Ahead of what was appearing to be a very boring weekend, I, in the company of my boys club friends, plan on doing something remarkable that will keep us entertained.
Our foot soldier Kipkirui Kamoo suggests that we should go for a hike, which he had gone before in the company of church youths. That’s when we settle on paying a visit to Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park, climbing Mt. Kilimambogo in what happened to be an epic experience of Kenya’s great tourist attractions.
Around Saturday noon, in a company of four who include Evans Cheruyoit, Kipkirui Kamo, Dennis Barasa, and Joshua Muthini, we start our journey from Juja town, on our speed bikes, taking on the Nairobi-Thika superhighway.
Less than an hour drive, we branch from the Thika-Garissa road which has very large pineapple plantations alongside, branching to head to the Donyo Sabuk town. It is along here that we also see the famous Fourteen Falls from a distance.
In 15 minutes, we arrive at Donyo Sabuk town, a great place rich in culture and history. Talking to some locals here, I am informed that this small town is the great home to one of Kenya’s most revered politician Tom Mboya, where his father was a sisal farm labourer. It was also the hometown for the late popular Kamba musician Kakai Kilonzo, and Sila of Kilunda fame.
Taking the next junction, we arrive at Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park. As we pay the entrance fee of Ksh. 250 per person, I have a small talk with the warden at the gate, and get to know some history of this great place.
Established in 1967, Ol Donyo Sabuk is known as Kyanzavi in the Akamba tribe (Kyanzavi means the mountain of nzavi or Lablab beans-Lablab purpureus), and means ‘large mountain in Maasai’, while Sabuk was mistaken for buffaloes which in Masai is Olosowan. The park harbours different wildlife species that can be spotted here including buffaloes, baboons, colobus monkeys, bushbuck, impala, duiker, and different bird species.
Inside the park is also the famous Mt. Kilimambogo, the highest peak in the park which has become a tourist attraction for mountain hikers. Its name was derived from Kilima, a Swahili word which means mountain/hill and mbogo, which means buffalo among the Bantu tribes. Therefore, the mountain of buffaloes- Kilimambogo.
The game wardens are kind enough to warn us of the impending task ahead, as we need to walk for a whooping 9.6Km to reach the peak of the mountain. Thre is a road for vehicles, for those not interested in hiking but rather reaching the peak. We kick off our adventure, following the footpaths through the thick forest.
There are clearly labelled signs which direct you to the top, and therefore you can not get lost, while you can also know which distance is remaining to the peak.
As we near the summit, we find the famous graves of Sir William Northrup McMillan, his wife Lady Lucie, and their dog. He was an American soldier knighted by the King of England and is said to have been the first white settler in this town. He is said to have had ambitions of owning Mt Kilimambogo, even choosing the place as his final resting peace upon death.
” In loving memory of my dear old Louise (R. Decker) born 30 July 1850, died 1 December 1938 after 75 years of long and faithful service. sleep, faithful heart. The long days of work is past. Sleep happy soul, for all must sleep at last” read a message on the adjacent stone caved grave.
We finally reach the peak of the mountain, where our efforts for the last one and a half hours have been spent. It is not an exciting view as it should have been, as the peak does not give a panoramic view of the park due to thick vegetation harbouring indigenous tree species.
As we climb down having taken as many photos as possible, I revel in the exciting experience of how wonderful nature can be, and why we need to double up our efforts in conserving the environment.
That was just one experience, as Kenya is home to thousands of tourist attraction sites and yes, you should make efforts to visit these historic and wonderful experiences. I will be covering more attractional sites in the subsequent blogs.