One (of the many) great thing about living in Kenya is the close access to many incredible hiking spots. Several weeks ago we went with some friends to Eldama Ravine, a town about 200 kilometers north west of Nairobi, to get out of the city and get away for the weekend. We stayed in a quaint little cabin at a missionary ranch called Sonrise Acres. It was very nice get away but the best thing about it was the hiking opportunities that were close by. There were no distinct trails with the exception of cattle paths. We just set out on a hike through forests, along the mountain ridges and valleys, passing local villages and shambas, and regularly meeting locals. Several of these children quickly became a part of our hiking party. They began to tell us about a “waterfall” that we should go and see. We had heard that there was a decent falls to be seen, so we acquired their services as guides. Well, after over an hour of hiking the kid’s route (cutting through patches of forest and brush, climbing fences, going under fences, crossing creeks) we became a bit skeptical about the existence of this waterfall, and became certain that if it existed or not the sight would not be worth the ordeal of getting there. Finally we began to hear the distant sound of rushing water and our local guides took a quick turn into the forest. We followed them through the brush, hiked down a slippery slope, and came face to face with a 30-35 foot waterfall. It was honestly one of those few times in life when your breath is literally taken away. Not because the falls were that magnificent. It was gorgeous, but nothing extremely special. But it was because of how greatly it exceeded our expectations. We were expecting maybe 5-10 feet of falling water, basically a glorified rapid, but we got much more. Very pleasant surprise. On one of our hikes we even saw a heard of 10 or so baboons raiding a cornfield. As we watched the children chasing the baboons away, it seemed to be as common of a thing for them as it would be to see crows stealing corn in the States. I noticed that the kids had been watching us closely all day, friendly but cautious. So as we were finishing our hike for the day I asked one of my new friends, “Are we the first wazungu (white people) that you have seen here?” He smiled and said, “No, you are the second.”
Last weekend we also went with a group to hike Mt. Longonot again. We did this hike back in September, but we wanted to do it again for 2 reasons. The main reason was that we wanted to take Melissa with us while she was in town, second we wanted to leave earlier to have time to hike the entire rim of the volcano. I won’t go into all the details, since we already posted on this hike once, but after hiking it a second time we are positive that it is our favorite day hike we have ever done. Hiking the entire rim offers such a variety of views in every direction. Since it was a clear day we were able to see Lake Navaisha, Hell’s Gate Gorge, and several mountain ranges in the distance. The Rift Valley is one of the world’s most beautiful places, but looking at it from above is even more impressive. Melissa enjoyed the hike and it was a blessing to be able to experience it with her before her time in Africa concluded. There are still dozens of hikes that we have yet to take that we look forward to taking. The exciting thing is that they are all in our backyard, and we have nothing but time.