Camping On Mount Ololokwe – 12 Years A Slave (Part 2)

If you’re just catching up, i suggest you read Part 1 here first.

I survived the night, pretty obvious huh? For a minute there I didn’t think I’d make it through what I can objectively say was the worst night in a tent in my life (and I’ve had many).

The morning begins with almost no clue of the what transpired the night before, almost as if the mountain means to apologize.

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Okay apology accepted, I can’t stay mad at you.

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Okei is also up with the birds. We talk about the storm last time and he mentions that he hasn’t seen a storm like that in recent memory. Now where have I heard that before?

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Turns out he spent the night in a nearby cave, high and dry. He asks why i didn’t join him in the cave.

As N and S awake I also find they spent the night nice and toasty, snacking away; It’s hard to like them right now. They ask why I didn’t join them in their tent. A pattern is forming here. I ignore it and dry my stuff out…

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We are out of water, thankfully due to the nights tempest, the pools that were a bit dodgy the day before with stagnant water have filled up nicely with fresh rain water. Its more than enough for the rest of our stay.

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Morning ablutions at the pools.

A Morning Walk

After breakfast we decide to walk off some of the feast we have not had due to low food supplies. Okei the guide is really is a great source of information regarding the Samburu and their relationship with Ololokwe and it’s surroundings.

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We get to see another view this time back the way we came towards Isiolo and Samburu National Reserve,

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We spend loads of time here watching vultures and various raptors fly all around us. With patience birders can have field day here,  all manner of eagles, buzzards, vultures and falcons are present here.

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Vultures display stacking behavior that they use for some reason or the other.

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Ruppell’s Vulture gives a very close fly-by.

We also marvel at this truck inching along The Great North Road. Very funny and entertaining for some reason at the time.

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N & S taking it all in.

The Second Afternoon.

We have an easy afternoon, everything on the mountain centers on the view. Wake up to the view, lunch by the view, walk a short distance to see a different view. The view is everything; the view shall not be ignored.

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The showers constantly patrol the valley floor, but up on the mountain today its all sunny skies.

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 The Cave

As evening approaches I explore my new digs in the cave. The cave is used by the Samburu community for rituals such as coming of age ceremonies and this has been happening for as long as anyone can remember. Their fathers and their fathers’ fathers have climbed the mountain, slaughtered countless cows here and made merry for decades, maybe even centuries past. The red circle shows the cave entrance.

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The entrance is well covered against all who may want to enter my domain. Good sign.

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Nice scenery from the entrance. Notice the cow skull from feasts past.

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Inside, the cave is warm and cosy, the floor is soft, coated with countless dead leaves, the fire warms the rocks, this is comfort in its truest form. I am all set to do battle with the elements, whatever it throws at me tonight I well prepared, both mentally and physically. Bring it on.

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It doesn’t rain.

The Last Morning

After a very relaxing nights sleep, the next morning does not disappoint as well.

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Not too much faffing about today, after packing up, the porters arrive from the bottom and we begin the 2hr walk down, there’s a long drive back to Nairobi. We stop for one last look.

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But wait, It’s not over!

When we get back to Sabache Camp, Dipa the owner tells us some elephants have been sighted a few minutes from camp and would we like to see them? Answer is a resounding yes. So he straps on an AK-47 and off we go.

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Dipa looks out for elephant

Its not easy spotting  elephants in the thick bush though I must tell you right now I manage to spot them even before anyone else does does. Turns out to be a group of 5 or 6.

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Excuse the video quality, but I’ve never claimed to be a videographer.

Immediately after this we have to make tracks as we hear one of the elephants come towards us through the thick bush. We cant see it but it sounds very close!

What a way to end our adventure camping on Mount Ololokwe, with my first ever bush walk with elephants. It caps off the one of my best ever trips with a resounding, unexpected finale. I feel vindicated, the mountain that has been the focus of so many of my thoughts has delivered an experience over and above my wildest dreams.

  Snapshot

  • Pack very light if camping as your luggage will have to be carried up using either porters or donkeys. Pack your items in small manageable bags.
  • Save weight to carry enough water. Even though there are permanent streams at the top they can be stagnant depending on how long ago it rained.
  • Ensure you are fully self sufficient, there are no facilities at the top of mountain.
  • Costs: We paid Ksh 1,500 a day each (both resident and citizen) for access to the mountain plus camping; porters Ksh 1000 (for a 2-way trip) and armed guide (mandatory)  Ksh 1000 a day.
  • Contacts: Dipa – 0726 – 991597

Final verdict

As indicated in Part 1, we were really let down by the Namunyak management who we had initially planned the trip with. As I have mentioned in my earlier articles I only write about what my experience was and nothing but. However if  planning a trip there. the legal and official way is through the Namunyak Conservancy who can be reached on 020-2471573 or at namunyak@nrt-kenya.com.

That been said I am very grateful to Dipa of Sabache Camp (hit that link), for stepping up when the chips were down and enabling us have a great camping trip. Also to Okei for the great chats we had and bringing us closer to the mountain with all the information he shared. Lastly the biggest thanks to my mates N and S, good times with good friends.

Last note: If you’d like to see some of the photos that didn’t make it on here, have a look at my Facebook page.

Until next time, stay well.

This article is dedicated to RM, thanks for the travel bug.

 

 


 

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31 thoughts on “Camping On Mount Ololokwe – 12 Years A Slave (Part 2)

  1. Pingback: Camping On Mount Ololokwe – 12 Years A Slave (Part 1) | The Kenyan Camper

  2. Emmanuel M'M

    I think my previous comment did not upload. Thank you for that brilliant piece of writing. I was lucky that I read both articles in succession.

    As for the site, WOW!!! You keep adding things to my bucket list. Thanks for that

    Reply
    1. thekenyancamper Post author

      Hi Emmanuel,

      Thank you so much for your feedback, i never tire of hearing from my readers. I’m glad the site inspires you to travel to new places, that’s what its all about! In turn your feedback inspires me to travel and share more of my experiences with you.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment and keep reading and sharing.

      Reply
  3. Anonymous

    Great writing, great pictures and you really tell the story. I have been to Ololokwe hiking on a day trip and spent two nights at the Ololokwe Guest House right on the road after Archers Post. Will keep reading your post for more exciting places to go. Would love to explore the entire Kenya. You should try Mt Ndoto, after Laisamis on the same road. It is 5 hours drive from Isiolo.

    Reply
  4. anonymous

    Such a beautiful post and location! We stayed there in 2013 and hope to return soon–the camp and staff are awesome.

    We had a similar experience, but looked into this further and found that the Sabache Safari Camp is actually registered so it is a legitimate and legal business, which is owned, operated by, and 100% benefits the Samburu people and Sabache Group Ranch members. Therefore, booking though Namunyak is not the ” the legal and official way” –or sole–option to stay at Mt O’lolokwe, although they would like travelers to believe that so they can sequester funds from the local community (according to several local, respected elders). We checked with a land ministry official when we were given the same spiel by Namunyak staffers and were told the land is actually part of the Sabache Group Ranch, protected legally as community land, which they can utilize however they choose, including development of their own safari camp!! Community leaders told us that Namunyak is a project –like several others– that the community allows to operate within their group ranch. Its presence is contingent on the community’s goodwill towards the project. It does not own or have legal jurisdiction over the mountain or land and does not have a monopoly on its use. We are not dismissing them, just trying to give a more accurate account .

    So, enjoy this beautiful and authentic destination! In addition to mountain treks and guides–which are awesome–they have 7 traditional safari tents, a campsite, flush toilets, hot showers, a full kitchen and bar — all ecologically considerate!! They actually brought us hot muffins and tea/coffee to our veranda overlooking the mountain at daybreak so we could enjoy the sunrise! It’s one of our favorite secret East African destinations, literally–their marketing is word-of-mouth and many travelers simply stumble across them like we did!

    We think it’s awesome that the community has taken such initiative to help themselves and benefit from and protect their natural landscape in this way and hope to promote them however possible! Dipa can be reached at 011.254.726. 991 and I think reservations can also be made online at info@sabachecamp.com.
    Hidden treasure! Enjoy!

    Reply
  5. thekenyancamper Post author

    Hi,

    Thank you for stopping by the blog and having a read, I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

    I did get back some of the same information you have shared sometime after getting back from my trip. There does seem to be some bad blood between the camp and the Namunyak management, as usual is all down to politics,politics, politics.

    I elected not to share the information in my article so as not to distract from the main issue which was getting people to go there but I am very happy that you have shared it on here. There’s not enough written about what actually goes on behind the scenes at some of these places, the only story that comes out is usually all nice and rosy which is far from the truth.

    Sabache camp has indeed done alot for the community by digging boreholes and educating up to 50 children (or so they told me). What I am unsure about is who the shareholders are and if they are indeed Kenyan.

    Reply
  6. anonymous

    I asked the same question. We were told the sole shareholders are from their own community and group ranch- therefore all Kenyans- without outside investors or other beneficiaries besides the Samburu community (according to the land ministry officer). Apparently, safari tents, some solar units, a water tank, misc tools, etc were initially purchased with a micro-finance grant given without strings attached by a “friend of Sabache” and that presently improvements are made with revenue generated by camp bookings, so they are now self-reliant. Dipa and staff have essentially built all the hand-carved log furniture and structures themselves from local stone and deadfall trees with their own labor, an incredible feat. Very resourceful.
    Not sure if you visited the local community while there, but during our 10-day stay we saw the boreholes, school, clinics, and many other Sabache camp community projects aside from the employment the camp provides. Just happened that our stay coincided with a new school term, so many of the bursary recipients made a pilgrimage to the camp while we were there to bring in their school documents so they’d be eligible for the scholarship disbursements. I’d say it had to be at least 50 students if, not more! : )

    Anyway, it’s a quiet getaway and a perfect camping venue. The Sacred mountain is spectacular and your close encounter with elephants was truly amazing!

    Reply
    1. thekenyancamper Post author

      In that case I am glad that I’ve given Sabache Camp as one of the options to climb Mount Ololokwe. I hope anyone going there in future writes in gives their experiences as well.

      Keep reading!

      Reply
  7. himanshu

    This is an good experience of camping and beautiful pictures of camping. Pictures tell so much about place and you are lucky to visit these places. Light packaging bags is the best way to enjoy camping.

    Reply
  8. Pingback: Amboseli Bush Camp – Simple Is As Simple Does | The Kenyan Camper

  9. Boniface lekalasimi

    Hi am Boniface from samburu and would like to share my happiness with you for the great work your doing.I personally would like to ask for a chance to guiding in your walks and campings.happy day.

    Reply
  10. Wenzel

    This is a best camping blog I have read. your experience is really good. maybe a bad first night in the tent and next morning it started all over again and turned out to be a good camping experience.

    Reply
  11. caughteating

    I’m here (@Nakasongola from IG)!! My first read of your work! I love it. So sorry about the rain, it sure sucks that you didn’t find out about the cave when you really needed it huh? Anyhow, I’ve followed and look forward to reading all your posts!

    Reply
  12. Noah Smith

    Hi, great blog and a really interesting read. I’m planning a trip to Kenya this summer and I am struggling to find information on where to find permits for access to Ololokwe. It would be excellent if you could point me in the right direction for acquiring permits 🙂

    Many thanks, Noah

    Reply
  13. katie

    Just came back from the most amazing camping trip at Sabache Safari Camp… our second trip there since reading about it on your site. Excellent birding and rock climbing, came across 2 wild dog packs with pups, up close, with Dipa on a walking safari and there were 5 elephants near camp in the evening. Dipa’s a great tracker. The campground was updated this summer with its own showers, toilets, water source, and a very large makuti-shaded cooking banda. Thanks for the suggestion to try this camp. Love that it has both a campground and traditional tented rooms at such a reasonable rates. your blog is great!

    Reply
    1. thekenyancamper Post author

      Hi Katie, wild dogs??? Oh how the gods decided to shine on you that day. Good to know that the camping facilities have been updated, I’ll be sure to pass through there on my next trip up and see all the changes for myself. Thank you so much for your little trip report, I really enjoy reading about other peoples camping experiences and it’s great having updated info about a place but many of my readers don’t do it enough!

      Reply
  14. Anonymous

    Nice read….was there last year n I enjoyed every bit of it….thou it was very dry then.
    Keep posting…

    Reply
      1. Andrew k

        Am reading his for the fist time thanks for posting this live adventure story I love it.Next time try mt.Nyiro in Samburu North,and MT.KULAL in Marsabit county via Samburu central (Maralal) especially on the 3rd week of AUGUST for camel durby.Keep it upand welcome to Kenya

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