Discovering the beauty of Mt Kenya
SEE ALSO :Forester digs in against dam planI was part of a media trip organised by Ahambi Tours and Travel Agents. Climbing the densely vegetated Mt Kenya, which usually takes five days and costing around Sh35,000 per couple, is one of the most requested in the company’s portfolio. In one day, we could only walk to Old Moses and back. “Mt Kenya is beautiful and is always different every time a person climbs it,” said Ngari, one of the hundreds of mountain guides, cooks and porters that serve local and global clients. “Unlike other mountains, one can access it through three other routes. The view and the challenge the mountain offers is different and picturesque from all those sides.” Born and raised in Karatina, Ngari never imagined the snowy peaks and expansive mountain ridges he saw each morning would eventually become his source of livelihood. In fact, he used to “abuse” the ecosystem. “As a young man, I used to raid parts of Mt Kenya Forest for firewood and small game. It was those things all young men used to do, with complete disregard for the environment,” he explained, as we neared Kona Mbaya, the halfway point between Sirimon Gate on Nanyuki’s side of the mountain and Old Moses Camp.
SEE ALSO :Mt Kenya giants lead in A grades“It was after I lost my job at Kenya Tea Development Authority that the idea of becoming a guide crossed my mind. I was lucky to be trained by a cousin who is an expert climber,” said Kinyua, whose major highlight was guiding one of President George Bush’s cousins on a climb to Kilimanjaro. “I have met so many tourists whose attitude and knowledge about the importance of the environment informed my decision to see this as more than a job. We have something unique here; we need to protect it with all we have,” said Ngari, who plans to start his own company of mountain guides, which will periodically educate the population about the environment. A few metres to Old Moses, which only four of us from a party of seven managed to reach, four male tourists passed us on mountain bikes. At the camp, which is set on a hill, they took photos, had snacks, then raceed back downhill. “That seems nice,” said Brigitte Gittah, part of our group. “That is about Sh24,000 to local tourism. Foreigners pay around $65 (Sh6,500) and locals pay Sh800,” said Ngari. We took sips of the natural water that runs 24 hours in one of the green cabins, took photos, then headed straight back. All in a day’s work.
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