Mt. Kenya, 2002

23-27 Mar 2002 - by Tom Masterson

Location: a few km south of the equator in Kenya, Africa

March 19 Late departure from Denver + hassles from Northwest Airlines when they refused to rebook flights when it became obvious that there was no way that we could make a connecting flight from Memphis to Amsterdam

March 20 Forced day in Memphis

March 21 Arrived in Amsterdam to find that Northwest had cancelled all of our flights, both on to Nairobi and all returning flights! 2 hours spent re-acquiring flights and reservations. Cannot recommend flying Northwest. Evening of March 21: Arrived in Nairobi, stayed at Hotel 680 ($65/night double). 10 hour time change.

Mt Kenya climbers: Tom Masterson, Tonya Riggs

March 22 To Chogoria, then by jeep to camp at bandas near Chogoria entrance to Park. Frequent pushing and reconstruction of road with bamboo poles required. Water buffalo and hyrax at campsite in the evening; visit by huge elephant in middle of night under nearly full moon.

March 23 Enter Mt Kenya Nat'l Park: fees for foreigners are $10/day to be in park + $2/night for camping. Hike in 15 km with 40 lb pack to Lake Michaelson. Spectacularly beautiful lake surrounded by 400' high vertical cliffs with many years worth of great climbing routes, all first ascents. Last kilometer is 500' downhill. Huge vultures nesting in cliffs.

March 24 Backpack to Austria Hut at 4800m (15750'). Lots of camping places nearby. Set up tent than walked up Point Lenana (4985m, 16355')(easy, 30 - 40 min) for views of main massif.

March 25 Ascent of Nelion (5188m, 17021') via "Normal Route". ~20 pitches, nothing harder than 5.8 and 2 or 3 of the pitches are very nice and fun. Bivouac next to summit in Howell's Hut. Nice weather all day.

March 26 Ascent of Batian (5199m, 17057'): rappel down into Gates of Mist, + a few fun pitches up to the summit of Batian. Return involved 1 pitch of 500 ice and hard snow, which required crampons & ice axe. Otherwise no snow on the entire route. Many rappels, some from new rap rings, others from old slings, to return to base of peak, then cross remains of Lewis Glacier & back to Austria Hut. Shortly after nestling into tents, snow started to fall, signifying the start of the rainy season & end of climbing season for this year. 6 cm new snow overnight.

March 27 Pack out 36 km walking + 20 km by matatu to Naro Moru River Lodge for a swim, hot shower, & good food. Expensive, but luxurious & well-earned.

Tourists: Tom Masterson, Barbara Lambert

March 28 To Lake Naivasha: camping beside this beautiful lake in the Great Rift Valley. Spectacular water birds. Fisheagle camping site beside lake. ($2.50/person)

March 29 Hells Gate National Park. (Entrance fee $15/person for foreigners). Fabulous wildlife, rock climbing on Fishers Tower. Excellent local tour guide, Thomas Amunga, P.O. Box 35, Sulmac, Naivasha, Kenya; Tel. 254 (311) 21196. Hike through gorge that used to be exit waterway for giant lake that included Naivasha, Nakuru, & Elementaita. Visit to Maasai village (cost to enter: $12.50/person), small dance performance by Maasai. Invitation to return following day to spend evening and night with Maasai at no charge. Visit to Crescent Island nature preserve. Excellent supper & lodging at Thomas rustic abode including goats and a tree full of spectacular weaver-birds

March 30 Menengai Crater - spectacular and huge crater from an extinct volcano near Lake Nakuru. Beautiful flamingos on lake, but $27/person to see them closer up was not worth it. Flamingos assume color determined by food they eat. Night at very primitive Maasai village + many fascinating tribal traditions.

March 31 Crater Lake on east side of Lake Naivasha. Haven for waterfowl + a couple camels. Easter Sunday afternoon tea at Elsemere ($5/person) retreat established by George & Joy Adamson.

April 1 Conversations with local hippo + spectacular waterfowl. Return to Nairobi. Evening flight out > Amsterdam, Minneapolis, Denver

Critters seen: Elephant, hippo, giraffe, water buffalo, zebra, eland, wildebeest, impala, waterbuck, warthog, hartebeest, gazelle (Grant's & Thomson including one albino Grant's gazelle), dik dik, black-tipped mongoose, hyrax (rock & tree), springbok, giant slugs, monkeys (Colobus + several others), baboons.

Birds: Ruppe's Griffon vulture, steppe buzzard, mountain buzzard, African fish eagles, tawny eagle, marabou stork, goliath heron, helmeted guinea fowl, flamingo, sacred ibis, Hadada ibis, crowned crane, plover, ducks of many varieties, pied crows, sunbirds (scarlet-chested, green-throated, Tacazzee), white-bellied kingfisher, hornbill, cattle egret, crested mouse-bird, African paradise monarch, superb starling, yellow-billed crane, gray woodpecker, wagtails (yellow, African pied), African Jacana, red-knobbed coot, long-toed lapwing, MacKinnen's fiscal, red-chested swallow, red-fronted parrot, Heuglin's robin chat, red-shouldered cookoo shrike, weaver (baglaflecht, Speke), tropical boubou, little rock-thrush, white-eyed slaty flycatcher, rufous sparrow, common bulbul, speckled pigeon, speckled mouse-bird, rufous-backed mannikin, red-cheeked cordon-bleu.

Highly recommended tour guide: Thomas Amunga, P.O. Box 35, Sulmac, Naivasha, Kenya 254 (311) 21196 or 254 72(2) 367049 (mobile). Honest, considerate, goes out of his way to help and be of service at a reasonable price. Local councilor, can arrange visits to the Maasai, pick up at airport, tours of Lake Naivasha, Hells Gate Nat'l Park, Lake Elementaita, + contacts for mountain tours (Kilimanjaro & Kenya). Rustic accommodations, wife Teresa is excellent cook & hostess. E-mail tamunga@comhse.com

Most dishonest, devious, nefarious and thieving tour-operator I have ever met, one who will even cheat his own at any opportunity: David Mbaria, Travel-Life Tours & Safaris in Nairobi. Avoid under all circumstances.

Interesting thing learned: that Kenya supplies a large proportion of Holland's flowers. Huge greenhouse flower factories by Lake Naivasha with cooling fans by day, grow lights at night, impressive irrigation, thousands of workers who work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week for slave-labor wages - $1/day, while locals have no running water and problematic electricity.

The Coriolus force works! It can be used to find the equator, gives CCW/CW rotation when even slightly N or S!


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