I had my doubts when our de facto event planner, organized a dry trip which would include, Rift Valley, Hell’s Gate and Olkaria Geothermal Spa. The doubting Thomas in me felt that we were bound to drop one of those places, during the day. I just waited to see which one.
Nairobi Traffic Gridlock
In order to avoid the horrendous Nairobi early morning snarling traffic, where 3 lanes are turned into 7, we left our base at 6 a.m. We didn’t avoid the traffic totally but we were happy to see the sunrise in Nairobi and we got a glimpse into the lives of the ordinary Kenyan going about their daily commute and commerce. We observed throngs of people walking work, something we westerners don’t ordinarily see.
Once we were out of the traffic it was smooth sailing on the Nairobi-Nakuru Highway to the Great Rift Valley.
On the one side we passed Kibera slum, the largest urban slum in Africa and on the other, we got glimpses of wildlife as we passed gazelles and antelopes.
From its panoramic perch above Lake Naivasha, the Great Rift Valley enjoys one of humankind’s oldest views – over the sweeping floor of the world’s largest valley.
After a few photo ops and the purchase of souvenirs, we headed to Buffalo Mall for breakfast.
Hell’s Gate and National Park
From Buffalo Mall we headed to Hell’s Gate. Excitement built as we reached Hell’s Gate. The bikers were rearing to explore the park on two wheels and left the hikers behind to retain a suitable guide.
Bikers and Hikers
We, the hikers opted for a Masai guide and were quite happy that we did. The gorges were daunting and he assisted us in navigating them. At one point he carried two of us (the less heavier ones) across the small the river on his back.
Once the gully was navigated, we regained our confidence and cavorted the rest of the hike.
Those of us who opted to do this part of the trip by car headed to Olkaria. The others continued biking. On the way we saw several zebras, antelopes and some warthogs grazing lazily by the roadside.
We even saw rappellers.
As we parked no less than two baboons greeted us.
It is called a geothermal hot spa because of the hot water (hot steam that cools in the collecting pipes) that is collected from the various wells within the plant and emptied into the pool.The temperature of the main pool ranges between 30-40 degrees Celsius.
There is an slight hydrogen gas odor (rotten eggs) but it was not a deterrent.
We ordered lunch to be served al fresco and dived into the pool whilst our meals were being prepared.
Surprisingly the spa was not crowded, given the low rates. Perhaps this was because we went during the week.
Once in the pool we didn’t want to leave. Some of chose a normal temperature, some chose tepid and other chose hot but ever so often we switched around.
The water is rich in minerals with sulphur and silica having the highest percentage. That’s why the water seems cloudy when you look at it from afar.
There are many health and skin benefits that are attributed to bathing in a natural spa and we all felt our our skins glowed afterward.
As you bathe, there are melodies of birds chirping from the trees nearby.
Whilst in the pool someone from our crew spotted a pair of giraffes up in surrounding mountains. They were nibbling away at the acacia trees and were well camouflaged.
On the other side, the steam was billowing skyward fusing with the clouds.
We made our way back to Nairobi late in the evening, de-stressed and soothed. It was just what the doctor ordered.