Written by Vik Chege.
I should probably begin by saying that this is an appreciation post. Also that I’m never going to be the kind of guy that enjoys quiet walks in the woods. At least not on level ground. I need an elevation, uneven ground, and a slight concern about whether I’ll look up at the sky and my last vision of this earth is some wild savannah beast that turns me to leopard poop.
Having said that, I’ve been to the Oloolua trail just twice in my life. The first time was because I heard they had a waterfall and I like to stand next to those and do the peace sign. The second time was more out of necessity than anything else. There’s just limited options to where you can get your nature fixes in this town. First things first; it’s in Karen. It’s really just an indictment of the current situation that I’d get excited to go to Karen but that’s what happened.
They only asked me for 200/= which is why this story has a happy beginning. The lady behind that regulation tiny window at the entrance sanitized my bills and handed me back damp notes. I actually like the smell of either so I wasn’t too bothered about that. I was meeting some strangers there who were also meeting some acquaintances so there was plenty of awkward smiles to go around.
The first thing you do is apparently head to the waterfall. Not for any special reason, it’s just really close to the entrance. The second thing you do is take turns getting a good spot to stand on because there’s not a lot of space. The third thing is to slide into the frames of your new friends and worry about how you’ll casually mention you need to get those pictures. Is a WhatsApp group too forward? Do you need everyone’s phone number or just the one person who’s telling everyone “be careful its slippery” because they’ve likely got everyone’s number already.
The other thing you can do is find some level ground and go around finding out everyone else’s name. I’m also never going to be a fan of that. Just keep walking. I do like the part where you get to stretch though. Next in the circuit is some caves. The ones in Oloolua are surprisingly deep. There were these two snails at the roof of the entrance. I think they were guarding the place. I mean why else would they be there? Bats live in caves and they eat snails right? That should be the last place they should be. Anyway, a very Alice in Wonderland type of mystery that I had on my hands. The cave there made some kind of network and going deeper didn’t look like a good idea to keep going in but we were there for ages. I think I saw tiny eyes looking back at me. The pictures look really good in night mode though.
You can really see why the place is called a nature trail. As far as I can see its great if you need to jog, camp, or find a bit of grass to sit on. I had my head down for focus and a hat in case I snagged on any branches overhead. The wind is rippling through your frame and it keeps you cool. You don’t necessarily get thirsty but you take a sip of cool water and sigh afterwards. Sigh again for good luck. Sigh a third time. That’s the stuff. It doesn’t feel small but you never quite get the feeling like you’re going to get lost. Getting around seems pretty straightforward. You just have to keep going right and you’ll find the gate. The place was a bit more crowded than I thought it would be but that’s just because there isn’t much else you can do these days.
Things to do
After you’ve been walking a bit, one of the people you’re with will realize that they’ve misplaced the lenses on their sunglasses and will backtrack back to the caves and find it. You’ll get directions from an old man who looks like he works there and argue over which of the paths he’s mentioned that you should take. You’ll take a rap-video style picture at a wooden bridge you definitely shouldn’t lean against. There’s also a green pond near the picnic area that looks eerily beautiful from all the algae. Here your friend Cate will probably suggest you scream something over the water and end up choosing SDGs! A call to action if there was ever one. There will be a couple having some wine and minding their own business as you scream. After you’re done with everything; you and your new friends will find a campsite and you’ll think to yourself that the people already there cooking nyama choma have some really good ideas.
How about after?
What you can look forward to is to meet some really chill people, hit some traffic on Ngong’ Road on your way back, nap in the backseat, and have a slight thigh burn from all the walking. But that’s only if you manage to get all around the place. Not enough to disrupt your day unless you’re planning on standing, stretching, sitting on the toilet or using your legs in any kind of way. 10/10 would do it again.
Photography: Kenan Moses.