Climbing The Sacred Mountain- Mt. Ololokwe

By Ashley Anderson, Saruni Marketing.

Flying into Kalama Conservancy, you cannot fail to notice Mt Ololokwe. The massive rock emerges seemingly out of nowhere from the desert plains. I was captivated by its beauty and was desperate to find out more about it and its significance to the Samburu community.

Despite the early wake-up call (5:00 am!) and the warnings that the climb was ”tough”, I was determined to climb it… I mean, can you imagine what the views would be like? Plus the Saruni team provide a delicious picnic breakfast and lunch!

Coaxed awake by fresh coffee and some delicious biscuits, we set off before sunrise to climb the Mountain. Everyone was quiet as we watched the Mountain move dauntingly closer.

Following the armed ranger and 4(!) Samburu porters, we set off up the steep, twisty path. It seems most of the trails were actually old elephant trails, widened by cattle drives towards the permanent springs at the top.

Despite the early hour, it was a hot and tiring climb. The porters chatted merrily, springing up the path, ladened with our water supply and picnic breakfast, without a hint of fatigue!

Each rest stop offered a more impressive view over the plains, and “pole  pole”, we made our way to the halfway point, where we could finally have breakfast. Boy, was it worth it!

A little nervous, I asked our guide if the rest of the hike was as steep. He smiled and said, “if you can make it to breakfast, you’ve made it”. Sure enough, the rest of the trip was much easier. We passed through untidy scrubland, grassy plains and forested areas, noticing the incredible Cycads and Cedar Trees scattered across the rocky outcrops.  We heard elephants trumpeting a little way off, which only added to the feeling of adventure.

At last, we started to get a glimpse of the famous, granite rock face, signaling we were close the top. I knew the view would be incredible, but I was blown away (thankfully not literally, although it was pretty windy).  Miles and miles of Africa rolling out in front of me. The stark soil type variations and cloud-shaped shadows created a beautiful, dramatic scene. We were mesmerized, and all agreed that the view was 100% worth the climb.

There was more to come! On the way back, we visited one of the Il Moran caves. For generations, these caves have become a vital part of the community. The caves are often used by the Samburu for rituals such as the ‘coming of age’ ceremony.  Countless cows have been slaughtered there to celebrate, honour and mark specific dates in the Samburu calendar.  Although the cave was ‘rustic’ to say the least, it had the most A M A Z I N G view!

With a massive sense of achievement, we headed down the ‘hill’ for a spot of lunch. The steep sections were quite tricky to navigate, and I was pleased I had a good pair of hiking shoes!

After a delicious lunch, we headed back to camp, incredibly proud of ourselves, but exhausted (and desperate to dive into the pool!)

Tips

  • Bring a hat and sunscreen
  • Wear a good pair of hiking shoes
  • Consider bringing a hiking pole for the decent as it is a little slippery and steep
  • Bring a few snacks for the first section as you are hiking up the steepest part without breakfast.
  • Remember: if you make it to breakfast- you have made it 🙂

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