Kakamenga Rainforest   1 comment

Saturday, May 3, 2007
Kakamenga Rainforest, Kenya

Friday was labor day in Kenya giving us a nice long weekend to recover our energy and set out on another quick adventure.  It was agreed that a group of us would take the relatively short journey to the Kakamenga Rainforest for an afternoon hike in the old growth forest.  We were accompanied by our favorite driver, Taxi Max.  After a fairly short drive, we arrived at the gates of the forest, hired a park guide, and set out on our hike.

Kakamenga Rainforest is a small remnant of what was once a mighty expanse of trees ranging as far as the Atlantic Ocean and covering hundreds of thousands of square kilometers.  Now, the remaining forest is a mere 240 sq km.  Unfenced, it is under constant assault from local cattle farmers and villagers in search of free firewood.  Still, what remains is a beautiful example of the diverse life that exists in an old growth rainforest.

Quickly after entering the park, an alarm was sounded by red tailed monkeys alerting the forest of our intrusion.  Blue monkeys seemed less disturbed, but let out loud hooting grunts to mark their territory.

  

Continuing into the forest, we followed signs that lead us to the muddy waters of the Isiukhu Falls.  Legend has it that visitors of the falls hear a woman crying upstream and none that have searched have found her.  We didn’t hear any crying on our visit.  We did find a small opening in the forest where a pool of water fed by the brown rapids of the falls was churning in circles before continuing into the forest.  The rapids served as the fishing grounds for a small crane called a hammercock that searched for a meal in a small eddy current.  Anita and Kalpana clambered out to a rock in the middle of the pool to enjoy the sun while Angeli and I searched the shores for good subjects to photograph.

 

Many of us were surprised to learn that within rainforests exist natural grassy clearings that are home to a variety of animals, birds and insects.  The final category, insects, was by far the best represented on our walk.  Butterflies and moths danced around the grassy fields and through the tree branches of the forest.  Angeli and I stumbled upon a nest of ants that produced a loud rattling sound by vibrating in unison as we stood watching them.  Justina had the unfortunate experience of stepping in a nest of fighting ants wearing her ill-chosen sandals.  She was able to brush them off quickly with no real harm done.  Giant termite mounds the size of many Kenyan houses could be found throughout the forest.  Silk worms hung precariously from a thin strand gleaming in the sun.  Dragon flies landed on any warm rock surface especially those near water.

  

Deep in the forest, we came across an enormous fichus tree.  Kalpana could not resist practicing her climbing skills on the tangled structure and quickly made her way high into twisted branches.  The acrobatics did not stop there as we shortly came upon a massive labyrinth of vines that had long outlived their host trees and served as a perfect natural jungle gym for our group.

  
            
The final portion of our hike again presented us with a new surprising terrain.  Rather than the dense broad leaved trees and vines we had become accustomed to, we were now climbing across bare rock and gravel covered slopes studded with tall cedar trees.  The rock slope was split with gaping chasms and scattered boulders.  The thin trees offered little protection from the afternoon sun.  Thankfully, we had all been living in Kenya long enough that the altitude and heat had little effect on our stamina.  Our guide commented later that we didn’t seem to tire out like typical mizungus.  A final climb put us back in the edge of the forest where we found a winding staircase leading to a watch tower.  We climbed the tower and found it offered a wonderful view across the entire rainforest to the hills on the opposite side which concealed the town of Eldoret to which we would soon return.  While we saw few birds or animals, we all left satisfied with a day spent hiking through the Kakamenga Rainforest.

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Posted May 11, 2009 by chrislux in Photography, Travel

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