Saturday, January 31, 2015

Wild North

The summit cliffs on Olokwe 
Big big views from the summit area
Back to basics and cooking on an open fire, summit camp 
Abseiling with the plains below 
I have been in the North for the last while working with a group from a Nairobi International School on the first Olokwe trip. I went up for a reccie sometime last year and knew then it would offer a great trip and it certainly didn't let us down. 
Olokwe  or as the locals know it Sapatchi sits about an hour North of Isiolo in Northern Kenya near the Wamba junction. Its a huge lump of rock which shoots out from the plains with its main wall being 500mts in height. The first thing you notice on arrival though is the intense summer heat bearing down on you. The group arrived at the small camp at the base of the mountain where we would spend the first night before heading to the top to spend the rest of the trip. The trip was a DofE style trip with the group taking charge of everything from the cooking to preparing the camp and did a very good job. 
We headed out early the next morning loading the donkeys and packing bags before heading up the very steep hill to get to the top. It was a long pull in the heat with big bags but the group got up to the plateaux in good time. Once on top you can catch a bit more of a breeze to help cool down. The summit area is a large plateaux with forest and open plains all dropping down to granite slabs and the huge drop beyond. The views up there are second to none looking back towards mount Kenya in one direction and the Mathews range and endless plains in the other. We spotted various signs on wildlife such as Elephant and Leopard. Its a large conservancy which has most things in it but due to its size things are well spread out but just incase anything crept up on us we have an armed guard with us, especially in the deeper forest sections. 
We set up camp in a forested area near to the main top where we would be based for the remaining days. Although we set up the tents people opted to sleep on the open slabs outside the wooded area under the stars which make for a very atmospheric sunrise. 
From the camp the group did some climbing and abseiling right on the top which although it was a group crag the backdrop of a big wall makes it a very good setting. We also did some wildlife motoring especially looking at the vultures which next along the cliffs and also some GPS work. 

Dawn coming up over the group who where still in bed, not a bad wake up call. 
Slab climbing at the top on nice granite 
 The group also got a taste of traditional Samburu culture watching over a ceremony which involved the slaughter of a bull and subsequent blood drinking which some took part in but blood is not everyones cup of tea. 

Masai traditions drinking the blood of a bull, lumpy due to its clotting but quite sweet I thought. 
With all the activities done we spent the last night having a BBQ’d goat which had been with us for the trip and unfortunately the group made the mistake of making it the camp pet so there where a few upset people as we ate ‘Daisy’ that evening. 
We packed up and headed down to the heat below said farewells and headed home. A great trip with a great venue and group so hopefully we shall be up there more and more as time goes on. 

Cheers enjoying a 'full bodied Samburu red' ! Blood............