Preparation for the week’s academic trip had been done successfully. It was going to be a long stay in Naivasha hence extensive logistic preparations were necessary to ensure that the students got the best treat. Students had waited for this day with much zeal, anxiety and some mixed reactions.
The Rift valley is a “must” destination where many citizens both local and foreign would want to visit due to the spectacular nature it offers. This trip was to create an opportune moment for our students to be the local tourists they have always longed to be.
All and sundry were ready for departure in time. After a prayer we kicked off our journey with our first destination being Meli Kubwa, where breakfast was served. Some of the learners had never stepped out of Mombasa. It was quite a unique experience for them, especially as we approached the vast Savannah grasslands at Taru, which is the second largest desert in the country.
Luck was on our side for as we were crossing the Tsavo Game Park we saw a group of the mighty elephants grazing from a distance. The beautiful zebras seemed to be friendlier as they sun-bathed just beside the road side. The Taita hills could be seen from a distance with the Nyika plateau on the Tsavo East extending all the way from Manyani to Mtito Andei.
Our second stop was Mtito Andei where Lunch was served. At Mbui Nzau there was some volcanic eruption that had taken place hundreds of years ago, we studied the rocks that had cooled from the erupted Magma. At Makindu we got a chance to take photos of one of the oldest and still biggest temples in the nation as we enjoyed viewing the snowcapped Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in the continent. We also happened to stop at Kiboko where the Kenya Agricultural and Research Institution are doing irrigation in a semi-arid area. It was getting dark and this meant more learning was to take place the following day. We arrived at Naivasha safe and sound and after supper, retired to bed.
The morning was chilly, cold and mist covered the environment. We were not used to these low temperatures and that meant we had to cover ourselves with heavy clothing.
After having a finger licking breakfast we headed to Kariandusi Diatomite Mines, which is around 20km from Naivasha town. We were given a warm welcome. They took us through the process of extraction or mining of the diatoms, which is a very delicate mineral. The history behind the discovery of the mineral dated way back to the early 1900. It was amazing to know how much the mineral could do ranging from being useful as a filter media, absorbent, and as lightweight filler for rubber, paint and plastics. We were also informed that it has extraordinary health benefits such as promoting skin health, supporting heart health, and also as a natural pesticide. The unforgettable experience here was when we were taken deep into the dark and cool underground tunnels where miners pass looking for diatomite rocks for processing. The engineers there encouraged and motivated our students to work smart in school for there are lots of job opportunities in such industries.
Our next destination was Kariandusi pre-historic site not very far from Kariandusi Diatomite mines. This is an international museum where displays of excavated fossils and stone tools are found (most of the remains there were discovered by Dr. Leakey). It was mesmerizing to see how the early man used stones to hunt, dig roots and light fires by rotating a stick on a wooden board.
We then headed for Nakuru town, an upcoming city where a chunky lunch was served. After gaining strength we headed on a challenge that was new to most of us, climbing Mount Menengai to view the super caldera. We thought it was an easy affair but trust me we almost went out of strength even before we reached halfway. It is the largest Caldera in Kenya and the second largest in Africa. What caught our eyes more is that there are people who live up the mountain and we happened to have a word with some of them, they said they were used to climbing up and going down the mountain, “This is our path every day even when going to the market.” One of them told us.
We had now started adjusting to our new home and environment. This was going to be yet another busy day at the field. After breakfast we proceeded to Hellsgate another game park that houses the Olkaria 2 Geothermal Power Plant. Our questions as to how electricity could be tapped from underground steam were going to get answers. We were welcomed by one Engineer, Owino who took us through the entire magical process, from the underground steam that is used to rotate massive turbine that are connected to a generator which converts direct current to alternating current, to the step up transformer and finally to the National Grid System, from where power is transmitted via large pylons to our homes, industries, schools and hospitals. Eng. Owino who works for the re-known KENGEN COMPANY asked our students to work extra hard in school, especially in English, Mathematics, Sciences and Geography to increase their chances of pursuing programs that can lead them to work in such companies, which according to him were well paying.
Our next stop was Lake Naivasha, a fresh water lake with an area of approximately 53.67 miles square. The water from the lake is mostly used for irrigation in the flower farms near and at some distance from the lake.
The size of the lake was not strange to all of us who are used to the gigantic Indian Ocean. The Lake is home to a variety of types of wildlife, including different species of birds, which stay mostly on the shores of the lake, most of them eat fish.
We could not go without having a taste of the fresh water fish that was going to be our lunch accompanied with Ugali.
From here we spent the remaining part of the day having a study of Naivasha town as we also did some shopping at the market. We realized that it was a cosmopolitan town, dominated by the Kikuyu community; it is a town that developed mostly due to both local and international tourists.
The much awaited day was finally here. We were to go kilometres above the sea level, and this was none other than climbing Mt. Longonot, a mountain that has an interesting history of having last erupted in the 1860s to form a deep crater with a circumference of 7.2km. We were all geared up for this ultimate challenge of going round the crater, how long it would take us, we were still not sure. Early in the morning we arose, armed ourselves with heavy clothes, gloves and dust masks. As we approached the mountain, it looked minute from a far but as we got nearer the real gigantic size could be seen.
After payments we kicked off, everyone with a bottle of water in his or her bag with some carrying a snack to bite. It was roughly 9am. At this point we were already used to seeing Zebras and Giraffes, which were of good number at Longonot. Boys will always be boys; they were faster than the girls at climbing the mountain and after around 20 minutes divisions in groups started to emerge with some boys leading the group.
We could not prevent ourselves from panting, some began crawling with others wishing they could go back but we were now past halfway, the only option was to struggle and reach the peak. Our bottles ran out of water, no one was talking to the other; the challenge seemed to be more challenging but we were determined to cover the 2.7 km altitude. It took us 3 hours to reach the top of the mountain, it was a wonderful experience, and we felt great, extraordinary super heroes. Birds were flying below us, we happened to have a moment of silence and the only artificial sound we could hear was “nothing”, only the natural wind could be heard blowing, the trees below looked like small grasses, we were in a world of our own!!!
We took uncountable photos up there for it was probably going to be our first and last day to be in that place, hence memories had to be captured. After an hour’s rest, the next challenge ahead of us was going round the crater, 7.2km round. Madam Josephine together with a group of four girls were too exhausted to go round, they were to be left behind as the rest of the team embarked on this adventure.
It was a journey that seemed to have no end, at one point we were regretting why we embarked on this adventurous journey but one thing we knew is that it would go down the records of our calendar. We were not alone; we met many other people up there. Most of them were international tourists, we shared our experience with a group from Switzerland and the experience was all the same. We cannot count the number of times we stopped to get a rest; we kept ourselves busy by singing songs as we walked, viewing Buffaloes from afar also added flavour to our journey.
It took us 5 hours to go round the crater and another 1 hour to climb down the mountain. We were as clean as a new pin when going up but very dusty when we got back. The experience was unforgettable, tiresome but at the same time enjoyable.
This was going to be our last night in Naivasha and therefore we had to finish our trip in style, a camp fire was one way to do it. After supper we lit the campfire, sat round it, played indoor games and shared our experiences of Naivasha.
This morning, our day began as early as 4am when we woke up, prepared ourselves, took breakfast and left for Mombasa. As we approached Nairobi town we were able to see the Karura Forest, the Nairobi National Park and a good view of the country’s capital city, which looked ‘more organized’ than our city, Mombasa.
As we were passing the busy Jomo Kenyatta International Airport our eyes were glued to the traffic of planes in the sky as they landed at the airport and took off.
We passed through Machakos town where we did some shopping. We passed through Makueni County at Wote where we enjoyed our lunch and bought oranges. From there we travelled straight to the coastal town of Mombasa.
We arrived at Mazeras at 7:10pm where we were stuck in a long traffic jam that lasted for 6 hours before it started moving, finally arriving at Tumaini safe and sound at 1:40am.
What a week!!.