Sunday, May 20, 2007

Kenya: is beautiful. Kakamega Forest

My one safari in Kenya – purely for fun – was my trip to Kakamega Forest. It’s one of my favorite places in the world. It is the only rainforest in Kenya, and it’s barely protected by the government. The Kenyans have formed an NGO: KEEP- Kenya Environmental Education Project, to help do some of the preservation and education in the forest.

Kakamega Forest is very close to Kisumu – only a 45-60 minute matatu ride away. It’s in between Eldoret and Kisumu, so it was perfect for me to stay in the forest when returning from my trip to Eldoret.

Once you’re in the forest, you can hire a forest guide for 300 ksh per person per hike/walk. Joe Mamlin goes to Kakamega all the time and always goes with a guide named Ben. I went with a guide from KEEP named Gabriel, who runs the KEEP Education Program in 100 local schools on a volunteer basis. His only income comes from leading these guided walks through the forest. I tipped him handsomely in part for that reason, in part because he led me on a great hike up to the bat cave and Rondo Point. At 2,000 meters, climbing the hill as fast as Gabriel definitely gave me a challenging work-out. It was well worth it: the view from Rondo Point is spectacular. You can see all of Kakamega Forest, as far as Kericho and Kisumu. The bat cave was also very cool. I got to see baby bats. There also something very peaceful (though initially scary) about being in a dark cave with small bats gently flying around you.

Rondo is a beautiful place, and well worth the extra expense. It’s peaceful, has its own self-contained beautiful walks through the forest. The food is amazing and fresh. They will accommodate special diets too. It was so peaceful that I didn’t even mind all the missionaries there. In some ways, we are doing similar work. It was definitely the kind of reflective getaway I needed.

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