The planning had been done, it was now time to get on the road. We were to meet in town by 8.00AM and be on our way by 8.30AM. The bus was there earlier than even the scheduled time, by 7.00AM. A good number of the guys arrived in time, we were almost all in number as the departure time reached. Remember that article about ‘Why Do You Travel?’, well as usual we had ‘the other guy’ on board. They had not arrived fifteen minutes after the departure time had gone by. 30 minutes, 40 minutes…we were getting impatient. As we were just about to give up and head off, they arrived. Guys who had kept time were not happy, it was not fair. It was going to be a long day.
We left Nairobi around 9.30AM, heading towards Lang’ata then Rongai as we went deeper into Kajiado County. We had a stopover at Nkoroi to pick one person before proceeding with our journey. The view on this part of the world is majestic, the narrow road meandering between the Ngong Hills and the Ol Donyo hills. It is an eye-opening experience that there is also the rift valley viewpoints on these side, especially if you are used to only the one on Nairobi-Nakuru highway. The land is however not as green as these area falls on the leeward side of the Ngong Hills (remember your Geography?). Endless plains of dry land with spots of grass, rocks and acacia trees. Our first stopover was somewhere near the famous Ole Polos. People actually drive all the way to that place for nyama choma? Wow! The view at this place is unrivalled though, very scenic. After a 20 minute break, we were on the road again. Our next spot was to be Magadi. The road is not one to write about. Actually it is not fit enough to be called a road. It is said the Magadi Soda Company used to manage it all the way from Rongai to Magadi, but have since abandoned this since they mostly use the rail to transport their goods and workers. The executives use air, there is an airstrip in Magadi. And if it’s mandatory to use the road, they have 4x4s. So a precaution if you ever decide to head there, buy a 4×4…hehe! (or hire a good tour van/bus with proper shock absorbers)
The heat as you approach Lake Magadi area is unbearable. You start sweating as far as 80KM away, so carry water to be safe (a lot of it). Soda, energy drinks, beer cans or any other cans are useless if you do not have a cooler with you. They will be hot by the time you are in Magadi. We approached the lake from the eastern side via the Magadi town and past the Magadi Soda factory. There is a gate before you enter the town, you need to sign in and state your reason for the visit. We were then given directions to the Magadi Swimming club, where we were to pay the entrance fees and get a guide. We got lost and went to the wrong member’s club, but finally made it to the club. I must say, it is a totally different world from the rest of Lake Magadi area. The place is green, with a swimming pool, tennis courts and very cool temperature.
Guys walked around and stretched their feet as the entrance fee was paid and a guide was sought. It was now around 1.00PM, and the journey was not yet over. We thought the hot springs could not be that far off, we were wrong. Took us another one hour to get there, driving through what used to be a golf course (Someone had been nuts when deciding on setting this in such an area), the airstrip and some specific marked tracks in the middle of the lake. It was the dry season, so driving on the lake was allowed. It is however not allowed during the rainy season, the lake gets wet and one may sink. The heat temperature at this time was probably 70C, so hot.
The hot springs are not as big as most of us had imagined, it was a fairly sizeable part. Most of us were expecting a Lake Bogoria kind of hot springs. This was smaller, and not as hot. You would not think of putting your finger, leave alone your leg, into the Lake Bogoria waters. You could swim in the Lake Magadi hotsprings waters. It was encouraged by the local maasais around, “Hiyo ni dawa ya ngozi na mwili” they said. A few brave souls jumped in, but most guys just dipped their feet and took pictures. We were there for an hour or two before our bellies noticed we had not fed since morning, and we had to head back to the swimming club for lunch, but not before people purchased ornaments from the maasai women who had formed a mini market as we were in the water. There was a stopover for photos on our way back when we noticed a zebra, another stop when we saw flamingos wading on the lake and lastly when we spotted some gazelles grazing.
At the swimming club we had lunch while getting to know each other, others getting drinks from the bar. Nobody needed a swim, we were tired. It was already 5.00PM by the time we were done. Our journey back had to commence. We left Magadi at around 6.00PM, that long journey back to be conquered. We arrived in Nairobi at around 10.00PM, tired but happy to have cleared one destination off our lists.
- You will not be able to see a lot of wildlife in Magadi due to the hot weather.
- The road is not in a good state, you need a vehicle with good shock absorbers. Also leave early is it is a one-day trip.
- The entrance fee is 500Ksh pp, the guide fee is 1000Ksh.
- The average cost of a meal at the Magadi swimming club is 350Ksh per plate.
PS: “Hiyo ni dawa ya ngozi na mwili” – Kiswahili for “It (the hot water) treats the skin and body”.
If you are planning a trip to Lake Magadi and need more information, please contact Karigo Benard through: Cel: 0717 999 228 / 0727 075 986, Ex: 020 6999 204, Facebook www.facebook.com/magadiadventure or website www.lakemagadi.com.