I must say I was high on something or there was something in me that was driving me to do this. One of them was the Mt.Kenya climb which was a month away. I thought to myself since I will be walking for three consecutive days in Mt. Kenya what will stop me from climbing some small mountains in two days? How about trying out these two mountains just to measure how far I can hike. Yes I was up for the challenge:-
Day One: – Menengai Crater
This was one of those random hiking plans one gets into without prior arrangement courtesy of one Chris Tembo of East Africa Outdoor circuit https://www.facebook.com/Outdoorcircuits. This plan started as a joke but eventually we had like 30 interested fellow hikers who were up for the challenge. We all met at Odeon Cinema one of the bus stations in Nairobi’s busy Tom Mboya’s street. As usual we had to wait for the late comers so that we can all leave together.
Thanks to the late comers we arrived in Nakuru rather late when the sun was already up and yes we did hike in that heat. Those of us who were smart enough carried hats that would protect us from getting sun burns.
The hike officially started at 12.00noon on top of the crater. We started the hike on top of Menegai crater. When one of the guides told us that we were getting into the crater we did not question how we will get out.
For your information crazy stories have been told about Menengai Crater from evil spirits that capture people and animals, to ghosts ploughing the field to people disappearing and never returning. This did not stop us from accomplishing our hiking mission.
Menegai Crater is a massive shield volcano with one of the biggest calderas in the world. The crater is located in the Great Rift Valley which is about 10km North of Nakuru town one of the biggest fastest growing cities in Kenya. It’s the highest point is 2,300 m above the sea level. The Crater is 238km North West of Nairobi and 22km West of Mt. Kenya.
Though the volcano is dormant, there are hot spots at the floor of the crater where steam jets sometimes fill it with vapor. In the center of the caldera is a small cone rising above surrounding lava, which shows fumaroles activity. It is not known when Menengai last erupted, although some of the cinder cones on the crater floor still emit smoke.
The Crater is a tourism attraction site in Rift Valley that attracts both domestic and international tourists visiting on a daily basis for all kinds of activities such as hiking, site seeing, picnics etc. It also has caves where pilgrims from all parts of the country converge to pray and fast. Apparently some can even stay there for months since it is believed that they feel very close to God when praying. As we were running behind time we couldn’t visit the caves but would be interested in coming back and checking out what actually happens in these caves.
The climb down the cliff was very encouraging especially for the first timers. However the first 30 minutes we descended at 60 degree angle into the crater and the path was very rocky and slippery. After an hour we settled on flat ground where we had an hour’s break to have bitings and drinks. At this point we did not have the slightest idea of how we gonna get back up. We were surrounded by cliffs and rocks, in short we were in the middle of nowhere. Those who had done Menengai before started preparing us psychologically but you know we didn’t take it seriously or simply did not care since everyone person has his or her experience about stuff.
We embarked on another two and half hours of climbing up the cliff. The path back up was not clearly outlined, we had to create ours and at some point we got lost. Literally we were on all fours, at some point there was nowhere to hold ourselves apart from the rocks that looked like they were abit unstable on the ground and some twigs. For those who had height phobia were in trouble because of the angle all of us had taken. The first person in the group played a key role since we followed what he did and said, and that was the guide. The whole 2 or so hours were everyone for him/herself and God for us all.
Finally we were back up the cliff. Have you ever had this feeling of accomplishing something? That is what all of us had despite the negativity we had on the way up. This was the most humbling experience and not for the faint hearted. However a piece of advice all these experiences are just in the individual’s mind, every person has his or her own experience that is totally different.
Menengai crater is one of the most attractive places in Kenya which adds splendid scenery to the beauty of Kenya. One of the unique factors is that the tourists are able to hike up to the foot of the caldera.
That was my end of day one escapade onto the next challenge LONGONOT HERE WE COME that’s what I kept on saying on the bus on our way back to Nairobi but deep inside I wasn’t sure whether I would rise up to the challenge but guess what I did and felt nothing, I mean zero pain!!! Keep it here for my next post on Mt. Longonot.
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