Size can be an extremely relative affair. Trying to thread a needle? The piece of string might as well be a tree trunk. Attempting to tell the story of your country one travel article at a time? You might as well be a grain of sand on a beach. Conservation, just like any other industry, is not immune from lure of the larger, sexy projects but if you dig a little deeper it’s interesting just how some of the smaller conservation areas play a much larger role than one would think. So does size really matter? I’m in to find out.
Some of you with more time on your hands than you know what to do with might stay up nights wondering how some of my travel ideas come about. Sure, sometimes it takes months of planning but sometimes things unfold in the simplest way possible; like this email I received…
Mr. T: Hi, I took a quick trip up into Namunyak last week and visited a really cool little campsite which is being developed by Museums of Kenya. The really cool part though was their research work on the rare De Brazza monkeys which they have been studying there for a number of years. I am hoping to plan a trip up that way later this year to explore more around the Mathews/Namunyak region. It is big though so will need to give it a few days… are you keen?
KC: Yes! A thousand times yes!
I know, I really should play a bit hard to get sometimes, if I was a lady of the night I wouldn’t make enough cheese to feed a mouse. So thats how 9 explorers, 3 cars, 2 dogs and a mountain of supplies find themselves in this part of Kenya to expose sample its many secrets.
Do not wear any bright colours otherwise they will spot us. Always remain behind a ranger and follow my instructions. Speak in whispers and tread very carefully so as to maintain silence. Be aware of your surroundings and always look out for the largest tree around you should the animal become agitated for any reason.
I know right? How can you not be excited when listening to a brief like that? My hands are clammy and my heart is tripping like an EDM track at what seems like 100 beats per minute. I’m nervous and excited about one of the most unique wildlife experiences you can have in Kenya I’m going to be tracking one of the most endangered species in the the world, the black rhino…on foot.
How much do I love Kenya’s bit of the Great North Road? I can count the ways for days. Out of the entire 7000+ kms all the way from Cape Town (South Africa) – Cairo (Egypt) Kenya’s infamous 500km section of lunar surface from Isiolo – Moyale put us in the unenviable position of ‘number last’ but that is now all behind us. Who do we give props for this? Was it ex-president Kibaki? Wherever you are mzee please pokea a fist bump. The soon to be completed stretch of the Isiolo-Marsabit-Moyale road has created massive potential in the previously marginalized Northern Kenya counties and has already created better tourism opportunities and brought enhanced security to this previously ‘unknown’ region.
As we’ve seen before Kenya is full of surprises so of course there’s a little conservancy just off this highway that’s just begging to be visited.
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….
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.
It’s a real treat for me to be able to visit all the places I travel to twice; first when I visit them, and second when I’m writing about them. My visit to Lumo Conservancy was born as many of my trips are, staring at a screen while at work and daydreaming over photos on the internet. So after much planning (and of course saving), I found myself meandering down the Nairobi – Mombasa Highway, what i found there was a prime example of the link between community and conservation.
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.
Its difficult to explain the power of an idea. It dwells in our consciousness; sometimes relegated, sometimes ignored, but never forgotten. Ever present in the back of our minds, dominating our thoughts whenever we we have a moment to day dream.
I first saw a photo of Mount Ololokwe about 12 years ago and my imagination was instantly captured by this massive mountain emerging seemingly out of nowhere from the desert plains. In many of my travels such as during my elephant encounter in Samburu, and a most relaxing trip to Sera Conservancy among many more, she seemed to continually taunt me and was a constant reminder of the promise I once made to myself.
I had to spend a night atop this mountain.
Aerial of Mount Ololokwe, the red circle shows our campsite. Photo Credit : Marcus Harvey Continue reading
According to stats if you do not draw in the reader in the first two lines of an article, then there is a 90% chance they will not read on. I’m willing to take that risk this time around. This article I write for the traveller, not for the reader. For those who the open road is an inspiration to adventure as opposed to a fear of the unknown. For those that look at a map of this great country Kenya and see it as an open invitation to new experiences and possibly a new way of thinking. So if by some stroke of luck you’re still reading allow me to take you to a place that greatly rewards that curiosity.