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It’s the Climb

Down at the far end of the Oloololo Escarpment, Safari Camp guests can enjoy an exclusive hiking experience with Mara Triangle rangers. Charlotte puts it — and herself — to the test
Above: Going up

It's no secret around here that I like to hike. As naturalist, activist and dreamer, John Muir said, ‘In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.’ With that in mind, I have yet another hiking story to share with you — this time from the ever-charming Angama Safari Camp.

Just weeks before I was set to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, I found myself woefully short on training and, perhaps even worse, being teased mercilessly for it by Robert from the Photographic Studio, who had also climbed Africa’s tallest mountain almost a year before me. I put myself through my paces in Angama Mara’s gym but still, I was in desperate need of some proper uphill, outdoor training. To my surprise, Angama Safari Camp was the answer.

In fairness, the rocking chairs are very comfortable and there is always something to look at

I had been very lucky to spend a few enjoyable nights at Safari Camp with my friend and colleague, Alita, a few months before. Our task had been to capture the Camp in all its glory with photographer Teagan Cunniffe. And while we ran to and fro — racing to get the best lighting here or the elephant who was sauntering past there — it seemed that this was a place designed to sit back and relax (unless you could coerce yourself off your rocking chair and onto a yoga mat found in the gym-in-a-bag in your tent… which I did not).

Little did I know, plans had been underway for an exciting new experience available to Angama Safari Camp guests — a trip to a Mara Conservancy ranger outpost and a hike straight up the Oloololo Escarpment. Ascending at a rapid rate to a mighty altitude of nearly 2,500 meters (8,202 feet), the hike was the perfect bit of training for my big climb and I jumped at the chance — roping in Robert to come with me to take photographs as payback for all the teasing.

Leaving the outpost far behind

We set out from Angama Safari Camp early in the morning and had a lovely game drive to the ranger outpost. Once there, we were met by three rangers who walked us through the outpost and showed us the rather alarming pile of snares that they had retrieved from their area of patrol which includes the poaching hot-spot zone on the Kenyan/Tanzanian border. The rangers had also collected some of the skulls of the animals they weren’t able to save, a harrowing reminder of the crucial work they do.

After an informative, but relaxed chat with the head ranger of the outpost, we were assigned a new ranger, Rono, who would be accompanying us up the escarpment.

Though rocky and a tad uneven, the path is well maintained
The views provide a lovely distraction during the climb
Rest stops often lead to the most interesting conversations

This was a regular part of Rono's patrol so he knew the trails well, and, best of all, a beautiful vantage point to aim for once at the top. Rono was incredibly fit, basically scampering up the escarpment as if it was a Sunday stroll. Luckily, for the rest of us, he was unendingly patient and more than happy to wait, all the while chatting happily about life as a ranger.

Alfred explains the geography of this part of the escarpment

As part of the experience, one of Angama's Naturalists accompanies the hikers. Being a keen birder, I was delighted to have Alfred along with us. Somehow, he was able to identify all the bird calls over our heavy breathing and provided much welcomed and enjoyed intervals to stop and look at the various species and the Mara Triangle opening up before us as we climbed. I would also like to note that Alfred climbed this rift in his usual car tyre sandals and shuka, barely breaking a sweat as he went.

Visibility: 100% (150% with binos)

Anybody who has driven up to Angama Mara from the Mara Triangle below will understand me when I say the escarpment just goes up (and up and up). So up and up we went, taking it slow and steady and stopping frequently for water and some bitings which had been lovingly prepared by the Safari Camp team. Regaled by interesting tales from Rono and delighted by Alfred’s wealth of knowledge — all thoughts of ‘training’ were long forgotten.

The photographer becomes the subject
Identifying eagles as they soar at the same height

Likewise, anybody who has driven up to Angama Mara will also tell you that the view just gets better and better as you ascend. I hate to be the one to say it, but yes, the view does seem that much better when you’ve worked for it. And so it was when we finally burst forth from the vegetation onto a rock jutting out over the Mara. The sun shone brightly as a cool wind blew from the west and the eagles soared just below us as we looked out, Lion King-style, over the Mara.

After a light picnic (it was only 09h40 after all) and a little bask in the sun, we took in one last look at the view — noticing for the first time a majestic waterfall pouring from within the trees on the escarpment to our left. Making a much speedier descent, our vehicle awaited us with ice-cold drinks and we waved our new ranger friends goodbye as we set forth into the Mara Triangle, knowing exactly which way to go to find the magnificent herd of ellies we had spied from above.

Filed under: The Mara

Tagged with:

Angama Safari Camp , Mara Conservancy , Mara Triangle , Walking Safari

About: Charlotte Ross Stewart

Charlotte may be the youngest member of the team, but she is a storyteller wise beyond her years. Tasked with sharing the stories that flow out of Angama on social media, blogs and beyond, her love of people, literature and nature make this the perfect role for her.

Browse all articles by Charlotte Ross Stewart Meet the angama team

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