Exhilaration on the ropes

On your way to Maasai Lodge is a place most of us never take interest in, but could possibly be the place you've been looking for to spend your weekend.

Diguna is a perfect retreat spot, with fields for ball games and to jump around. There's also a sitting lounge that has a lovely lawn facing the Nairobi National Park. A barbecue there would be perfect! However, the attraction at Diguna is the High Ropes Challenge Course. Considered a medium level course, it's the one of the few available in Kenya and the nearest to Nairobi. A drive to Rongai will take you less than an hour, and a matatu ride will cost less than Ksh.200 for both ways. It's perfect!

As mentioned above, Diguna has two fields. One for football and the other has a volleyball court and space to play ‘kati’ and ‘chobo ua’ (I miss childhood). The high rope challenge course is in one corner, strategically placed not to be close to the fields. It's one of those challenges you see and dismiss as simple, then you get going and by the time you get to the middle you are calling upon your God to save your tired butt, but still want to finish.

It's fun, pushing your adrenaline all over your body. The fact that your friends will be busy chanting you on (or making fun of you, depending on your type of friends) will make you love it. On average it takes guys 45 minutes to an hour to finish the course, and that's the fast guys. Most people give up midway.

The course is pretty simple on the eye, but that's where that word can only be used. You start by climbing hanging logs held in place by ropes from above, arranged in a stair-like manner. They call this the "swinging rungs." The second part is the tremor bridge, widely spaced planks high above the ground with a rope to hold for your support. DO NOT LOOK BELOW! Well, that's the advice you need for the whole course, haha!

The tremor bridge leads you to the 'balance path.' These are about five logs in a straight line, of course, held in place by ropes from above. You have to sway your way from one end to the other without toppling over. This is where most guys give up. The not-so-brave choose to walk on a tight steel rope with ropes on the side for support which is the alternative. Do not be fooled, it's no easier.

Just when you think it gets easier, you are faced with the Tarzan swings. By now your body is almost letting your soul go, and now you will need to swing from one rope to the other like Tarzan. The instructor will give you an option of being pulled to the other side, but we all know we always wanted to do this since we first watched Tarzan as little naïve kids. Do not even deny it. And you can't go all that way just to avoid one challenge. There will not be shame for not finishing, less than half of your group will attempt this (bet on it). The rope ladder will get you from the lower course and onto the highest part of the course. This is just a rope staircase, nothing much.

The higher challenges are for the fit, and I mean physically fit, no hidden meaning. If you still have energy at this point (or your adrenaline is still pumping in your veins), then you can go on. You will need to walk on rope loops, the plank bridge, The floppy two line and lastly the Beam Balance. All these require balance and patience, you cannot hurry up. The advantage of getting to these higher challenges is the view. The view from the top is like when you get to the top after a hike, one you will want to sit and enjoy.

The park to one side, the Maa plains on the other, Ngong Hills from a distance and the concrete jungle that is Nairobi. But then sitting is a luxury you won't afford, haha! After you are done the power drop will make sure you get back down safely. You slide down on your safety chord/harness (which supports you all the way the course if you slip). It's a mini zip line.

The close proximity to Nairobi National Park creates a wonderfully relaxing atmosphere. The only sounds you hear are birds chirping and insects joining in the choir. If you are lucky you'll spot an animal over the other side of the fence as you drink your soda or eat your lunch. It is also a rarely visited place hence most of the time you'll be accorded your privacy and won't even notice you staying on for hours.

AIC Diguna is off Maasai Lodge Road. From the Galleria Mall junction, you drive towards Ongata Rongai, turning left just before Rongai town into Masai Lodge Road. Drive on for about 2 Kilometres. There is a road heading to Africa Nazarene University to the right, Diguna gate is to the left. If using a matatu, you'll alight at Diguna stage, then take a tuk-tuk and tell the rider to drop you at Diguna.

From there the guard at the gate will direct you to the right office. The charges are very fair, Ksh. 150 per person for the activities only and Ksh. 1000 for lunch. Food from outside is not allowed. Important to note is a minimum of 12 persons is required (but you can always talk to the manager in charge to find out if they can allow a smaller number). It is also important to note that you need to call in beforehand and make a reservation to avoid arriving and finding another group already there. You should also plan to be there early so as to complete the course before the Nairobi sun becomes unbearable (sweat makes the course slippery and dangerous).

After that scary but fun activity, you can stop by the Kitengela Glass workshop and learn how glass jars are blown into existence. A visit the famous hanging bridge at Rolf’s Place is also suggested. Silole Sanctuary is also 30 minutes away if you find going round the expansive Nairobi National Park as too much work. And before you make your way back to your homes, I would highly suggest a stop in one of the nyama zones in Rongai to enjoy some Maasai beef.

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