If there is any Ted Talk I have grasped by heart – My year of saying YES to everything by Shonda Rhimes takes the coup. 2019 was essentially my year of doing more local travel, to be able to understand this magical country of ours. January and vision boards are soul mates to many, hence I jumped on mine and started planning my days to turning 22, aside designing my year. Thank God for Taylor Swift cause she assures, ‘ Everything will be alright if we just keep dancing like we are 22,’ (See, you are already jamming to it!) How timely!
I can’t recall the first time I came across an image of Ngare Ndare Falls, but when I did (the pictures were breathtaking), it had to be a must-visit-destination. When I usually get such an epiphany, the vacation spot is for the most part out of reach at least financially. I look forward to the day when my travel desires will match my pocket, but this time I was inferred to make it happen. Having done my preliminary, Ngare Ngare was a perfect place to travel to in January when it was dry (we will see why).
Fun Fact: Ngare Ndare is two Maasai words meaning water and goats respectively. Therefore, they refer the place to ‘goats water’.
I arose up earlier than usual(insert first impressions sayings)to prepare and be picked up by Keitan Safaris on the expressway, who leaves guys unceremoniously when they are late. I hail him as time management is key in group activities. Kudos! I had a moment to compose and reassure myself that I was going to do just fine, it being my first solo expedition with a new group, while sipping my cappuccino coffee, in my favourite coffee stop- Java. Honestly, I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.
I first bumped into Brent, Keitan’s talented photographer and hype master. I gave him a heads up that I was going to be a tenacious tourist asking for snapshots time and again. I am a zealot of backbenches (high school trips taught me well). It gives you a chance to catch a glimpse of everyone and just chill. Peter, a dear seatmate, made me relaxed and filled my ears with tales from his numerous travel escapades. I can’t remember how many times I let out cheerful bursts. ‘Aah, I have found the one to hold dear to on this trip.’ I thought to myself. At that moment, I had the realization that I was set for this trip!
Our first stop was Sagana, direly needed for us to clasp something and heed to mother nature calls. This was the time I made a debut with Cynthia and Kasee. Who would have imagined that 10 months down the line we’d have a blog with her and travel to Tanzania the three of us? Surreal moments.
Fun Fact: Sagana is a town along Nairobi- Nyeri highway, named after the second-longest river in Kenya, Sagana River, also called Thagana.The town is inspired by the Rhumba song, ‘ Afro mtoto wa Sagana.’
We stayed at Tranquil Homestays; which is a magnificent get away from the hustle and bustle of city life where you get to bond with the local lifestyle. Located in Naro Moru, it is partially obscured by man-made forest comprising of both indigenous and exotic trees at the foot of Mt Kenya. Tranquil homestays has the main house, cottages and camping facilities. In case you dont take this route, you can opt to do camping inside Ngare Ndare Forest or at Sieku Glamping which is near the expanse.
There are also farm animals and different species of birds which you connect and bond with during feeding, milking and egg collection.
The homestays boasts of a bar, full-service laundry, restaurant, kid-friendly environment for playing, 24hr front desk, garden and a terrace.
There is also a range of facilities which include but not limited to; fitness centre, bicycle rental, hiking, spa and wellness centre.
Fun Fact: The nearest airport from the homestays is Nanyuki Airport if driving isn’t your preferred choice. (Am I the only one who didn’t know of these many regional airstrips? Haha!)
At night we had a flavoursome buffet dinner, danced salsa, played games and sang the night away, and if you underestimate the cold like I did, you will spend a lot of your time at the furnace.
Tip: It gets really cold at night, recall you are at the foot of Mt Kenya, carry a lot of warm clothing.
Day 2: The Day of YES!
First and foremost, I dread hiking. However, in order to experience the waterfalls, we had to do a one hour hike. It would be one of my first yeses! Consequently, I have taken up other challenging hikes and realized this was a walk in the park! On arriving at the Ngare Ndare Forest we were assigned an armed ranger who would be our guide. Keep in mind this is a forest inhabited by various wild animals. A sense of safety looms upon being assigned a ranger. Before beginning the hike, we engaged in team building activities and prepared our muscles by stretching out. A 7km hike is speculated in order to experience Ngare Ndare’s 7 waterfalls, but we only managed to experience two. It gets alarming when you hear sounds and see fresh dung and animal footprints. Beware!
Fun Fact: Ngare Ndare was listed part of the UNESCO Heritage list and this is such a score!
Getting older, it has become to me that I would much rather invest in an experience than throw a party. This waterfall was the acme of my trip. It’s a 15m high fall with pale blue waters flowing through the rocks. The surroundings offer serene views full of lush trees. It took a village to cheer me on before I took that first, startling dive. You know how you are in the pool and it takes centuries for you to come at the surface? Yeees, you don’t even know if heights or depths, which one is worse. I let out pleasant shouts and went up to do the second and third dives before I called it a day. Yeeeeees to bravery!
Fun Fact: The water is a meltdown from Mt Kenya, you might catch a cold later if not a body freeze as the degrees are very low. Also, the dive is only granted to guys who are experts at it. Otherwise, love your life and applaud the daring ones from a distance!
TIP: Perfect time to go to Ngare Ndare, is in the dry season. Then, the water is crystal blue. If you go during the rainy season, the water will be brown as an outcome of mud.
We continued our ascent with the guides urging us to hurry and catch the sunset at the canopy walk.
It’s a 10m high and 450m long canopy. I am not sure if that paints a picture of how high in the sky one is. It is a wobbly bridge, it will take you some time before you gain your balance, but that is the fun of it. If you know me you know I’m a screamer just awaiting an Oscar one day. So I let out an eerie scream and finally got the guts to keep quiet, breathe, soak in the aura, and observe the stunning umbrella-like canopy of trees which are 200 years old. The view of the forest is vast, if you are lucky you might spot an elephant if not a leopard. A batch of monkeys doing their thing, or be lucky to see a deer drink water in the nearby stream.
Did I talk of the sunset?, ahh the light pierces through the branches and it was so stunning. (My reaction below says it all). This was my loudest yes! I had conquered three terrifying activities. To say the least, this was the IT moment for me! Meet Kasee and Cynthia😊
Fun Fact: It’s the longest and highest canopy in East Africa. You might as well write; ‘I was here, I lived, I loved haha!'(channelling my inner Beyonce), on the large trunk of trees.
Tip: Go slightly before sunset to see the light go through the branches. Frankly, it’s a movie.
We ended the day by mincing the cake, singing that famous Harmonize track, ‘Happy Birthday To You’, and applying the cream on the face of each other.
The journey back to Nairobi was pretty much Cynthia and I talking of our travel plans, if not finding ideal Instagram story highlight themes. Delighted we have individually done assorted tours thus far. Tell me a nicer way to anticipate 22. I have never been more self-aware if not for this trip. Surely, January 24th should eternally be like this!
Thank you Keitan Safaris for helping us tick places off our bucket lists! As I write this, he just turned three years of striving to create memories for travellers. Happy Anniversary Buddy! To many more.
The subsequent Ngare Ndare Trip with Keitan Safaris will be in January 2020 (Start the fresh decade with a bang!). Reach out to him on any of his social media platforms or us at firstname.lastname@example.org
As much as you can in your life, say YES!Mary carillo.
Article written by : Mutave Nelly( @mutave_nellie) on Instagram.
Trip credits: Keitan Safaris (@Keitansafaris) on Instagram and FB.
Photography by: Brent Focus (@4ocus_photography )on Instagram.