Let me take you all back, way back to when i was a little boy (I’m kidding, ain’t nobody got time for that).
I had always wanted to try out hiking.. It had been that burning passion that’s always at the back of my innate soul; craving the sounds and chimes that nature so abundantly provides, but I was scared to try it by myself so I needed company inorder to take that first plunge.
It was 2015 (I think) and the ebd of year holidays was here. Amid discussions with a few friends to a few weeks before Christmas we agreed to do the impossible (for a bunch of misfits at least). We made the conscious decision to hike a 32 kilometre stretch of uninhabited natural reserve land covering the seven arches of the mighty and beautiful lush green Ngong Hills, Kenya. I was ready, determined, focused and in a lot of trouble for agreeing to such a challenge (I could barely run a 100 meter stretch let alone a kilometer).
Finally it was D.Day, Boxing day had arrived and like The Great Ali, I was ready for those knock-outs, mostly for me and my skinny legs; I was ready for those hills to end me with an uppercut on the first run, but, nonetheless, we had to do this, for the sake of our egos and to live up to our imaginary street reputation; it would be an accomplishment of the year to say the least.
I was up and ready, bright and early, in my blue Nike shorts, red hoodie, yeezy boost 350’s on the bottoms (not made for hiking but I definitely needed some Kanye on my side). My backpack was set with water and sandwiches for the day. So I call my boys just to make sure they’re all up and to my surprise these niggas wanted to chicken out last minute so I bolted out the door while they contemplate whether they just wanted to be ordinary men or legends. I set out to go with or without them, I had waited for this moment way too long to let anyone screw it up for me. I checked my watch and it was 5:30AM, normally I’d be feeling worn out and tired coz I’d be going to work, but not this time. I was exhilarated to do the impossible; I was James Bond when he drove that classic Porsche convertible down a twisty mountain road all while looking into the eyes of a beautiful blonde blue eyed goddess; I was confident; sure of myself and a bit of a bad boy with no regard for the rules.
About an hour later amid my commute, somehow, my boys had gathered enough courage to do the hike. It was chilly and guys were looking at us as though we were crazy showing up in shorts and Maasai lesos.
We meet up and exchange hellos then go for some chai and mandazi at a local restaurant before we became his of the 21st century. Next stop was the railway bus station to get matatus to ngong town. You could tell that we were excited for this because we kept behaving like shamba boys coming to the city the first time. Rob was the tour guide, this guy knew every shortcut to every home or site that we passed along the way. Moz on the other hand was the guy playing it cool; watching our stupidity; then there’s me, the shamba boy, I literally had my head out the window trying to enjoy the fresh and unpolluted air that the countryside had to offer. I marvelled at all the locations that Robert had stories about. I wasn’t going to waste this moment.
An hour later and we find ourselves in Ngong town without a clue of what to do next. So first thing we do is look for an mpesa agent because screw being lost in out of town but being lost without money? Hell no! We knew better. We had a chat with the guy at the mpesa and he was kind enough to give us directions. Since the guy said the gate entrance was nearby we thought walking would be a great idea.
Twenty minutes into the walk and we’re already thinking that this was a BAD IDEA!
We set off in the direction shown and then our “know-it-all” “tour guide” Rob decides he knows directions better than Google maps so blindly like a bunch of sheep we follow our great shepherd. He takes us through some dirt road behind private houses and I’m thinking this nigga is out of his mind, “Where the fuck are we?!” At this point an argument brawls between me and Rob because I’m a ‘go-by-the-book’ kinda guy so I’m trying to tell him that the guy at the mpesa never mentioned anything about a dirt road behind peoples houses and he goes “this is a short cut” I ask him if he’s ever used it before but he states that its common sense instead of going round a bend following the tarmac we should just cut through the straight dirt road and then link up with the tarmac up ahead.
I say it’s fine but I take out the phone and check my maps to see if we’re in the right track but apparently the low signal range and magnetic field from the hills fucks up with your compass and geo location. You can imagine what happened next. Yes! We got lost for nearly an hour. We went up a hill then down a hill but we never saw any tarmac road and because we’re men and our ego’s wouldn’t allow us to ask for directions we continued following a broken compass and our great shepherd.
We tracked up to a point where there was no longer anything that was considered a road. That’s when I decided to suck it up and ask a stranger for the right directions. Turns out we had missed the right turn nearly 4 kms back so we had to go all the way back and do it the way the mpesa guy had told us. A our great shepherd was very happy with what he had achieved asking me “you said you wanted to hike, this is what hiking is all about”. I just shook my head and followed the stranger back.
It was around 9:00AM now, we’re right on track and could see the entrance at last. We got a few lollipops from a kid selling them along the way. Rob with his dreadlocks started scaring the kids that were along the road with his hair; kids were running for dear help, one of them nearly dug a hole on the side of the road and buried herself just because of how scary his face was (poor thing must have had PTSD after).
We paid our dues at the KWS entrance and proceeded ahead with the climb to meet up with the ranger assigned to us (apparently we were a bunch of pussies who couldn’t protect ourselves incase we got attacked by wild animals or thugs on the hills pretending to pray). Along the way we meet up with several people jogging up and down the hill (some of them famous, and not like Kenyan scene famous, I’m talking about Kipchoge Keino and Jelimo FAMOUS).
I was impressed. These guys were jogging up the hill with so much ease like a Luo’s mouth navigating around the bones of a freshly fried tilapia; that’s when our great shepherd decides to become one of the Jelimo’s and Kipchoge’s. Rob bolted after them and I’m just standing on the sidelines looking at my boy Moz like “watch this nigga collapse right now’. Dude runs with the Jelimo’s side by side almost to the top and my sarcastic smirk turns into admiration. Like this nigga is actually going to do this, he’s literally going to make it to the top, and he did, without even breaking a sweat. It was incredible really.
The slowpokes, paced up the hill tentatively to the top and met up with our ranger, his name was Mohammed but asked us to call him Moha. He seemed like a cool guy, he entertained us with stories all through the hike, never rushed any of us when we got winded and needed a moments rest. Everything was smooth until the great shepherd decided he was better equipped to take lead since (yeah, you guessed it) he knew the route better.
We’re up into the 3rd hill and the place is just windy you can barely hear yourself think. Slowly my boy Moz, always the reserved champ, nearly got blown away by the wind which is ironic because Rob’s the skinniest of us all. We get up to the 5th hill smoothly with everyone panting and sweating ice crystals, literally. We got to this narrow little path with heavy foliage cover but a little ahead we see a clearing and what do we notice, this wonderful little foot path is literally on the edge. I’m not kidding. One false step and you’d be rolling 2600 meters down.
Now at that opportune time, as we cower our way through the path one by one, our security guide stops midway the cliff path and cocks his AK47. He’d warned us earlier that there were buffaloes roaming the routes and sometimes they’d encounter one that’s pissed off and they might come charging at tourists. In my head I’m thinking, “doesn’t it know the difference between tourists and locals”?! So we’re all squatted on the ground and on high alert when we suddenly hear some bushes shrug and Moha steadily points his rifle towards the noise and that’s when one of my mate’s bolts in the opposite direction. I turn around to check whether the guy’s okay and he’s not there; nigga left us to die. The irony is that he was the one discussing earlier about how us presenting a untied front against a threat would result in a victorious fete.
Eventually the buffalo paces away and soon we’re back enroute to a memorable achievement all the while shouting my mates name letting him know the coast is clear. After a few hours we reach the seventh and last hill only to be greeted by this amazingly expansive and breathtaking view of all of Rongai, Ngong and Kiserian. Moha proudly let’s us know that we’re the fifth group to ever reach the last hill. We all smile at each other with a look of pride.
We did it! The only thing that would have made things out of this world would have been climbing all the way to the top only to find a chapati or a tuskys white bread vendor with my favourite greeting, “Karibuni”. That would have been magical.
After an hour’s rest and some energy snacks we were on our way back.
At the end of the day we’d had an amazing time out bonding and discovering our physical and mental limits; we were dirty; we were hungry and we were tired to our cores but least to say we met new friends and we had that sparkle in our eyes that had a thirst for more adventure.