Local Time in Korr, Kenya

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

To Hell in a Land Rover

Ok, well I really didn't go to Hell, but I did go to Hell's Gate National Park near Lake Naivasha down country, and it was just as exciting as the name implies! I was invited to go camping with my girlfriend Michelle and some friends from up in Northern Kenya, the Middletons. I've never actually been camping in Kenya, as the western version of camping goes (with a tent, a gas cooker, a sleeping bag and a mat that doesn't actually do much against the rocks underneath), so this was a bit of an adventure!

We loaded up two Land Rovers with provisions and drove two hours out of Nairobi towards this park known for its major geothermal activity (steam vents, energy plants and hot springs.) Once in the park, we set up camp on a bluff above a long, narrow valley that hosts herds of zebras, buffalo, warthogs (pumbas!) and even giraffe couples. I mean, literally we were feet away from the edge of a cliff!
(View from our tent)

The activities of the following two days included rock climbing lessons with the Middletons which were terrifying and addicting all at the same time. I have clinical acrophobia (I diagnosed myself) which should immediately disqualify rock climbing from any activity I would try, however, everyone else was doing it, so... The guys roped three courses, easy, medium and hard, and in the end I successfully completed the easy and medium ones with, I admit, much groaning and screaming, "Now what?!" It feels good to say, "Yah, I've rock climbed in Kenya." but I've suffered from some pretty serious aching shoulder joints since then.

(Looking like a pro - ish.)

We also hiked the volcano (extinct now, but still steaming up a storm!) and the gorge, a narrow trail carved out of soft sandstone by the random comings and goings of floods. The gorge was beautiful - stunning, really, with its rippling stone walls and hot spring waterfalls. And it provides quite a rush realizing that a flash flood could come and wipe you out at any time since there's no way out of the gorge, except the "designated trail heads." Or maybe up - if I could tap into my new found climbing skills.(Love some sandstone)

(Michelle and I)

(Graffiti in the gorge - Evan must be desperate...)

The volcano, Hobley's Volcano, is, I believe, what must have inspired Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth. It's just other-worldly enough, with its steaming vents and crumbling terrain, to lend itself to science fiction, but also real enough to invite speculations of, "What if I climbed down into this cave? I wonder if it would be like that Planet Earth episode..." We didn't actually climb down into the cave, on account of the fact that that would have been supremely dangerous, but we did slip and slide around the cliffs and threw feather light pumice stones to each other. (Caleb Middleton ponders the volcano.)

Other notable events on our vacation included Caleb chasing a giraffe and Michelle and I running into a jackal on the way to the toilet one night. And so, finally getting out of Nairobi and traveling to the gate of Hell has been, ironically, quite good for my city weary soul.
(Caleb Klay vs. African wildlife)

1 comment:

  1. Giraffe... Can't. Stop. Laughing.

    In case I didn't say this earlier, I'm happy I found your blog.