Magic of Rutundu - Part 2
All images by KG Brian.
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We didn't stick around to find out what was keeping us unwanted company. Our legs hurtled us down the hill as we tried to get back to the vehicle alive and in one piece. We could almost see the headlines, 'YOUTH GO MISSING IN MT. KENYA' in the Daily Nation or The Standard.
Two hours later, alive but shaken we made it back. The Land Cruiser was exactly where we had left it. We found the rest of the crew huddled together inside, already resigned to our fate. We got out our blankets, stored away our muddy shoes and settled in for what would be a really long and cold night.
10:00 A.M (The following day)
16 hours later since getting stuck, our luck had changed for the better. We had gotten some cellphone network and had managed to contact the Rutundu offices. Through the help of the lovely Aisha, a rescue vehicle was sent to retrieve us and make sure we would get to the cabins. At the helm of this jungle green Land Rover Defender with a detachable canvas roof was the energetic Mwangi and his colleague, Mutua. After managing to pull out the Land Cruiser, it was so damaged that it was decided it would be best if it went back to Nanyuki to get fixed in preparation for our journey back to Nairobi the next day.
As for us, the show had to go on. We moved our bags to the Defender, climbed on to whatever we could hold on and set off for the lake, as we hang on for dear life.
Mwangi kept us entertained with stories of travellers who have gotten stuck on the way to Rutundu. We were not the first and would definitely not be the last. This was the Magic of Rutundu he said. Only the formidable deserved to get to the lake.
He also told us stories of the landscape and the wildlife that inhabited the area. It was chilling to hear him tell us that the area we had stopped the previous night to collect water from the stream before we turned back was home to leopards.
12:00 P.M (Noon)
As you approach the lake, the road suddenly just stops. You are greeted by a deep cliff and a view of the cabins and the lake at the other side of the cliff. What was fascinating to observe and a first for all of us was that to get your luggage across the cliff, you had to zipline them on this basket that was attached to a cable that ran from one side of the cliff to the other. They would be received by one of the service men with a wheelbarrow and then you would have to hike down and around the cliff to meet your bags at the cabin! We bid Mwangi and Mutua farewell and thanked them for their assistance.
Rutundu Log Cabins
There are two rustic cabins, about 20 metres from each other. Each cabin can accommodate four guests with a shared bathroom.
The main cabin however had a sitting room by the fireplace, a dining area, kitchen and a verandah overlooking the lake.
With no electricity, no sockets and no cellphone network, this was the ultimate unplugging exercise from modern society. The kitchen was well equipped and the talented chefs amongst us whipped up a Michelin star worthy dish of vegetable sauce reduction, ramen noodles, oregano seasoned roast potatoes and a build your own burger stand with cheese and bacon burgers. Our head chef, Lynette also happens to run her own Instagram food review page just in case you fancy yourself as a gastronome. https://www.instagram.com/basilandbarrels/
At night, as temperatures dropped to almost 4 degrees, the fireplace was lit and we spent the rest of the night munching away, sharing stories, laughing and purely grateful that we had survived the ordeal long enough to enjoy it.
The lake is about a ten minute walk down from the cabins. It is full of trout and offers a fishing experience for enthusiasts. There is also a rowing boat that can take you from end to end of the lake. For those who can brave the cold, a dip in to the lake is an option as the waters are safe from any preys.
The sunset as viewed from the lake is stunning as the orange hues reflect on the shimmering blue waters of the lake with the peaks of Mt. Kenya at the background.
Due to the unforeseen circumstances, we were not able to make it to see Lake Alice which is about a two-hour hike from Lake Rutundu. Lake Alice is the largest of the four major crater lakes of Mt. Kenya.
To book the cabins, you can visit their website https://www.rutundu.com/ and send them an email. The cabins are 27,500/- per night up to 4 people. Any other additional guest is charged 2,500/- up to a total capacity of 9 people. Kindly note however that these are low season rates and that they change during the high season. Park fees also apply and may change according to KWS guidelines.
A word of caution for all those who may go in search of Rutundu. Her magic is in her elusiveness. Have an open mind and be ready to confront your inner child. That part of you that you keep hidden as we pretend that we know our place on this earth.
This is not just a journey of the body but of the mind and soul.
And for those who will still dare, strap up and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime.