Monday, December 12, 2011

Bull Fighting in Kakamega

There’s much to see and do in Western Kenya. One is bull fighting. Bull fighting in Western Kenya takes place among the Idakho people, which is a sub tribe of the larger Luhya community. It involves two bulls taking on each other, with thousands of spectators cheering on, and blowing traditional horns.

The bulls are prepared adequately for the occasion, having been fed adequately and prevented from mating heifers. Before the D-day, they are fed with traditional beer, and mixtures of other ingredients and substances, to provoke them. The owners also keep them under tight watch to avoid rivals from “casting evil spells”.

They are then led to the field to counter each other. The battle lasts from 4 to 30 minutes and the losing one flees. This poses danger to the on looking spectators as the run-away bull can heavily injure someone as it flees. The owner of the winning bull receives a cash price. Later on, celebrations are done with locals enjoying the local traditional brew.

Other spectacles to enjoy around Western Kenya include the Kakamega Forest Reserve, which is host to various species of butterflies, birds, monkeys, snakes and other reptiles.

There are also the crying Stones which were used by the community for religious ceremonies. The Lwanda Magere stone in Western Kenya is found along the Chemelil-Nandi Road. It is believed that the body of the legendary Luo warrior Lwanda Magere turned into a rock when a spear pierced his shadow during battle.

Such would be nice places to visit while on a family safari in Kenya. It would also give you some pleasure to enjoy a balloon ride in Kenya, probably to the Masai Mara, where you could watch lots of wildlife from a bird’s eye view, and even the spectacular Wildebeest migration.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Where the Law of Gravity is defied

Ever heard of a place where water flows upwards by itself. Visit Kyamlo, a place in Eastern Kenya. My friends and I decided to visit this famous place near Machakos, about 60km from Nairobi. We set out from the hotel at 11am and drove to Kyamlo, which is located 15km on the Kangundo road off Machakos road. We passed various villages and shopping centers, spotting some fascinating traditional architectural designs and since it was on a Sunday morning, the local people were rushing to and from church service.

Halfway through, one passes the Machakos Golf club, a fine place for those with a thing for golf. After 30 minutes of driving we finally reached the particular point. I could not help keeping my anticipation at bay. We were met by some young men who hang around waiting for curious visitors and demonstrate to them what happens. First, one of them fetched some water and poured it on the road. To our amazement and disbelief, instead of it flowing downhill, it flows uphill. A friend of mine threw a soda can on the ground and it rolled upwards. Unbelievable! Right? But wait and read what happens next. A certain driver disengaged the gear from his car and lowered its hand brake. One could only gaze and utter words in disbelief as man followed his driverless machine up the hill.

While there, one can enjoy a fascinating aerial view of homesteads that are built down hill, a small forest nearby and a cool mountainous breeze. One can also do some rock climbing and pose for what could be spectacular photos. This would be a lovely place to visit, especially while on a safari from Mombasa.

By Wambui Gitau.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fun-day with reptiles

It’s such a spectacle to view a reptile at closer quarters. Probably even touch it. Imagine yourself on the banks of a crocodile infested river somewhere in the African wild. And you are standing 3ft from a fierce and menacing looking, 2m long crocodile. Well, that’s just about the experience, if you visit the Mamba Village. Located in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, Mamba village is home to scores of crocodiles, big and small, young and old. It is one of the places you must visit while on a Nairobi excursion.

Near the entrance, a caged pond hosts about 20 young ones. They lie around looking so innocent. It is just hard to believe that they will one day grow to be fierce killers, like we well know of our scaly counterparts. A guide jumps across the 1m high meshed wall into the cage and gets hold of one. He gets hold of it by both hands near the head and the tail. He then moves closer to the cage’s wall where tourists are watching and acts as if to throw the young crocodile at the crowd. People move back amidst fear and laughter. He then welcomes all to touch the reptile. Its skin is soft like a leather jacket. Not what you’d have had in mind. Its teeth are so minute, but still look dangerous. A saw of a kind. The guide explains that the 2ft long young one is 12 years old! You are left wondering how old the elder ones are.

We move on to a cage with bigger and older ones. There are over 20 in one cage alone. Another guide is explaining the difference between a crocodile and an alligator. An alligator has a wide snout which is U-shaped, while a crocodile has a long, narrow V-shaped snout. In addition, a crocodile’s teeth are always visible even with its mouth closed which is not the case with an alligator’s.

One just looks at the sight with a mixture of awe and excitement. One crocodile is submerged in water with only its snout and upper side of its head outside. Robert, my travel companion says it looks like a log. True enough. Others lie on the concrete floor, their eyes fixed into the distance. One can swear that they are lost in thought.

A sign board says that feeding time is at 4.30pm. It’s an hour till then. Too bad we have other places to go to and hence we’ll miss the show. We then take a walk around. There is a large pond and visitors are riding boats that are propelled by the act of cycling. It seems so much fun. We take photos by the pond. These are moments that have to go on record.

Next to the pond, there is a shop selling African Art. In the distance, there is a balloon tab and children are having fun in its shallow water. It’s time for us to leave. It was such a great time. We will definitely be coming back.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Holiday upcountry

Ever thought there’s very little to enjoy on a holiday in Kenya’s upcountry? Think again. Visit little known Kesses village, near Eldoret town, in North Rift Kenya. This is about 300km from Nairobi, Kenya’s capital. One diverts from the Eldoret-Nairobi highway to Kesses at Cheptiret, about 25km to Eldoret. The main economic activity here is farming.

The dam covers an area of nearly 3km squared. Its shores have an extensive growth of papyrus reeds. It is an eye catching scene, of vast clear waters with tiny waves. On the main side of the dam, there is a picnic site with well kept grass and several round wooden shelters with grass roofs. This presents a perfect spot to have lunch or some quiet time as you enjoy the breathtaking view.

To spice up your experience while there, you can enjoy a boat ride. The boats can carry a maximum of 30 people. However, it is necessary to wear a life jacket, especially if you do not know how to swim. The life jacket keeps you floating while in the water. Local tourists and residents like to take a plunge from the boats into the water. A swim here is an unforgettable experience as one tries to beat the current because the water flows slowly as it was built along river’s course.

There is also some fishing that takes place, though not on a large scale and at times sport fishing. On a lucky day, you can find some kayaking going on. At times kayaking competitions are held here.

Hotels where one can enjoy his or her time while in Eldoret include Hotel Sirikwa, Poa Place among others. Both of these have swimming pools, posh lodging facilities and ample parking space.