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Kenya, On the road 0

Biking with the devil: Hell’s Gate and Naivasha lake

There has been many ideas on what to do on the past weekend, and when the initial plan on hiking up the Mt. Longonot’s crater top got cancelled, I departed on my own adventure to Hell’s Gate. I’ve heard a lot about this place and really wanted to see it during my first time in Kenya. Why? Would you say ‘no’ to biking and walking among zebras and giraffes freely running around you? Hell’s is the only national park in Kenya, where a visitor does not have to be hiding in the safety of a safari car and is free to re-enter the food chain.

As the journey is the destination, we boarded our (little bit lost) Uber, the only ‘western’ mean of transportation for the day, and left for Nairobi. where we caught a matatu (small bus) to Naivasha town. Two hours of bumpy road and loud Kenyan music, we were in Naivasha in no time. Little bit of hassling around, trying to figure out how to get to the Hell’s Gate entrance without being overcharged for our white faces, and around 10 am we started walking from the junction to the national park. Dusty road and disappearing clouds were promising a great adventure.

At the entrance, we paid sinful amount of money (three different prices everywhere depending on whether you are a citizen, a resident or a tourist, tourists obviously paying ridiculously more than residents), hopped on our clumsy rented bikes that remembered better days and were off to the wide plains and rocks.

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Biking through the plains of Hell’s Gate NP.

I am telling you, zebras just look so fake with their stripes! I still don’t get how an animal can have colors and patterns like this. Giraffes really are ‘oh so tall’! And gazelles! Man, they jump high and far! I will think about them next time I am jumping over a puddle with an elegance of an elephant.

After 10 km of dusty ride, we arrived all dirty to the gorge – highlight of the park. We met our  Masai guide named John who took us safely through the slippery rock and climbs all the way to the Devil’s kitchen, Devil’s Bedroom and explained how the gorge got good 5 metres deeper just over last 12 years. The gorge gets fully flooded during rainy season as water flows from nearby Mt. Longonot, an extinct vulcano.

After a little snack break we biked those 10 km back to the main gate. We still had a quick trip to lake Naivasha ahead of us before it was time to return to Nairobi.   We took the ride slow as animals were more awake and easier to spot, getting very close to the road and mixing together zebras with wardhogs with giraffes. It was almost unbelievable, finally seeing the beasts with my own eyes, knowing them from pictures and documentaries. They are so much more beautiful running in their natural environment, in their own wilderness.

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In the Hell’s gorge.

The best moment in the park for me was a herd of zebras followed by gazelles running madly across the road we were on, just a few meters away from us. I felt little and weak, and full of respect for being allowed to enter their world. The second best moment was watching a massive buffalo bull walking slowly to a nearby drinking area. As slow as the animal looked, I did not feel comfortable, when it stopped and watched us stading at the edge of the road. These beasts are more dangerous than leopards. Cannot wait to see them migrating in Masai Mara next weekend.

A quick motorcycle ride and we found ourselves chilling with a drink on the shore of beautiful endless lake Naivasha. Sun was setting down, birds of all sizes shapes and colors enjoying the richness of the lake‘s flora and fauna, this was a perfect end of a lovely Saturday trip.

One final adventure before making it to bed was the journey back to Githurai – long after dark on all the loud matatus, buses and tuktuks. It took us good one hour to actually leave Naivasha town on an old crowded bus, Bob Marley on louder than he could ever sing, feeling every bump big or small under our butts and on top of our heads as we were jumping on our seats up and down. After three hours, we boarded another matatu to Githurai hoping for the final straight to be fast and problem free.

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Evening at lake Naivasha (hiding somewhere past the greens). Enjoyed on the boat with a cool drink.

Almost. Someone did not like the white faces shining in the dark depths of the full bus. I couldn’t care less as insults were all in Swahili, and for a moment I actually thought Chege and his new ‘friend’ were having a fun chat. The tone went more aggressive, however,  and hearing the word Mzungu (white)  way too often, I kind of figured out it’s all about me and Lucia sitting on the other side of the back seat. Somehow it felt more curious than dangerous to see two Kenyan man arguing. Gotta make ita cultural experience, right? 🙂

We made it home safely by midnight and judging from my sun-burning face I knew it was another great weekend gateway in Kenya.

I now have two weekends left in Kenya, and I am already panicking that I will have to leave soon. 🙂 Kenya’s firmly stuck under my skin and in each and every pore, whether it is adventurous weekends of travelling to  beautiful nature and wildlife, smiley faces of down to earth people in dusty raw Githurai or loud, chaotic and overwhelming Nairobi city center. But before I miss it, there are still two weeks of everyday work in Fountain and two weekends in Masai Mara and in coastal Lamu town ahead of me.

If you are curious, come back to Alouded for more reads on my Kenya experience.

Yours,

Petra

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