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Thread: 2012 Mt Kenya, Africa adventure

  1. #1
    Senior Member Darl58's Avatar
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    Feb 2005
    The Matterhorn

    2012 Mt Kenya, Africa adventure

    After receiving an email from my German friend Stefi whom I travelled to Nepal with, I couldn’t turn down a trip to Africa for a Climb of Kenya and Mt Kilimanjaro. Of course we had to have a little Safari thrown in too…
    We flew into Nairobi on 9/21/12 and were picked up by our tour Company “Mountain Rock”; they took us to this really remote Bantu Mountain Lodge. On the dirt road we encountered Baboons and monkeys, which delighted us and cameras, came out… There were suppose to be 7 of us, but only 6 arrived in Nairobi and 5 duffle bags….ooops Oliver’s bag was lost.

    The first morning we were introduced to our guide “Sammy” for our Mt Kenya portion of our trip. He arrived and took us for a walk around the lodge, a little get to know everyone walk. It was cool seeing all the animals right on the property. I had to ask why the electric fence up so high…to keep the elephants and giraffes out…

    After lunch we left extra luggage at the Lodge and loaded up for our start of our Mt Kenya climb. A little stop at the equator and a demonstration of how the water flows on each side and on the equator…(yes, it does spin the opposite way!) We arrived on the dirt road heading to the Sirimon Gate; they drove a little ways and then stopped to kick us out to walk the rest of the way so our bodies could start the acclimation process… It was fine with us as we were antsy to get started! Along the walk up to the gate we encountered many birds, which our guide Sammy named and pointed out. He also pointed out many animal tracks…
    Just as we arrived at the Sirimon Gate – (2635 m, 8645 ft), a bunch of Zebras came into view…we slowly ( poli-poli) walked along so as not to scare them off. Zebras are shy and will run if feel threatened.. Good to know!

    It was our first taste of yes we are hiking in Africa, way cool! Just before the gate we came to a small road where we would set up camp for the night. The guide and a couple porters and our cook set up our tents and a meal tent. They also built a fire to ward off the larger animals for the night…hmm again I’m not going to see anything big…
    After dinner and hanging out at the fire we settled into our tents, loaning Oliver as much as we could until his bag was found…My reactor bag was a huge hit with him! WE were told “not” to go to the outhouse “alone” during the night…we were in the jungle… Green eyes are ok, red eyes,..Back off!
    So I needed to go to the outhouse before I settled in for the night, porters were still at the fire so assumed I would be fine…headlamp on as I walked the short distance to go pee, oh oh eyes galore all around the outhouse..Crap! I inched my way and made sure the porters were within earshot. Whew, I saw stripes; it was just a herd of zebras all around me! Kind of cool, since I knew how shy they were.
    Of course they took off running right by Stefi & Andy’s tent; they were brushing their teeth and had a nice surprise. Back to my tent safe and sound…zzzzzz okay woke up and needed to pee again, damn elevation and hydrating!! No trip to the outhouse, opted to just go behind my tent, gee in the White’s I do it all the time…….so what are those nasty grunts coming from jungle right behind me, then up in the trees….sometimes you just can’t pee fast enough!! Tent was zipped up to keep the baboons from stealing my stuff, so quickly I return to my warm sleeping bag and safety of my tent all zipped up… minutes later I hear the porters up yelling at animals….no more drinking till daylight for me!
    Morning came and I asked Sammy, what were the noises I heard last night??? Oh, just a few warthogs that woke the baboons up and then a couple hyenas in the campsite…but no big animals. My mind was just spinning as I smiled visualizing back home worrying about the bear, moose, and deer coming through the campsites…hehehe
    After breakfast the rest of our porters arrived along with Oliver’s duffle bag!!! The duffle bag had travelled all night and someone had driven 3 hours to retrieve it. We headed up the dirt road to our next camp, “Old Moses Camp”, (3300 m, 10,826 ft). It was a fun walk up a dirt road observing lots of animal tracks and seeing many birds and scenery was awesome! The walk took us through rainforest, past hagenia colorful trees, bamboo groves and giant heather.. The different alpine zones were so different and interesting to observe. Buffalo, elephant, hyena, zebra, and antelope tracks were all along the road. Arrived at “Old Moses Camp” and settled in for a relaxing afternoon and evening with breathtaking views.
    Early morning departure for a relatively long stage of our trek taking us up and over some valley’s and back down, lots of elevation gains and looses this day. As we dropped down from the high ridge the clouds came in and temperature dropped, still with many miles to go. As we dropped down for a long traverse of the valley it started to rain, hail and snow on us…it was weird for us to remember we were trekking in Africa, as you don’t think of snow and hail…. It stayed cold and wet all the afternoon as we arrived at “Shipton’s Camp”, (4200 m, 13779 ft). The clouds started clearing just as we arrived and our first close views of Mt Kenya were almost touchable! A beautiful Mountain with snowy peaks awaited us….we stood outside admiring the Mountain we would climb in the early morning. Our guide Sammy approached us for our evening briefing…as typical Sammy style, he had an option for us…lol
    Our team of 6 was all feeling strong and our trekking speed was very similar so Sammy suggested we attack the mountain by the direct route, meaning straight up from Shipton’s Camp and across the ridge to the summit. Option B was to stick to our itinerary and so a long hike around the Mountain for an approach from the other side involving some loose scree and possible ice with the days conditions…A quick and easy decision was made by the team to approach it straight up…
    Early 2 o’clock wake up with tea & biscuits and off we started, headlamps on and a slow and steady pace (poli poli- Swahili for slowly-slowly). It was steep and a little scrambling but our team was having fun with it, and the sun was rising before we knew it. We were just below the summit on a little plateau when the sun rose and made for some amazing lighting shots…we just hung out and enjoyed it as it unfolded around us and we got our first views of the surrounding scenery…

    We headed up for the final summit push to Point Lenana (4985 m, 16355 ft) which involved some rock scrambling and fixed cables and rungs over some icy-snowy sections. I think we would have stayed there all day except our stomachs were starting to tell us we missed breakfast….growl!

    Hours later and lots of elevation ups and downs and snow and rain we could see our next camp in the “far” distance..ughh Sammy was later to tell us there might have been a misunderstanding of how far we had to hike after the summit climb to our next camp and hot meal….lol
    “Mackinder’s Camp (4300 m, 14200ft) was a very welcome sight for 6 tired and hungry trekkers…A huge breakfast was served and beds were assigned and we were all happy and smiling with views of My Kenya out the window..The next day was a relaxing enjoyable hike down to the “Met Station”, simple bungalows we were told. The scenery kept changing as we saw lots of Big-John Herbs, Rosewood trees, and many views back to the peaks. The Simple bungalows were a small cabin with a small porch with a table, chairs and beds…nice and dry as it again rained in the afternoon just as we arrived.
    Lots of Cape buffalo poop everywhere but none to see that evening…so morning came and after breakfast we thanked our porters, cooks, and started our hike down the road to the Naromoru Park Gate (2400 m). WE started before the porters so we would have a better opportunity to see any wildlife along the way…(could have used a few of those porters later on)
    As we hiked down we saw Bushbuck, birds, antelopes, and lots of elephant and Cape Buffalo tracks…we rounded a corner and Sammy held his arm up to hold us up…there were 3 Cape Buffalo grazing on the road ahead. We grabbed our cameras and started to creep slowly forward trying not to scare them off….come find out they weren’t scared of us at all, one of them started pawing the ground and all three were staring at us when Sammy hollered for us to run back out of sight as he dropped his pack and grabbed some rocks…hmmm, we were a team so we all grabbed our cameras in one hand and rocks in the other and slowly crept behind Sammy who by now was running after them and yelling some kind of Swahili scare tactics.. We like to think it was Sammy’s backups that scared the Buffalo off, they at least left into the bamboo and out of sight but we all kept those rocks in our hands until we arrived down at the gate..
    A very pleasant ride back to Bantu Lodge for a delicious lunch, hot showers, cold beer and a dip in the pool …ahhh Part 1 of our Africa adventure complete and totally amazing!!

    Mt Kilimanjaro and safari will be next many photos

    Link to my photos.....
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    You need special shoes for hiking - and a bit of a special soul as well. ~Emme Woodhull-Bäche

    "Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."

  2. #2
    Senior Member Ed'n Lauky's Avatar
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    Feb 2007
    Blairsville GA ......... Avatar-- On top of Starr King Mt.
    Fascinating account and fantastic pictures. I'm looking forward to the next installment.
    I used to look at my dog and think 'If you were a little smarter you could tell me what your were thinking', and he'd look at me like he was saying 'If you were a little smarter I wouldn't have to'. Fred Jungclaus

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  3. #3
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    Oct 2006
    New Hampshire
    Excellent!! Thanks for sharing. Waiting for Kili!

    Bike, Hike, Ski, Sleep. Eat, Fish, Repeat.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Steve-o's Avatar
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    Apr 2005
    Acton Massachusetts Avatar : Baxter Peak
    Awesome ! Greenie

  5. #5
    Senior Member pudgy_groundhog's Avatar
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    Sep 2003
    Hudson Valley
    Wow - what a great experience! Loved the pictures. I was a little :-O at chasing cape buffalo with rocks, lol.

  6. #6
    Senior Member una_dogger's Avatar
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    Jul 2005
    Waltham, MA
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve-o View Post
    Awesome ! Greenie

    Darl -- you have the most excellent adventures.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member TrishandAlex's Avatar
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    Sep 2008
    White Mountains, NH
    Welcome back, and congratulations. It was nice to follow your updates on Facebook while you were away. Looking forward to your Kilimanjaro report! The girls and I hope to hike that when Sage is legally old enough to go (she has to be 11, I think).

    Wonderful TR. Can't wait for the next installment.
    [B][SIZE=3]Patricia Ellis Herr (TRISH...ALEX...SAGE)

    Those who say it cannot be done should get out of the way of those doing it. --Chinese proverb.

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  8. #8
    Senior Member Sunshine Chris's Avatar
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    Dec 2008
    Webster, NH
    I am on the edge of my chair just waiting for the next installment of your trip. Pics are awesome. What an experience. I feel like I am there when I read your report. Thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful experience.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Darl58's Avatar
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    Feb 2005
    The Matterhorn
    Quote Originally Posted by pudgy_groundhog View Post
    Wow - what a great experience! Loved the pictures. I was a little :-O at chasing cape buffalo with rocks, lol.
    Thanks for all the compliments...

    It was an amazing trip to Africa and so much to reflect on....the Cape Buffalo were quite scary at the time but afterwards were a great laugh. The Porters caught up to us after it happened and the guide told them...they laughed so hard wishing they had seen it...

    Kilimanjaro was such a different experience, it has to be a seperate Trip week I should have it put together, hope you will enjoy it as well!
    You need special shoes for hiking - and a bit of a special soul as well. ~Emme Woodhull-Bäche

    "Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."

  10. #10
    Senior Member Jim lombard's Avatar
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    Mar 2004
    Washington in March
    I was there in 2004, Ngorogoro Crater and Lake Manyara National Parks were great, we spent a couple of days around there and it's an amazing place. We hiked via Machame "Whiskey" Route.........Pole' - Pole'
    But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles.

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