Conservation can be a really boring subject. Depending on how it’s presented on a scale of 1-10 some might rate it ‘watching Olympic golf’. Now most of us like the idea of conservation just as long as not too much is asked of us; liking a photo of a cute elephant on Facebook? That we can do. But actually understanding what impact we have on our environment and working to reduce it? Not so much fun. So there are reasons why conservation can be boring to some, but there are also ways to make it interesting as I find out for myself….
Curiosity is one of my weaknesses. One day I think I’ll try to go climb a bit too high, push that extra mile a bit too hard, stick my head down the wrong hole and ‘Snap!’…no more Kenyan Camper. But until that happens and some ill-informed family member tries to collect on my non-existent insurance policy, my curiosity is what makes my life worth living. That’s how I find myself flying across the waves through the Lamu Archipelago, The Muse by my side, a smile on my face; wondering what my ‘need to know’ has gotten me into this time.
As a traveller and sometimes writer I am obsessed with the stories that are not being told about Kenya and if you have been reading this blog that theme is pretty obvious right across the board. I do not desire the obvious. I am constantly plagued by the thought “Surely there must be more than marketing leads me to believe there is?” You’re about to find out just how true that is.
First, apologies for the lateness of this, the fourth and final instalment in what has been one hell of a ride through the Northern reaches of Kenya. A trip came up in between the writing of this article and the previous one so I’ve been a bit turned around and trapped totally tripping over trips in tandem. If you’re late to the party there was Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 previously. But no fear here we are, and it’s fitting that this series ends with one the oldest and most well known of the country’s parks, and yet one of the least visited (because it’s far, quite far.)
Our expedition wanders ever deeper into the hinterland but we do not tire. We are energized by the curiosity of things to come and are fuelled by wanderlust, snacks and diesel. The forth day of our adventure finds us in high spirits, we have found our travel rhythm and it beats to a strong and steady drum. If you haven’t already, you can see how far we have come to get us here in Part 1 and Part 2 of our journey. In the meantime what do the days ahead hold in store? More than we can imagine…
So where did we leave off? Our arrival…hunger pangs…the blazing meteoroid….all that was in Part 1. So it’s a new day and we’re up early, aiming to visit the small settlement of Gotu where the Gotu Waterfalls are located and also pass by the famous Magado Crater. Tarn has to head back to Nanyuki for a wedding so we say our goodbyes and head our separate ways. This day will not go according to plan.
“Let’s do something big”. Those four innocuous words uttered six months before this trip slowly snowballs into what turns out to be a 10-ten day monstrosity, spanning a total of 1,500km through some of Kenya’s least visited but most beautiful desert landscapes. The more experienced among you might be saying “Pffft, 10 days? Bunch of pussies”, but for me this is big, really big. This is the longest camping trip I’ve ever taken and if you really want to get out of your comfort zone and find true adventure then Northern Kenya is definitely the place to do it.
We live in the information age, whether it’s ‘Peeling A Banana: You’ve Been Doing It All Wrong!’ or Biggie Smalls educating us on the fact that “Miami D.C prefers Versache”, something we can all honestly admit we didn’t know. I wonder though how many in the tourism industry use available statistics to steer their businesses? Especially for the smaller to mid-sized businesses and operators for who(m?) resources have to be deployed in the most effective manner possible. I take you through the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics recently released Economic Survey covering the year that was 2015 in Kenya’s tourism with my thoughts and totally unsolicited opinions attached.
Here’s one of the problems I have with the traditional resort – style offering; I don’t know whether its the massive air – conditioning unit chomping away at energy units, the indulgence of a winding chlorinated pool thats the star of the brochure or buffet tables groaning under the weight of kilos of food that encourage us to serve more than we can possibly finish. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking it “different strokes for different folks” and all of that, it’s just so far removed from how we live our normal lives that it’s difficult for me to buy into. Luckily for people like me, we have places like Olomayiana, a place that that wears it’s human-sized heart on it’s sleeve.
Remember when you finished primary school and your dad took you to the hottest tailor in town to buy you your first suit and you felt the warm glow of his pride? You wore it for ‘luck’ to pick up your exam results only to find you scored a solid C-minus? The suit no longer gave off that sheen of success but dulled in the shadows of your failure. That’s the kind of bitter sweet memory I felt as I headed to to Hell’s gate, a memory that should have been good but wasn’t for some reason. Would this be the trip that would change my mind?