Not a Soul in Sight

4 November 2015 | East Africa Travel |

Kenya’s diversity is mind boggling. It was high time that Tyler and I started to see a bit more of this beautiful country, and we decided that a trip up north with visiting friends made for a good excuse.

Destination: Lake Rutundu on the north eastern slopes of Mt. Kenya.

As we made our way out of the Mara, through Nairobi and up north towards Mt. Kenya, the scenery changed from flat expansive plains to lush green rolling hills. Up, down and around every tree, bump and boulder, we pushed Tina, our beloved double cab, to 10,000ft – well above treeline and into the lovely heathland on the slopes of Mt. Kenya. After a long day of driving, hardly any of it on decent roads, the frigid air whipped across our faces, and out came the puffy jackets.

Our directions strictly indicated not to arrive after 5pm (we managed to arrive right on the dot) to allow for delivering our food, clothes and firewood across the Kazita Gorge by an aerial ropeway before sundown. With the golden sun falling quickly behind this massive mountain, and no sign of anyone for miles and miles except a few gentle staff to help us set up camp, we enjoyed a short hike to Rutundu Cabins, our home for the next four nights.

Cabin in Rutundu

These self-catered log cabins, perched above Lake Rutundu and surrounded by mountains, were so our style – rustic and quaint, with no electicity or cell service, and a toasty fire around the clock. We felt like we were back home in the Pacific Northwest. It offered a much-needed opportunity to unplug from the digital world and truly enjoy this beautiful serene place.

Our first morning, we welcomed the pre-dawn light as it streamed through our windows – even on the equator at 10,000ft it gets pretty chilly at night. But once the sun breaks the horizon and hits your face, the land instantly warms up and comes alive. And after a steaming cup of coffee, I also returned to life and thankfully checked all 10 fingers and 10 toes were still intact.

Rutundu - Collage 1

Eager to explore the area, the boys set off fishing in Lake Rutundu. While I’d like to claim that their remarkable skills supplied us with fresh trout, the truth is that day one was a total strike out. Perhaps day two would be better …

Rutundu - Collage 2

Sitting at a further 1,500 fit above Lake Rutundu is Lake Alice, where our sweet host and guide Cosmos claimed the fishing was much better. We set out early the next day for the 7-mile trek to the lake. There is nothing better than getting your heart pumping, breathing deeply and feeling the leg-burn from a good hard hike – I was in my happy place. At 11,500 ft our friends coming from sea level were not. But Lake Alice proved to be worth it! With dramatic clouds rolling over the mountain towering above the lake on one side, we found ourselves content for the next few hours with a picnic lunch, lots of fishing and a little snooze on the beach. The day proved to be a success and we enjoyed one of the most delicious rainbow trout I’ve ever tasted that night for dinner.

Rutundu - Collage 3

By our last full day, we realized how time simply stood still here. From the moment the sun came up until it crept behind the jagged peaks of the summit of Mt. Kenya, the serenity and solitude completely melted the grind of civilized life. We soaked up every minute of peace and quiet and enjoyed the wildlife – slender mongoose, duikers, hares, chameleons and many birds. By the time the sun was up the next day, we begrudgingly said goodbye to this lovely remote corner of northern Kenya.

Rutundu at Night


AUTHOR: Shannon Davis

Shannon was one half of the Regional Director team that started the lodge (Tyler was the other). Shan has not, as far as is known, acquired a taste for chai, mbuzi or ugali but probably misses it in America nevertheless. Her addiction for Kenyan coffee still has no bounds.

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