Taking up hiking has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in 2020, I’m always looking forward to the next time I get back to the great outdoors and explore new trails. I guess you can say that the hiking bug has bitten me hard! Hiking for me has been so therapeutic, fun and an awesome opportunity to meet and make new friends. Which makes me wonder, what took me so long to start hiking? Actually, I know the answer to that question. FEAR and misinformation kept me hiking. See, for the longest time, I thought you had to be ultra-fit to go hiking. I always said I’d start hiking once I shed off the extra kilos I carry around. Plus, I didn’t want to risk attempting to go up a mountain/hill only to quit 30 minutes into the hike, as I did 6 years ago when I attempted to go up Elephant Hill. So I’d always say no every time anyone invited me for a hike. But when I challenged myself this year and promised to do everything I needed to do to get me to Lenana Peak, Mt Kenya, I was prepared to unlearn everything I thought I knew. That was the main inspiration for #TembeaNaMotoMtKenya, a campaign to help me and other hiking beginners learn the ropes from the mere basics. Looking back now, after completing several hikes, I see the mistakes I made; all the misconceptions I had that I am willing to bet you have too. So I write this piece in the hope that it will give guidance on how to start your hiking journey, and ultimately get you to book your first hiking trip. Remember, the hardest part is starting. Follow these tips and you too will be on the trail come next weekend. 1. Gauge Your Limits Before attempting a day hike, make sure to test your body’s capabilities. It is very important to understand that not all hiking trails are the same, and that not all hikers have the same physical endurance. Just because your friend or someone you follow on social media managed to successfully trek a certain trail, doesn’t necessarily mean that you can too. Knowing your limits before booking that hiking trip is crucial if you want to avoid any incidents along the way. To get a feel of what you are working with you can start with slightly steep, simple treks that don’t go over 3 hours. Karura Forest is a serene option to start with, or you can chapa laps in tao from one end to another (if you are gangsta…lol) Doing a test run (in this case, trek) will give you an idea of how much your body can take, which will then dictate what difficulty level your first hike should be. 2. Choose Your Trail Once you know your limits, it’s time to start shopping around for a hiking trip that suits your level of physical endurance. Don’t be afraid to ask the difficulty level of a hike before committing. Be sure to also do your own research beforehand to get an idea of what to expect. There are many beginner-friendly hiking trails to choose from, Ngong Hills being one of them. If you do opt for a group hike, make sure to communicate your fitness level to the organizer/guide so that they give you the necessary time and attention that you require. 3. Prepare Your Hiking Gear You’ve booked your first hike trip but now comes the question, what the hell are you supposed to bring and what do you even wear? Hiking gear may seem like a complex topic especially to someone who’s just starting out. I’ll say this (and this is just my opinion), hiking gear is not the cheapest, and getting everything all at once will most likely create a serious dent to your bank account. But the good news is, you can start by getting a few things and acquire more as you progress to more intense hikes. The most important things you need to consider are your footwear, clothes, backpack, hydration and sun protection. Trails like Ngong Hills you can manage with running/jogging shoes, athleisure clothes, a simple backpack, and bottled water. Make sure to go over the trip requirements/advisory notes of the trip beforehand and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Remember, having proper hiking gear hugely dictates the experience you get from your hiking trip. 4. Prepare Physically For the Hike Now that you’ve booked your first hiking trip and are counting down the days, it’s time to start preparing your body. Regardless if you’ve been working out regularly or have been a couch potato, you need to have a preparation exercise to help your body get ready for the strain of the upcoming activity. Remember that a simple ache due to lack of prior workout or stretching can easily ruin your whole trip. The most basics exercises are those that involve carrying your body weight, like walking, jogging, skipping rope, which doesn’t necessarily require you to join a gym. Experts advise doing prep exercises for at least 30 minutes consistently 3 days before the hike. The more active you are the better chances your body will adjust to the stress of the hike. 5. Ready, Set, Go Remember, getting started is the hardest. Resist the temptation of canceling that trip and actually show up. Go with an open mind and ready for the adventure. Don’t forget to carry your camera because you’ll need to look back at the memories you’ll create on your first hiking trip. If all goes well, I’m sure our paths will cross on a hiking trip because as you’ll come to find out, hiking is addictive!
Earlier last month, we travelled to Marsabit on a trip curated by Xtrym Adventures. An expedition that gave us the opportunity to marvel at the scenic route of Great North Road, explore the dusty fascinating barren lands of Chalbi desert and enjoy a morning of serenity in the Marsabit National Park. In case you missed it, here is a vlog documenting how that went. Based on that trip, I got numerous questions on my Instagram that I thought I should address here for future reference especially now that many of you are intrigued by these uncharted lands and are planning to go explore them yourselves. I hope you find these tips helpful and you can comment down below anything you feel I might have left out. Route The first and the most important thing you need to do is point out the areas you are willing to explore and come up with some sort of itinerary. I say this because this part of the country is vast and while it might be tempting to want to see it all; you may not have enough time to do so. Our trip was centered on us exploring Marsabit, with a highlight trip to the Chalbi Desert over the weekend; therefore, we travelled straight to Marsabit and made a day trip to the Chalbi Desert. To get to the tallest dune in the Chalbi Desert, we got as far as North Horr; which at that point we were closer to Lake Turkana (1.5 hours away) than we were to Marsabit (almost 4.5 hours away). This is to say that you can opt to first visit Turkana (Loiyangalani) then head to North Horr then Marsabit. Your route will obviously be dictated by your point of interest, but coming up with an itinerary will help you identify points you may opt to skip. Distance Assuming you choose to follow our itinerary and plan to explore both Marsabit and Chalbi over a weekend, you then need to do so from the wee hours of Friday. Marsabit is 530.9 km from Nairobi, a journey that will most likely take the better part of your day. Especially because you’ll want to make pit stops and take pictures along the way. We left Nairobi at 4.30 am and were in Nanyuki by 8.30 am for our first pit stop and at Marsabit at around 5.30 pm. Make sure to start your journey early so you can have enough time to accommodate pit stops. It is also important to point out that the first day will mostly be a travel day, but on one of the best roads, most breathtaking roads in Kenya. Transport I am by no means an automotive expert and will therefore not go into the details of what features your vehicle needs to have to make this trip, but I will say this. The road to Marsabit is one of the best roads we have in Kenya, no potholes, clearly marked and for the most part, no traffic. So most cars will be able to hack this road, however, there are sections of the road, especially as you approach Marsabit that are quite steep (you’ll notice many designated climbing lanes) so put this into consideration when deciding which vehicle to use. As for the trip to Chalbi, you’ll definitely need a 4*4 or any off-road vehicle as the road is not at all tarmacked. Also, as mentioned in the vlog, there are stretches on the road to the desert that can be very challenging especially when it rains, so you’ll need a vehicle that can handle the road when it gets muddy. Weather The journey to Marsabit will take you through some of the most diverse climate regions. You’ll start in the cold, highlands of Mount Kenya regions and then through the mountain’s leeward side where you’ll start to experience hot, dry regions of Nanyuki, which then get hotter and drier once you pass Isiolo. Much as Northern Kenya is dry, Marsabit is very lush and experiences cold temperatures especially at night. So make sure to pack both light breathable clothes for the hot regions and a warm jacket or blanket for the nights at Marsabit. It is important to also note that it does get really hot in the Chalbi Desert, therefore, on top of wearing light clothes, and making sure you carry plenty of water, apply sunscreen and carry your swimwear if you opt to stop at the swimming pool resort at North Horr . Security Now given what we see on the news about Northern Kenya, security is a major concern when you are considering traveling to this part of the country. I will say this, at no point during our trip did we feel unsafe or came across any incident that made us fear for our lives. But for reassurance, the road to Marsabit has several security checkpoints where they inspect your travel documents/ID/passport, your vehicle, and your luggage. Marsabit town is also safe, especially if you choose accommodation in a guarded area. We set camp at Marsabit National Park and the only thing we were worried about at night was the roaming hyenas. We also didn’t experience any security concern when visiting the Chalbi Desert, although you can opt to hire security to guard you if that would make feel safer. Quick Tip: When traveling, I always make sure someone back at home knows where I am, just in case of anything. I find it’s important for a loved one, friend or your mama, to get an update every few hours or so, just as a precaution. Time As I mentioned, there is so much to do and see in Northern Kenya, even in Marsabit and the Chalbi Desert. And while a weekend trip will get you to see the best of this region, you’ll definitely need more time for an experiential trip. If you’ll like to fully immerse yourself in Marsabit, the people and their ways of life, you’ll need to allocate more time. Marsabit has 47 communities living in the region, the Chalbi Desert has so much more to see than the dunes and Marsabit National Park is spread across 1,554 km2. Do you see why you need more time to explore? All in all, I really enjoyed my trip to Marsabit and would go back in a heart bit. I’m also hoping to visit Turkana and Samburu and see what else the North has to offer. You’ll, of course, be the first to know when this opportunity arises, and we can go adventure together. Anyway, I hope you consider taking a trip to Marsabit and Chalbi desert this year and experience these unbeaten yet intriguing paths. And when you do, don’t forget to tag me on social media and let me know how it went.
Happy new month lovelies! Can you believe it’s already 2 months down, 10 to go? Someone needs to press the pause button on 2020 coz it’s moving too fast. Anyway, how is your 2020 so far? I was taking stock over the weekend, and while I still face a great deal of financial and technical challenges, I realized 2020 is going really really well. I think sometimes we dwell so much on our troubles that we forget to celebrate our wins and achievements. So this year, I am trying to exercise and habit of gratitude and intentionally celebrating even the smallest of wins. Speaking of which, I crossed 100 YouTube Subscribers last week!! Yipee!!! And I know someone is rolling their eyes saying, stop it Maureen! Guys out here have reached 100k Subs and here you are celebrating a triple-digit. To you I say, this is my journey and I am going to celebrate each and every part of it. And to the 100 people that have subscribed to be part of my adventures, I say WELCOME! And boy are ya’ll in for an epic ride. So yeah, celebrating wins and also being real about my weaknesses is all I am about at this point. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes in terms of career, financials, relationships that don’t make it to the Socials or this blog, which greatly affects my travels. And while I might not dive into the details, I will say that I have been having a hard time balancing all these areas of my life. But this is something I am going to work on this month. And now I’ll stop rambling and go straight to what I have planned for the month. Content and Consistency Consistency is one area that I know I’ve been failing horribly at, but I’m working on changing this in March. I even did the adult thing and set up a Content Calendar and Schedule ya’ll. I’m hoping by using these tools, I will do a better job of bringing you more timely content. If you are a content creator and reading this, please share down below how you remain consistent. Any tips will be highly appreciated. Activities The month of March for me will mostly involve getting ready for our trip to Mount Kenya, next month. One more prep hike remains but we still need to do a lot of daily workouts and training to keep out bodies active and ready. I will also be going out to purchase gear sometime in the month. You can expect a lot of content (vlogs, blog posts and social media posts) about the journey to #TembeaNaMoToMtKenya in the next few weeks, so make sure you are subscribed and look out for that. I’ll be sharing the prep hikes, training, and a gear guide and packing tips in this series, you don’t want to miss that. Touch Ups I’m also planning on doing a few touch-ups on the website; mainly I want to have a bi-monthly newsletter where I can engage one-on-one with the people that choose to subscribe. This is also a neat way to keep you updated on any upcoming trips or events, don’t you think? Tell me what you think. 31 days in the month, what are you planning to achieve this month? Whatever it is, I hope this TEDx Talk inspires you to break it down to small achievable tasks, work your way to achieving even the wildest of your dreams. Again, happy new month and let’s OWN this month, shall we?
Going to hike Mount Longonot was the best decision I made. Not only did it help me make up my mind about going to Mount Kenya, but it was also a rather good experience and I met some really interesting people too. You can read all about that trip here. So I thought to share my top 10 hiking tips that I hope you’ll find helpful when you too decide to go up that mountain. If you do visit Mount Longonot, make sure to tag me on social media and let me know how your experience was. 1.Getting There Mt Longonot is a monolith standing on the floor of the Great Rift Valley, 90kms away from Nairobi. To get there, you can either self-drive or book a tour. If you decide to drive to the park, you’ll need to use Google maps or any other navigation system because other than a small KWS board, there is no clear signage marking where you’ll need to exit from the main road. Tours trips from Nairobi cost anywhere between Ksh 2,000 to Ksh 5,000 for Kenyan Citizens. 2.Start Early To save yourself from extreme heat and exhaustion, make sure to start your day early. If possible, be at the park by 8 at the latest. That way you’ll have enough time to go up and around the crater. Going up, round the crater and back down can take up to 6hours (or more, depending on your fitness level and pace). You need to be out of the park before 6.00 pm. 3.Wear Proper Hiking Shoes Let me repeat that for the people at the back, WEAR PROPER HIKING SHOES. Don’t be like me and suffer because of not having the proper shoes, please. You can get away with running/sport shoes but it will not be a smooth experience. The trails at Mt Longonot have loose gravel, which travels with you especially when you are descending and boy those ridges are steep! You need to have shoes that have a proper grip to the ground that will keep you balanced and save you from falling and injuring yourself. 4. Stay Hydrated Make sure to start hydrating a day or two before your hike. Avoid dehydrates like alcohol and coffee the night before and the day of the hike. Carry at least 3 liters of water in a multi-use bottle or a hydration pack. If you carry water in single-use plastics, make sure to leave the park with all the empty bottles. Don’t be part of the problem! 5. Carry Your Essentials in a Day backpack Ladies, please leave that handbag/purse at home. Get yourself a day pack, could be as simple as a drawstring bag but make sure it is one that will leave your hands free because you’ll need those hands to maintain balance, and get you up some places. 6. Pack snacks Carry snacks to eat on your way up as well as a picnic lunch. Bananas are a good source of potassium, fiber and natural sugars that give you instant energy; you might consider packing a few. 7. Sun Protection Your hiking day will be spent under the sun, so make sure to put on sunscreen to avoid sunburns. Also, carry a hat and a pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes. 8. Rain Gear Weather can change at an instant and so it’s always advisable to have your rain gear with you at all times. Umbrellas are not rain gear! Get yourself a proper raincoat that will cover you from head to toe. 9. Long-Sleeved Top/ Extra Clothes Protect your arms from getting scratched by the thorny bushes you’ll be hiking through by wearing a long-sleeved top. Hiking Mount Longonot is a dusty affair, you are sure to get dirty so make sure to carry extra clothes. 10. Go Round the Crater Don’t rob yourself the full experience of hiking Mount Longonot, getting to the summit is just a tip of the iceberg. Going up and down the ridges that circumference the crater is where you’ll truly feel the beauty of the mountain. Mount Longonot offers insane views of the Rift Valley and Lake Naivasha, don’t forget to stop once in a while and soak in all this beauty. God took his time in creating it; you might as well appreciate it while you can. Plus, isn’t connection with nature the reason why we hike?