Aberdares National Park - eventually.
Jul 3, 2005
|After the equator, we planned to head to Aberdares National Park. There are supposed to be some incredible waterfalls there. We were planning to drive across the park - in one gate and out the other. We headed down this road for one of the gates to the park. Well, we hit a town and a fork in the road that was not marked. So we went left. And drove and drove and drove. No gate. We stopped to ask some kid if he knew where the gate was, but he may not have spoken English. So we headed back to the fork and went the other way. And drove and drove and drove and drove. The scenery was beautiful - mountain rainforest, very green. But no gate.
We ended up in this valley near this little tiny town - actually town is too strong a word. At this town there was another fork - one headed through this town. We took the other one. Around a couple corners and we encountered a man who looked friendly. We asked him. He basically told us we were WAY out of the way. Apparently the gate was somewhere near the town and initial fork. But he told us if were kept going the way we were, we would hit the park. So, we forged ahead. And drove and drove. Another fork. We went right. Another little town. We stopped and asked again. We needed to take the other fork. So we went back. Shortly after the fork, the road was blocked by a gate, but no Kenya Wildlife Service hut or guards. Just a man, his family and a locked gate. He came to the car and we asked him if it was Aberdares National Park. He said yes and unlocked the gate. Yeah. We had found it. Kinda.
Apparently this part of the park was some experimental forest project. The track on which we were driving was almost non-existent. There were big green plants on all sides. And it just kept going. We thought it had to hit something eventually, but it didn't feel like it was going to. Again, gorgeous scenery, but where the heck are we!?
After driving through this forest for what seemed like forever, we hit a tarmac road! And a road sign directing us to the park! We followed this and a short drive from here was the gate. The same gate that we were looking for from the start! We were 7000 ft above sea level as we headed into the park.
The park did not have too many animals. It's really all about the scenery, which was so lush and green. Evan took lots of pictures here.
We headed to the first waterfall. It was a sheer drop - kinda scary for me and my fear of heights. It didn't help that there was a dead antelope at the bottom of the waterfall. It disturbed me.
From here we headed to the second set of waterfalls, which was a sight to behold. There were three parts to this waterfall, with the 3rd part being the highest. There's a picture of the sign listing the heights - I won't try to remember them here. There were these two observation decks from which to watch the falls. And across the valley, you could see another waterfall. And the valley was so green. It was quite something.
It was super cold - about 12 degrees Celsius (which is 53 degrees F). I must explain my choice of footwear - I needed socks to keep warm, but had started the day out in flipflops because I don't like wearing shoes in the car. So the socks and flipflops that you will see in the pictures is a warmth thing, definitly not a fashion statement.
From these waterfalls, we kept driving through what became mountain grassland (or moorland, as Evan called it.) We saw a couple of hoofed animals and alot of spurfowl, but that was about it. Lots of elephant poo, but no elephants. At one point there were some darker clouds off in the distance and what appeared to be a funnel cloud! We tried to get a picture of it, but it was starting to disappear.
Finally we reached the gate on the other side. This gate was over 10,000 feet above sea level, which is the highest altitude I think I have ever been. And the temperature had dropped to 10 celsius, 50 F, and was foggy. So we headed down along a windy road with no guard rails. Kinda disturbing for me. Again, the height.
Once we hit the ground, we were heading to Naivasha, a town we had been to before, but of course we hit a fork. And went left. But should have gone right. We did eventually hit a major road, but not before driving for at least a half-hour on some of the bumpiest roads ever. Just constant bumps. Not holes, just bumps. When we eventually hit the tarmac road, Evan wondered if the car was still running, because there wasn't that constant sound of the car on bumps.
We finally made it back to Nairobi. And had some middle eastern food for dinner (mom: we ate at the Phonecian - no habli babli this time!)