Never ever attempt Kijabe on a rainy day. Why? Stick around.
The rains did not start this month and those called ‘Sunshine’ had indeed blessed us with unending rays come April. But one night, all that brightness faded on the eve of our hike.
The journey from Nairobi to Gichiengo was gloomy and I could bet no hack could reach the weatherman to tell the weather to hold it. The unending cups of tea with accompaniments at Gichiengo was enough proof we didn’t want to leave the radiating hotel.
Our trail started off heavenly on a tarmacked road enroute to Kijabe Mission hospital where lush canopies of forests paid homage to Colobus monkeys. A detour led to the railway where mud plus track ballast did not soothe our feet.
Descending to the famous dark tunnel was not an easy task. Sliding, holding onto branches, praying that hiking poles would support fully and crawling on fours was the norm. There was no light at the end of the tunnel because the heavy downpour made it its duty for us not to venture it. Instead, a small dirty waterfall welcomed us to Kijabe river that flowed freely despite our cold salutations. A small cave however gave us a shoulder to lean on.
This part of the wilderness houses hot water which probably Kijabe hill was named after. If lucky, on a dry season, the steam jets out profusely. Ascending the steep terrain back to the railway was another calling which we conquered like ninjas ready to devour the hill.
In all honesty, the climb was not difficult. Even kids were doing it. Very friendly. Only that vegetation shifts from greenery to dry very fast. One minute you’re inside a bush, the next rocks, cactus and shrubs does the talking. At the summit Mt. Suswa, Mt. Longonot and escarpments of the Great Rift Valley come into play.
If acclimatizing at 2,659m ASL is not your forte, a stunning waterfall on another route within the hill, gives the rush for abseiling. This is why I’m not done with Kijabe yet.
Our journey ended by ascending uphill through thick tussock grass to Kinale forest. A snail’s shell is all I have for the memories.
PS:// Used Let’s Drift for their services on 24th April 2020. Covered approximately 15km with an elevation gain of 521m.