Saturday, August 24, 2013

Picking tea leaves in the Nandi Hills

Finally a short driving day! After our morning trek through Kakamega Forest we had a quick hour or so drive to the Nandi Hills. Our stop for the night was a homey place called Kips Eco Resort, we stayed in a basic lodge right in the middle of the tea plantations. 

The next morning was spent a couple hours exploring the countryside and meeting some tea pickers.

On our walk we stopped by a school and had an amazing time meeting the kids and staff.

Matthew and Ruby were actually quite overwhelmed by all the attention they got. For many of the younger kids it must have the been the first time they saw white kids their age. Some of them were staring at Ruby's eyes, rubbing her skin and seemingly mesmerized by her hair.

can you find Matthew in this picture??!?

Check out the video of Way and Richie leading them in song and games.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Onward to the Cherangani Hills and Kakamega

Mt Koh in the Cherangani's

After a pleasant overnight outside of Eldoret we braced ourselves for another long day of driving through western Kenya to Marich Field Studies Centre.  The drive through the Cherangani Hills was gorgeous - dark green hillsides until we passed over the peaks and then becoming drier as we dropped down to the valley floor.
village in the Cherangani's
camel herd on the drive

The road also became more and more broken up until finally it was more dirt than pavement.

huts during our stay at Marich

kitchen where they cooked our meals
mealtime at Marich
We stayed at Marich for two nights - it was very basic.  Just some beds in a round hut and very simple meals. 


The original idea was to hike in the hills from one village to another - but after two days in the van none of us could bare to go back in it again, we needed a break. As it turns out we didn't have a choice since the engine fan broke and Sammy had to take drive back to civilization to get it fixed and then turn around again and come back. I couldn't imagine traveling that road in my life again let alone twice in two days!

For our full day there we hired a guide and took a couple hours hike from the centre through the surrounding countryside to meet some locals, see their village, and enjoy the scenery.
how they make charcoal

school kids followed us up a hill
Rhonda - literally the 'center' of attention

this whole scene would happen
 again later in the trip

Luckily, Sammy made it back and we left early Tuesday morning July 30th for the Kakamega Forest.  Here we stayed in more very basic accomodations.  It was very homey though as the caretaker made us a nice dinner and we went to sleep early as we had hired a guide for an early hike through the rain forest.
high above rain forest
sounds of Kakamega:
the Eastern African blue-striped
long-beaked bee eater ....
umm not really, I really don't know
it's name - just thought it was striking

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

First couple days of Safari

the first time we crossed the equator -
the 2nd time we yawned and didn't even stop
Still a couple days left of our grand adventure but I figured I needed to start posting some updates or I'd get too far behind - we've had such varied experiences that its easy for them to get muddled together - writing and posting about them helps me to keep the memories vivid.  Currently I am back in Nairobi taking a break from the travels by working for a couple days.  Ahhh too bad life really can't be like this - travel for a long time, work for a short time, then back on the road again... Well some people do it though - for instance my friend Paul has been traveling the world since Thanksgiving 2010 - right now he is somewhere in Laos I think riding a motorbike. Wow.

supposedly the Grand
Canyon of  Kenya -
not so Grand but good
for a 15 minute road break
We started off Saturday morning July 27 heading for Marich and the Cherengani Hills. It's quite a trek from Nairobi so we stopped overnight at a sweet place outside of Eldoret. It was a long, long day of driving and we made plenty of stops - at our driver Sammy's house outside Nakuru, at the Equator, an overlook of the Kerio Valley, some deep gorge, and Eldoret town.
Sammy's place

It was nice to stop at Sammy's house.  Come to think of it, it's only the second time in the 11 months I've been here that I have visited a Kenyan's house, the other time was my manager's. Guess that shows how separate our lives are from Kenyans, kind of a shame really (mental note to work on that in year #2).  Most of his extended family was there, it was great to hear about the small shop his wife owns in the front of their house, their garden plot, and livestock.

By the time we got to Eldoret we were fried after spending 11 hours in the van. Luckily Richie found this place which he fondly nicknamed the Nevele - since it was a whole resort experience. Too bad we were only staying for a quick overnight stop-over. Turns out it was the nicest, most comfortable place we were to stay at till we would get to the Mara.

random roadside

Ruby and Kerio Valley

our little oasis of serenity in Eldoret

Sammy was driving a little too fast to avoid these
guys - but the turtle soup was delicious