Okay – here’s a brain teaser. What do you get when you cross a donkey with a horse? Answer: You get a smart ass! Actually, you get a mule.
“Mules are very tough animals,” explains Rosalie Faull who runs Samburu Trails, a trekking safari into the wilderness of the northern frontiers on donkeys and mules. A handsome chestnut coloured mule runs across the garden to join the others grazing with the pack of donkeys. “They are very sure-footed and with a western-style saddle, very comfortable to ride. It’s like sitting in a big arm chair.”
We’ve just driven in from Maralal, which disappears into the valley below as we drive up the high glades of Leroghi Plateau, the air cool and crisp, the rains turning everything a magical lush green, with old man’s beard hanging from the branches of the ancient podo and cedar trees, showing how pure and clean the air is. We reach Porro, a tiny Samburu hamlet that l’ve never heard of before.
Maralal’s one of those really interesting towns in the outback, a frontier perched in a valley near a great fault line that happens to be the Great Rift Valley with a stunning view of the deep gorge that on a windy day can sweep a skinny person off the edge and into the deep sink. It’s also a town that’s the headquarters of the Samburu, cousins of the Maasai and in modern history, where Mzee Jomo Kenyatta was under restriction order after his compulsory confinement in Lodwar where he had been for two years short of elevan days. Maralal became known as the half way house between Lodwar and Nairobi, where Kenyatta and his young family stayed from 4 April to August 14 1961 before they were flown to Nairobi. The house is a museum, aptly called the Jomo Kenyatta House.
Above: A boulder blocks the slot canyon at Hells Gate National Park, Kenya. by Heyandrewhyde
Fiery mountains spitting out red-hot molten lava, earth-shattering forces from deep in the earth’s belly and floods have shaped what is a trip to ‘hell’.
‘Let’s go to hell,” says our local Maasai guide from the Olkaria Maasai clan living in and around Hell’s Gate National Park, an hour’s drive from Kenya’s capital city Nairobi.
The trip to hell sounds funny for we’re in a very picturesque setting with the scent of the leleshwa, a shrub of the dry lands used by the Maasai as a deodorant by sticking the leaves under their underarms.
“Okay, let’s go to hell,” replies the group of well-fed women.
Above: Njemps tribesmen light a ceremonial fire in front of a statue of Buddha at Laikipia Nature Conservancy
From the archives 2007 March
Our Earth, the only living planet in the galaxy of millions has never received so much attention as it is now. That it is in dire straits goes without saying. Climate change and global warming are the topics of debate amongst the environmentalists, industrialists, scientists, artists and anyone concerned about our welfare on Earth. It is after all, like l said, the only planet supporting life.
On the edge of the Great Rift Valley, the cradle of human kind, is Ol Ari Nyiro, Laikipia Nature Conservancy, a 100,000-acre of wild country full of gorges and canyons, bush and arid land, water filled dams to support the last of the wild. The Conservancy has been described as ‘the most botaniocally diverse non-forested area in East Africa’ (TP Young 1989). It is home to an indigenous population of black rhinos where Kuki Gallmann established the first rhino sanctuary in Kenya when poachers had almost wiped out more than 95% of the country’s black rhino population by the early 1990s. It is also home to most of the African plethora of wildlife from lions and elephants to the tiny dung beetle and migratory birds like the Ethiopian swallows.Continue reading “Earth – Healing The Rift: A Musical Performance For The Earth”→
A whole load of journalists descend on this one little turtle happily snoozing under his shaded spot in the pool. All we can see of this star-to-be-soon turtle are his flippers sticking out from the slab of stone that he’s resting under.