Activity: Scouting Ragia Falls
When: 11th February 2022
Service: Let’s Drift
Charges: Ksh 1,000
Extra : Ksh 600 (public transport to&fro), Ksh 332 park fees
Duration: 6 hours
“The weather today is great.” All hikers were in agreement.
“It is very hot.” I blattered.
“Yes, in fact it will be a sunny day. It will not rain. It has not been raining.” Jeremiah, our KFS guide assured us.
Hikers started layering off and returned their jackets to the vehicles. Yours truly decided to leave her rain jacket. (I was avoiding luggage but of all things, Eva, a rain coat!)
And that was our first greatest mistake. The first rule of hiking, more so in the Aberdare Ranges was thrown out of the window. The jungle had been waiting for us. We were not ready!
The 3 hours journey from Nairobi to the Chinese abandoned compound that foresaw the construction of Sasumua dam was an alright adventure. 3 hours because we had to detour for breakfast at a local joint that literally served us cold mandazis and tasteless coffee. Those mandazis were from the previous day but what do you expect from village joints on such an early morning? Of importance was satisfying our hungry bellies.
To our surprise we could not take pictures of Sasumua dam that intercepts water from upstream and satisfies the demands of the people’s living and production in the capital city Nairobi. Why? Protocols. Elephant hill and Mt.Kinangop though gave us picturesque backgrounds.
There were many shocks to this hike. For instance, not even the local and KFS guides could tell the meaning behind Ragia falls. I mean, I’ve been to many hikes where information flows freely but this had its major setbacks. However, there were local men doing piping work in the forest and one of them knew the forests history. Y’all should say a silent thank you to the old man.
“Hearing” was a common phenomenon in this forest in Kiambu County, Lari Sub-County. This is where the birth of our nation began; Mau Mau Uprising. Field Marshal Dedan Kimathi in 1952 led his group here in the war against British troops. It is here that women brought food for this army that hid in caves found at Waterfall 17. Our Mau Mau men, were keen to hear and listen to the footsteps of incoming people to differentiate the women from the British troops. Interestingly, Mau Mau road derives its background from here.
According to our good local man, Ragia is a Kikuyu coined word “Raīgūa” meaning to hear.
Bamboo trees, wild fruits, wild berries, booming flowers and mushrooms beautified the route. All was easy till we started descending to the first waterfall. This gave me Kijabe(journey to the river) vibe but twice of that. STEEEEEPPPPPPP!!! At one moment we were having fun then hallelujah it started raining safari ants. Why were safari ants attacking our necks instead of feet? Where were they flying from? Was this a sign from the gods?
The lush forest sitting on 4,192ha gave way to Diara River; the 2 waterfalls merge to form this. The waterfalls sources of water are Sasumua dam and rainfall. The water colour blew my mind. Something between turquoise green and emerald green. Forgive my colour blindness. Slippery boulders tested our balancing as we had to cross them to gain access to the waterfall. Behold her majesty, gushing out in all her lure, 20 feet tall, summoned us. Swimmers quickly enjoyed her while the rest like me just devoured her with our eyes. Waterfall 18 is her name because of the washout 18 piping number. More so, her air valve number is 18.
Ascending back to access the other waterfall awaited us. Thunderstorms started notifying us. Panic mode filled the air. Even before we were out of this trail, the heavens opened-and I mean opened. The next journey to Waterfall 17 was a quiet one. We must have been cursing out our stupidity in our minds. To ease us up, Mother Nature decided to reduce her downpour to give us time to dry up. However, she left the second track, muddy and steeper than the first. This is where butts did the talking and shoes got a coat of new paint.
Mau Mau caves near the base of the fall welcomed us to the other side of rich history. Just like 18, 17 too got her name from the washout number. We had no time to dilly dally. The heavens weren’t promising us prosperity.
PS: Enroute the all-weather road to the starting point, be on the lookout for a green house. That’s the late Dedan Kimathi’s house.