The 23rd of October saw us visit and scale the Kijabe Hills.
Located North West of Nairobi, the hills are part of the Kikuyu Escarpment . The Escarpment has major attractions sites which include Williams Hill, Gatamaiyu river line walk, Kijabe / Kiharu circuit and Kereita forest and waterfall.
We left Nairobi at 6.00am – the earliest we have ever left for a hike, and arrived at the base of the hills by 8.00am.
The hike started along Nairobi / Naivasha Highway, literally just kilometers away from Mt. Longonot. We had to tread upwards towards the Nairobi/Nakuru highway where the vehicle would be waiting for us.
We were 13 people in total, with three new comers. Although everyone had been training and prepping well for the hike, one of the hikers had a very tough time at the start of the hike. She had already put it in her head, after seeing the hills, that she would not be able to do it, and it was a staggered, slow and labored hike for her.
Not long into the climb, we also started having people’s walking shoes fall apart. Two very important lessons right there, my fellow readers:
- Always maintain a positive attitude – it’s all about mind over matter.
- Wear or invest in Good hiking shoes.
Our first small hill brought us to a part of a railway line that stretches from Mombasa to Kampala. It was only 8.40am the the sun was blazing in full glory. Also, the environment was quite dry and dusty as rains had been lacking for a while in the area.
After gathering for photos on the track, we began our climb towards the first, or was it the second hill. A small hill found us at the base of yet another hill. The vegetation here had changed, and it was all shrubbery.
Unfortunately, there must have been a fire on the hill because half way up, we found ourselves walking on ash. This made it difficult to climb as the ashes were being blown everywhere. It could be possible that I may have inhaled like a liter of ash while climbing that hill.
It was no easy feat however, I was lingering behind because our distressed hiker, was still having dificulty climbing. Plus, after putting together a pair of Hi-tech walking shoes with a borrowed T-shirt, and duct tape, they still kept coming apart. We must have stopped at least 25 times along the entire track just to fix lose soles and fallen-appart shoes.
Just as we were struggling to get to the top of this particular hill, we heard a swish above our head, and low and behold, it was a paraglider. His bright orange parachute stood out in stark contrast to the landscape. The view of Mt. Longonot from the front was also simply amazing.
Anyway, three hours from start-time, we finally made it to the summit of the first hill. Our guide informed us that we would now be descending towards the railway line where we would break for lunch, and then proceed to climb back to the Nakuru Highway, where the van would be waiting for us.
Half an hour later, after some snacks and refreshments we began our descent down the first major hill. What was impressive was the immediate change of vegetation. From dry soil at the base, to scrubby bushes along the way, we were now greeted by fresh green vegetation with colorful fauna, dotting the landscapes. We got to a point where we could look over the valley below and the view was magnificent.
We continued on a small muddy track that brought us to a small village. What was amazing here was that there were donkeys that were carrying water containers on their backs. Apparently there was a river at thee base of one of the hills and that was where the village was getting its water from. So these donkeys were actually water carriers and resources for the village.
Unfortunately, we had to stop at a local cobblers to mend the Hi-techs again. At this point, the weather had taken a change for the worse, and it started to rain. We sought shelter outside a small kiosk as we waited for the passing cloud to move along. In the interim, the shoe received a good sewing and was good to go.
We continued our trek for another hour till we got to the tracks, where we settled for lunch and our presentation, which is norm. Once done, we took group photos, and I did a very stupid thing by posing on the track for an oncoming cargo train. I almost got run over by the thing. The honk that the driver gave was spine chilling. I swear, I am NEVER attempting a photo with a moving train again.
Our next hill was a rocky affair. We climbed up some steep slopes that were covered in lose gravel and boulders. The rocks here has an interesting coloration. They were grey with tinges of orange. And the erosion was almost like someone had actually taken the time to carve rose petals motifs on them or perfect little cubes out of the rocks.
I would have graced you with a picture, but it was at this exact moment, while taking on these boulders, that I found myself lost in the middle of two groups. So, alone, tired, and flustered, I remember sitting on one of the rocks and just taking a few deep breaths, humming, trying to get my “zen” back.
Kijabe Hills had proved more challenging than Sleeping Warrior in terms of distance and endurance.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity (I would hate to be lost in eternity alone, by the way), we all re-grouped and began our final ascent on what would be the last (Second last?) hill. The view from the top was breathtaking. This is where you get the answer to your trip-long question, why the F@$* am I doing this! Take a look for yourself…
The last stretch of the hike was through what seemed like the edge of the world. We found our self climbing rocks that looked right over the valleys. It was a scary feat as I am literally scared of heights. Imagine climbing over just to look down feet and feet below into nothingness.
It was almost dusk when we reached the edge of the forest. I can confidently say that we completed finally we could see the edge of the forest. The van was parked on the other side of the forest. We managed to complete close to 19km in total.
It was an amazing day that was spent forming new bonds and fostering new friendships. As a team, we were all looking out for one another and ensured that everyone finished strong.
The hike was long and enduring, and is one of the recommended hikes for Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro.
November brings two more amazing hikes. Keteita Caves and Waterfalls and Aberdares Ranges, for an overnight camping experience.
Thanks for following me on my journey!