“The mountains are calling and I must go.” John Muir
Day 1 : Chogoria Main Gate- Chogoria Special Campsite
When : 21st December 2021
Service : The Alpine Troupe
Distance : 2.45km
Duration : 1hour
Altitude : 2,950mASL
Elevation gain : 83m
Mount Kenya called my name in 2019. I didn’t heed to its call. Reason being, I lacked a group to go with; one that used the cost-sharing model. Yes, it proved to be an expensive affair back then but all this was demystified in 2021. I couldn’t keep calm that my long awaited dream was finally fulfilling itself.
Driving from Nairobi to Chogoria town was a smooth affair till we bid farewell to the tarmacked road and the all-weather road made an entry. That morning it rained heavily in all counties we crossed bringing a dull mood that for a moment made me rethink about conquering the third highest peak, Lenana. “Imagine hiking and camping under this weather for 3 days? What if after all this dreaming the weather makes it impossible to summit?” Those are the questions that lingered in my mind.
The universe must have sensed my fear prompting its action that made my Mt. Kenya trip the highlight of 2021. It never rained when hiking and the sun basked in all its glory. Warmth was much needed during the day for what awaited us on day 3.
The route to Chogoria main gate requires a skilled driver, one that can navigate the mud and save you the expenses of hiring a 4*4. Not all sections are marshy, only those where the 4*4 leave a huge impact. Our hiker buddy loves mud thrills and he navigated that road till the end like a badass.
At Chogoria main gate, we checked in by signing ‘the black book.’ We met our team of porters, chef and guides making my excitement levels shoot up. Having watched mountaineering documentaries, this was my first time to experience the food, watch in awe weighing of luggage, see it carried up the mountain…a girl was happy.
Under the clear sky, her majesty started showing off. She was snowcapped making her aura even more welcoming. More the reason I chose December. It felt like Christmas, the American Christmas movies and I was going to cast and star in my own show.
Bandas. That’s the name given at the main gate as there are bandas in the bush where mountaineers can rest. In the dilly-dally of letting nature sink in, lunch was cooked and served. The stove took me back to high school days as it resembled a Bunsen burner only that this one was using paraffin. The table setting took me on a Safari in the wild watching the Big 5. The food, damn. The food felt like home. I was sold. I was ready to be pampered. Spaghetti and meat stew satisfied our bellies as hot water in a thermos gave us options; tea, chocolate, coffee or just hot water. This was a hikers 5 star hotel.
Roadhead campsite (3,300mASL) was our destination of the day but that changed last minute to Special Campsite. Whatever prompted that idea was heaven sent because Roadhead was jam-packed with tourists and that night it rained heavily. You see at Special campsite there is an indoor kitchen. One where we lit a bonfire, interacted with our unknown friends and had a great time. That was the last structure we would experience.
Enroute sceneries included Mugi hill, Giant Billiard Table and a small stream that had tussock grass all around it. The pathway had Giant Heather trees and algae made the old trees more stunning.
Dinner did not disappoint. Chef Francis started us off with butternut soup and a slice of bread. Then came fried fish fillet, mashed potatoes and veggies. The thermos concluded the affair. Tents up, it was time to sleep. Girl slept like a baby.
PS:// There was a latrine at Special Campsite.