This post was written on July 28th
This past weekend we got out of town and went down to Navasha for our midterm retreat. It is kind of crazy to think that half the trip is over already, in some ways it feels like I have been here forever and other times it seems like just a few days. Navasha is about a six hour drive from Kakamega and that isn’t a very smooth 6 hours. While some of the roads were smooth the majority were very bumpy and when we finally reached our campsite I wasquite eager to escape the confines of the overcrowded mutate that we had been traveling in. While the conditions were rough the ride down was not without excitement, as we spotted a number of zebras and even a few giraffes on the side of rode. When we got to the campsite we were also greeted by a number of black and white monkeys jumping through the trees, these glimpses of wildlife were only a taste of what we were going to see.
On Friday our group split into two with about half of us riding bikes and the other going to mount Logonot. I went with the mountain group so at the break of dawn I was up and piling into another matatu. Mt. Logonot is an active volcano that erupted a few hundred years ago and now has a giant crater at the top, so the hike had three parts: hiking up, hiking around the crater and hiking down. We started heading up the mountain and at first the trail was easygoing with only a steady incline allowing us to easily view the beautiful landscape that lay below us and the antelope in the distance. We quickly realized that the beginning had been a tease as the trail got very steep and turned more into a scramble then a leisurely walk. The trail was covered with what seemed like sand and with every step forward you slipped back a few inches making progress very difficult, to add to the pressure there was a swarm of school kids behind us and rapidly gaining. With an extra push I was able to beat the school kids to the top and treated with an amazing view of the surrounding landscape as well as the crater that lay below. When the entire group made it to the top and we started circling the crater. The edge of the crater was far from smooth with many peaks, the highest one was about a third of the way around and we decided that was where we stop for lunch. The hike there was tough at parts with us sometimes almost on all fours, despite the challenge it was fun and the view we got at the top was spectacular. After having our lunch it was time to go down. I quickly realized the easiest but probably not the safest way to go down was just to run. The journey around the crater and the trip down went much faster and was a lot of fun. Throughout the entire hike we were treated with an amazing view and overall it was one of the best hiking experiences I have ever had.
The next day on Saturday we went to Crater Lake, which was similar to Mt. Logonot in that it was also a volcano that erupted, the difference was that this one had been filled with water. Surrounding the lake was a small “forest” that was home to many animals. I got within a few feet of giraffes and zebras and was able to see antelope, water buffalo and different kinds of birds in the distance. It was amazing to be walking among the animals and they were surprisingly calm only slowly trotting away when we got to close. The lake itself was also quite stunning and had attracted about nine or ten giraffes who were eating right beside it. There was also a small resort next to the lake and a floating restaurant that had some of the best food I have had in Kenya. Seeing all the aimals got me even more excited for the next weekend when we are going to Masai Mara, one of the best safaris in the world.
The entire retreat was a nice break from the grind of work and a nice way to see another part of the country. I also got some good news at the end of the weekend as my grant got accepted so I will be beginning to work on that in the coming week. The last half of my trip should be even busier than the first and I am excited to get started on my project.