Currently in: Naivasha, Kenya

Friday, December 7, 2012

Blessing the Rains in Africa



So you know that 80’s song “Rains down in Africa”? well it has been stuck in my head since my brother Jeremy posted a comment about it on my FB wall before I left for Africa, and well a few weekends ago I actually got to Bless the Rains in Africa.

In fact every weekend I have been privileged enough to go on some incredible adventures. Doing a rain dance with a Massi Tribe almost seems normal these days.

I met a hiking group and have signed up to climb Mont Kilimanjaro this new years. I am pumped, and so for training a few weekends back we went on a 28 Km hike of Mont Suswa. Mont Suswa is a HUGE reserve, protecting animals, traditional Massi tribes and the natural geological exibits. We first hiked out to the caves, and anyone who knows me, knows how much I love caves. They were huge, formed by lava flows from when the Suswa volcano was active. Our Massi guide took us through the “shit Shower” a small tunnel through extremely dense bat populations and you can guess what happened. It was beautiful and we had a blast.


Then we also past a couple traditional Massi villages. We got to learn how they harvest steam produced by the geothermal activity in the area and use it for their water. We got to see their small huts made only from dung and sticks. And they were doing this dance (lots of jumping) in their traditional attire apparently calling the rains down to finish the short rains so they could start their migrating the following week without rain. And we got to join them, so I kinda got to bless the rains in Africa. How cool is that?

Then we walked to the cone of the old Suswa volcano, it is a double caldera, meaning that it erupted once and blew a big crater in the cone, then in the crater another volcano cone formed and when that one exploded another crater was created. Basically it was beautiful. We walked through a HUGE jungle forest in the crater. Surrounded by monkeys, snakes and had to keep an eye out for leopards in the trees. 



The following weekend I went on a camping trip with a group of couch surfers. We camped at Boyor Subuk National park. Couch surfers are fun because it was such a mix of people from around the world. We went on a great hike up one of the peaks on Saturday. Watching monkeys of all varieties, actually buffalos (not to be confused with the Bison found in the states). For many of the Kenyans it was their first camping experience, so I got to teach so many how to put up a simple tent. The evening was filled with many silly group games, lots of food and just a great time. At one point a baboon somehow got into the car with the food and made off with 2 loafs of bread, and then sat eating it not 20 ft away from us in the forest taunting us with his steal.

Sunday we walked from the national park to 14 Falls. It was an incredible walk that took us down a dirt path through many small villages. Most of these places never see a white person, so the crowd of children following me grew bigger and bigger but they showed us the back way to the river, it was pretty cool.

I had no idea what to expect with 14 falls, and let me tell you, my mind was BLOWN. It is a HUGE river that drops down about 50 ft in some places to create an entire crescent shaped waterfall range, you can kinda tell the 14 separate falls, but really they all combine to form one HUGE waterfall. Now sadly this weekend was one that I forgot my camera, my waterproof shock proof camera… so pics are sadly limited. But we climbed down the side of the water falls to try and get to the rocks at the bottom, to do that we had to cross extremely fast powerful rapids on the most questionable falling apart wooden “bridge” (it was more like a ladder on its side). We were already slightly questioning this as we were crossing when they pointed out a giant African Crocodile swimming below us. My stomach definitely dropped- but we made it safe. And a local Kenyan tribesman informed us that for $3 he would show us a safe lagoon to swim in and even take us up to one of the waterfalls you can jump in. Now you should know a couple things about Kenya. 1st is most Kenyans do not swim. They might get in water, but only up to there waist. So people swimming is odd to them. 2nd white people are rare, so a swimming white person is a spectacle to them. Needless to say, I jumping off the water fall into rapids drew a crowd. 3rd is that trash and waste of any kind is a big problem in most rivers here. So that water was some of the most polluted, dirty water I have ever been it. And yet the falls were amazingly beautiful, and jumping off 30ft falls is always exhilarating. It made for quite an experience. 



We spent the rest of the afternoon just climbing over the rocks, climbing up natural roots of trees up on top of huge boulders and diving into the water. It was a paradise for me.

Then this past weekend I FINALLY got to go explore my own backyard – Hell’s Gate National Park. 
 (This is the ONLY map for Hell's Gate, it is posted on the entrance to the park)

YES, this is the place that inspired the drawers for one of my all time favorite movies – The Lion King. Fisher’s Tower, inspired Pride Rock, and the gorge looks exactly like where Mufassa was killed by wildebeest. Its one of the few National Parks that lets you bike in and around the park. So we mountain biked through the park,  zebras, wildebeest, warthogs, giraffes, buffalo all around us. Gorgeous mountains and cliff faces everywhere (rock climbing is really popular in the park). Then that lead us to the gorge. The gorge is one of the main attractions in the park, you are required to pay for a guide if you want to go down into it and explore the devil’s bed room, devil’s shower, hot and cold springs, climbing, swimming, waterfalls and every other kind of natural playground equipment you could imagine. 
 (biking in Hell's Gate, that is "Pide Rock" in the background) 
 (Playing in the Canyon, rock climbing, waterfalls, hot springs, my 2 German friends came with me shown above)


All of this, literally in my backyard of where I am living in Kenya! SO MUCH FUN! By the time we got back to my shack we were exhausted from a full day of hard core fun in the sun. Good thing my Kewi friend who lives down the path from me was grilling for us an entire leg of lamb. I have many plans for continued exploration of the gorge complete with rock climbing and mountain biking. Like I said, it’s a rough life here.

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