Volcano (Mt Suswa) camping trip (27/1/16)

We had the weekend off last week and took the opportunity to go camping with some friends…on the edge of a nearby volcano.  Aside:  Never thought I’d write that sentence in my life.

Kijabe sits on the edge of the Rift Valley, about halfway up the eastern / northern escarpment from the valley floor.  Picture a massive geologic gash 6,000 km long, dotted with volcanoes, running from the Middle East (Lebanon) to almost the bottom tip of Africa (Mozambique).  Got it?  We’re about halfway in the middle on the right hand side.   From our back porch we have a nearly 180 degree vista including the Ngong Hills (location of Karen Blixen’s Out of Africa) to the south, and Mt Longonot, a dormant volcano, to the north.

In the middle of this vista, almost directly west, is Mt Suswa:  another dormant volcano, but much larger (although slightly lower) than Mt Longonot:  nearly 12 km across its double crater.

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Sunrise over the inner crater

Sunrise over the inner crater

Mt Suswa is about 35 km away as the crow flies, and so only really visible clearly if the ever-present Rift Valley dust settles a bit after a rain and the air is still.  It’s possible to drive up to the inner crater by 4WD–a 50 km rough track that takes about 2.5 hours from Kijabe.

Campsite, with permanent bandas built for campers by the Conservancy.  Bandas are very helpful to provide shelter in the middle of a rainstorm at night, Amelie discovered.

Campsite, with permanent bandas built for campers by the Conservancy. Bandas are very helpful to provide shelter in the middle of a rainstorm at night, Amelie discovered.

Mt Suswa and its surrounding land is protected as a conservancy, run by the local Masai.  So any trip there involves liaising with the local elders to arrange a visit.  Jeremiah was our Masai contact; he was inspiring and committed to conservation of the local area.

View from halfway up the summit down to our campsite

Jeremiah, our Masai guide. I’m told he stars in the BBC film The Great Rift, which has a segment on Suswa and the cave dwelling baboons and bat colony in the many laval tube caves underneath Suswa. View from halfway up the summit down to our campsite

We went with friends Jeff and Kate Davis, and our kids had a ball together.  We also had Chris Kinzer and visiting pediatrician from Seattle, Amelie and her daughter Agnes join us.  Amelie (on behalf of the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital) was visiting to meet with Mardi and the other hospital stakeholders in Nairobi to put the finishing touches on launching the new Pediatric Acute Care fellowship in a few months.

Amelie and Agnes

Amelie and Agnes

It rained at night, and we discovered that the tent we lent Amelie and Agnes leaked massively…however she moved it and her sleeping daughter under the banda, in the rain in the middle of the night without waking us up.  Now THAT’s a good camping partner!

"Masai toothbrush":  sand olive, used by Masai for cleaning their teeth

“Masai toothbrush”: sand olive, used by Masai for cleaning their teeth

We’re incredibly fortunate to have some spectacular camping places within four hours of Kijabe.  I find that every night spent camping under an African sky helps to wash away some of the busy-ness and demands of Kijabe Hospital and bring perspective and refreshing.

The campfire scenery could be worse.

The campfire scenery could be worse.

We took the kids about halfway up to the summit before we had to turn back and return to Kijabe.

We took the kids about halfway up to the summit before we had to turn back and return to Kijabe.

When the kids weren't digging with animal bones, they were playing hide and seek amongst the acacia and leleshwa scrub

When the kids weren’t digging with animal bones, they were playing hide and seek amongst the acacia and leleshwa scrub

Me and Eric Kinzer, good to give a shout out to my favorite bike shop

Me and Chris, good to give a shout out to my favorite bike shop

-A

Author: steeres

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