The images on WhatsApp showed beautiful Mercedes buses. This was refreshing and different. The squad would travel from Nairobi to Mt. Longonot, Naivasha in a German Machine.
In a rare deal by a local tour company, I set out with two of my friends to go conquer a famous mountain. Out of the three, only one of us had climbed it before. That was years ago. Never underestimate what time does to your body and tolerance levels.
Relax. We are not that old.
As is the norm in many of the local tour companies, you pay and then an admin adds you into a WhatsApp group. This is where all the details of where and when happen.
Our hosts were Elyzza Tours, an amazing host as we would come to find out. Their helpful staff proved their experience right from the start through their timekeeping. Half past six in the morning means exactly that.
As we arrived at the rendezvous point beside I&M towers in the Nairobi CBD, one of the buses was almost full. It was some minutes past the agreed time and they only needed whoever arrived at that moment to check their name against a list and board the vehicle.
Did we leave someone?
I hope not. However, the punctuality of Elyzza Tours was impressive. If you need to visit a place and be back before night falls, then respect time.
Our journey took less than two hours and we were soon driving through the gates of Mt. Longonot National Park. This was after a quick stop at the Rift Valley view point along the Nairobi- Mai Mahiu road. The fresh air and the view of the escarpment never gets old.
The Mt Longonot Park is home to some flora and fauna even though the mountain is the main tourist attraction. To support the cause and keep the park clean, every visitor has to declare the number of plastic bottles they have at the gate. This is the only way to allow you to carry your plastic water bottles and ensure you do not dump them in the park.
You need to warm up before the hike
The illusion is perfect. The view of the mountain from the gate gasses you up. You think it is a small task. As our guide took us through stretches and some aerobic exercises, he informed us that we would get to the top and be back down in about 5 hours.
Perhaps out of the adrenaline rush from the short exercises, we shouted back. In unison, we said that we agreed to go round the mountain crater.
Many regretted this decision.
Scaling the heights, glimpses of defeat.
It was still dry and there was considerable dust during our ascent. You have to be careful to conserve your water as the climb drains you slowly. Before the first stop, almost halfway up the mountain, there is a treacherous flight of stairs. If they were at the beginning, maybe it would be easier. But climbing them after you are sweating is tricky stuff.
Get good shoes if you go there. Helps with your grip and keeps you safe.
We arrived at our first stop, which is a small roofed structure, where hikers sit to recover. Others give up at this point. There are toilets here and we waited for the rest who had lagged behind. The rest is important as the dejavu hits you that what lays ahead is exactly the same thing that you have just struggled to finish.
The second mountain in Mt Longonot
I am just being poetic but at least to me, the second phase was easier. With good shoes, you get into a rhythm and keep going higher. It is easier to forget what you leave behind you. You should not. Take a turn and drink awesome views. You will never forget.
We got to the second stop, where nature brags of what it is made of. The deep crater, lined with a bed of lush vegetation meets your eyes. Behind you, is a bird’s view of Naivasha and all the flower farms around. Also, Lake Naivasha glitters on the horizon.
Going round the crater will humble you
I would advise that you check your fitness before you go round the crater. I estimated around 7 kilometers to complete the circumference. It is a challenge but fun because you get to the highest point on the mountain.
The conquest of the mountain’s peak is something you deserve to experience.
Our sweat dripped in gallons, we slid, we fell, but we kept going. Sometimes, when you’d look up and realize you are not halfway around the crater, you’d regret your decision.
Point of no return, anyone? We had to finish it.
It is tiring, but the views are so worth it.
We had lunch before we started our descent. Except for a few tricky sections, climbing down is easy and fun. All you need to do is accept that you will get a layer of dust on you.
As we took the last views down the mountain, the body forgets that you are tired. It sinks in that you have achieved a great thing.
You have conquered a mountain.
Journey back and what you need
This trip was at a discount price so we paid Ksh. 1,800 ($18). Foreigners that were with us paid more.
Carry water even if your tour company will give you more. Wear good shoes (hiking shoes). Sports shoes also work. Wear rubber shoes at your own peril.
You can get a walking stick for Ksh. 50 at the gate to assist with the climbing.
You will also get water and bathrooms to clean up when you get down, so carrying extra attire is a good thing.
The journey back was uneventful. This was because many were asleep, too tired to watch the scenery back.
Now that Longonot is off the list, we look forward to the next adventure.
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