Saturday, February 16th, 2002

Kitale and Mount Elgon, Kenya

Pushing our truck out of the mud



The trip from Lake Bogoria to Kitale took about 9 hours. It was really pretty as we ascended the west wall of the Rift Valley. I've never seen mountains that tall! The view was absolutely beautiful. There were so many mountains all around. We're now camping just outside Kitale near Mt. Elgon in western Kenya just above Lake Victoria. We're staying on Tony Mills Dairy Farm. His cows are HUGE! They're like twice the size of cows you see in Canada.


We arrived on valentines day and they gave us each a big chocolate bar for dessert which was really awesome seeing as we've all been craving chocolate for a bit. :) A group of us has started getting together every second morning to do half an hour of conditioning. It's nice to know that we'll be getting some exercise on a regular basis. I've been swimming laps and treading water whenever we're near a pool. But its hard to do a lot more because we're not allowed to leave the camp a lot of the time.


It's a nice change being up here, we're 7700ft up so it's a lot cooler during the night, I actually have to use my sleeping bag. But the days are still hot. We went into town yesterday for banking and the postoffice.etc ..  It was a nice change seeing as this was the first time we weren't mobbed by the locals trying to sell us stuff. And the town was a lot bigger than we've seen in a while with actual roads, sidewalks, intersections and buildings more than one story high and made of cement.



We took a day to try hiking up Mt Elgon, which I had been super excited about cause I had been wanting to hike ever since I got to Africa. However, it turned out to be a huge disaster, well actually it wasn't that bad it just really didn't go as planned, it was still fun. We didn't even actually get to hike. We essentially got up at 5:20am to drive around in the trucks for 12.5 hours... the drive to the actual park was fine but the drive up the mountain took a lot longer than planned. We were supposed to drive up to 11000 feet and then hike to 14000, or attempt to anyways but we didn't even make it to 11000 feet before we had to turn around. It started to rain so the dirt roads quickly turned into extremely slippery mud. The trucks were skidding so they decided not to risk it and just turn around. It was still a nice drive up as we saw a bamboo forest, wild African mistletoe, and huge trees with swirly trunks which really reminded me of the forests in BC! I even saw a couple blue monkeys as we were driving by too so that was definitely great! They’re about twice the size of the vervet monkeys, definitely not as cute but still monkeys nevertheless. They’re sort of a blacky-blue color and look like they have a beard. They’re very agile too.


We did get to visit the elephant caves… where the elephants go to scratch the salt from the rocks to get nutrients and minerals ... We walked about 15minutes to the end of the cave to see the scratch marks on the wall of the cave….they were all over and it was amazing to see how high up the elephants can reach, apparently the cave keeps getting deeper and deeper as the elephants scratch. There were thousands and thousands of bats in the cave too and as you walked deeper and deeper the numbers and the screeching sounds got louder. They were flying all over the place near the ceiling! It was kinda neat. On the way out we also saw a bush buck carcass that had been dragged into the cave by a leopard the night before.


By the time we had walked back to the trucks it was raining really hard which totally reminded me of home, but that also made the roads really wet. We had to get out of the trucks a couple of times to walk. Its a good thing though cause a truck in front of us went into the ditch. The wheel was in a ditch that was almost as tall as the wheel, I totally thought that we were never going to get it out but eventually the drivers got it out after about 30min. We all helped push the side of the next truck as it approached that same ditch and it avoided getting stuck which was good. We had to push the trucks at several occasions on the trip. One of our staff members, Kasoi (a Masaii), thought it was funny that we Canadians got so excited about pushing trucks because Kenyans would never get so excited about it. He said it was like a bunch of little gazelles trying to push an elephant… (these are old British world war II army trucks by the way). It was a very eventful day and definitely one I’m sure we'll all remember.



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