Volcanoes are cool. Lava-filled, piping hot, terrifyingly cool rock formations that can lie dormant for years only to erupt and bury everything in their formidable path.
They impress me. So I climbed one.
Mount Longonot is located about 90km outside of Nairobi. Rising 2776m above sea level it looks like a leafy green mountain as you approach it.
And as you climb it, muscles straining as you tip toe upwards on gravel and dirt paths, dust tearing your eyes, it feels like you are climbing up a hill in need of a good rain. Every once in while (aka every 10 to 15 minutes) you stop to catch your breath and breath in the view of Lake Naivasha and Mt. Longonot National Park.
After an hour or so, depending on your fancy for picture taking, you take your final steps and reach the top. And then, only once you summit, is it apparent you climbed a volcano – you stare into a circular pit overgrown with greenery as Longonot has been kind enough to remain dormant since the 1860s (according to Wiki) and thus allowed you to climb her.
After the 2.5km hike uphill, you must do Longonot justice and traverse the outer perimeter of the sleeping volcano. Five kilometres to complete the full circle and end up where you started. I daresay it was the most spectacular 5km route I have ever completed. To my left, the inside of the volcano. To my right, sweeping views of the Rift Valley. In front of me, a path usually no wider than my hips, occasionally between rock formations, often with nothing but air between my footsteps forward and a miss stepped stumble and fall to my demise.
Including photo-stopping and snack-breaks we, my friend Marg (who is visiting Nairobi after completing a placement with Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Malawi) and fellow hiker friends, completed the loop in 2.5 hours. Two-thirds of the way we were greeted with a light drizzle of rain bringing wanted respite from the sweat drizzling down my face. We took a victory photo at the top, and then proceeded to walk (more of a gravity pulling jog) back to the Longonot National Park office.
Tired, pleased, and having finished my water two hours earlier, I eagerly dealt with my dehydration and downed a litre. Grateful, I stretched my legs before piling into the car for the hour ride back to Nairobi.
Volcanoes are cool. And even cooler when they don’t erupt when you are climbing one, and when you slip and fall (twice) when you’re hiking around the perimeter there are branches from vegetation growing on the volcano to slow you down and stop you from falling off the perimeter of the volcano and into it. Especially after you saw a small smoke puff emanating from the base of the volcano, which makes you think maybe it’s not so dormant?
Insert duh, duh, duh here.