Sunday, July 3, 2011

Models and Mountain Biking

This weekend we headed southeast to Lake Naivasha and Hell’s Gate National Park.  We left Saturday morning about 7am with a different group than we have been travelling with as new people have come and others have left.  Ryan and I are now the two longest term residents among the non-contract AMPATH workers so we have been arranging the trips.   It was nice to meet some new people and keep the conversation interesting for the 4 hour trip.  We stopped along the way at the equator which was kind of cool but really just an imaginary line.  

 So we got to camp ground, threw down our bags and headed out to Hell’s Gate to bike and hike.  We started with an 8k bike ride through the park past zebra, baboons, warthogs, giraffes and a few other animals.  Pretty nice view all around the park and very cool to be riding through herds of African animals. 

So we got to the end of the path and hopped off to hike though Hell’s Gate Gorge.

This was definitely among the top hikes I have done.  If you have been through Zion NP in Utah, this was somewhat like the Narrows on a much smaller scale.

It was nice to do some actual hiking instead of path walking like we have on the other trips.  We came to a fork in the path and our Masai guide took us to the left.  As we came around the corner, we stumbled upon a model photo shoot of some sort.  Flash diffuser, sunlight reflector, makeup artist, hair stylists, 4 or 5 photographers.  The whole 9 yards.  SO obviously I couldn’t pass this opportunity up.  I made my way over to the model and stepped in as a special guest. 

My Kenyan girlfriend?
The photographers loved this mzungu and snapped away.  One thing led to another and I ended up posing with some props.  Anyway, pretty comical.

Apparently it was a shoot for a fashion blog, hopefully one of my shots makes it.   I am not sure, but I may now be legally married in Kenya.  

After that side show we went on down the gorge and came to a dead end at a 25ft vertical rock wall.  Our driver challenged me to a race to the top, so naturally I accepted.  I actually beat him up but the joke was on me because he had no problem getting down.  I, on the other hand, had plenty of issues.  I didn’t realize how high it was at the time but looking down scared the crap out of me. 

After a little coaxing and ribbing from the rest of the people on the ground, I was able to scamper down and we finished up hiking through the lava paths. We got out of the gorge and watched as baboons (which are the New Yorkers of the animal kingdom) were loud and obnoxious, rummaged through trash and threatened anyone eating food nearby.
New Yorkers

We biked back to the park entrance and headed back to the campsite for dinner and a few beers before calling it a night. 
What I get to see before bed each night

The next morning we were up by 630 for breakfast at 7 and a walking safari at 8am.  We took a short boat ride around the island and then jumped off to walk amongst the animals.

We were able to go on a walk about because the only natural predators on the island are hyenas.  We saw huge herds of buffalo, wildebeest, zebras, giraffes and impalas along the way.  This was the closest I have been to these types of animals, including trips to the Columbus Zoo.  We followed a corps of giraffes as then marched across the plains and then watched them run away as villagers came walking through with drums and singing for Sunday church services. 
It was an awesome experience to be walking so close to these animals and was fortunate enough to get a few good photographs.  Next week is the real safari in the Masai Mara.  I still haven’t seen elephants, lions or leopards but am expecting to in Mara.   We are hoping to catch the great migration but not sure if it will be in full force yet, all depends on the weather. 

I hope all is well back in the US.  I certainly miss not being home for the 4th and hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable weekend.  We have a small party tomorrow at IU house and I am told there may be burgers.  A little taste of home on one of my favorite holidays sounds like a great start to the week.              


  1. "What I get to see before bed each night" -- looks like a calf being born

  2. did they tell you that Hell's Gate is where the Disney writers were when they drafted the original story board for Lion King? I like to brag that I've been to Pride Rock and personally held up a small lion cub while all the animals were bowing down... It's a good ice breaker.