Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hell's Gate

I popped over to Kenya for the weekend. Not really - it's a four hour plane trip so hardly a hop - but I needed to go for work so went a couple of days early and explored the country north of Nairobi. I expected it to be very hot, being on the equator - but the weather was perfect, warm but with a breeze and a refreshing temperature drop in the evening - Nairobi is at 1,800 metres so even higher up than Joburg. March to May is a rainy season and the countryside was very green - and the drop into the Rift Valley as you travel north-west out of Nairobi is spectacular.

First stop was Hell's Gate national park, an area containing two extinct volcanoes and some impressive evidence of volcanic activity - there are chunks of obsidian littered all over the place and some thick seams in the rock formations. A guide takes you along Hell's Gate itself, a gorge - full length 17 kilometres. There are signs warning you to "watch out for flash floods" - according to the guide you have about an hour to get out of the way before the water starts roaring through - plenty of time, unless of course it rains somewhere upstream and you don't notice in time. The gorge is still very much being formed - at one point you can see graffiti scratched into the rock several metres above you which includes the date 1989, which is not so long ago. The gorge walk is great fun - amazing scenery and lots of detail to check out, such as steaming hot springs supporting neon green algae and the occasional leech easing through the muddy shallows.

Above: the rift valley; the gorge.

No comments: