The spectacular Marafa Depression, also known as Hell’s Kitchen, is a sandstone canyon outside of Malindi, Kenya.
My name is Timpiyian Nanana Kisimir. I am 13 years old. I am going to tell you about my experience of a recent hike on Ngong Hills. Ngong Hills is a series of seven peaks. We started early walking up the first hill from the gate (I, dad and brother, Lemayian) after saying hello to the rangers. It was fun as we took photos of the wind turbines and talked to friendly Maasai children who were selling sweets along the way. Dad told us many stories and learned a lot about the mountain and animals that live on it.
The first hill was quite long but not steep, had a nice breeze, which a think is caused by the tall wind turbines. We took breaks to rest, drunk water and snacked.
We proceeded to the second hill, which was quiet steep. As we approached it, dad asked me if I wanted to use a short cut but I was determined to take the rough and tough way. It was a hard, steep and slippery but we still climbed and reached the top.
Going down hill number two was not a problem because it was filled with long nice grass and not rocky. Our goal was to reach the summit and we would not give up. Lemayian walked faster than us but slowed down many times to wait for us. In hiking, one of the rules is to stick together so that no one gets lost.
The third hill was even steeper than the second and was rocky but dad helped me. Lemayian did not need any help – he had good shoes and was good at climbing. Climbing the third hill was easy. The fourth hill was not steep but it was one of the hardest to climb because of all the rocks and the soil was very slippery. Going down was very nice and smooth filled with good grass.
We met many people on the way and said hello. We saw people who came to the mountain to pray because of the quietness and beautiful nature. They pray for the country and other things.
We also found people who had given up climbing and were waiting for their companions to come back so they can return together. We met found a lady who had flat shoes and a formal white dress! Dad told us that he had even met ladies who came to the mountain on high heels! I could not imagine myself climbing hills with high heels! I also saw a boy who used to be in my school with four other boys, accompanied by their father.
Now it was time to climb the hardest of them all – the fifth hill! In the middle of the fourth and fifth hill there is about 100 meters of flat land. We rested, took photos as we prepared for the climb to the summit. This is the tallest of all hills that makes Ngong Hills. It is steep and a forest. We were surrounded by so many trees and insects like fire ants. I did not enjoy this stretch because of the rocks – I slipped many times as I led us upwards. It was tough but I was determined to reach the top and there was a lot of sweat and pain as but we finally reached the top.
We sat down – exhausted and had snacks (yoghurt, cup cakes, milk, soda). We then had conversations with other hikers who were at the summit.
Going down the hills was very rough and painful. I thought it would be easier to go down but I was surprised to find it very tough. Dad knows this mountain inside out so we took some short cuts around the steep sections because the shoes were hurting my toes. It was very painful but got better when I removed the shoes and walked barefoot. I had to walk without shoes!
We got back late afternoon and passed by a friend’s place for lunch. I fell asleep while watching T.V and it really helped. We then said our good byes and left at around 5:30pm and returned home for a restful movie night.
My experience at Ngong hills was fun and adventurous. It was my first serious hike on a mountain – I really enjoyed it even though it was quiet hard. I will never forget!
For the most part, Maasai Mara consists of flat land with a few hills and many ridges. The safari paradise with its vast plains is overwhelmingly beautiful but can also get dull.
So, some members of Friends of Maasai Mara sought a new challenge by hiking to the highest point in the horizon.
I first took interest in Kileleoni Hill weeks ago, while on a visit to a rhino sanctuary in the north of the game reserve. It is the highest elevation in the Mara ecosystem – a beautiful hill that hosts one of my favourite animals – the colobus monkey. It is also the only place to find the rare mountain reedbuck.
Seeing a rhino up-close is an emotional thing – I heard gasps of “wow and hmm…” from the visitors. But my focus was on the mountain. It stood straight up with rocks that looked like they were deliberately placed. It was densely forested and there were many spots of white atop the trees, which I later learnt, were the shy colobus monkeys.
I made a mental note to return for this hill.
On my return, I spent the night at Lemek town, with a friend, Fred Kariankei. Fred made it clear to the team that he is not interested in “looking for trouble” – his mild way of saying hiking is such a waste of time. He uttered the words slowly just to make sure they sink in. He agreed to drive us though, as close to the hiking trail as possible.
We were dropped off just after Rekero Camp, on the eastern side of Kileleoni Hill. The area is dense with acacia forest, lots of wild fruit trees – a perfect habitat for browsing and grazing ungulates, as well as hideout thickets for the predators.
There were elephant dung everywhere – the grass is healthy from the manure. It is an active wildlife area and there were lots of signs. Please be accompanied by armed rangers if you are not familiar with this territory.
Our team leader, Amos Kipeen, who grew up here, used his sword to make us walking sticks and started off the trail, followed by Harrison Taga and Sintoyia Sengeny.
It was one happy leisure walk – the wild fruits that we ate during childhood while grazing livestock are in season and on several occasions we huddled around fruit trees. It was one beautiful way for down the memory lane moments.
It took us about an hour to get to the summit which is about 2040 metres above sea level. We had several stops for water and laughter – the stories. There were several moments when larger mammals bolted out of the bushes and ran away. We had giraffes intensely watching as if counting minutes for us to leave.
We had a moment where some of us saw the rare mountain reedbuck for the first time.
But the icing on the cake was being at the roof of Maasai Mara. Atop Kileleoni Hill, you can see as far as the eye could see – the stretch towards Serengeti, Kilgoris, Bomet, Lemek and beyond.
By the way, our driver friend, Fred, took our lunch and water closer to the summit by car – there is road. Then he decided to hike for the remaining 1km and insisted on not missing on the photo sessions. Sawa tu!
If you truly want to see how breathtaking the Maasai Mara ecosystem is, get to its roof.
Enjoy the photos from the hike.
The name is Orbatatata! It is a tongue twister even to native speakers. It is a beautiful gorge and here, I am trying to describe the indescribable – its display crushed my comprehension. I looked. I gasped. I shuddered with awe.
Orbatatata gorge means “The Massive Fall” in Maa language – a hidden gem that starts from the southern periphery of Hell’s Gate National Park – a massive canyon that opens its face to the direction of Mt. Suswa – 10KM from Suswa Town.
I came here at the invitation of a friend, Eric ole Reson, a raptor conservationist who grew up here and I tagged along two other friends, Nase Kelel and Josephine Kindi (the manager of Suswa Conservancy.)
The road from Suswa Town at entrance of MaraGateway Hotel is not pretty – it needs a 4 x 4 truck. We drove past sleepy villages – a beautiful country of happy cows and people.
You won’t see the canyon until you arrive at the base, then, it suddenly opens up like a beautiful flower. We stood next to each other in silence, basking in the glory of our surroundings.
This gorge, to all of us here brings a mixture of emotions not just because of it is a marvel but it is the route that our forefathers used as a safe escape during the massive relocation after the expropriation of their land in Laikipia by colonialists from 1911. Thousands of Maasai children, women and the elderly died during the trek to the south – mostly from diseases. Our forefathers walked on this canyon and I looked at the massive cliffs, the sand on the riverbed and imagined their footsteps and sadness.
This gorge is also the source of the famous red ochre, which has decorated generations of Maasai warriors and women. It houses many caves like Enkapune Olpelesi that have housed past men of the warrior class as they partook herbs, beef and prepared for wars.
Its massive cliffs are home to dozens of endangered ruppel vultures and eagle nests. These raptors fly out here to Maasai Mara every morning to feed and return in the evening. The whole valley is actually a bird’s paradise. It also has a famous well, Paepayan – with its favoured sweet coloured water.
Another major feature is Kaibartani a massive rock in the middle of the canyon that the Maa believe was a bride that turned into a rock after ignoring advice by looking back to where she came from instead of following her husband.
Enjoy the photos of our hike and I hope you will be motivated to visit.
Shoes off as hikers walked on the soft, wet sand.