Sunday, July 23, 2006

Exploring Kakamega Forest

Here, the road ended abruptly
Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
I made use of the opportunity to explore the area since we have two girl interns around that could accompany me on a little getaway. I had heard about Kakamega Forest, the only remaining rainforest in Kenya, situated not too far from Eldoret, and that's where we headed.

We drove for about 2 hours to the north end of the forest, where Kenya Wildlife Service operates a banda (hut) camp. As we headed to Udo's Bandas and Campsite, I saw a sign leading to a waterfall. I had reserved a hut for us for the night, so we weren't concerned about housing and decided to explore a little before heading to the camp.

The road became narrower and narrower, then suddenly ended. I parked my car and we headed on by foot to enjoy our sandwiches and juice by the small but beautiful waterfall.

Heading back, I was thankful my car was as rugged as it were... Backing up the narrow trail proved to be a memorable part of our trip!

Next, we went to unload our things for the night, only to be told that our hut had been given to another group of German girls, and that we'd be given 2 tents for the night--not a good arrangement, since there are only 3 of us, which would mean one girl would sleep alone, plus there was rain coming our way.

We let the warden figure out a solution while we went hiking. We didn't see as many birds as I anticipated seeing. (This forest is home to more than 330 species of birds and 400 species of butterflies!) We did see a spectacular turaco, however, and found feathers of a crested guinea fowl. Heard lots of birds, especially in the morning! I'd love to go back and spend time really looking for some of the various species!

Upon our return to the camp we were told that a Dutch group had moved out and their hut became available. While the warden added one more bed to the hut, we prepared dinner: top ramen noodles with vegetables, and roasted marshmallows for dessert.

We could do nothing but head to bed really early. By 8 pm, we were all tucked into our mosquito nets, visiting. Then came an uninvited guest: some bushy-tailed, squeaky mouse. Every so often, it would enter the hut and squeal at the top of its little lungs! I was ready to feed it to some of the birds outside!

Since it was cloudy in the morning, we didn't go to watch the sunrise, but headed out after breakfast (instant oatmeal--thanks, Nan!) to explore some of the central part of the forest. This part is run by Kenya Forestry, and is really much nicer! I discovered better bandas at Isecheno, and then the best (though 20 times pricier) retreat center at Rondo.

The road back through Kapsabet took us no longer than 90 minutes, so it's definitely viable to go hiking for just a Saturday!

It did my soul well to be away and close to nature. And I am certainly looking forward to going back to spend time with God in the forest so close to where I live.

Click on the photo to see more pictures of our day in the forest.

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