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Mount Kenya

Stage 38: Isiolo to Nanyuki

Apart from the ride itself, and for purposes of the day’s scavenger hunt, we were split up into teams; rules were pretty basic (we had to both depart as a team, and arrive into camp as a team). Additionally, points awarded for fulfilling the 10 ‘challenge’ categories per white board below:

While we didn’t win and indeed only got about 6/10 of the requirements fulfilled, it still was fun day. I do think our team photo was the best of the competition, though:

We eventually got going out of camp only a short while later than normal, maybe 7:00-7:15 or so; turned south onto the tarmac and almost immediately started climbing. It was a perfect morning in that regard, being relatively cool with mostly cloud overhead, mist or haze in the distance obscuring visibility. Good for climbing, poor for photos. About 1400 m vertical and +30 kilometres distance later, topping out at a little over 2500 m asl, I caught my first good views of Mt. Kenya. It really is a dramatic-looking peak, quite solitary and with ice/snow fields visibly apparent on its upper slopes.

The countryside by now is very changed as well. We’re up in a temperate rain zone sort of geography; fields of grain but also coniferous forests and also massive complexes of industrial scale greenhouses (flowers for Europe, perhaps?). Some rolling ups and downs for about 8-10 kms along the top of this ride, then a fast 30 km descent into Nanyuki, which is actually a fair-sized town if not small city of maybe 50,000.

At one point or another just after reaching what I think is the top of the climb, I pull off the main road onto a farm access dirt road to get a photo of Mt. Kenya. At my feet is this painted rock:

There might be a good story behind this sign; the farm or field at least, established in 1919, in the closing months of WWI. Does anyone feel like researching this?

During the subsequent lunch stop, I get to chatting with Carrie about Mt. Kenya and my wisely aborted attempt to climb it in July 1979; she mentioned a book she’d recently read called ‘No Picnic on Mount Kenya.’ I recall reading this book (probably during our two years in Lesotho?) by Felice Benuzzi: it’s a mountaineering classic recounting the 1943 attempt of three escaped Italian prisoners of war to reach the summit of Mount Kenya. I should read it again myself.

We arrive at our hotel campsite before 1:00 pm; it’s all very very flash: nice private gardens for our circus, great coffee and a good bar steps away, and even a swimming pool! Hot water showers, too. The sun is now out as well, so a perfect afternoon for relaxing.

I really am enjoying Kenya.

Tonight is the ‘crossover’ party in honour of our pending equatorial transect first thing tomorrow. Perhaps we’ve been on the road too long (like being at sea for months?) but it’s a fun evening. Errol mixed up some wicked punch as well.

We’re still at ~1950 m asl so an almost chilly evening. Frogs going crazy in nearby pond. I think I’m fast asleep in moments once in the tent and in my bag.

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Mar 07, 2020

I believe you’re most probably correct; the sign is just indicative of the planting. But interestingly, Ade determined that Kisima Farms were in fact founded in 1919 under the soldier settler scheme.


David Williamson
David Williamson
Mar 06, 2020

I may be wrong but I think the elevation is getting to your head - P.Date 8/10/19 surely means the crop was planted in 2019? Am I missing something? Anyway 1400 m climb is something - I would love to see Mt Kenya

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