Sometimes, the most beautiful memories are made in the least expected ways.
This is one of those Twende Sato, Turudi Sunday gigs which strain your legs off if you’ve not been working out. Read on to visualize my Hiking Mt. Ololokwe, Isiolo County experience.
Road Trip to Mt. Ololokwe, Isiolo County!
We left home early in the morning and by 6 am, we were out of Nairobi towards Isiolo, Isiolo County. Isiolo county borders Samburu, Laikipia, Meru, Marsabit and Wajir Counties.
A direct shuttle to Isiolo cost us, Kes. 700 per person. The route to Isiolo cuts through Thika Superhighway, Karatina and Nanyuki. If you choose to use the via Meru route, it makes your journey two hours longer. You have the options of road travel and flight as Isiolo hosts Isiolo International Airport.
We got to Isiolo town in five hours, which is less time than I’d imagined. Our driver, who is a resident of Isiolo, had so many stories to tell. So the journey was nowhere near dull. As the plan was to hike the same day, we didn’t have much time to spare and tour Isiolo town, so we took the next matatu to Archer’s Post. In the scorching sun, I felt like this ride took forever as we were seated in rows of four people instead of three. The driver also didn’t help as his speed was barely 50kph. At Archer’s Post, we found many residents chilling in the town. Women braiding hair, men chewing miraa and morans walking around with their heads held high. We easily stood out from the crowds from our dressing and heavy backpacks.
We looked for a hotel where we had spaghetti and beef. Then toured the town as we awaited our ride to The Sabache Eco Camp, at the foot of Mt. Ololokwe.
From Archer’s Post, there are no matatus towards Mt. Ololokwe. We hired a vehicle sent to us from the community owned Sabache Eco Camp. Quite a long drive but with spectacular views. We would make quick stops and take photos of the spectacular Mt Ololokwe. The road was amazingly clear as cars hardly pass there. So we took those on-the-road photos.
Hiking Mt Ololokwe, Isiolo County
At around 3 pm we got to the camp and changed into our hiking gear. Sabache Eco Camp hosts 8 classic safari tents, a shop for hiking equipment and a souvenir shop. They are on Airbnb. Visit their website for more information. Nomad magazine (The East African Magazine For Intrepid Travellers) reviewed them in 2019. To me, it is one of those locations to visit if you want a reboot. A road trip followed by a unique mind and body experience. At Sabache, there’s nature, tranquility, and serenity.
We were assigned a guide and a porter(to carry our luggage and sleeping gear).
We arrived just as dusk set in, having hiked for four hours. The hike was interesting as our guard and porter kept narrating to us stories of their tradition and answering our many curious questions. Samuel, who has long braided maroon hair, is the current Mr. Samburu, a title he won during the previous year’s Samburu Festival held annually in August at the Bomas of Kenya.
There was no getting bored with Samuel around. He is the type of moran tourist guard who deeply understands his roots and knows how to integrate with people from other communities. The porter with us, who didn’t speak much, is Samuel’s best friend and mentee. Once in a while, they would engage in conversations in their mother language. Samuel was dressed in his moran outfit while his mentee was in casual t-shirt and shuka. It’s interesting how they hiked in Akala shoes – made out of car tires.
When we got to the mountain top, they pitched our tents. They then made a fire. I kinda thought they’d rub wood against each other and voila! fire. But no, they used matchstick. By the fire,we had our dinner. It was cold at night, unlike daytime.
With no toilets on the mountain, which is completely normal with hikes, we offloaded in the bushes and covered up.
The plan for the next day was to see the sunrise but it was too cloudy to see the sun. To make matters worse, I’d caught a fever. Stuffy nose, coughing and sneezing. Poor me.
We took a short walk of roughly 15 minutes from where we’d slept to the cliff of the mountain. We couldn’t sleep at the cliff as it is too cold and windy at night. Samuel told us of one time these tourists insisted on sleeping on the cliff but asked to be shifted to a warmer/less windy location in the middle of the night.
From the cliff, one can see the road and more mountains and hills, among them the famous Tom and Jerry.
I was feeling extra sick so all I did was watch the others take dope photos as I tucked in my blanket.
Samuel made me medicine from the bark of a tree. In their culture, they hardly go to the hospital as they use natural methods.
The descent off Mt. Ololokwe
We then headed back to camp and took camel tea, unpitched the tents, and aih aih captain, we were on our way downhill. I honestly struggle with the descent more than the climb. Because I lock my knees in an attempt to not fall. So my legs end up aching and being super shaky. Sucks. I guess I should learn the famous butt squat.
Halfway down, guess what we see. An elephant. We had been informed that elephants frequent these areas. Honestly, the way I’d slept soundly the previous night, I think I’d have missed the sound of one approaching. Samuel, who like other morans, is trained to deal with such situations, went off to tame the animal as we kept on our descent. He came back and told us there were 3 elephants but we’d seen only one. He even showed us their footsteps, pretty huge and where they’d laid for a while before walking on. Thank God he noticed it before we had a head-on collision with them.
I dared him once to carry me on his back and he was willing, but I chose not to because of the fear of falling backward. Boy, that would hurt. Worse if there’s a log nearby or something sharp.
SO LONG, SAMUEL
In like two hours we were done with the descent. I was super beat and hungry. We showered in the safari tents – pretty dope ones. This was followed by a heavy breakfast. Soon enough we were on our way back. We got to Isiolo as the plan was to go via public means till Nairobi. That was around 3 pm. Sunday has to be the worst day to move from Isiolo to Nairobi as we had to do a four hours wait for the matatu to fill.
We left Isiolo at around 7 pm and got to Nairobi with no traffic at 11 pm. Ordered a cab and back to my pillow I was.
The next two days my legs still hurt to the extent that stairs took such a toll on me. The fever also got to me and I had to stay home till I was in a better condition to go back to work. Especially considering that’s just when we were receiving the news on Coronavirus. As I write, I am no longer sick.
The day I got back to work, I found a colleague reading The White Masai by Corinne Hofmann. Talk about perfect coincidences. Samuel had narrated the story to us and I was excited to engage in that conversation as I had watched that movie some years back. The conversation starter had been the fact that foreigners are super fascinated by the Masai and Samburu cultures. To the extent that they’d leave their lives behind and get married to a Masai or Samburu – gotta admit, the thought crossed my mind.
I am currently reading The White Masai, which to me, is a much better description of Corinne’s whole experience compared to the movie.
I love non-fiction reads. Any recommendations?
Read about how I hiked Nyambene Hills in Meru during a rainy period;