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Great report so far @pault. Really enjoying reliving some of the memories.  I think you give bibi a little too hard a time!  She was lovely and I thoroughly enjoyed having her along throughout!

I won't even bother posting my photos from the trip.  My photo of that short-horned buffalo was woeful, and after that I focused purely on flowers and beetles.  Yours, on the other hand, capture the feel and atmosphere of the park so well.

Really looking forward to more!

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I know - Mum is fun and I am an evil son!  She likewise enjoyed her time with you. She really didn;t like that road though. :D

 

You should definitely post your photos @Zarek Cockar especially up Ololokwe. By the way, I would love to see this one. (Dear other readers ... I promise this will make sense later - in context - although only Zarek can tell us exactly what he was photgraphing here)

 

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Posted (edited)

I'm not really sure what the point of this photo was, but you asked, so here it is.  Just found this mzee's old carbine very interesting.  

IMG_20170621_104639.jpg

Edited by Zarek Cockar
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Posted (edited)

ahh one of my favourite authors is back, and with Bibi to juice up the report as well. Bibi is looking wonderful as ever, and quite chameleon-like - one minute looking like Ma Baker next to the guns, and another, looking rather coy under that blanket! each time she goes on safari with you, she ends up with more names. hmm. 

 

I love that ambiance and atmosphere in the wooded forest and the moorlands that you captured so well. that portrait of the waterbuck in the magical mysterious forest looking back at you has got to be my favourite (for now!). 

 

 

Edited by Kitsafari
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Point = it's an intersting photo I guess Zarek? :)  Actually I wish I had thought to get up close like that.

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@pault Really enjoying the narrative and the photos. You convey the sense of a happy trip. I am pleased there is someone else who enjoys using long lenses for landscape photography on occasion!

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I forgot one of Zarek's hard-earned spots the evening of the servals - not a thriller but an African Hare still counts as wildlife!  :)

 

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I suspect dinner was spaghetti bolognese but I am not sure - again we were tired and afterwards we drank quite a bit of wine - or was it the gin we finished that night?

 

The night was even colder than the previous one and in the earlyt morning the ground was white and crispy and there was much less wildlife around the lodge - almost nothing in fact.

 

Frosty morning

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before and after breakfast we completed our packing and loaded up the Landcruiser, getting on the road slightly earlier than planned. We didn;t see an awful lot on the way out that we hadn't seen already and so there weren't that many stops and not that many photos to show.

 

Zarek checking something out - probably some kind of plant, although I can't honestly remember. I'd got out to take the photo of Fishing Lodge from high above that I posted in the first post oin the Aberdares stay.

 

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Bibi modeling again - this is not yet "wild"

 

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Some  Black & White Colobus Monkeys again, but the light wasn't photo friendly and neither was the vegatation

 

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As we neared the gate we could clearly see out of the park to the farmland beyond.

 

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And then we were out and on the highway and suddenly it all seemed so very noisy and busy by comparison. How quiet and peaceful it had been in the park. I wished we could have had that extra day to find the way to get decent pictures of Gura Falls (I didn't jsut want the picture on the viewpoint - I know there is a way to get lower as I have seen plhotos) and have maybe spent more time  in the montane zone. It would also have been good to spend more time around the Salient. But the lost day meant it was a bit of a flying visit.

 

Now we were pretty much heading into the unknown (via a stop in Nanyuki for a photo op that could not be missed with the equator sign (without water trick or shopping though). Zarek and I sort of knew exactly where Sabache Camp, but only on the map. Although he had talked to them, he was still almost as much in the dark as what we could actually expect there as we were - well, as I was (my wife and Mum had no idea at all). Theoretically we could explore Namunyak Conservancy but in practice it wouldn't be as easy as that, especially with Mum to consider. Moreover, the drought had barely been eased by the rains at all in some areas. It would be incrediby dry in some areas, even though June should have been dry but green.

 

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What a great trip @pault

 

The Aberdares look to be very tranquil and relaxing (except for the steep roads!

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@pault Thanks for a cracking start to your report. ST just keeps getting better.awesome serval pics too!

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@Zarek Cockar Beard's looking good, you need to update your ST avatar image :) 

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That's a very, very steep road indeed. Nice way to get a walking safari in. Great serval!

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We haven't even got started yet, although I must warn people in advance the Mara part of this trip was totally boring. I will have to try to distract you with photos for that part (which might be many weeks away unless I get a move on with my now-stalled photo editing).

 

Sabache Camp, in Namunyak Conservancy was not boring. I became aware of it almost by accident. It is mentioned by the Kenyan Camper twice in his Kenyan travel blog, which I follow, but he used it as a comfortable camping stopover and then for porters to climb Mount Ololokwe. So I was surprised and intrigued to find out by chance encounter on the internet (a led to b led to x sort of things) that they had a tented camp, and some very interesting activities. I contacted them. Chalo Africa contacted them. Zarek contacted them. Expectations were not super-high but it all looked pretty good, and cheap enough that we could relocate to Shaba Sarova or somewhere if it was a disaster zone. It wasn’t and we didn’t relocate. I need to mention that this was all my idea and all my planning. Zarek wasn’t really involved and, unlike in the Aberdares, would need to play things by ear. We didn’t really know how being in the conservancy would play out. This was all known and accepted before. That doesn’t necessarily absolve him from any blame whatsoever - you may blame him as and if you want; but do blame him for the right things.

I am really not sure how to tell you about our time at Sabache Camp. I could tell it as a comedy full of pratfalls, cultural misunderstandings with hilarious results, and Bibi’s greatest adventure yet. But I could also tell it as a series of magnificent, unique, authentic and unscripted experiences that may be unmatched in my (admittedly very limited) travels to date. And I honestly wouldn’t need to twist the narrative either way. By simple omission I could easily tell either story. Blow by blow would be a rollercoaster ride that I don’t think I can take myself, never mind take you all on. I am just not sure I have the writing skills necessary for it – I am not sure anybody does. It seems like there is enough material from those few days for a novel. Even if I tell you that you are going to miss the point, I am sure you will still miss the point. I am not even sure I quite get the point. Did we have fun? Did we enjoy it? Would we recommend it? I just cannot answer those questions. Would we do it again? It doesn’t need to be done again and it can’t be done again anyway, because the second time couldn’t be like the first. I certainly won’t forget it though.

And when I say “I am really not sure how”, I mean it. I have to think about it some more. At the moment I am filling blank space and leaning towards just telling it in small stories without any links between them – as if it wasn’t all happening at the same place with the same characters. But linking it all together is what I probably do well, so it’d be such an admission of defeat. Maybe Africa sometimes just defeats you.

I hope you might have some ideas for me.

In the meantime, I am going to show you a few pictures with some captions and then tell you the story of our first and only “game drive”, and see if you think I could fit these things together.  

Pictures first because (i) we all like pictures and (ii) for sure you would jump to the wrong conclusion (who am I to say it is wrong though?) if I told the story first. You might even switch off “Channel Bibi” and say “That’s not for me.” and miss the point that it is definitely for you. You just might rather do it via Sarara and Serian for example, or on your own. I definitely wouldn’t advise you to take Bibi there. It was once in a lifetime for her.

I promise I will add some narrative and information to go with the pictures in due course – just as soon as I work out how!

Down in the well

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Making ugali - and the spoons to eat it with - on top of Mt. Ololokwe

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Ian and some of his many friends.

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Dawn from Mt. Ololokwe

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Highway sundowner

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Everybody's working

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The cat and the mouse - iconic Samburu outcrops

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And this is Bibi Wild - okay, you might be a little disappointed.

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Now for the story. Zarek might add something to this and it would be fun to hear his side. I am quite sure his story will differ from mine significantly, and both would be true! Ian’s story would be fascinating. See, we have half of Rashomon already? The whole story is a book. Having said that, Zarek certainly shouldn’t feel obliged to add anything  - it’s an invitation to a party (non-RSVP) if he’s in the mood, not a request.

And the story? Sorry. Soon after arriving at camp we were served a quite late lunch and I think then Zarek arranged that we would go on an evening game drive, in line with my expressed desire. We had to take one of the Samburu staff as a guide – a young moran (warrior) whose “English” name is Ian.

Mum and my wife didn’t want to go as there wouldn’t be that much to see we thought. They preferred to hang around in camp (made up of around 8 Meru tents with shower and toilet areas outside) and get a shower and unpack and so on. Then Ian decided to take his younger friend, who didn’t really speak much English but had the most beautiful smile in the world, as an assistant guide. His name may come back to me. This meant I had four guides in the Landcruiser with me!! Overkill or what, but hey let’s see, I thought (and I assume Zarek thought the same). No critter would escape all these eagle eyes anyway!

For our game drive we had first, apparently, to head back to the main road, which is maybe 10 minutes drive from camp. There Ian casually instructed Job to head north, but he seemed to be most interested in just talking to me and Zarek. The boys were both very relaxed - in fact it was a bit like they thought we were sitting around a campfire, except a campfire in a Landcruiser looking for wildlife on the new, Chinese-built highway to Ethiopia. I looked at Zarek and if he didn’t actually shrug his shoulders and look quizzical, his eyes did it for him. Four guides but only Ian knew what was going on here.

After a little while I think Zarek asked where the wildlife was and Ian interrupted his fireside chat to tell Job to take the next left, which he did. As soon as we turned we saw a small manyatta (Samburu compound) and another moran - but this one older and pretty tough looking - waved at the vehicle to stop and came running over. It seemed like he knew Ian, or knew who Ian was, and they had quite a bit to talk about. There was later some talk about conservancy fees but I am not sure this guy was a ranger. Their talk looked more like friends talking to me, and Ian showing off a bit - being in a shiny big Landcruiser with his posse, who included two mzungu. I thought I read the situation and we were good, but at this point I admit that I discreetly made sure all my camera equipment wasn’t too visible from outside the vehicle – just to be safe. Anyway, there was some pointing and “ay”ing and we all I think assumed this was a hot wildlife tip. Indeed, Ian pointed knowledgably forward and Job followed his instruction again, but after about 150 or so meters we came to a spot on nondescript wasteland that was clearly our target, where Job (presumably under instruction although maybe also knowing bull when he smelt it) turned around and headed back to the road. Four guides and nobody knew what was going on here. Bet this wasn’t in Zarek’s guide exam!

At this point (exam question or not) Zarek asked Ian if there was anywhere with actual wildlife since, according to the generally accepted definitions, a game drive usually involved game (defined as “not livestock or chickens) or at least the prospect of it – and this usually involved heading for a specific destination where such sightings were more likely than e.g. on the main road or next to one’s homie’s manyatta. Fortunately, Ian understood exactly what Zarek wanted and said he knew a great place where wildlife came to drink in the evening and he would take us there now. Great – everybody was relieved we were back on track.

 

The mood improved further when we actually saw a few skittish dik diks and some vulturine guineafowl  after Ian told us to turn off the road. This was more like it. At some point either we could not drive further or Ian told us we should stop and walk (I think the latter) and so we got out and walked -we were clearly going to walk to this special waterhole. Walking safari is cool too, I thought. However, one moran walked at the front and the other at the back and they talked to each other quite loudly, while also throwing plenty of questions at us others. We were still around the campfire, but now the campfire was walking. It became clear that we weren’t going to see much wildlife on the way but we kind of assumed Ian knew what he was doing now  – we believed less and less the further we went but still, there had to be some ending to this, surely? He was a very friendly and seemingly intelligent young man and had been quite attentive, especially to the old mzungu (that would be me).

After a decent walk, Ian said the waterhole was ahead. I assumed he meant like 50 -100 meters, but no it was right ahead – there in those rocks. No wildlife – just a small dip in the rock with a foot of stagnant water and a discarded plastic cup at the bottom of it. Ian was obviously pleased to show us this – he knew exactly what we wanted. But he was also not too fussed when we expressed less interest than before we had actually seen it. He’d done his job and if we didn’t want to stick around (building a campfire of course) for a couple of days to see if wildlife came then perhaps we weren’t quite as keen on wildlife as we had made out, and no judgments from Ian on that.

So we walked back to the car in a kind of shock and drove back to camp in mostly silence. “We also offer sundowners.” Ian volunteered. “They are much better – game is no good right now. It’s too dry.”

We got back to camp and I asked how the women’s showers had been. They looked daggers at me and said they hadn’t had one as the hot water wasn’t working. I went down to ask about this and the reason was very, well “reasonable”. There is no hot water – even though there is a hot water tap. “You could have told us this.” I suggested. “Yes, we should do that.” admitted Ian thoughtfully, as if he now planned to transport back in time and do it. Perhaps he did, and in another universe my wife and mother are not standing naked trying to summon up hot water that does not exist.  Ian said they could get hot water in the bucket shower and so I asked someone to fill the bucket shower and he dutifully did so. Unfortunately the holes were too small or clogged and my wife and Mum couldn’t get enough water out to soak a mouse. They gave up in frustration.  I had a cold shower and pretended it was actually quite warm and the women were just moaning for the sake of it. We were all snapping at each other a bit – well quite a lot. If Zarek hadn’t already read the signs I would have advised him to get busy with something in his tent. At one point when Mum asked me a question about Namunyak Conservancy and what there was to do, like she was expecting a folder of activities such as the one they used to have at Elsa’s Kopje, I unreasonably snapped “How would I know? What the hell did we hire a guide for? Ask the #&$* guide!” Then, when we were all thoroughly alienated from each other, I told my wife to ask me how the game drive had been. She did and I told her and she cracked up laughing and kept on laughing and we were all happy friends again. I have no idea what Zarek made of this but I am sure he has experienced much worse and hopefully he didn’t even hear most of it – while enjoying his slightly icy shower.

There are no pictures of any of this, except the dik-dik.

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 It will be at least the weekend before I get more together I think. Thank you very much for all the kind and encouraging comments so far.

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If I could have pressed 'like' multiple times, I would have. Not sure I would personally choose to have an experience like this, but I really, really, really, enjoyed the read! Looking forward to the next instalment.

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@pault I think it would be appropriate for you to change your username to 'raconteur extraordinaire' , and as for - as you did at one point - claiming that you don't have the writing skills - phooey!

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Nice dik-dik though......

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Posted (edited)

@Seniortraveller I hope you'll change your mind. The next story will paint Ian and Sabache in a much better light - although you can already see how Ian's sundowner offer turned out. 

@Soukous That one nearly killed me and it's the easiest one. I actually really hope that people want to visit Sabache at the end of this, so I probably haven't been successful so far, even if I have entertained you. And you caught me out again. Guilty, even if it is all true. :D

 

And I called Saruni Samburu "Serian" again!!! Ian finding me so decrepit and old is maybe making me play the part. 

 

 

Edited by pault
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I think this is hilarious to read, but I'm with @Seniortraveller  :)   Looking forward to what happens next.

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Posted (edited)

I am happy to come along and it was a wild ride for page 1. Page 2 is just plain weird, but recounted in excellent fashion, as always.

Great sightings in the Salient, even if it was not as relaxed and long of time as you wanted. And really good job on that dik dik!! 

 

Love your cast of characters to start it off.  At least you had another body for warmth at fishing lodge! 

 

Looking forward to what's next and the many phases of Bibi!  Did she find the translation of tomato to be funny?

Edited by Atravelynn
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@Atravelynn Thanks for jumping on board. Mum found tomato translation fairly amusing but not hilarious. However, I think she actually preferred not to be called Granny all the time anyway... who would think?

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@pault so you didn't see the beasty kind of wildlife, but you sure got a kinda wild life from Ian and his friends! what an adventure. 

 

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@pault

 

So, so funny (Even though it may have been less so at the time!) ...... laughing out loud reading this.

!

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On 7/11/2017 at 1:22 AM, pault said:

“How old are you?”

“47”

(Surprised) “Oh… Mama!”

Actually the young moran nearly had a nasty experience too, but my wife was too shocked to get the slapping reflex going for days afterwards.

I can sympathize with this.  One of my  trips to Tanzania was for a friends 40th birthday.  A Masaai asked how old she was and she said 40.  He then asked how hold I was and I replied 52.  He said  "WOW"

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3 hours ago, kilopascal said:

I can sympathize with this.  One of my  trips to Tanzania was for a friends 40th birthday.  A Masaai asked how old she was and she said 40.  He then asked how hold I was and I replied 52.  He said  "WOW"

When I was 44, I recall being told in Zambia, "You are very, very old."  And it was a compliment.  I should now get a standing ovation for my age!

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Since I accidentally left the next part half done at work I am going to skip forward a bit and tell the story of the climb of Mount Ololokwe (or Ol Donyo Sbabche) which actually happened on out third and last day at Sabache Camp, but it is very much a standalone story, and when it was done doesn't really matter. 

 

If you have any kind of interest in kenya you've probably seen pictures of Ololokwe. It's dramatic and a regular stop on helicopter flights. It's one of those places that is so familiar if you watch all the nature documentaries, you instinctively hear David Attenborough's voice when you see it. 

 

You may have seen it like this before. This is how I saw it when half way up - very dark!

 

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I am not a climber or hiker - never have been although I used to climb and hike quite a bit when young because it was the thing to do growing up in Scotland. I don'd do "because it is there". You may as well answer "because I like inflicting pain on myself, but wish to do so in socially acceptable ways, rather than nailing myself to a cross or something, which is what I really want to do." That I understand, although I have no wish to do the same to myself. I value being pain-free. It is a pleasant state and I have no wish for it to stop. So this was really quite unusual for me and my wife and Mum were intrigued and supportive. They both thought it was probably a really bad pleasure of views vs. pain of ascent equation and would have nothing to do with it. Mum might have tried if it had been flat, but then there wouldn't be the views obviously. Zarek isn't a bit "because it is there" climber either, although he is trying to get fit so he inflicts less pain on himself when he does do long hikes - that is sensible. In fact Ololokwe is a fairly sensible mountain. It is only 2000 meters high and the starting point is at around 1000m, so you are half way there before you start. So I tried not to think that the last time I walked uphill for more than an hour was in Uganda, gorilla trekking. I live at sea level in a city without a single hill - except a couple of little man-made ones. I can walk forever and I will go neither up nor down, except when I use the stairs in the underground stations - which I do because I enjoy the exercise... but that's like 35 seconds tops at a time. This was going to be more. 

 

One thing every person who has written about climbing Mount Ololokwe is "set off in the very early morning before it gets too hot." So of course I decide we are going to set off about 2 in the afternoon. Zarek is okay with that (how could he not be having decades on me and being much more outdoorsy than me). The reason was that I wanted to do something else in the morning (which we did) and that I didn;t want to leave Mum alone too long. My goals were (i) shoot the sunset from up there (iii) shoot the dawn from up there (iii) shoot the stars from up there (iv) check out Ruppell's Vultures and other birds of prey flying at eye level. All of this could be achieved by going up in the afternoon and coming back down in the morning.

 

It was so dusty in the area, so dry, that I had actually developed a cough and some allergic symptoms. Basically my lungs and tubes were full of dust and I was breathing through my mouth at ground level. I also had a good walk (and jog to get ahead and prepare to take photos) in the morning when Mum amd wife had ridden camels (oh yes, she did) and noticed I was panting more than I should have been. However, I was sure I would be okay.

We set off around 2.30 pm. Zarek and I had small packs - he with a sleeping mat, water and other stuff (mainly for me, bless him!) and me with camera gear, including tripod and head of course. Ian was supposed to stay in camp as he was the only one except the cook who was able to speak English well enough to get things done, but he really wanted to come and so he did so, tigether with another moran, Robert. This left the women with Job, who was having stomach problems and not really much use - but at least he was there. Otherwise, it was hoped nothing would go wrong as there was nobody we would trust to do their job left, except the cook. Fingers crossed, eh? Ian seemd to quite like the mzungu mzee (I am really not old but try telling that to a 20 year old Samburu) and the hairy man with the wild beard - Zarek could not dissuade him.


We followed elephant paths up the mountain, but people go up most weeks so there was a clearish track and we rarely had to walk through bushes or anything. I needed a staff to get up. Zarek did it without but he has much longer (and younger) legs than me. I would not have made it without the staff - or at least would have fallen multiple times. The young guys did it with bags in their hands, but they do not count.


The first 100 meters up was fine. It was steep but the track wasn't too bad and nowhere was it so steep that my balance issues would put myself and others in real danger - I just had to be sensible. After that it and I got progressively worse. I was panting for air, overheating (it was bloody hot of course) and my heart was beating at an alarming rate. About 30 minutes in we stopped for a rest and I thought "How humiliating. I am not going to make this. We will be back in camp by 5. It didn't get any better over the next hour. It got to the point where I was monitoring my heartbeat and when it got alarmingly fast we stopped until it returned to a normal, distressed rate. Overheating was no longer a measure- I was permanently overheated. Zarek was probably a bit worried as getting a body down from the mountain and the subsequent paperwork would be an almighty pain in the ass.

Ian and Robert kindly took pity on the poor, decrepit old man and carried my backpack, together with the bags they had already. They also cheered me up with stories of how the British soldiers ran up in 15 minutes (actually on reflection I do not believe this but my mind was too wasted to work out the degree of probability at the time). Ian said he could do it in an hour if he ran. I also doubt this but it is more feasible.

 

Can you guess which one is me?

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Fortunately, my breathing improved a bit (or got no worse) after the first hour or so and this really helped. I was still running on empty and it was still bloody steep, but one step at a time I was getting there. I just tried to stay in a trance state and wait it out - it had to be over soon! Then my leg started to cramp up. Damn.

 

That must be the top?

 

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But the views started to get spectacular every now and again - like wowwwww! - and that gave me a bit more energy, as did some eggs with salt and I think we had a boiled sweet or something and some fruit juice. And about 5.15 or so we came up onto a relatively flat sort of plateau. We were there - although with the bad news that we still had to walk to the other side of the (table top) mountain to get to our camp site. Why couldn't we just camp there, I wondered, but realised when we stopped for our final rest that there were no views and I would have to get to the other side for the photos I had come for. 

 

The views!! And we're not even on top yet.

 

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About 10kgs of gear wrapped up in a sheet - no problem for Robert.

 

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So I limped on behind our guides, using my staff to take the weight off the bad leg and hoping the cramp wouldn;t become unbearably painful before we arrived at camp - although to be fair, it hadn't really been getting any worse.

 

Up on the top is another world. It is a completely different environment - much greener than below with lots of big trees and some pretty unique looking plants that Zarek was photographing, but I honestly wasn't very interested in right at that moment. It's beautiful.

 

Zarek still fit enough for photos and enthusiasm for the flora.

 

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But it was even dry up there - reltaively. We met a moran up there on his own getting water from a well, and it was nearly dry. Ian filled up a couple of water bottles with water for cooking. When we returned the next morningn the well was completely dry - although Ian told us the water would see back in by the next day.

 

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We passed the cave where the Samburu sleep and celebrate when they visit their saced mountain, but I was not in the mood for detours - otherwise we would have to had go for a look for sure - and then entered refreshingly cool forest, although it was gettiing close to 6 now so much cooler anyway and the altitude helped as well. It was clear that I was going to make it and in fact without the climbing I had improved quite a lot. 

We reached a clearing in the trees that Robert and Ian said would be our camp site and everybody sat down to get their breath. But not for long, because it would be dark soon and we had to go and see the view. Unfortunately that involved walking up a long sloping rock, but I gritted my teeth and was rewarded with views that were just as good as expected, with a view as far as the atmospheric dust would let you see and Ruppel's vultures flying below us, around us and occasionally above us.

 

No problem!!  Even carrying my own gear now.

 

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As the sun set it quickly became very cold and the strong wind was threatening to blow me off my still wobbly legs, so we didn't stay up there too long, but returned to camp. On the way I tried to select a couple of spots that would be good for shooting the stars later, after dinner.

 

Back at camp Ian had set quite a lot up and Robert helped him complete the job and get a fire started. They had even brought two tents, which turned iut to be good as it was now really quite cold. One of them appeared to be for a child though and when Zarek asked which I wanted I nearly casually took the big one, but then imagined what position Zarek would have to sleep in, and said I'd take the little one. It was the right decision, although it didn't do any favours to my cramp.

 

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No, I just couldn't do it..... doesn't fit.

 

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The guys had forgotten the rice, so we had the chicked and boiled eggs that we hadn't eaten on the way up and we were really too tired to be hungry so it was actually enough. Anyway, later in the evening they made ugali for themselves, giggling like boys on a camp out, and we ate some of that fresh from the pot with milk added - just like porridge back home in my youth. It was very nice, but of course much too filling to eat much. 

 

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We talked for quite a while (well I mostly listened as I was still not really recovered, but I talked some too). Robert claimed to be 17 but as you can see he is a very mature 17 and he told us he might not be 17. His ID card listed him as 28, but he said that was because his father just made up a year when he registered his birth. By questioning him about school, Zarek worked out he was probably about 24, which seemed about right, but Robert really wasn't bothered. The conversation was interesting, even though I am sure some of it was made up. Robert was particularly talkative - in fact we couldn't get him to shut up.

 

At one point in the evening I went to set up my equipment for the star shots. Zarek had taken me out to look and the sky was really clear apart from some very thin cloud. While talking stars with Zarek I mentioned that I hoped that thin cloud would disperse or move as otherwise it was ideal. And I'd get my phone app to check where the milky way was. "That thin cloud is the milky way." Zarek informed me. Well, problem solved then!


Except when I assembled my tripod and ballhead and camera with 28/2 lens I found that I had nothing to join them together with. I had somehow left the camera plate to attach the camera to the ballhead back down below. Of all the most stupid things. I had three different plates. Any of them would have done. I had NONE. I didn't have any other means of support and although I thought about just putting my camera on the ground, that wasn't what I had in mind. Zarek suggested I not mention this to Ian and Robert, who had carted my tripod and head all the way up for me. I thought that was a good idea and returned to the campfire telling them how wonderful the stars had been and omitting the rest.

 

I slept surprisingly well considering the tent was a foot or two shorter than me and it was really cold. 

 

In the morning we made coffee on the last of the fire and then set off to watch the dawn, which was spectacular, although the amount of dust in the air down below meant the view wasn't very clear. The brids were out in force too and although the light wasn't right and the strong wind meant they were hurtling through the air, we both had fun trying to get some shots of them. Almost zero hits by the standardsi was looking for, but some of the offbeat shots kind of worked. Better light and it would have been perfect.

 

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The trek back down was pretty tiring too but much easier than coming up. Zarek's knee went though, so he did well to get down and we were both hobbling and aching when we arrived back at camp at around 9.

 

Investigating a hole on the way down.

 

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And remember the crossed fingers? There had been no water the night before. Ian went and turned it on as soon as he heard this (I kid you not - someone had forgotten to turn the pump on, and then maybe someone had decided they had water because they still had a full bucket - remember the bucket?). So, once again I had a nice shower while Bibi seethed.

 

And yes, climbing in the morning is to be preferred.
 

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Wonderful reading. Thanks @pault for taking us on top of Mt. Ololokwe. I'm with you with all your feeling on the hike and when I think about our next trip to Ethiopia I can just see my face will be more red than yours. 

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