Hiking the famous green hills of Africa
Chyulu Hills Hike
Recently we organized an hike to the enigmatic hills, the so-called the beautiful green hills of Africa (Chyulu Hills) The hills are part of Chyulu national park which is located in a blissfully remote area between Tsavo West and Amboseli in Makueni county.
Let me enlighten you on facts about Chyulu hills:
Chyulu hills are hundreds of green hills composed of volcanic vents, deep ash craters, cones, lava flows and valleys rising to an altitude of 2,188m high and covering an area of 150km long. They are among the world’s youngest volcanic hills and the most beautiful of ranges dividing Kamba country and Maasai land.
The hills contain large lava tubes and deep caves that have been rated as the longest on earth, over 11km.
Enough of the facts, let me now tell you my experience with hiking Chyulu hills, it was on 2nd June 2018 when the long-awaited day had finally arrived and I was eager to just hit the road; being the organizer there was a lot of moving parts and anything could go wrong, from low turn up, the weather, late turn up and many more. But this was part of the fun and my big picture was clear (just reaching the summit of only one of those hundreds of hills).
We had initially agreed to meet at 4 Am to some this seemed very early and we opted for 5Am unfortunately we had not updated in all our social media platforms. On that morning I had to wake up at 3.30 Am yet I had slept at 12 Am trying getting all things in order. at 4Am I got a call from one of the hikers and to my amazement they were at the meeting point, given that they were not aware of the changes in departure time.
This seemed like starting the day on a wrong foot and by 4:30Am they could not wait any longer, this is the day I learned the value of time and it was no longer about African Time clichés, and they had to cancel their trip with us, this was a painful moment but I have always learned that whatever you lose always don’t lose the lesson behind it, it was time to accept and move on.
By 6Am we started our journey to the calling hills, less six hikers who had not turned up in time (It was time for me to apply the time principle on others no matter the cost) this was a 4 hours drive and along the way the weather seemed threatening but when we arrived the destination the weather was perfect for hiking.
The starting point for our hike was 34 Km into the National Park a place known as Satellite, but the road was bad with volcanic rocks touching the belly of the Van and it reached a point we couldn’t go any more in order to protect the van from mechanical issues especially at the middle on nowhere, It was time to touch base and start our hike early, remember we had only covered 10 Km and this meant that we had to change our plans.
The feeling of walking in a National park send fear to my spines but lucky for us we had two KWS wardens with guns, this gave some relief but this didn’t stop my wandering thoughts from replaying the National Geographic hunting skills of the lions and leopards in the wild to which I was now part of it, could I be one of the prey being targeted by the lingering wild animals in the wild? but I kept on telling myself ” I knew the risks and I was willing to take just to experience the wilderness and its beauty”.
We followed the road and it was not leading us to our targeted hills and a decision had to be made, If you were good in Math’s we had to use concepts like vectors and calculus to come up with a new route through the bush with our eyes set for the summit and nothing could come in between.
Taking the unbeaten path
Yes! the decision had been reached but now who was to lead the way to the unknown bush, finally I managed to gather enough courage take the first step knowing very well that I am covered with the Ranger just behind me, I was responsible with creating a trail were the rest of the hikers would pass with ease, this went on for almost an hour and we reached an area with short shrubs, this was a big relieve, but our hill seemed to be moving further.
The beauty of the green rolling hills was worth the steep terrain and the higher we went up the hill the more beauty unveiled before our eyes, It was only when you look back that you could appreciate how far we had come. But at the back of my mind I knew I will have to cover that distance again and find my way to the van which by now was spotted as a small white spot from a distance.
The company of the Hikers was amazing, we could encourage each other as the going got tough, at times everyone was silent may be contemplating whether to give up or press on, but at that time no one wanted to be the first to break, but I knew very well it will reach that point, The seasoned hikers were pushing harder and all they could focus on is to know what lies on the summit and beyond and nothing could stand between them and that.
It reached a point where we had to make another decision, that was to divide ourselves into two, the group which still wanted to reach the summit and another which could no longer endure the terrain, we did this quickly and we agreed on where to meet after; it was at that point where each individual who had made a decision to forge forward would surrender any doubts and spirit of weakness as there was no turning back after that point.
The terrain got both unbearable and rewarding, and every step we made increased the anxiety on what awaits on the summit, as the saying goes, “The best view comes after the hardest climb”
What we found at the summit was beyond our expectation, and i am not even able to put together words to explain (If you are a Hiker you will know this feeling) the 3D spectacular view of the green beautiful rolling hills was breathtaking.
I felt like I should build a cottage just to enjoy the view, breeze and calmness that surrounds the serene environment, we tried preserving the moment with a couple of photos, but no photo could do it justice. when we left, only our footprints were left behind this was the best moment in my life and I wished I could just live in the moment.
Our way back was equally rewarding using a different route, the challenge came in for those whose shoes were not fit for the terrain, but all in all we had to support each other, to the extent of carrying one of the hikers whose shoes were not kind the toes given the terrain.
After one hour of sloping we were able to reunite with the other team and all we could do is to try our best and narrate how the summit was, this reminds me the story in the Bible about the Spies sent to the promised land narrating their story, they had different narratives but this time our narrative was one, all we could say was that you will have to be there by yourself and have a personal experience at the summit.
This was a day well spent in the wild and echoed our slogan as Hikers Afrique.
“Adventure is out there”
Author: Joshua Kibet
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