There is no doubt that Kenya is a beautiful country. And every bit of forest reserve that has been destroy, there remains little crooks and crannies hidden away in ways and places that seem indestructible – touch wood and hopefully they will remain so.
There are so many ways to get to know this country. Those with a good budget can get to visit various locations and stay in five star hotels and have guided planning out itineraries, others visit friends in the villages and these type usually cannot wait to make a friend who hails from some far away place so that they can visit their village, then others just get together in groups and organise to hike and trek at a small fee.
A looming pandemic has required that many people stay at home and away from their usual activities. These homestays will have physical and physiological effects after the 30 days that we are told it might take.
It is time for everyone to get out. There has to be a hill near you and your family. Just taking a run up and down the hill will have untold benefits to your wellbeing. Take the kids with you and even the little ones can go up and down at their own pace, observing the other requirement issued by the Ministry of Health. We have been advised not to go to the village as we risk taking the virus to the spaces that social distancing is more applicable than in urban centers. We have also been asked to avoid gyms. So it seems that taking walks, climbing the nearest hills and cycling, for those who can, are some of the options that we have for keeping up our mental and physical health and strength.
Before Kenya allowed in coronavirus through our boundaries, a friend invited me to hike at mount Kilimambogo with a group known as TT Trekkers - which stands for Tipwa Tipwa Trekkers. The experience was amazing. The organizer was a gem, serious and professional enough to keep us all focused, but casual enough to let each of the hikers enjoy their own pace and even indulge a little bit.
We were a group of about twenty but a million in terms of character, interests and outlook. There was a photographer, who recorded the hike in amazing pictures, there was a brewer who had brought along a sample of the beer that he brews, there were bankers – I don’t think any loans were sold. Included were energetic youngsters who climbed, sang, talked, laughed all at the same time, without missing a beat, a charming lady who runs a hardware and even a publisher.
Then there was me and a crew of three friends. There was a time that this was a habit – hiking with groups of friends. I got to see the most beautiful places all over Kenya, ranging from Gatamaiyo Forest, to the Longonot, to the Suguta Valley. But somehow, the people who created this kind of fun faded away as they took on more responsibilities in life and some moved away.
There was a lot I do not remember from previous hikes, like being conscious of the exact position of my heart, towards the summit. Falling haphazardly at random intervals as we walked down the mountain in the cozy moose of the forest. The falls were joyful and bouncy. What I know is that circumstances will force many of us to become outdoors types once more.
I was also once in a phase of cardiovascular stamina as I travelled for work and leisure. My ascent to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro at 2,145 metres brought back memories of staircase climbing. It might sound easy but it gives the heart a hearty run. I climbed the 200 Spanish steps, 463 steps at the Duomo in Florence, the 551 steps to the top of the Vatican dome and the 674 steps of the Eiffel tower in the past five years.
We must take advantage of our natural environment as we struggle in these days of quarantine and social distancing in which life can seem so fickle. We must emerge strong, healthy and ready to resume the rhythm of life. We shall only be able to do this if we exercise.