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Published: February 17th 2010
View from the top of the falls.
Yesterday we travelled by matatu from the lowlands of Naivasha (and the Lake that we had been staying at) up to the Central Highlands of Kenya - the road was one of the bumpiest, most pot-holed roads that we have experienced yet (though nothing compared to our journey from Talek back to Narok!!). I had been expecting a relaxing, lush little mountain village, but we were met with a bustling dusty town (a lot like many others we had driven through in the lowlands), and arrival was anything but relaxing- with our matatu getting surrounded by noisy matatu touts before we had even stopped! We had about 30 men shouting at us, trying to get us to go here there and everywhere and I felt like I was a peanut-butter and jam sandwich being thrown to the flies! Thankfully, we spotted the sign to the hotel we wanted to stay at so we just high-tailed it out of the matatu stand where everything suddenly felt a lot better. So far, matatu stands have been the only real hassle of travelling in Africa... for some reason, all the African friendliness that we have experienced everywhere else just disappears. However...
Today we walked up to Thomson's Falls, which lie about 2ks out of town. The walk was beautiful, and it was incredible to experience such a dramatic change of landscape in such a short space of time, from the dusty, dry, potholed-road, boda-boda/matatu-tout-filled, busy kinda market town to a lush green mountainous space, more like an Indian hill station than a Kenyan village. We turned a corner, and then suddenly there was an explosion of greenery, a beautiful river (the Ewaso Nyiro), an a landscape of tall trees, mostly eucalypts (Blue Gums!!!), and the freshest of mountain air. This was much more like what I had been expecting, so I was extremely glad to find it!
Nyahururu is Kenya's highest major town at about 2400m, so the air is cool up here - but much cooler out of town once you hit the green space. There are many nurseries in the area, growing baby trees to reforest the surroundings, and we stopped to have a chat with many of the gardeners. People here are so friendly, and give such warm greetings, it is such a pleasure to stop and chat.
We found the falls easily, as they are not far from the main road, and Thomson's Falls Lodge (next to the falls) is sign posted clearly from the road. Our peace and tranquility was momentarily interrupted, however, as we had to run the gauntlet of 'Curio' shops between the road and the entry to the Falls. We certainly got the hard sell from the shopkeepers, however, our bags are full enough already of all our camping equipments, so it is easy to refuse to buy anything else.
To enter the falls you have to pay an entrance fee (200KSh for adults) at the top, and from there, you get a great view of the falls, which are a drop of something like 75m. It's a stunning view - the spray that comes of the pool at the bottom almost reaches the top!
The walk down to the falls is steep, but easy enough - though we were doing it in the rain which made the rocks quite slippery. There are stairs, but not the whole way, and so once we hit the rocky part of the path, we had to slow down as they got really slippery. Once at the bottom, the falls really do seem so impressive, as you can walk right up to the pool, and the spray forms an intense mist around your face, blurring all the texture of the amazingly green rainforest around. Keira and I couldn't believe how much the landscape at the falls felt like home (Australia) though - a combination of the kinds of plants (especially all the eucalypts around!), the big boulders, the climate... it could have been any one of the many waterfalls in the NSW hinterland, or perhaps Tassie... or even Northern QLD. It felt very Australian, and made us feel very at home, and at the same time a bit homesick. Awwww :-(
We spent some time at the bottom of the falls, just taking in the beauty of our surroundings, and then began the steep climb back to the top. The rain had stopped for our return journey, and the rocks had dried out so we stopped halfway up on some huge boulders to take in another view of the amazing waterfall, and verdant valley below.
After our walk, we headed back to our Hotel (Safari Lodge - a great little budget place near the matatu stand in town - it's awesome, but has THE smallest 'double' beds in the history of beds!...but for 500KSh per double, we can't complain!) via the Cafe Delight. It's a small little place on a dusty dirt road that runs parallel to the main road in town, and serves up delicious Kenyan delights - we've pretty much been eating the same things everywhere as most restaurants seems to serve the staples of beans, sukuma (dark green leafy veg), cabbage, and chapatis... but today we were adventurous and tried the githeri (which is really just the same thing plus maize. heheheh). We enjoyed a couple of cups of sweet, milky, Kenyan chai at the end of our meal and then returned to our hotel for some more reading and future itinerary planning.
Tomorrow we leave Nyahururu. We will be taking a matatu to Nakuru, then we will catch another matatu to Eldoret (an ex-German colony which is famous for it's good cheese!). We will overnight in Eldoret and then hope to catch a bus to Jinja, Uganda the following morning. Our Kenyan adventure will only be temporarily over though, as we plan to return to the Kenyan coast after doing a loop through Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania... not sure how long it is going to take us, but I sure am keen to get back!
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