As Africa time dictates, the excursion to Mt Longonot started late than the planned time. A little past an hour from the defined time. We were to leave minutes past 7 but usually there is no hurry in Africa is a rule that still rules. The hike to Mt Longonot.
Mt Longonot is few kilometers past the 24 hour economy town. Small but famous due to its strategic place along the great north road. Mai Mahiu town. From Ndeiya, we had quite a distance to cover before we arrived at Mt Longonot. With the fact that it was a public holiday (26th Dec 2016), the idea of a crowded place made us leave early. Traffic along the heavy vehicle road was another reason that made us leave early not forgetting the trends in weather. With the expectations of a hot day, 8:30am found us on way heading to Mt Longonot.
The drive from the under construction Thogoto Mutarakwa road to our first stop over was quite smooth. With one or heavy loads Lorries along the way, and some smooth music from the cabins crew, we drove past Mutarakwa and down the great 9KM stretch along the rift valley. A stretch notorious for accidents but well sprayed with curio shops that offered some platforms for amazing rift valley floor viewing.
Cruising at an average speed of 80KM per hour, we passed the small Italian church. The church has now become a historical place in Kenya. (Story for another day). By ten minutes we were at Mai Mahiu Runana shop purchasing some few items for the day. We also took a few bottles of water to save the anticipated thirst while at Mt Longonot.
After a few minutes, we embarked on the journey with a few kilometers remaining, past Longonot town; actually the road passes outside the town such that you can’t really notice it. After a few Kilometers, we turned left onto a rough road parallel to the railway line. This is the long stretch heading to the main gate of Mt Longonot. Not that there is a fence, but due to formalities and being a patriotic citizen who pays tax. Though the stretch is all weather roads, it’s not a good one considering Mt Longonot is a full national tourist attraction with multiple activities and dozens of visitors daily.
By ten to ten and after going through the check up, we started the long journey up the mountain.
The first 20 meters were quite nice, then onto the 3.1M uphill. That’s when the whole excursion started. Our group subdivided into two. Like in most group hikes. We left at the same times with some other groups, closely behind some energized Chinese guys. The scenes were quite cool. The psych, the stories and the craving for pictures had just kick started.
Past the buffalo point, that’s when the gradient of the mountain got closer to zero. The people who take care of Mt Longonot have done something better these days, they have constructed some stair case way up the mountain for a few meter though. Some stair way depicting the journey is still young.
Past the stair case, we found the first stop. Somewhere almost flat. With a round thatched hut, travelers catch and regain their breath here. We had a problem to solve at this point. One of us was really facing it rough. With no glucose to energize her or deep heat to cool her muscles, we had one option, wait for her to regain energy and surge upwards. The second group was way down the mountain. We could only spot some blue clothing down. At times they would appear and later disappear in the thicket as they tried catching up with us.
With 35 minutes gone, we still had another section uphill to cover. This time, a longer one though not steep. Actually this second section was the easiest. We left without the other group as they had derailed for too long. It took us almost 30 minutes to cover the section. By 10 to 11, we were at the crater. We made it.
The fun had just begun.
We waited for the second group. They were not far this time. We could hear them laughing meters away from where we were. I had already finished up my drink over the climbing lane. Almost everyone else had started on their drink by now, save for the snacks which we took as a group while at the crater. Few groups were going down mountain. This left us wondering when they arrived at the mountain.
Round the crater.
At exactly 11:08, we headed towards the right hand starting our journey round the crater. From here we could see the tip of the mountain far away, the floor of the crater. A great scene. We could easily spot fresh marshes of grass at the floor of the crater. One look on the left hand side (down the crater) would send a cold chill down the spine.
Stories of how travelers had fallen into the crater saved our walk for a few meters. The stories made us extra careful. On our right hand side, we could spot the main gate of Mt Longonot. Longonot town and even mai Mahiu. Kijabe was at the horizon. On our east, we could easily see Lake Naivasha and towards the south of the lake were smokes bellowing from the geothermal hot springs.
The scenery made the 7 km round the crater an easy one. Save for the tough climbing part while approaching Kilele Ngamia. The footpath was composed of small pebbles, loose pebbles which left one pebble skating backwards. The two ladies in the first group were facing it rough around the steep ends. Almost giving up, but with cheers and a pull here and there they also made it to the tip.
We did a few photos as we waited for the second group. The Chinese guys found us at the tip. Not only are we Africans good in marathons, we are also good in mountain climbing. We set for the second leg when the other group arrived. The weather was hot and NOT humid. It was just hot. Profusely sweating, I had finished up the last drop of water at this place. This meant that the second part would not only be long, but also thirsty and hungry. With about 2700 meters above sea level, we had all made it up Mt Longonot.
The second part would be one full of white dust amidst it having rained the previous night. Mud for who? This part was just full of dust as we went in a single line asking nothing but ‘is the hut near us?’ Lol.
By 1:37 we had gone round the whole crater and back to the starting point of the top of the crater. A new time of our own. Two and a half hours. The last time we were here, we took exactly 3 hours. The second group took three hours as they were quite a distance from us. We met other guys who were just arriving from the foot of this great physical feature. We psyched them up for the round crater walk as we took a rest ready to walk downwards. This time round, apart from being careful not to trip and fall, the walk proved easy.
After covering a total of 13.1 kilometers, we were back at ground zero. Tired and scrambling for what was available to eat. Of course with laughter’s and jokes as we talked of how the hike was. I can’t wait to go to Mt Longonot again and again.