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Published: March 7th 2020
Us & the team were all picked up from Meru Bandas at 7am after watching a beautiful dawn and driven down the track through the bamboo and hardwood forests and out of the National Park
. Sadly we didn’t see any elephants on the way. We were driven through lots of coffee, tea & banana plantations and tall grass for cattle feed. We had a brief stop to show us a tea plantation and were told how they just pick the top two leaves every 7-10 days - after hiking the mountain our legs did not appreciate the steep loose soil slope up to get there! We also passed the tea market and coffee processing plants in the village. We then headed to Chogoria where we waited for Moses in a café that had amazing fresh juice – mango, melon & lemon (may have been watermelon as it was a pink colour).
We then said farewell to Cyrus & the team with many thanks for their wonderful work getting us over the mountain before heading around the mountain to Embu. Here we met Gilbert, the chair of Moving Mountains
charity here in Kenya, who had kindly looked after the bags we didn’t take
Castle Forest Lodge
over the mountain. Gilbert told us all about the charity and the wonderful work they are doing with street kids over here. Getting them off the streets, feeding them, playing football in a team, getting them into school, and also very importantly supporting them beyond school be that through university, or as an apprentice, or providing the tools they need to set up their own business (eg a sewing machine). Many of the staff of Moving Mountains and Adventure Alternative came through this programme. They are currently working on a project to set up a container for 3 small business opportunities including a car wash, a curio shop and a kitchen. The aim to help get girls off the street by giving them a safe way to earn money through beadwork, cooking, etc. For more details and to support this project please visit Gilberts JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/gilbertnjeru?fbclid=IwAR007gORkdA34JRt7b9ZLFALa1EIw1jLTjLm_Jb94k1fkSlCARIuFjaCKzs
One of the reasons we chose to book with Adventure Alternative
was their connection with this charity and the knowledge that some of the money we paid would be going back to supporting these community projects.
We continued around the mountain to Castle Forest Lodge where we had upgraded to a twin
room to give ourselves a well-earned night of luxury with proper beds and an en-suite bathroom with flushing toilet and a shower! This was a lovely place to stay, very cute little cottages, horses, cows and goats grazing outside, a good restaurant and surrounded by beautiful forest. We went for a short (but rather steep!) hike with Moses to see the waterfall then a longer walk around with a guide from the lodge (who was apparently also the chef!). We were told many of the medicinal properties of the trees there and saw some lovely old trees, including a 500 year old hardwood and a huge stand alone fig tree that is their “holy tree” – apparently should it ever fall something bad will happen. After this we went to relax on the sofa on the veranda – with a brief stop to take photos of a hornbill on the way, although he kept moving to hide behind leaves! Our legs were aching by this point & we sounded like a couple of old women everytime we got up! We treated ourselves to a celebratory glass of wine with dinner, we felt we’d earned it on the mountain! During the
night we heard tree hyrax calling in the forest but didn’t see anything interesting grazing near the cottage.
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