Lake Ellis Part 2
After 2 hours we were finally at the lake. A thick vegetation of elephant grass grows around the lake and its golden tones offers splendid picturesque landscapes. This grass also holds a lot of moisture and soon everyone’s shoes were drenched.
Temperatures had also dramatically fallen to -2 degrees and our fingers were feeling the pain. One trick we were taught by Kamau was to apply a thick layer of Arimis on our hands and face to prevent frostbite.
The sight of the lake made the hike worth it. Eerily silent the lake sits undisturbed offering a backdrop of the three peaks of Mt. Kenya; Batian, Nelion & Lenana. One can hardly believe that there is life within those icy waters but on closer inspection it’s possible to see fish swimming inside. The water from the lake is also pure and clean, and if one can get over the freezing temperatures, it can be consumed without any health risk.
Remember our mention of a certain myth about the lake? Well, the legend goes that if you throw a rock in to the lake, a thick fog will descend upon it and it will soon start raining. We couldn’t pass up the chance to test this out! We each threw a few rocks and retreated back to the shed for lunch. After 15 minutes or so, the lake became quite misty and sure enough a slight drizzle visited us. The weather however was quite precarious and it was raining ever so often, thus was the myth true or was it just coincidence? We leave it up to you to make your way to the lake and test this out for yourself!
Having re-energized with some lunch we made our way to the Mau Mau caves. Going there meant cutting across the terrain and going towards Roadhead. The scenery continued to be jaw dropping and some 2 hours later we were navigating closer to the caves.
The last few metres proved to be challenging. Hands and knees had to employed as there were areas we had to bend and climb down. There was also some thorny vegetation one had to look out for. If you slipped and reached for the nearest thing close to you, you most probably would reach for this plant and you would be left cussing and in pain. Caution was imperative.
Eventually we made it to the caves and boy were they imposing! A stream of water trapped underground flowed out of one of the caves and we were left in awe. Some caves were big enough to even accommodate camping, as evidenced by the remnants of camping material left by some explorers. The caves were on the edge of a cliff thus the view one had while looking down the cliff was simply breath-taking. Further down was a stream of water that flowed from Lake Ellis navigating through rocks. We were like little kids jumping up and down trying to take up as much of these incredible features as we could.
The best views really do come after the hardest climb.
Our descent back to the campsite was quick as we sought to get there before nightfall.
In total we had covered about 14 kilometres!
We made it to the vehicle and began driving to the cottages where we would spend our 2nd night. We had to once again battle the terrain, at one point getting stuck for almost 45 minutes.
Darkness had caught up with us but we decided to fight through it this time. We were in an area famous for its buffalo population so we had to act fast and move before our troubles multiplied. Eventually after some digging we gained enough traction to get the vehicle over the hill and towards the cottages.
The cottages are situated a few metres away from the 2nd Gate. Upon our arrival we saw we already had company. Waterbucks and buffalos were resting in the open compound around the cottages. We communicated with the caretaker and we were taken to our cottage.
They got a fire burning for under the chimney and turned on the hot water for those who desired a hot shower. The 2nd night in the cottage was easier than the 1st as we had a kitchen to prepare our meals, comfortable beds and warm, thick blankets.
It was pleasant to see the sun shining across the green landscape on our 2nd morning. It was still fairly overcast but the fog had lifted. This gave us a quick and slim chance of seeing the majestic mountain.
Close by, one could see the famous Gaketha Elephant Maternity where pregnant jumbos are known to give birth.
Gaketha Elephant Maternity with a view of The Billiards Table Mountain to the left
We had breakfast as we took in the magnificent view of the marvelous mountain and its features. The Billiards Table Mountain was visible without any impediment and so was Mugi Hill.
It was the perfect way to end our trip.
Flora & Fauna
The mountain is perfect for nature lovers.
The rainforest allows one to see various types of trees such as Meru Oak and the indomitable Camphor tree. Flowers such as the everlasting flower are but some of the beautiful flora that grows on this mountain.
As for the animals, it is difficult to spot them as they tend to avoid humans. However it is possible to spot waterbucks, buffalos, deers and even elephants.
Mt. Kenya is magnificent for various reasons, but the top reason for us is that it offers a little something for everyone. One doesn’t have to be on a mission to the summit to enjoy the mountain. Visiting the four major lakes; Lake Rutundu, Lake Alice, Lake Michaelson and Lake Ellis should be on the top of your list. Hiking to the top of Mugi Hill is just as rewarding as it is to hike to the summit and to the more daring, hiking to the top of The Billiards Table Mountain is a feat not many have even attempted.
These are just some of the features one can explore, without even mentioning the waterfalls, caves & forests.
If you have never visited Mt. Kenya you need to let your spirit lead you to an exciting adventure to this wondrous mountain.
Contact us if you are in need of any help or if you need contacts to a guide (Mawira was the perfect guide) or a KWS Officer (Kamau was absolutely splendid and helpful).
As for us, we came in search of a lake and we left with much more. Our hearts yearned for adventure. We are glad we got the opportunity to explore and we hope that our experience and story will inspire you to do the same!
“Although I deeply love oceans, deserts and other wild landscapes, it is only the mountains that beckon me with that sort of painful magnetic pull to walk deeper and deeper in to their beauty.” – Victoria Erickson.