Week trip: hiking in the wilderness of Kenya
Do you enjoy a “slow, mind-bending walk through a vanishing wasteland, unencumbered by the burdens of modern civilization”? On the edge of Kenya’s Laikipia plateau, you can do exactly that, though to enjoy it comfortably takes planning: you’ll need a helicopter, men, and camels to carry the gear and set up camp, and a wildlife expert or two to guide and keep you safe.
But it’s fun, you don’t have to arrange any of this yourself, says David Pilling in FTwith Journeys by Design on four-day “camel-powered” hikes through this breathtaking landscape. Homo sapiens has resided here for 300,000 years, and you can see some Stone Age cave paintings, but you won’t come across any modern signs.
The silhouette of Mount Kenya dominates the view, but much of the hike is on flat ground through arid acacia land punctuated by red granite “sprouts” known as kopjes. When the big game – elephants, eland, zebras, water bugs – comes out, it’s usually very far away, but you need to care a lot about seeing up close if you know where to look and your guides – the shepherds local cattle – this landscape can be read like a book.
The camp, set up in a different location each night, is posh, with tents you can stand up, foam mattress pads, hot showers, and a box-shaped toilet seat that lifts on a pedestal. freshly dug hole.
On close inspection, the small animals – the hairy baboon spider the size of satsuma, the rhinoceros beetle, the ant-eating larvae of the dragonfly-like antlion – become fascinating “monsters” . There are medicinal plants to look for, and signs (footprints, scratches, excrement, etc) tell of recent dramas – a leopard murder, a mongoose attack on a turtle’s nest. And a ride in a helicopter with large windows, swooping over elephants and searching for nests of eagles perched high above kopjes, makes for a thrilling finale.
A four-day hike, including flights within Kenya, costs from $5,950pp (Journeysbydesign.com).
https://www.theweek.co.uk/arts-life/travel/955995/trip-of-the-week-walking-in-the-wilds-of-kenya Week trip: hiking in the wilderness of Kenya