January 3, 2011

Longonot & Hell's Gate

I've just returned from a neighbor's house where our movie night plans were thwarted by the power going out, but we ended up playing games instead and it was marvelous. But now I need to do a little catching up...
So while we spent three days camping in Naivasha, here's what we did:

1. Longonot
This is it:

It’s a volcano. And we decided to hike it. So the first part involved going up which, let me just say, was really really rough…but we’ll just blame that on the altitude (no really. It gave me a nosebleed :[ ) But once you manage to drag yourselves all the way up to the rim, all of a sudden, you’re looking down into the crater at this contained forest below, and then, just a few feet behind you is the whole Rift Valley laid out below you, a patchwork quilt of plowed field and red dirt, ridged with shrubs and spangled with tin roofs.

Of course, going up was just the beginning. Then we hiked around the rim, which is full of ascents and descents, trekking through enough ash and dust that I felt like I was walking on a beach in each shoe. And the guidbook says that the crater is about 3km across. Sooo according to my calculations, it’s a good 9 ½ km (almost 6 miles? I’m not so good at this conversion thing in my head. Doing that math there was hard enough) hike AROUND. On a path that looks like this:

But you know what? We made it. And, not gonna lie, it was hard…but it was pretty great too. And then we got to go into town and get cokes and mandazis, which is always exciting.

2. Hell’s Gate
The next day, we did a more relaxing (ha.) hike. We went down into the gorge at Hell’s Gate national park, where you can wander between towering walls of striated stone and feel the hot water that streams from crevices (and the cold water amazingly just a few inches away). In some places, you have to clamber over boulders or down stone walls grooved with worn-in foot rests to get through.

We had a young Maasai guide with us, who at one point said, rather flippantly, “There was a lady who came from the United States. Her name was…Angelina Jolie. She made a film here.” He was talking about Tomb Raider 2, I believe.

When we reached the end, we emerged from the gorge to this view:

All in all, incredible.

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