Karura Forest; Lungs Of Our City

Have you been to a place and it stole your heart? For me Karura Forest was just like what “Love Stories” in Soap Operas that are flooding our Television Sets (I am not saying this to offend you lover of this great Soap Operas) it was all “Love At First Sight” only for me it was “Love At First Visit” back few years ago and i still go back almost every weekend.

The forest is also a place that I go to have my meditation or break away from the busy week where I either go to cycle my bike or at time just enjoy a walk along the beautiful trails that run for kilometers yet so refreshing.

This is a place I believe most of my friends have ended up visiting either because I drag them along or talk a lot about Karura Forest ending up seeing them fall in love with Karura

The beauty of this Lung of the city is that it is all secure by an electric fence all around it with well marked trails that ensure you don’t get lost in the beautiful nature that’s all well kept and preserved from the efforts of the Late Professor Wangari Mathai who struggled together with other environmental lovers for a future generation which today their efforts are bearing fruits from the number of visitors to Karura Forest

It has got a beautiful waterfall that changes in size as by the rainfalls.

At times its water become so low that it almost becomes bear and on arrival of the rainy seasons

it shows its mighty roaring deep in the valley covered by the mighty forest and acting as a welcoming beauty to its visitors.

The amazing Caves that are historical from being said to be a hide out for our freedom fighters during independence struggles and also as an archeology site.

There has been great additions to this amazing forest as years pass by. Today it has become a place of picnicking, photography, birding, primate observation like the Colombus monkeys to the vervet monkeys among other wild animals located in here.

How I wish we had more and more of such places all around and withing the city where we can have fun, practice environmental conservation to much more like catching up with old friends or even meeting new ones

If you are visiting Nairobi for the first time, after visiting the Nairobi National Park I would recommend it that you took time to visit Karura Forest either for a walk, jogging, cycling or just looking for the birds,animals or even enjoying Botany to its best and I believe you will enjoy

Visit the Lilly lake named after the great number of Lilly plants found there,

Go enjoy great views at the platform overlooking a swamp

Don’t forget to carry some picnic with you as there are great picnic sites located in the forest with picnic benches

The forest can be accessed through Kiambu Road or Limuru Road just right after the Belgium Embassy. If you have got a car parking is available at pocket friendly charges and also you can use Public Service Vehicle (matatus as we call them in Kenya).

Dont forget to take along a good camera or make use of your Phone Camera to capture the beauty then share it with friends

Enjoy more pictures below from my walk that I had and as always remember to travel more and encourage more to accompany you.

#ChinkuTravels

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Short Escape to the Wild

I once read some words that said” ….take vacations, go as many places as you can, whenever you can….” And since then I have never turned back.

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so recently My travel Brother #TravelWithEliud

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a fellow travel blogger {click here to check his blog #TravelWithEliud }and I decided to head out to the Masai land of Ngurumani for it has been a destination that was long due for our return visit.

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The initial visits for both of us, was all filled with memorable adventure and we wanted it to be the same if not more adventure packed. Our plan was to use public means all the way but our big brother Leonard Ndungu a man doing great work at Lentorre Lodge {click here for more on lentoree lodgeLentorre Lodge } a hidden gem of this side of the Magical Kenya, he offered us some transport from his friends at Lake Magadi one of the lowest points of the Kenyan Riftvalley to our camp for of our visit that we got to know of its name later as Airstrip Campsite a place that’s the reason I am writing this experience more.

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It being a backpacking adventure we stopped at Kiserian town for some shopping and restocking ready for few days in the land of masai as we had planned to camp during our stay. Lessons begun to emerge as we waited for our departure. First of all, we had received instructions and had been advice to pick up Matatus heading to lake Magadi which we didn’t see first only for us to be directed to the busy bus heading out to Nguruman which took time to be loaded with all sort of stock from crates of beer and soda to bags of sugar to others only for us to depart late in the afternoon causing panic to our waiting transport in Magadi town. However it took us about 2 hours and a half to get to Magadi where we were received by our waiting transport.

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Our adventure begun swiftly as we drove round lake Magadi as the original route across the lake was flooded thanks to the rainy season that we were later to realize its effects and make us fear flooded river more than ever in our life. Our drive took us across the amazing and untouched Shompole Conservancy what I now believe isamong the few untouched natural eco system that I have witness in most of all my travel. Located in the southern Rift Valley of Kenya, Lake Natron (in Tanzania) bordering to the South,to the West is the Western wall of the Great Rift Valley and Lake Magadi standing like a curtain hiding it all the beauty to the East. There are two Maasai communities ranches or let me say conservancies that are Shompole and Olkiramatian

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Driving through this untouched eco system you can get tired of clicking on your camera because it is so rich in terms of bird life, large mammals, key predators, the presence of elephants, our guide told us few days prior to our arrival they had sported hundreds of elephants with a friendly warning of us getting long nights filled with Lion roars to the calling of the ever noisy hyenas, we were so excited that we had planned this adventure at the right time. On our drive to Nguruman we would stop to give way to antelopes, taking pictures of the abundant birds, while later as we got to our campsite we got the best Sunset over the Loita Hills that was so beautiful making us getting late to arrive at the campsite.

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Our stay was at the beautiful shaded Airstrip Campsite that got its name for being next to an airstrip that serves Lentorre Lodge and the larger area. On arrival we set up our tent and got to start our stay far from home and city to few nights in a land far from home. Dinner was a simple meal of Ugali and goat meat that we needed to have energy for the next day that we were to hike up the Loita Hills.

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Early morning, rising up on the sound of motorbikes arriving. In this area, motorbikes are the mode of transport if you are not willing to walk in the heat of the day under the cover of dust. Our guide was Nandiyo a masai guide born and raised in Ngurumani with a great experience of the larger Entasopia all the way to Lake Natron. Packed our cameras, drinking water and snacks for our hike up the magnificent Loita hills off we rode our “tour mobile” on two wheels all before the scotching sun was out to stare at us hiking up the Loita hills.

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At the foot of Loita hills is the mighty Ewaso Ng’iro that a visitor would undermine its power by its dwindling levels of water. Evidence lay before us, as though warning us not to play games or undermine the little water levels that was flowing silently and peacefully. Big and heavy rocks washed from up stream had found a resting place for themselves after the River showed off its power during the just concluded rainy season. Our guide shows us a buildings bearing a brown mark almost above their windows telling us that it is the only thing he could first show us the real level of the angry awaken sleeping Ewaso Ng’iro.

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Step by step, we crossed the banks of this mighty sleeping giant, clicking our cameras trying to imagine how small the river was when we last visited on a drier season when rain was only in prayers.

Up to the beautiful panoramic views of the masai community land all the way to mount olgesaile standing guard in the horizon. We got to rest once in a while as we took more time to try and capture the views and enjoying some rest. After about 2 hours we got to the peak and another bush warning came from our guide, “…..kwa ajili ya mvua mbogo wamekua wengi, kwa hivyo tukae macho…” {due to the rains, buffalos have become so many so lets all be on the look out…” this made us walk so carefully as on the previous night we had been told of how the don’t fear any animal except from a buffalo!!!!!

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However, our fear was short lived as we made it to the jewel of this area, The waterfall!!! Far from my previous visit to this waterfall, it was now on a much open space thanks to the heavy rains that flooded the river clearing the mighty rocks and bushes leaving the waterfall all bear like a chicken who has got all its feathers plucked out.

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However, it still holds its beauty. With us taking the advantage of resting we got to learn more abour the masai culture and history like the reasons why there are no rhinos in this part of southern most part of The Rift valley: thanks to poaching. However, the other big5 are easily spotted.

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After our rest, we begun our decent and back to our campsite. It was much easier hiking down the hill as we were now satisfied and so happy that it had not been such a hot day. We shared our past travel experiences, from incidents to memories that we carry in our minds of our different travel adventures.

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Our overnight that was meant to be our last, was all covered up in roaring lions and hyenas who seems to be laughing at our stories at the bonfire. The next morning we were up for a new adventure along the banks of the Ewaso Ng’iro on a baboon tracking adventure. We got to learn so much about this brave cousins of ours. An example is the solving of the myth behind their red colored “bums” what did they tell you as how baboons got red swollen “bums”??? Did you know its a signaling tool for mating time or season? Well, just like you are surprised that’s how my brother #TravelWithEliud was making him get so disappointed because almost all African children are told that baboons when young and ready for initiation, they are made to slide on hard rocks making their “bums” turn red…….

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The baboon walk takes about 2 hours or more depending on your interest. Later we retreated to our camp and rested as it was our last day with the masai. Its on this time that we got to appreciate the difference of luxury travel and budget.

As we were comfortable at our campsite, our guide came calling us to go at the run way of the airstrip. 20 minutes later a small plane came flying above our camp turned on the run way roaring towards us and came to a stop next to some lancruisers fitted with chairs on their roofs for game viewing. Later on a second plane came roaring and stopped.

A number of tourists alighted from the planes and boarded the vehicles to start their adventure while enjoying luxury in the wild. { I pray soon I may also go experience the same adventure as the flying fellow travelers }

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on our departure back to Nairobi, to today I have been wishing that such destinations can be of interest to all travelers. The amazing views of wild animals to a life deep in the true untouched Kenyan wilderness, is so relaxing with a great time far from the busy city life to a life away from our new generation addiction: phones, as this place has less phone network coverage. I was left wondering why we rush to destinations that are so packed yet there are places that you can be the only one in a campsite or on a trail.

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I hope we can travel more, explore wide and share more of our adventures. Many ask me how I plan for my adventures and I just say that I don’t plan but when an adventure comes calling, am too weak to assume the call but I answer to the call loudly so readily for what the adventure brings along.

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So when you have time (time is just a making so you can always have time) fill life with adventures not things, have stories to tell, not stuff to show

#ChinkuTravels #HiddenKenyanGems

What’s In A Team

The month of September has always been my best with surprises and great time exploring the country or getting those random travel ideas from my friends.

On the other hand it is also my favorite month because it carries my birthday and that’s when my travel adventure boils because a plan always comes up from friends or relatives just like last year when my travel friends of #TravelWithEliud

and Pamfilas

took me out for a day in Machakos that ended up being a Spontaneous Camping adventure

that still lingers in our travel diary as one of the best spontaneity plan ( click here to read about it Machakos spontaneity ) am waiting for this year’s to see what adventure will come with it.

As amazing as other Septembers, this one begun well as I joined Safiri Nasi on a zipline adventure to the amazing adventure packed The Forest in Kereita Forest located at Kimende town along the Nakuru – Nairobi highway for a zipline adventure.

Safiri Nasi is a tour company that offers amazing packages across Kenya at affordable cost and having used them for a number of time, I didn’t think a second time when I did my booking to confirm my weekend was adventure packed.

The date was 15th September and we met within Nairobi and set of for The Forest to enjoy our break away from the city. An hour drive we were at the adventure capital in the forest of Kereita.

Briefing was done on how to Zipline (myself having done it for sometime I didn’t take part but my friends did), many of the members of the group we had on that day were taking part in ziplining a their first time.

As usual they were all shaking with anticipation of flying over the forest others were excited of trying out zipline for a first time.

Myself I went around checking out more of other activities as The Forest has got many activities on offer from the main attraction which is zipline as they got 6 lines in offer where you choose from two lines or doing the 6 totaling to almost 3km giving you a rush over spectacular canopies to open land.

They also got Archery that give you the true feeling of being Robin Hood as theirs is in a forest hence a great feeling shooting arrows at a target in a forest. Have you got friends who you love challenging? why not take them for paintballing also an exhalating activity on offer at The Forest.

Other activities are mountain biking, horse riding, nature walk and even camping. Never say you got no plans for a weekend now you know of an amazing place to answer the call of adventure.

The main reason of this write up was the team building activity that I got involved in after everyone was done with screaming on the zipline led by a wonderful facilitator and a great friend who is a leading team building facilitator called Solomon

This is one facilitator that teaches you the importance of a Team. On this I got a share of my challenge in discovering my leadership skills thanks to challenges offered to us all. Solomon ensured we got to appreciate teamwork more than ever.

He showcased the challenges in life that look so huge yet the solution to solving them all takes just a little effort.

It was all challenging but at the end of the facilitation we went home all as new leaders appreciating little efforts that makes great changes in life to workplaces.

The little effort you can make in life means a lot in life’s challenges. Even when It comes to traveling, it doesn’t need so much effort but only few decisions in your life.

Personally I begun by loving the need to be friend as many people as I can, sacrifice all I can even a coin to ensure my travel wishes are met even if it means the last coin in my pocket. Develop more love for travel even if it means going back to places you have been to because every visit is always different from the first.

Lets travel more, share pictures or videos of places we visit, encourage one or more people to join you and you will be amazed at how much you learn by traveling. Someone once said that ‘work feels our pockets with money, but travel fills us with memories” Travel more and learn more

#ChinkuTravels #HiddenKenyanGems

Kigali to Kampala by Road

the city on 7 hills

Carrine's World

So I resumed work today and a number of people have been asking about the Uganda guy (cool down guys , he was just my guide) and the Kampala blog. So here goes..

I tend to overspend sometimes so before I had left Kigali for Kibuye, I reserved my seat for Kampala on modern coast. VIP ticket was RF 15,000 while the normal ticket was RF 10,000.

Budget Travel Tips:

  • To limit how much you spend, pay for important stuff like accommodation and transport before-hand.
  • Travel at night to save up on accommodation fee.
  • Limit use of taxis unless necessary
  • Eat at local hotels (they are cheaper and food is great).
  • Ask if you could join groups going on the same excursions to minimize on excursion fees (like the boat ride)

My bus being scheduled for 8:00PM, I had some time to explore Kigali town and take my dinner…

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Stop judging by skin colour

As by the title am talking about judgement that many people go through but i am going to talk about my own experience. Most of my friends and even relatives can be witness that they had a different judgement about me or got confused of where was my originality as i look more different thanks to my colour and appearance.

I have never denied that i am from a mixed background an African Mother and a visiting dad (i mean a non Kenyan dad who is from the Far East) only that i was born, raised and living in Kenya. My English is strangled by my mother-tongue giving me an accent way different from my appearance as i look more Asian than the Kenyan behind the Asian face.

I was born in the Kenyan coast, later got to be raised in the depth of Nyandarua very lucky to have been brought up at the foot of a big mountain: The Nyandarua ranges famously known as Aberdares at a Village where electricity was a story we were told of, the only car we saw was a milk tractor that we saw every morning collecting milk throughout the year.

My grandmother was so lucky that she was always the compass for our village as directions would be given to all people who got lost as point of reference to get their bearings, it would always go like this “umepotea, lakini rudi nyuma ukifika pale kwa daraja ulizia ule cucu wa muchina halafu fuata hio njia ingine” ( you just got lost, however just go back to the bridge then ask for the homestead of the grandmother of a Chinese then follow the other road you left there)

Anyway, fast ahead to the future of the village Chinese boy who is now a grown but young man. Nowadays i am in the city though every month i go back to the village that raised me as it is said “.. East or West home is the best”. There are challenges that i still face thanks to my appearance which i believe many who are like me face in this city.

I have met a good number of people who are like me. Judged by the facial appearance or skin colour, one even once told me that as he boarded a matatu somewhere people begun to backbite him ” yani hata hawa wahindi hupanda gari?” (You mean even these asians board public vehicles?) This was all thanks to his Indian appearance yet he was born and raised here in Kenya making him a Kenyan and understands Kiswahili to other local languages.

I have also been harassed by authorities from policemen to even been asked for work permit by others. There is a day i almost got arrested because i never had my passport (they judged me to be a tourist or a foreign worker and needed to be with my passport or work permit) when i produced my national Identification card it was said to be forged!!! There is so much i have gone through thanks to the misjudgement by my appearance.

However, to some extent i have always had advantage from my looks. When i go to some places, i get served way better than my friends or others. The other day, together with my friends got to be given a chance to be served faster and better as they thought i was a tourist visiting the place.

But why am i writing about this if i also have advantages coming with my looks? The reason is because when we get people or facilities serving or offering things by skin or appearance it will lead to bias life may be even hatred among people. I hope we can all live, respect and never judge each other by tribe, originality or anything that creates a difference between people .

Lets live in harmony rather than division, lets see each other as friends than seeing each other by skin colour, tribe or originality. Thats why i love camping compared to anything else because in camping we call everyone in the campsite by a general name “Campers” we share a bonfire, we share stories of travel experience, we share meals at times.

As i conclude, lets develop a culture or respect for each other, live a life of no judgement by skin, originality or anything that may create hatred or discrimination above all lets travel more as we get to grow the culture of respect for everyone. My good grandmother always encourages me to travel more by her words that says, “atendete guthiî augaga nyina nowe ûwi kûruga” (he who doesn’t travel always says his mother is the best chef)

Travel more and share with friends

#ChinkuTravels #HiddenKenyansGems

Special, Beautiful and now dusty

Originality of most towns in Kenya are very unique shaped by history or came into being as by direct result of our history or even the world’s history. Just like the world’s history was shaped by Industrial Revolution, Capitalism and also Imperialism all combined with a lot of factors.

Over the years as the calendars pages turned past history was not forgotten as everything was kept in records and the best of the past history was well preserved in monuments which is the topic of discussion

A monument is a type of structure created to commemorate a person or event, or which has become relevant to a social group as a part of their remembrance of historic times or cultural heritage, due to its artistic, historical, political, technical or architectural importance (Wikipedia)

Nairobi and Kenya at large has got a great share of monuments from our streets to Public Parks marking different pages of History and events that took place leading to shaping of our cities, towns or even what we know today as independent Nation we have today.

How ever, it looks like we are leaving out our monuments to enjoy a new pair of suit that nature is clothing them in, dust and less if nothing is done the death of our past shall have caught up with us.

A Polish Poet of the World War II era once said ” …..the living owe it to those who no longer can speak to tell their story to them…..” It is up to us the living to keep alive our past histories as it is from them that we can shape our history.

I shed tears when the statue of Queen Victoria in the Jeevanjee Garden put up in 1904 fallen and its head crushed later on only its base still stand with the statue no where to be seen to tell its history

This goes on with almost all monuments from Nyayo monument at the Central park that had beautiful fountains and was a great outdoor photo studio that many loved. The Statue that we ought to even care more is that of our freedom fighter Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi and that of Tom Mboya whose display have become more like dustbin making me wonder if we truly appreciate what was sacrificed by such a hero!!!!

I hope that one day we can decide to care and respect our past history shared or displayed by all statues set up on our streets and towns.

Why do you think most statues are in bad status or so untidy? What can be done for us to maintain and care for our statues to Public Parks? Lets share in the comment sections on what can be done or should be done to ensure we care for our statues and monuments.