continued to explain the rock was made from old pyroclastic flow deposits from back when Mt. Elgon was an active volcano. There was fresh elephant dung at the back of the cave and woah, let me mention the bats hanging from the roof of the cave had high screeching sound voices through the sound of their beating wings. We didn’t hang in there for long, unlike other caves with constant hot temperatures, this one was cold. Note that it’s around 15million years old and extends 160m into the mountain side. Pretty huge for a cave,huh?
Did i mention there was a yellow pool of sulphur just as you entered the cave. I don’t know the scientific explanation to this though…
From the cave the rest of us wanted to take a walk round the sloppy trail. My mum, her friends and kids were escorted to our camping site as we continued exploring.
Please note, mountaineering shoes will come in handy when doing such an expedition 🙂
We walked round the short trail to the Saboti look out. The view was breathtaking, we had to turn the nature walk into a photo session.
We later went to another cave called Making’eny…
We took lots and lots of photos. By this time we were tired and hungry. Thank God for the small waterfall outside this particular cave. It cooled us down. It was time to go to our campsite(called Rongai)
Liz took a lot of videos, she was surely with it!
By this time all we were thinking was, “Food…here we come!!!” 🙂
It was a 15minutes game drive from where we were. We really thanked God it hadn’t rained the days before. The road at the park can be a quagmire of mud when it rains,making it had for car movement. On our way back we spotted Zebras, Rock Hyrax(from a distance), antelopes,baboons, duiker, colobus monkey and buffalos. We had an incident though. As you know the African male buffalo has a long and stocky body and lets not even start on their horns,the horns diverge downwards, then smoothly curve upwards and outwards. In large bulls, the distance between the ends of the horns can reach upwards of one metre. They protect their herd with all their might, so when they saw us slowing down the cars to take photos. It decided to chase after us…well after the car that Serah, Liz and Mwas were in. Thank God for Mwas’ driving skills and adrenaline rush…he drove really fast. We were right behind. We should have taken a footage of this but we were too shocked to even think about it.
As we entered the campsite location we spotted an open kitchen,the washrooms and a huge camping area. It can hold upto 50 people.
Also it’s pretty hard to get lost because there’s a guide and there are a lot of mounted directions after every few metres.
We get to the campsite and dear mothers had prepared for us lunch(buns, choma sausages,bacon,vegetables,chapati and drinks)
Lets just say guys got energized after the meal. The ladies slept as the guys mounted the tents.
Let me be honest, camping is about team work,man-power and having loads of fun while at it…
The kids too had their own tent…Aunt Liz threatened Asaph to share his with him hahaha. 😀
We then played games then Mwas, Dave and Walter prepared the bonfire which is mandatory to do as long as you are camping in order to chase away the wild animals at night while sleeping.
We, the ladies, prepared dinner. I would advise those planning on camping here to carry a portable gas cooker, utensils and the ingredients.We then ate surrounding the bonfire. It wasn’t as cold maybe due to the temperatures rising all over the country as a result of equinox but be sure to carry warm clothes for the night.
Dear mothers slept early but the rest of us hang around the fire…telling stories, oh the joy that comes along with long holidays.At around midnight we called it a day because we needed energy for the following day’s activities. At night the water bucks and baboons came to the site. One could hear them move around and make strange noises.
The kids started falling asleep on Aunt Serah’s laps…
Clearly this is an ideal place for the adventure lovers. This story isn’t over yet. It was morning.The camp fire had burnt out,there was dew on the grass..This marked a new day…new explorations…at a different places…Continuation of this on next week’s post…
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Note: This budget is for 9 adults and two children
Mt. Elgon Park- 10,000 kshs
Migration Trackers and Safaris- 11,500 kshs
TOTAL: 21,5oo Kshs