Land Rover Dispatch: GREAT AFRICAN RIFT VALLEY EXPEDITION
Land Rover Dispatch 57 – Back onto the Rift
Loaded up with more life saving mosquito nets and LifeStraws from Vestergaard-Frandsen we bid kwaheri to the Fernandes family, our delightful hosts in Nairobi. Everywhere in Africa the support form our fellow countrymen is heart warming. It makes us proud to be South African.
One Landy behind the other we drop down over the Ngong Hills back into the Great African Rift. The track takes us through choking red dust and Masaai manyattas. Our challenge is to climb to the crater rim on Mount Longonot. Will keep you posted.
Land Rover Dispatch 58 – To the Rim of the Crater
"Baby steps will get you to the lim of the clater" says Gabriel our cheerful guide who transposes his 'l's and 'r's.
The slog of climbing to the crater rim of Mount Longonot is well worth it. Stretching between the walls of the east and west escarpments is an endless view over this part of Kenya's Great Rift Valley. Below us giraffe and zebra make their way across the plains that run down to Lake Naivasha.
We gaze south towards Lakes Magadi, Natron and Manyara. The Rift Valley seems endless, so many challenges ahead.
Land Rover Dispatch 60 – Across Maasailand
It’s very dry. Through the stifling heat haze we make out the shapes of Maasai giraffe, wildebeest, Grant’s and Thompson’s gazelle, kicking up dust as they slowly make their way across the Rift Valley floor to drink from the brown waters of the Ewaso Ngiro.
Using the point of a Maasai spear, Ross draws a map in the sand. We’ll take a dirt track out of the Rift, stamp into Tanzania at Namanga, then West across Maasailand to set up a base camp to prepare for the challenging accent of Ol Doinya L’engai, Maasai ‘Mountain of God’, the only active carbonate volcano in the world – Life’s a great adventure isn’t it? We’ll keep you posted.
Land Rover Dispatch 61 – To the rim of the crater
Great news! Climbing through the night and the wind and the cold, expedition team members Ross Holgate, Mike Nixon, William Gwebu, Eric Vorster and guide Burra Ammy all made it to the crater rim of Ol Doinya L’engai. All agreed it was bloody tough going but the sunrise views over the Great African Rift and Kilimanjaro to the east made the accent worthwhile.
On various expeditions, United Against Malaria team members have succeeded in reaching the summits of Mt Mulanje, highest point in Central Africa, the Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon, Kilimanjaro, tallest freestanding mountain in the world and on this expedition the active volcanoes of Erta Ale, Mt Longonot in the Kenyan Rift and now Ol Doinya L’engai.
As always it was great to have the experience of expedition member Mike Nixon who has climbed the highest peak in every one of the world’s seven continents. His comment was ‘tough going and potentially dangerous at times, especially as the Maasai have nicked the old mountain club steel pegs and ropes, obviously their need for cattle ropes and spear heads were greater than those crazy enough to tackle their ‘Mountain of God.’
‘Toughest thing I’ve ever done,’ said Eric Vorster, the dealer principle from Land Rover Menlyn. Next we follow the Western Rift Valley escarpment to Lake Manyara where joined by the &Beyond Foundation we will continue with our United Against Malaria, LifeStraws and Rite to Sight humanitarian work. Will keep you posted.
Land Rover Dispatch 62 – Great support from Rift Valley volunteers
The Land Rover supported expedition reaches the Rift Valley village of Mto wa Mbu (Mosquito Creek). The Mgubwe, Iraqw, Gorowa, Irangi, Tatoga, Chagga and Maasai have used Mto wa Mbu as a trading post for centuries and it’s probably the only place in the Rift where you can hear the four major African language groups of Bantu, Khoisan, Cushitic and Nilotic spoken in the same area. Here we say cheers to Mike Nixon and Eric Vorster. Mike who has mountain biked the Rift Valley with us is off to race in the Cape Epic. Eric from Land Rover Menlyn has sponsored the big Land Rover 130 Defender, known as the United Against Malaria mother ship. We’ll miss their good humour around the campfire at night, sharing the stories of the day with a ‘Captain’ or two, but they’ll be back to support more Rift Valley chapters.
Taking their place are United Against Malaria warriors Lumbaye Lenguru and Brad Hansen, both are experienced adventurers who as always bring added energy and excitement to this world first geographic and humanitarian journey to complete Africa’s Great Rift from the Red Sea to Mozambique – we’ll keep you posted.
Land Rover Dispatch 63 – Lake Manyara – a Garden of Eden
This National Park situated in a shallow depression at the base of the Western wall of the East African Rift Valley, is an example of what more of the Rift would look like without the interference of man and their livestock. It’s a game-filled forested ‘Garden of Eden’ that runs down to a lake shore filled with birdlife. Elephant are plentiful and it’s a great place to view Manyara’s tree climbing lions. ‘More baboons here than any other park,’ explains Brad who runs his own safari company out of Arusha and knows this part of the Rift like the back of his hand. With a big ‘dagga boy’ buffalo giving him the evil eye, Lumbaye Lenguru adds a ‘sipfull’ of water to the Rift Valley calabash, this time taken from the lake’s hot springs at Maji Moto. &Beyond, our United Against Malaria partners host us to a night of luxury at ‘Tree Lodge’ – crisp clean sheets, hot showers, ice in the drinks, fluffy towels and the bark of leopard at light. I toss and turn, must be missing the bed roll! Will keep you posted.