Lake Ellis Part 1
We would like to take this opportunity to appreciate all of you who showed us your love and support by voting for us in the recently concluded BAKE Awards. We do not take your support for granted and are eternally grateful. Thank You!
Our mission for April was Lake Ellis. Seated on the slopes of Mt. Kenya at an altitude of 3500m above sea level, this icy and misty lake serves as an ecosystem for diverse species of fish, predominantly trout. Existing in different colours and sizes, there are reports of fishermen/fisherwomen getting lucky and catching trout of up to 5kgs! Talk about a family meal!
Apart from these attractions, there is a certain myth about this lake we were looking to debunk. Stay with us in this literal journey as we take you up this mystic mountain that we have come to love.
“The mountains are calling and I must go.” – John Muir
It was 7.30 a.m. & we were on the Thika Superhighway headed to Chogoria. To get there one must take the A2 and branch off at Makutano in Mwea to the B6 that goes till Meru Town. About 15 kilometres from Chuka Town, take a left to Chogoria Town. The Mt. Kenya Chogoria Gate entrance is 30 kilometres from Chogoria Town and one can rely on the clearly labeled road signs. All in all a 3 hour drive from Nairobi.
Here is a link to the Google Maps directions.
Weather forecast reports warned of dangerous storms over the Labour Day weekend and the daunting clouds over the horizon added to our anxiety.
The KWS Gates
By the time we arrived at the first gate the rain was pouring down heavy on us. The car slipped and slid to the side and maneuvering the muddy road had become unnerving; at one point being dangerously close to the edge of a bridge. To add to our list of challenges, there was a thick fog that had settled over us thus our vision was heavily impaired.
Picture from our Snapchat feed: sanaasnapseed
We met up with our Guide, Mawira and our accompanying KWS Officer, Kamau at this gate and began our slow ascent through the rainforest.
To get to the second gate we still had another 10 kilometres to cover, going through the rainforest and then the bamboo vegetation. Once you arrive at the second gate you make your park payments at the KWS offices and make your way in.
The cold was beginning to bite
The 1st Ascent
So, this was the plan; drive up to the lake and make camp by the shores before dinner.
This, as we quickly learned was more than ambitious.
The terrain was painstakingly difficult to navigate. Though we had a 4X4 vehicle, we got stuck several times even finding ourselves in a crack on the road! One of the vehicle’s tires got lodged inside and given the slippery nature of the road getting ourselves out was more than a task. We had barely moved 1 kilometre from the Gate and darkness was quickly descending upon us. We were at the mercy of this great mountain.
Pictures from our Snapchat feed: sanaasnapseed
Weighing our options, we decided to track back to the Special Campsite and pitch up camp for the night. Our adventure up to the lake would have to wait till the next day.
The bonfire was lit and dinner was served. Curled up near the flames, we spent that night dining and listening to impressive stories from both Mawira & Kamau. Tales of horror from lost souls who wandered alone in the mountain never to be seen again to battles with elephant poachers, it was the best way to end our day.
The cold of the mountain could not dampen the warm night filled with laughter, food and stories. We soon retired in to our tents and slumbered away through the rainy night.
There was no point of waking up to catch the sunrise as it was still overcast so we slept till 8.00 a.m. All around us lemon grass grew wildly. We set out to cut some and prepared lemon tea to help us down the hotdogs we had prepared.
It was our hope that by morning the roads would have ameliorated however the rain reminded us that we were totally not in control of our surroundings.
Change of plans and thus we decided to hike up to the lake. Leaving the car at the Special Campsite we set off by foot, snack-proof and draped in rain coats. The hike meant we had more time to take in our surroundings. The fog was still thick but every now and then it would clear to reveal fantastic landscapes. We got a glance of The Billiards Table Mountain (yes! A table mountain on the slopes of a mountain) as well as the impressive Mugi Hill that sits majestically overlooking the lake.