Tree Planting, Waterfall Swimming and Hike at Gatamaiyu

by Monicah Wangari
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We left Nairobi at 6:40 AM as planned. After all, this was an easy hike in a location one hour away from Nairobi, the central meeting point.

Most of the hikers had already met during previous hikes so you can imagine the chatting that went on in the car. Those who were new felt at home and gelled with the others. It is usually the joy of an event host to see people gel. Quite fulfilling.

Passing by the viewpoint, it was already daybreak and the view was beautiful. We took a moment there as we took it all in and bought supplies at Esqoffee. You will hardly miss a yellow container while passing there seeing as most are red.


Esqoffee is a coffee spot with a sitting area on the floor above the coffee shop. They even give you their binoculars to view Mt Longonot and other nearby sights. If you plan to chill here, carry a warm Masai shuka as it gets windy.

 

From there we headed on towards Gatamaiyu. It is in the same direction as The Forest (the most famous zip-lining location in Kenya). We went past The Forest and passed by tea plantations.

We then deviated to a murram road for about 20 minutes and arrived at our destination.


 

I had prior planned with the guide that he buys the tree seedlings. He also saw through the preparation of planting the trees the next day.

I am passionate about tree planting and I want to make it a habit. I was happy to share this experience with other hikers.

 


Tree Planting at Gatamaiyu

To be honest, I find tree names hard to catch but what I know is we planted about 4 different types of trees. I heard it rained after we left. Happy to have given back to the earth seeing it was the Earth Day weekend.

I was reminded of how to plant a tree;

Usually, seedlings covered in soil are stored in polythene bags. So the goal is to remove it with the soil intact and place it in the hole and bury the root.


Step 1; massage the polythene so that it lets go of the soil.

Step 2; turn the tree upside down and pull out the polythene.

Step 3; dip the tree roots in the hole previously dug

Step 4; bury the root with soil and press on the soil to ensure proper coverage.


Step 5; water the plant if the soil isn’t wet.

Step 6; Take a picture of the tree you just planted.

 

Hike Time at Gatamaiyu

From there we stretched for the hike and off we were into the gorgeous forest.


The trail was beginner-friendly. A little muddy as it’s currently the rainy season in Kenya. Grateful that the rain didn’t catch us at any point during the day.

 

The trail starts as a flat walk through the indigenous forest. You will hear the sounds of nature. It is along the River Gatamaiyu. The river is surrounded by beautiful palm-like trees. Since it was during the rainy season, the water was not clear. The trail had lots of ants and stinging nettle. One had to get to you lol. I had to pull an ant from my neck before it bit me. From there paranoia got real. I narrated to the group how I once danced with ants when I was about 7 years old. A little pretty girl, seated on the grass at home in Kinangop. Next thing, she feels the ants bite from all corners of her little body. I ran to the house stripping off all I’d worn. That memory has stuck to date.

 


We’d get to a point on the trail where the ants were in hundreds and we’d warn each other to run through the section.

 

This hike was particularly chill.

In about 1.5 hours we were at the waterfall. It was not clear either.


We stopped here for a bit then headed on to the Wangari Maathai tree. It felt humbling knowing she once stood there.


If you didn’t know who she is, here’s a small brief.

Wangari Maathai is the founder of the Green Belt Movement. She fought for natural spaces in Kenya among them Uhuru Park in Nairobi town and Karura Forest, some minutes from Nairobi. She fought for these spaces to remain as natural open spaces for the public to visit, against persons who wanted to build construction there. She shed blood in the process. Among the awards she received in her lifetime, was the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. She lived between 1940 to 2011 when she passed on due to ovarian cancer. Her legacy lives on.

 

We then headed on to a section right above the waterfall for a swim session. It was a beautiful day to be seated there. It is a very gorgeous location. If you love chasing waterfalls and swimming in them, please add this to your bucket list, you can thank me later. The sun was right above us.


From here we were taken to where elephants give birth. I like the rest expected to see after-birth remains. We didn’t see them considering elephants hide away when giving birth – in a valley. We could see the valley from where we stood. Not so clearly though because it was surrounded by thickets. Did you know that an elephant’s gestation period is 2 years? Well, now you know.

 

Some minutes away was a lovely spot where we ate, talked, and lay while looking at the beautiful sky. We were grateful the heavens had not opened rain on us.


 

We then left the location and headed to the town for a meal. I have shared a nyama and ugali meal with fellow hikers after a hike several times. It’s usually part of the highlight of these experiences.

 

We got back to Nairobi town in good time and bid each other farewell.


 

Looking to join us on our next hike?

Here are the details 👇

Hike Mt Margaret on 7th May 2022


 

Mt Kenya Day Hike to Lake Ellis on 21st May 2022

 

 


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