The video above offers a glimpse of my dream trip from The Active Holiday Company - Multi Active Kenya. The 11 day trip includes rafting at River Tana, trekking to Mount Kenya and safaris at Lake Nakuru National Park and Masai Mara Game Reserve. An adrenalin-filled journey through the forests and primitive wilderness of Africa is a long-cherished dream. This relatively untouched continent symbolises nature in all her uncivilised, untamed beauty for me. I remember this time when I had trekked to Tungareshwar temple on the outskirts of Mumbai city with my parents, just after the monsoons. Sitting there atop the mountain, with acres of green forest beneath me, I felt like I was the world and the world was me. Some core element of my being seemed to reach out to that silent wilderness and find that, they fit perfectly together. That feeling of peaceful, detached and expansive perfection is what I seek to magnify and recapture on a visit to the Savannahs of East Africa.
Take me back to where I came from
Where wilderness finds free expression
And lions roam with their mightiness unclipped
Where man's invasive hands have been swatted away
And majestic cheetahs have their haughty way
Where dawn's golden rays reach the earth, unhindered
And the world's original splendour
Purifies beast and all.
Now, my idea of travelling has never been to book myself at a four-star resort and the laze the days away by an indoor pool. I like to discover new places all the time, pack in several in a single day and push myself to the point of exhaustion, in my quest for hidden secrets and breathtaking sights and quaint communities. The Active Holiday Company is a tour operator that caters to travellers like me and if you're also the exploring, active kind, you will love the kind of tours they have on offer. There are cycling tours, marathons, polar expeditions, wildlife safaris and aqua adventures to choose from. So let me take you through my dream trip - Multi Active Kenya - Rafting, Trekking and Safari (11 Days).
Here's a quiz you might want to take, before you embark on this journey with me:
1. I'm an outdoors person.
A. Yes B. No C. Maybe
2. I prefer forests and mountains over beaches.
A. Yes B. No C. Maybe
3. I'm comfortable with mountainous terrain and rivers.
A. Yes B. No C. Maybe
4. I can name most wild animals and birds.
A. Yes B. No C. Maybe
5. I enjoy camping.
A. Yes B. No C. Maybe
Answered 'yes' to most of the questions? Then, read on. Else, hop over to http://www.activeholidaycompany.com/ and find something that's more up your street. :)
The diary of a traveller on the Multi Active Kenya trip...
I arrived at Nairobi airport, armed with my rucksack and a truckload of enthusiasm and excitement. A friendly representative from The Active Holiday Company received me at the arrivals lounge and my journey of a lifetime began.
I was up at the unearthly hour at 5 AM but I didn't even need an alarm because I was so excited! I had a scrumptious breakfast with my co-travellers and at 6:45 AM, our driver plus guide took us to the small Kenyan town of Sagana, known for its river rafting camps. It was an hour and a half's drive to River Tana, where I'd be having my first ever white water rafting experience.
We reached the base camp and just like in an airplane, a safety briefing happened with the only difference being that here we had to wear all the gear beforehand, rather than waiting for a mishap to occur. The possibility of slight risk only heightened the adrenalin rushing through me. A ten minute drive later, we were on the water. It was simply incredible being so close to the water and braving the rapids with the sound of the water in my ears and the forest wind sweeping past my face and hair.
I was amazed when our guide said we could swim during the minor rapids! That was one time when I was supremely grateful for never having missed my swimming lessons when I was younger. But nothing prepared us for the 'spasm' - a succession of stunning drops over nearly a kilometre-long stretch. I was scared and I was also exhilarated. I do believe my soul sang out loud when the raft plunged through those rapids and misty white water fell in huge sheets all around me. I was totally famished by the end of the experience and was glad to return to our camp for a delicious barbeque lunch.
I wanted to ask the days to slow down because I'd never had so much fun in my life! But all too soon, it was time to get our trekking kits sorted and then drive to Sirimon Park where we would begin our ascent up the famous Kenyan mountain.
We began with quite an easy and pleasant trek in the forest, which would take us to Old Moses camp. The helpful guide said that this was to help us acclimatize to the altitude and surroundings. Everything was breathtakingly beautiful and all the colours from the blue of the sky to the green of the grass, seemed deeper than ever before.
I woke up to the most spectacular sunrise of my life, up in those lofty, primitive mountains. Later, walking up the Sirimon Track to Likii North Valley, my mind was absolutely blank as I allowed nature to work her magic on me.
That night, we slept in tents set up at Likii North Valley, 3990, high up Mt Kenya. The valley was picture perfect, with its view of the snow-tipped peaks of Teleki and Sendeyo, between which it was nestled. Over a bonfire, our guide told us that they used to serve as vents to the main peaks.
Today, we climbed up to 4300m and my limbs were starting to feel the effects of the trek. But the surroundings and the nightly silence were so rejuvenating that there was no other place I'd have rather been. We left Likii Valley behind and made our way to the broad Mackinder's Valley.
We camped right at the top of the valley, below the Batian and Nelion peaks. The deep blue sky provided a wonderful contrast against the russet coloured mountains towering around us. I wondered if our footfalls disturbed their peace but perhaps, they enjoyed the intermittent company. At night, we camped at the Shiptons camp, which was quite comfortable.
I don't think I've ever woken up this early in my life. Long before the sun had time to peep between the inky clouds of the night sky, we had embarked on our journey to Pt Lenana (4985m), the third highest peak of Mt Kenya. We walked for a good four hours to the summit and then began our descent down Teleki Valley. The valley was picturesque and I paused a few times, to click mental photographs and preserve the scenes in my heart for posterity.
It was time to say goodbye to Mt Kenya, though not to the African hinterland. With a lot of good memories and revitalised spirits, we began our descent down the mountain and returned to our lodge at night.
This was the part I'd been most looking forward to - wildlife safaris to Lake Nakuru National Park and the Masai Mara Game Reserves. After a hectic week of rafting and trekking, we could now sit back and enjoy the feral delights of East Africa. After having breakfast, we drove past the northern part of the Aberdare Mountains and made our way down Rift Valley. On our way, we caught wonderful glimpses of the serene Lake Nakuru.
The previous day's safari had left me completely awed. But what lay ahead was even more awe-inspiring. After breakfast, we left for the Masai Mara Game Reserve, where we would be able to see wild animals in their natural avatar - completely uncensored. Until now, the kinds of phenomena I had only seen on television such as lions roaring, cheetahs chasing their prey, wildebeest migrating and elephants trumpeting so loudly that they send the birds aflutter - all these would now be visible in their unfettered ferocity.
We spent the day roaming around the reserve and driving down secret trails in our quest for the famed members of the Big Five (African lion, Cape buffalo, African elephant, African leopard and black/white rhinoceros). We were also privileged to see the Masai people in their traditional costumes and interact with them briefly. Seeing the quiet happiness of these tribes made me wonder about the correlation between riches and mental satisfaction. Perhaps, we had it all wrong.
We took our last look at wild heart of the African continent and left for Nairobi. I picked up some souvenirs for friends and family back home and with a smile on my face, I bid goodbye to the country that had filled my mind and soul with so much beauty.
Take me for an intrepid tour, Active Holiday Company. And the wildness in my soul shall also roam freely.
All photos in this post are licensed under Creative Commons. This post has been written for The Active Holiday Company's Intrepid tour to Thailand campaign.