Highlights of Kenya, Dubai and Victoria Falls

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Highlights of Kenya, Dubai and Victoria Falls

Postby eggs » Tue 07 Aug, 2012 11:30 pm

In June and July of this year, my wife and I travelled to Kenya to visit my sister who works in a Child Rescue centre in Nairobi.
This is a selective report on the bushwalk and outdoor side of the trip.
First stop was Dubai - a quite "eccentric" city built into a sandy desert. [Visitors should check out the dancing fountains :wink: ]

We did a couple of road trips out into the desert - one was a mild dune drive for a sunset view followed by a Bedouin meal.
The other was through Oman to the Hatta Mountains.
This was harsh country - temperatures in the 40s and the mountains almost entirely spikey bare rock.
Civilisation revolves around the springs that are found amongst the rock.
060600Dunes0321.jpg
Plenty of Dunes right up to the city edge. This was a large one at the end of some 4WD roaming.


060601DuneSunset0326.jpg
Sunset over the dunes. The air in Dubai was quite thick with dust and haze - which also affected the sunset.


060700HattaMtns0425.JPG
The Hatta mountains - a peak baggers delight - apart from the extreme heat and no water..
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Re: Highlights of Kenya, Dubai and Victoria Falls

Postby eggs » Tue 07 Aug, 2012 11:39 pm

At the end of our mountain drive was a very clear spring. The water was flowing straight out of the rock walls forming a long pool in the gorge before disappearing into the rocky stream bed at the other end.
This was clearly a favourite picnic spot with the locals.
060701HattaGorge0442.JPG
Gorge in the Hatta mountains


Then onto Nairobi in Kenya. Most of the time was spent in various activities with my sisters centre, but we also went on 3 excursions.
First off were a few days on a Masai Mara safari - so here are a few impressions from the vehicle
[it had roll up windows that were always up - made for interesting reactions when some of the following got very close.]
061200Takeoff1070.jpg
I was very pleased to catch a bird just lifting off


061201Giraffe0844.JPG
We saw an amazing number of giraffes - the highlight was 23 distributed on a hillside. These are a couple from that group.
Last edited by eggs on Wed 15 Aug, 2012 10:24 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Highlights of Kenya, Dubai and Victoria Falls

Postby eggs » Tue 07 Aug, 2012 11:43 pm

We saw 4 of the "Big 5"

061202CapeBuffalo0979.jpg
First of these was the Cape Buffalo - some consider it the most dangerous as it is known to ambush the unwary.


061203BigPussy1183.jpg
No introduction needed, but we almost felt like giving it a tummy rub!! ??


061204Hippo1233.jpg
Not one of the Big 5, but still a huge killer of people. Safe enough in the middle of the river though.
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Re: Highlights of Kenya, Dubai and Victoria Falls

Postby eggs » Tue 07 Aug, 2012 11:54 pm

We managed to see another of the Big 5 - a leopard, but I couldn't get a good shot of it.
It was very secretive amongst the scrub and then having a sleep in a dense tree.

The key time in the Masai Mara is July when huge herds move north from Tanzania.
Being early June we were too early for the thousands of Wilderbeast. There were some small herds of zebra though, and lots of other grazing game.

061205ZebraDetail1276.jpg
These Zebras were being attended by the bug eating birds. They could be seen servicing quite a few different animals.


061206Airborn1280.jpg
A trick of the zoom lens - an Impala is clearing a log in its path.


Our guide stopped for half an hour just observing the vast open savannah. Then he remarked that the animals in a certain part were spooked. He was certain it was a cheetah - spotted from 2km away. We worked our way over towards it.
061207Cheetah1296.jpg
The cheetah is one of the Big 5. Having tracked it, a number of other safari vehicles were soon appearing to get a view as well.
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Re: Highlights of Kenya, Dubai and Victoria Falls

Postby eggs » Wed 08 Aug, 2012 12:10 am

061208Africa1319.jpg
A late afternoon view across the Mara


061301Elephant1382.jpg
Of course there were the elephants seen on a number of occassions.


After the Mara, our next excursion was the big one for our trip - a six day trek to Mt Kenya.
Mt Kenya is a highly eroded shield volcano. Unlike the taller Kilimanjaro, the past glaciers have carved large U-shaped valleys and left numerous spires and towers of rock.
This is the second highest peak in Africa at 5199m. It consists of a 5 main "peaks" with the 3rd highest [Lenana] suitable for trekking and it is 4985m high.
The key concern for walkers is avoiding altitude sickness. Mt Kenya is generally much easier on the body than Kilimanjaro, and we planned our walk to be slow and steady.

While it is possible to be self sufficient on the mountain, we were a long way from home and wanted to keep it simple and safe. So we booked for a guide and porters. Our party ended up as 8 - the 2 of us plus a guide, a cook and 4 porters. No freeze dried meals on this trip - they carried up fresh food for the 6 days.
We mostly stayed in a spacious 4 season 3 man tent. I am sure it was warmer than staying in the lodges.
After 2 vehicle problems, we got to our start point on the northern side of the mountain at the Sirimon Gate - 2600m high.
It was a steep road walk through forest grading to bamboo forest and then to moors and we got to see some elephants in the bamboo from a safe distance.
We learned in the course of the trip that the high country is visited by hyena, leopard, buffalo and antelope as well as the elephants. Unfortunately we did not see any. Just droppings and tracks.
061808Elephants1647B.jpg
Elephants on a distant ridge. The mountain elephants are considered very dangerous - it was good that we were across the gully from them
Last edited by eggs on Wed 08 Aug, 2012 12:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Highlights of Kenya, Dubai and Victoria Falls

Postby eggs » Wed 08 Aug, 2012 12:27 am

During our stay in Kenya, we never saw Mt Kenya from a distance. It was always surrounded by cloud.
On this first day, the cloud was still swirling ahead of us, but occasionally we got some glimpses of what lay ahead.
061810Sendeo&Terere1667B.jpg
I was excited by this first glimpse - but it was not Mt Kenya. This is Sendeo and Terere - 2 peaks that were vents off the main volcano.


First night was next to Judmeiers [Old Moses Camp]. There was a school party travelling the same route - 40 students and teachers with 90 porters!
It was a virtual travelling city - so we mostly camped a bit away from them in our 3 tents.

Next day was a short walk on to Liki North. Not too high or hard to assist acclimatisation.
061915LikiNorth1757.jpg
Looking down to the Liki North valley - campsite for the second night. Batian and Nelion and Pt Lenana are rising at the rear. Sendeo and Terere on the left.


That afternoon we went a few km further up the valley.
The rule is "climb high and sleep low".
Liki North has a reputation for being very cold, so I put a thermometer outside the tent that night. I measured -7C at 11 pm and the same at 6 am next day.

We saw our first Rock Hyrax here. They live in the rocks all over the mountain, and are the chief prey for the wilder animals that come up here.
We also saw Mountain Buzzards flying overhead.
061936RockHyrax1807.jpg
Cute Rock Hyrax which we saw a number of times on the trip - sometimes quite close up.
Last edited by eggs on Wed 08 Aug, 2012 2:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Highlights of Kenya, Dubai and Victoria Falls

Postby eggs » Wed 08 Aug, 2012 12:44 am

Day 3 saw us climbing over the ridge out of Liki North and then descending into Mackinder Valley.
062019ObjectiveAhead1930.jpg
Into Mackinder Valley - the unique high altitude vegetation is prolific here. Lenana is the peak at far left of the group ahead.


At Shiptons Camp we stayed for 2 nights in our tent, but were able to use the cooking facilities and tables in the lodge.
During our trip, the weather was exceptionally kind. It only rained a couple of times, but we were in our tents or at the lodge on those occassions.
However, the cloud would come and go often, so we were treated to lots of different mountain moods.
062030OverShiptons1998.jpg
We stayed 2 nights at Shiptons Camp. The high points of Nelion and Bation are wreathed in mist.


That afternoon we climbed again for acclimatisation. This time to Kami Tarn - a spot frequently used by climbers as a base.
Kami is wedged in right at the base of the main mountain. It was hard to get a photo which did it justice. But the weather had fined up nicely for our walk.
062036KamiTarn2021.JPG
View south over Kami Tarn towards Simba Col
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Re: Highlights of Kenya, Dubai and Victoria Falls

Postby eggs » Wed 08 Aug, 2012 1:02 am

We had originally planned a spare day for acclimatisation before the main climb, but our guide suggested we would be better following a different order.
So day 4 saw us up at 2:30 am and walking by 3 am. The goal was to get to Lenana by sunrise.
The climb is a slow and steady rise up a very large scree slope. The guide joked that we do it at night because if people looked up it in the light they would refuse to go. The final climb involves some scrambling, but nothing taxing.
There is some exposure, and it is very cold. I had read an account of a death on the mountain before we travelled. The guide explained that it was a case where a girl had stepped off the path and slid down a patch of ice and snow before hitting a rock head on. We found snow near the top as we moved to the protected side.
[Mt Kenya has 2 distinct seasons - rock climbers come from the east in June - Aug, but from the west in the other half. This is because the snow accumulates on the different sides at different times in the year. So the western side had a good covering of snow]
The rock on top had ice crystals glazed on parts. We trod carefully.
062110FinalAscent2082.jpg
Coming up the last ridge to Point Lenana. The last climb is up a ladder attached to the rocks. There were a few ropes strung out for protection in the snowy parts.


062112Sunrise2078.jpg
Sunrise was not as clear as we had hoped due to significant bands of cloud and haze in the distance. This view looks over the Gorge area. The Chogoria route comes up this way.


062118LewisBelowNelion2093.jpg
The view towards Nelion from Lenana. The vivid break in the snow each side of the mountain is clearly seen here. On the lower left is the upper Lewis Glacier - the largest glacier on the mountain
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Re: Highlights of Kenya, Dubai and Victoria Falls

Postby eggs » Wed 08 Aug, 2012 1:10 am

062119NaroMoru2110.jpg
Looking down the Lewis Glacier towards the Teleki Valley. Top Hut and Austrian Hut are just in sunshine on the left ridge.


062120SimbaRidge2111.jpg
Sendeo and Terere at left - this is a view over Harris Tarn down to Simba Col. The ascent track is faintly seen to the left of the tarn.


062125Skyline2117.jpg
A closer view - Looking NE at sunrise - the ridgelines over the Hat
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Re: Highlights of Kenya, Dubai and Victoria Falls

Postby eggs » Wed 08 Aug, 2012 1:14 am

062138Hobleys2148.jpg
View down Hobley Valley to Gallery Tarn and Thompson's Tarn


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Sendeo and Terere rise over Simba Col with Simba Tarn below


062146Gorge2163.jpg
Closer view of the Gorge. The large 1000 ft cliff face is called the Temple. Halls Tarns are at the top. The Chogoria route is visible across the flats
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Re: Highlights of Kenya, Dubai and Victoria Falls

Postby eggs » Wed 08 Aug, 2012 1:26 am

062161DescendingSimba2199.jpg
Descending from Simba Col down steep screes past Lower Simba Tarn back to Shipton Camp


We arrived back at Shiptons by 11 am. Perfect timing to have brunch sitting in the bright sunshine.
We also had a nap to recover. :roll:
The afternoon was spent trying to spot the real climbers who were scaling the main rock faces above.
It also featured a "lost" British walker. He had gone on alone past Hausberg Col, but had not come back at the designated time.
So some porters eventually went out to look for him. 2 hours late, he arrived back having completely circumnavigated the mountain.
This guy sure could walk fast! But now the message had to get out that he was found to those still combing the area.
He was most apologetic after this.
062167PeakSkyline2210.jpg
Bright afternoon sun on the rock towers of Mt Kenya from near Shiptons Camp


Day 5 saw us ambling up over Hausberg Col and around the mountain to Teleki Lodge [also known as Mackinders Camp]
062208ShiptonFromHausbergCol2241.jpg
Looking back on Shipton Camp from Hausberg Col. The Hat is at the back. Kami Tarn can be seen as well as Simba Col. The main climbing track to Lenana is visible on the ridge of the scree on the RHS
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Re: Highlights of Kenya, Dubai and Victoria Falls

Postby eggs » Wed 08 Aug, 2012 1:36 am

062213RockTowers2248.JPG
Descending under the rock towers from Hausberg Col into the Nanyuki Valley


062219OblongTarn2256.JPG
View over Oblong Tarn to Arthurs Col


062226Oblong&HausbergCol2266.JPG
Looking back over Oblong Tarn to Hausberg Col and its steep scree
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Re: Highlights of Kenya, Dubai and Victoria Falls

Postby eggs » Wed 08 Aug, 2012 1:44 am

The track winds past Hausberg and Oblong Tarns to a pass under Arthurs Seat and then around to Nanyuki Tarn and Hut Tarn
The hut is now a few rocks - most reused to make some bivy walls.
The views from here to the western side of the mountain and some hanging glaciers are fantastic.

062231TwoTarnPanB.jpg
Point Piggot, Batian, Nelion and Point John over Hut Tarn


We went down another very steep scree to Teleki Lodge in glorious sunshine.
Shortly after arriving the mountain was hit by a hail shower. The rest of the day was a constantly changing display of cloud and sunshine.
062275Stormy2338.jpg
Point John and Lenana struggle to appear through the mist.


062278EveningLight2344.jpg
But the afternoon brings bouts of bright sunshine - Batian,Nelion, Point John and Point Lenana in the distance.
Last edited by eggs on Tue 14 Aug, 2012 2:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Highlights of Kenya, Dubai and Victoria Falls

Postby eggs » Wed 08 Aug, 2012 1:50 am

Day 6 was the walk out. The track has changed somewhat from that shown on my map.
Rather than going down the Teleki Valley - it sidles across and keeps up high down the southern side before descending down through the "Vertical Bog".

062330TelekiView2379.jpg
View up the Teleki Valley on our way out.


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Remnants of lava flows on the edge of the mountain


062342BogBegins2391.jpg
The vertical bog was a peat like slope - easily eroded, but not very deep. The underlying clay could get very slippery though. It was relatively dry for our walk.
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Re: Highlights of Kenya, Dubai and Victoria Falls

Postby eggs » Wed 08 Aug, 2012 1:57 am

Our last excursion in Kenya was a 2 day trip via Lake Bogoria to Iten and then back via Thompson Falls.
Lake Bogoria was a highlight with its Flamingos and Boiling Springs
062701Anthill2495.jpg
An African anthill - a bit different to an Australian termite mound. These appear to be a chimney structure - hollow in the middle.


062702BogoriaFlamingos2547.jpg
Lake Bogoria is a saline lake which is home to algae on which the Flamingos feed. We saw lots of flamingos on the lake. The lake is hard up against the eastern edge of the Great Rift Valley - seen behind the lake here.


062704WalkingFlamingos2548.jpg
We could have watched for a long time as they flew in low formation over the lake and as they waded, fed and played and fought.
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Re: Highlights of Kenya, Dubai and Victoria Falls

Postby eggs » Wed 08 Aug, 2012 2:04 am

From Lake Bogoria, the road goes over a high range in the middle of this part of the Great Rift Valley. The range effectively divides it into an eastern and a western arm.
The road then descends to the floor of the western arm before climbing up the western escarpment to a height of 2400m.
On the edge is the small town of Iten. Famous as a place athletes come for high altitude training.

We were here for the views. This part of the western wall is very dramatic, with cliff lines and waterfalls.
062707RiftFall2609B.jpg
Waterfall off the western edge of the Great Rift Valley


062801RiftEdge2647sm.jpg
Morning view along the edge of the valley.


We then drove a long way down through the valley and up the eastern side to get to the Thompson Falls
062802ThompsonFalls2726.jpg
Thompson Falls at high flow
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Re: Highlights of Kenya, Dubai and Victoria Falls

Postby eggs » Wed 08 Aug, 2012 2:11 am

Well I have tested your patience by the number of pictures, so as a finale, we also visited the Victoria Falls in Zambia/Zimbabwe on our way home.

They were at a nice level - not so high that you could see nothing but spray, but also a high enough flow to be working well for the full 1.7km width.
They drop 110m into a narrow gorge.
We pigged out and had lunch on Livingstone Island - in the middle of the top of the falls.
A huge lunch, but we only got to sit down after walking bare foot to the very edge of the drop on each side of the island.
070601VicFalls3130.JPG
A nice view over lunch. There are always rainbows at the falls.


We had hoped to do a big walk in Hong Kong, but the weather there was very hot and humid, so we piked out with a cable car ride and a cruise or 2.
6 weeks after starting we were back home.

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Highlights of Kenya, Dubai and Victoria Falls

Postby stepbystep » Wed 08 Aug, 2012 7:42 am

Great report Brian and photos of course. I spent 8 weeks in South Africa and Zimbabwe many years ago. Still my most memorable holiday, the wildlife has to be seen to be believed! I'd love to visit Kenya one day....
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Re: Highlights of Kenya, Dubai and Victoria Falls

Postby Tony » Wed 08 Aug, 2012 8:59 am

Hi Eggs,

Wow, absolutely awesome trip report and photos.

Thanks

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Re: Highlights of Kenya, Dubai and Victoria Falls

Postby Phil » Wed 08 Aug, 2012 12:34 pm

Wow, brilliant eggs, thanks for sharing! :shock:
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Re: Highlights of Kenya, Dubai and Victoria Falls

Postby Nuts » Thu 09 Aug, 2012 8:12 pm

Yep, these are great photos eggs, postcard stuff... I couldn't settle for the iphone view.
Well done!!
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Re: Highlights of Kenya, Dubai and Victoria Falls

Postby Son of a Beach » Fri 10 Aug, 2012 8:51 am

Top stuff, Eggs. What a fantastic experience it must have been.
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Re: Highlights of Kenya, Dubai and Victoria Falls

Postby eggs » Fri 10 Aug, 2012 3:58 pm

Thanks for the kind comments.
Glad you worked out the PC issues nuts :)

My wife told me off for not showing us at the top.
I tend to think of those shots as markers to show you did it - rather than special scenery to admire.
But I had better put it up :wink:
062109AtTop2074.jpg
The 2 of us at the top of Point Lenana [4985m]


And I will add a couple more
We did actually see Kilimanjaro - from the airplane window - a real bonus
070405Killi2761B.jpg
A zoom shot from the airplane window.


And Victoria Falls deserves a couple more:
070425Sunset2815.jpg
We stayed very close to the falls and were able to see the sunset over the falls on a couple of evenings
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Re: Highlights of Kenya, Dubai and Victoria Falls

Postby eggs » Fri 10 Aug, 2012 4:09 pm

And the evening made for some slower exposures of the small section which was clear of the vast mist cloud
070655SlowonEdge3200.jpg
Time exposure at the Zambian end of the falls


I mentioned Hong Kong. We didn't get to do any real walking, but the city has a lot of undeveloped mountain country interspersed with high rise along small shorelines.
A fascinating place - and we saw it in good weather - which is apparently a bit rare due to pollution from mainland China.
Given the high heat and humidity, the best we could manage from an outdoors/ walking point of view was the Great Buddha embedded in the mountains.
071040BuddhaIslandView3403.jpg
View from Gondola ride over the Buddha out to some of the many small undeveloped islands.


There are a lot of tracks over these mountains - so in good weather, plenty of walking available.
071047GondolaView3415.jpg
From the Gondola looking over Lantau Island to the New Territories. High rise in sections with plenty of mountains in between to explore.
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Re: Highlights of Kenya, Dubai and Victoria Falls

Postby johnw » Sat 11 Aug, 2012 10:15 am

Stunning eggs, just stunning 8). Sounds/looks like the trip of a lifetime. I note the comments about acclimatisation. How did you find the altitude experience, any sickness etc? I'm glad you put the HK photos in as well, at least I've been there a couple of times although no walking either.
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Re: Highlights of Kenya, Dubai and Victoria Falls

Postby walkinTas » Sat 11 Aug, 2012 2:03 pm

Fantastic Eggs. Thanks for sharing.
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Re: Highlights of Kenya, Dubai and Victoria Falls

Postby wayno » Sat 11 Aug, 2012 2:10 pm

phenomenal photos. that K7 really does justice to the scenery. thanks very much for that.
from the land of the long white clouds...
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Re: Highlights of Kenya, Dubai and Victoria Falls

Postby tas-man » Sat 11 Aug, 2012 2:14 pm

walkinTas wrote:Fantastic Eggs. Thanks for sharing.

+1 :mrgreen:
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Re: Highlights of Kenya, Dubai and Victoria Falls

Postby Lizzy » Mon 13 Aug, 2012 2:11 pm

Wow stunning stuff- memories to last a life time!! Its always amazing to see different countries and how unique the wildlife, vegetation, people and scenery is. Will put Africa on my to do list (well it is already there but bumped up a spot or two :D ).
Cheers
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Re: Highlights of Kenya, Dubai and Victoria Falls

Postby wayno » Mon 13 Aug, 2012 2:24 pm

deleted, wrong post
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Lagarostrobos franklinii
 
Posts: 8683
Joined: Sun 19 Jun, 2011 7:26 am
Location: NZ
Region: New Zealand
Gender: Male

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