The Wild Side - Kenya
Updated: Feb 6, 2019
A long overdue post but amazing journey. I'll be going over my month expedition to Kenya which took place from late July to late August. I'm going into details as for I think everything I've ever spoke about the trip has been very dotted around in regards to family and friends. So it's nice to get everything all in one piece. Might be a nice little throwback for my wonderful group!
Kicking off things in Africa we started our journey together in raw Kenya, plunged into the bare basics and essentials of living: shelter, food & water... and dogs. Surrounded by this red dirt that just got ingrained into your skin, you were melded into the environment. The first few days were spent just digesting the fact that you've now opted to live in this beautiful yet unforgiving paradise for the next month. Our group was reasonably familiar with one another prior to the expedition however everyone was still very much split off and hesitant to just talk to others.
My first couple of days were spent dehydrated. The midday heat beaming on your head at an extraordinary heat got the better of me and I didn't have enough time to adjust. Missing out on Swahili lessons wasn't fun but I soon recovered. In the first few days or so we went on a nature walk and learnt our surroundings, got introduced to another group at the camp and kept ourselves healthy.
One thing that everyone who went on the expedition would remember would be the bucket showers. I can't remember if it was a whole bucket or half a bucket allowance of water a day but we had to even it out between washing ourselves and our clothes. For some, changes like these were difficult to deal with - like my good friend Seth who I found in the airport en-route to Kenya. Now we're buds. He ended up taking 11 whole days without taking a numero two. Quite talented I must admit. Almost admirable.
Moving on, we climbed a mountain. I'm still confused to this day how I actually made it up when fighting against my awful lung capacity due to my long life companion: asthma. Breath-taking heights for sure, I really felt it. Due to an endless amount of support from friends, two key lads being Jack and Oscar tailing at the back with me with the CAMPS International crew, I managed to conquer this massive feat. I felt like such a burden, but once at the base camp of the mountain I was ready for the summit!
To date this is the highest I've climbed and most likely will be for quite some time. Here's some snaps from the summit:
During this unbelievable experience not only did I get to see these views but I also spent my birthday completely cut-off from the rest of the world. Our cameras clicking away with the sound of the shutter was probably the closest thing we had from home. After being woken up with bread and butter and a happy birthday from the group, we ventured down to our next stop on the mountain. A cliff-like-camp thing. Basically we had another hole in the ground for you know what, and a fire on the edge of a rocky mountain. We spent some time just lying down in the warm sun whilst some played card games as others chatted and some worked on dinner.
Soon after our mountain trek and a few days of building and environmental work we set off on a day-long travel in a coach across Kenya to Muhaka near Mombasa which was where we spent our the half way point of our expedition.
From living in our humble tents we moved into some traditional bandas in which we each had our own bunk. This camp was where a lot of our team building happened and where we spent days on end painting, sanding and concreting. It was one of the main camps and hosted a whole bundle of things to do. This included a pool table and the opportunity to pop down to the local markets where I can guarantee you have never met more persistent sales people. Those outside our camp spent days trying to rinse my friend Seth out of every single shilling he owned.
Here is also where we spent our evenings playing football against the locals and met back-flipping, head-spinning Kenyan kids. Our Football games were friendly and great entertainment after a long day of work. At the pitch is also where the raw reality of Kenya hit me when I experienced children aged around 5-7 begging for my water. However, there was nothing I could do to help as we were under strict orders not to share our personal water out.
Overall this camp was where we cracked down and got our hands dirty. We spent a day learning how to cook coconut rice and Kenyan chapatis, two key elements of traditional cuisine, with some of the locals. This was followed by an exciting visit to a Witch Doctor. The next days were spent working towards the environmental goals of the local community where we helped clear land and plant fresh saplings. On a side note I became quite nifty at pool considering that's what we spent a good few hours each day doing ... Luke also found himself confronted by a monkey with a vengeance.
Next stop our on journey was Diani Beach, this was our main chunk of leisure time but we still had some less demanding jobs to do such as beach clearing and some arts & crafts made from old washed up flip flops. We booked a day at the hotel with a pool and some sun-beds and later spent the night there celebrating how far we have come on our expedition with a BBQ for us with all kinds of fish topped with chocolate fondant cake. However, after beach clearing and a smaller meal out I got pretty ill and I ended up awake up at midnight, vomiting into a bush for a good while. Ishan, my saviour, got me the help I needed and I spent the night and the whole of the next day just throwing up everything in my system. The last day at Diani I spent curled up on a sun-bed next to my trusty bucket. Every once in a while someone made sure I wasn't dead yet which was kind of them. It was quite a short stay here, only five days but they were a thrilling five days nonetheless. Those of us in the year higher got our AS results during this week and it didn't feel long at all until we were packing our bags and taking another long coach journey across the country.
Our final week or so was spent at Athi River where we spent most of our time working and focused on human-wildlife conflict. We took to tasks such as renovating tourist locations for funding in the summer, rebuilding damaged terrain and setting up lion lights - lights used to scare the big cats away from cattle, stopping them from being killed by the locals. We experienced our fair share of Kenya here, especially since a lion killed a calf during broad day-light just outside of our camp. A fair share of our time was also spent completing nature walks which mostly consisted of a battle between us and every single plant we encountered. Whilst here we also worked with the local school to renovate their football pitch and by the end of the week it became the location where we beat the local football team. This win was highly considered a small yet exciting achievement for us. Despite this, the feeling of missing home was hitting everyone simultaneously which made the last camp drag out a lot for most people.
With a flight home consisting of one portion too much more of rice and a long seven hour kip we arrived back in the UK. First on my agenda was a McMuffin from McDonalds. I hope my memory and what I recall from the trip wasn't too inaccurate and thank you to my camera for assisting me log my version of the wonderful journey and experience all twenty six of us went through together. For now I venture on, continuing to enjoy my life with the people I met there and those I came back with.
Here is a slideshow of a few extra photos from start to finish of my trip. If you enjoyed the read be sure to keep your eyes peeled for more and follow my social medias as for Thomas Foster Photography is back for 2019 and the foreseeable future. Thanks for reading!