Planning to hike Aberdare's Mt Satima? Read this first [Pulse Contributor's Travel Log]

Hike on the 'Mountain of the Bull Calf'

Pulse Contributor Cindy Odinga

Hiking Mount Satima

Wednesday October 30, 2019

Also known as Ol Donyo Le Satima, meaning "Mountain of the Bull Calf" this is the third highest mountain in Kenya and the highest in the Aberdare Range at about 4001 metres above sea level, with the terrain ranging from moderate to tough.

We left Nairobi at about 5:00 am for a 3-hour drive to the Aberdare National Park gate just past Mweiga in Nyeri county. Here we paid the park fees and got an armed guard who would guide us through the 8-hour hike to Mt Satima.

The drive from the main park entry to the gate from where we would start the hike was about an hour and it was filled with quite the adventure.

Suited for only four wheel drive cars, our van could not make it and we occasionally had to get off and push it when it got stuck in the mud. We got to a point where the van could just not go beyond and we had to brace ourselves to start the hike much further than expected.

We had a little briefing with the guide and the travel company on what to expect and a little ice breaker activity in which we had to pick an animal that would represent each one of us. We had 'Lions' that didn't make it to the summit, LOL, but that's a story for another day.

Hike Begins

We started the hike at about 9:00 am, enthusiastic and with lots of energy and laughter. However, as we walked on, the laughter and chit chat changed to silence with increasing difficulty to breath and changing altitudes.

At this point we had split into two groups with the faster group leading far off. We got to the gate from which the hike was to start originally and decided to rest as we waited for the other group to catch up.

No sooner had we sat than a violent hailstorm lasting about 15 minutes was upon us. It was time to take out the extra warm clothes and rain jackets. It was also getting late and we decided to head on if we wanted to summit in time.

The second part of the terrain was the most physically and mentally taxing. It grew colder and colder and my body was getting weary by the minute.

There were moments when I had to convince myself to just put one foot forward to keep going. It also became so foggy that we couldn't see who or what was ahead of us. It felt like the closer we got the further the summit moved.

Despite it all the terrain was so serene with impenetrable bamboo passages kept open by buffalo and elephants, beautiful St John Wort trees and an amazing view of the volcanic cones known as "the Dragon's Teeth".

The journey was long but nothing could beat the feeling of getting to the summit. It's an out of this world feeling to shout from the top and hear an echo, not forgetting the connection with nature while on higher grounds and the sense of accomplishment. To just view the rest of the landscape from the peak was so surreal.

The journey back wasn't any easier. Our clothes were drenched in water from being rained on, hiking boots completely soaked up. It was so cold that my fingers and toes were in severe pain, not to mention that I could barely feel my face.

We joked about our bodies being on autopilot and just moving along because the struggle was real. By the time we got back it was already growing dark and it had been at least 9 hours of hiking.

Exhausting does not even come close to describing it but was it worth it? Yes. Would I do it again? Absolutely! Probably just bring more mental energy because as Sir Edmund put it, it's not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.

From my experience here is a list of things you need:

  1. Good hiking boots
  2. Heavy socks
  3. Rain jacket
  4. Warm Hat and Gloves
  5. Hiking stick
  6. Extra energy snacks
  7. Change of clothes
  8. Winning spirit 

Massive shout-out to Starboard Safaris for organizing this trip at a very affordable package of Sh2,999 per person, inclusive of transport to and from Nairobi CBD, park entry fees, hiker friendly lunch, 1-litre bottled water and pro photography.

Until the next Adventure, keep it locked 🔒!

The foregoing is an Opinion Article submitted to Pulse Live Kenya for publication as part of the Pulse Contributors initiative.

Pulse Contributors is an initiative to highlight diverse journalistic voices. Pulse Contributors do not represent the company Pulse and contribute on their own behalf.

Should you wish to submit an Article to Pulse, do so via contributors@pulse.co.ke.

Cindy Odinga is a Kenyan creative, Digital content creator and a Style enthusiast. She is a lover of all things adventure and lives by the words, "If you obey all the rules, you'll miss all the fun."

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