Visiting Hell’s Gate Gorge

Friday started with an early wake up to head off on my tour.  On today’s agenda, hike Hell’s Gate and have lunch at a local restaurant.   A long day as it takes a few hours to visit the gorge and then the time to get to and from.   The drive is at least half the adventure!   

Before arriving at the Gorge, there were a few side stops.

Stop 1 - Scenic Drive
The drive to the Gorge was scenic, if not a little bit on the scary side.  We drove along the side of this mountain and there were areas without guardrails.  That definitely would not happen back home but seems to be a common occurrence here.  We did stop at one point to allow me to take a few pictures and in case I wanted to buy a drink or some souvenirs. 

Stop 2 –Joy Adamson’s House
I was shown a video about her life, her work with Elsa the Lion, then had tea and dainties and a walk around the grounds.   We had hoped to see flamingos but no luck as the water was too high.  There are signs all over the grounds to be aware of animals as the hippos roam the grounds at night.

Stop 3 – Hell’s Gate Gorge
Once we arrived at the Gorge, I was paired up with a guide who took me in and around the Gorge itself.  Having a guide was definitely very helpful as he helped me up and down some of the cliffs.  I don’t believe you could actually go into the Gorge without a guide anyways.  This provides employment to the locals as there was not a lot of opportunity for them otherwise.  

Again, I was one on one with my guide, Francis, so we were able to chat a bit and learn about the other.  I found out he was 21 (I would have thought younger) and he wants to go to school to become an engineer.  He plans to come back once he is done and work in the local area.  

As we walked through, there were a few points where there were emergency escape routes.  I was told this was due to the possibility of fast rising water.  When it is the wet season, the Gorge can fill up very quickly and you need to get out fast.  

I definitely was not dressed for hiking with the pants I was wearing but on the other side, I was glad I didn’t have shorts on as I likely would have scraped my legs a bit.  But my shoes were definitely wet and my pants were wet along the bottom by the end.

Some of the people ahead of us - I saw some ladies in skirts and heels!

If you had an egg, you could boil it here.

Stop 3.5 – Leaving the Area
While this wasn’t an actual stop, it is worth mentioning.  As we were in a park, we had to leave the park as well.  Along the way, we saw many zebras.  Some of them were so close to the road you could almost reach out and touch them!  The animals are free to roam wherever they like as there are no fences.   We also saw people leading cows and sheep as well as mules and donkey’s pulling wagons along the side of the road.

Taken straight out the window, no zoom.

Stop 4 – Local Lunch
Part of the tour included a traditional African lunch.  We stopped at a local restaurant and as we walked in there was a bucket and tap to wash your hands.  Food is eaten by hand so it is important to do this; we also washed our hands as we left.

As I had no clue about the local food, my guide Jim, ordered for me.  It was some sort of greens (I later learnt it was likely spinach) as well as chicken.  My guide ordered this type of bread they make and gave me some to try and use with the greens.  The meal was okay but wasn’t my favorite especially as I do not like to eat with my hands.

From here, it was back to the hotel.

I was the only one on the tour which was good and bad.  Good in that you have the guide’s full attention and you do not have to wait your turn to ask the guide a question or get along with others.   Bad in that you have the guide’s full attention and it can be hard to come up with conversation for any amount of time.   We both asked questions about life in the other country, it is always interesting to find out how people live.

Things I learnt:

  • Many families have two working people in them.  If they have kids, they tend to hire a nanny which costs approximately $200 US. 
  • Mortgages have very high interest rates so people do asset financing.  They buy a piece of land and then borrow against it to build their house.  As they build, they have more of an asset and can borrow more money (very simplified explanation).  This explains a lot of the half completed construction that looked abandoned.
  • Housing in Nairobi is very experience.
  • Oil is a new industry in Kenya and they say that they have enough for 100 years.  As a result, there is a lot of industry emerging.
  • Traffic is insane and I am very glad I was not driving.  Traffic lights were rare but roundabouts very common.

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