Not only did we trek around the stunning Great Rift Volcanoes such as Mount Longonot and Menengetti Volcano, the calming nature of Lake Naivasha was a dream come true.
Mount Longonot Trek
Our first stop was Mount Longonot, a stratovolcano located around 60km from Nairobi, it appeared huge on the landscape as we drew closer. It is a dormant volcano and is thought to have last erupted in 1863 and is 2776m above sea level.
The start of the hike to the crater is around 3km but it is fairly steep so you’ll need a certain level of fitness not to give up at the first hurdle. From there, the views are simply incredible, you can look down into the crater where there is deep, tall forestation where warthogs and leopards roam. Along the walk there was plenty of thorny Whistling Acacia, our guide told me the plant is so-called because the ants make entry and exits holes giving it’s instrumental sound in the wind. Giraffes apparently eat them but have the added bonus of antiseptic saliva to heal from the spikes on the plant, gotta love nature!
The total walk was around 13km and took between 5-6 hours depending on fitness. The name of the volcano is derived from the Maasai word Oloonong’ot, meaning “mountains of many spurs” or “steep ridges”. I did have to say after making it back to the starting point, I decided it was ‘long’, although the shoeless local schoolchildren didn’t seem to think so as they ran up and down the outside of the crater as quick as a rat up a drainpipe!
The early morning wake-up was worth it to visit the serene spot of the freshwater Lake Naivasha surrounded by lush green vegetation. Once we got into the boats, the endless amount of wildlife was unreal; mummy and baby giraffe walked across the lake in front of us, we spotted paras, water bucks, wildebeest and families of submerged hippos. The hippos spend all day wallowing in the water and come out at night to feed, apparently, they can run faster than humans so I was happier with them in the water. Let’s not forget, the immense about of birds such as the African spoonbill and the black herons at the edge of the water or in the trees.
Not only is the lake breathtakingly beautiful but it is famous for a couple more reasons; it is the former home of Joy Adamson, the author of Born Free, and the rangers tell us that the animals were brought there for the making of the film, Out of Africa, hence the reason why there are no predators amongst them.
Since we humans have the better brain, isn’t it our responsibility to protect our fellow creatures from, oddly enough, ourselves.
We drove through Nakuru to reach the huge shield volcano with one of the biggest calderas in the world. The crater is 12km in diameter and 90 sq. km. in area and although it is dormant now, the last eruption occurred in 1991.
John, our lovely guide, told us in the 19th Century, the Masai tribes fought against each other to claim land and animals, the caldera used to be a watch tower. One massacre took place just outside the crater where many bodies were buried afterwards; Menengai is a word that means “a place for dead bodies”.
We took a walk down to the Menegai Sacred Caves where Christian pilgrims come from all over Kenya to pray, there were people sleeping at the edge of the cave in the dark after their big long journey. Back in 1950s, the Mau Mau’s would use the caves as a place to hide in the middle of the uprising.
The vast expanse of land gave me goosebumps as we trekked along the caldera, further down in the forest on the base you are likely to come across baboons, hyenas, antelopes and snakes. You could see small emissions of steam in the distance which become more active at night when the ground is cooling down. There is still a chance that this volcano will erupt again with the pressure needing somewhere to escape. It’s exciting to find out there is a geothermal project in progress to connect the steam to a power plant, amazing source of renewable energy especially since poor rainfall has hindered hydro power. Bravo Kenya!
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>> Discover more of Kenya with the safari in Hell’s Gate National Park, visit to the Maasai Village and the geothermal spa.
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>>Trip organised by Trekkup
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