As I write this am on my bed in my bedsitter but I prefer referring to it as a studio apartment. What’s with people hating on people who live in bedsitters? We all started somewhere right? Anyway this is about some trip I took to Loitoktok about six months ago. This is kind of a throwback story.
A little a while back I went on this trip while in campus. My major had this unit called studio where we would take these trips to certain towns in the country for a whole six days to undertake research on a given topic based on an aspect of that town.This time round I didn’t feel like going for this but it just turns out that it is a mandatory trip and constitutes 80% of the final grade… mind you this was my last semester in campus. The research topic for this trip was to study the changes in the wildlife migratory corridors in the Amboseli ecosystem. According to school policy you are given four hundred shilling per day that is to cater for three meals a day plus accommodation. It’s not funny!
First day we set out from Nairobi to Loitoktok but due to logistics we had to sleep at Isinya in Kajiado county, a few kilometers from Kitengela town. On such school trips, the most important part is to find cheap accommodation. Prior to this trip, I had thought that I would never ever have to sleep in a lodge considering the kind of activities that take place there. But being a student with a four hundred shilling budget doesn’t really afford you five star accommodation with room service, does it? There were the typical lodges with worn out slippers that have been under their fair share of feet. The ones with grimy dirty bathrooms and not so clean smelling blankets. One look at the bed and your skins crawls. Then there were guest houses that were cleaner, but most were Christian managed. These, however, didn’t allow people of the opposite sex to sleep in the same single room. To survive such trips on such a small budget you partner up with a friend and share a room. So on the first day my ‘partner’ ditches me to go share a room with four other girls that I can’t, just cannot even begin to think about, staying with. There I am with no partner and not willing to pay a thousand bob for a room. I end up sharing a bed with two other girls, thank God it was a king size bed.
Accommodation secured next agenda was to find food and a good watering hole, not so hard. Fast forward to the next day when we head to Loitoktok. We leave Isinya at around 1pm and arrived slightly past 6.30PM. We set out to find to find accommodation and luckily this time my ‘partner’ is back to her senses. You can find decent accommodation at about five hundred shillings a night. According to the locals you can catch a glimpse of the snow caped peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro. Even though am not a morning person I was up at six in the morning and from the balcony of the guest house I was able to feast my eyes on the majestic beauty. Seeing snow for the first time is big deal!
Next day the work begins as we get to Amboseli national park, our main area of study and one of the major tourist attraction in the area. Amboseli is approximately 20KM from Loitoktok town. It was really hot and dusty owing to the fact that it was during the dry season. We spotted a couple of monkeys and zebras. Well, the others did that as I spent most of the time asleep at the back of the bus. We were told the other animals had migrated due to the dry season.
Loitoktok being a small town does not really offer a great array of eatery joints. If you are a foodie, sad to break it to you, but you will definitely not find foods to instagram and snapchat about. The food we had mostly during the trip was wet fry (fried beef) and ugali, nyama choma and karanga chapo. One of my favourite meals was breakfast, the tea was on point. One evening we got to visit a little town called Tarakea on the border of Kenya and Tanzania. One takes a taxi for about Ksh.150 to the border and then you cross over on foot. There is a small restaurant there that serves some really good chicken and ugali. There are also traders there ready to help you change your currency. My bill for a soda, chicken and ugali came to about TzSh.4000. I was rich over there, or so I thought. I didn’t get to experience much of the night life there but one night we went to some wooden joint where the music played is from the bartender’s laptop. We downed a few chilled Kilimanjaro beers and Konyagi while listening to some reggae music. It was a good night!
On the second last day of the trip, we went to Taita Taveta to see a small crater lake called lake Chala. The climb up the hill wasn’t easy with thickets and thorny trees on our way. The sun was also damn too hot. It was however worthwhile getting to the top, the lake is breath taking to say the least. Getting down the hill was a nightmare because of the steepness. Thank God for some gentlemen I got down safely otherwise I would have done that on all fours. That day we crossed over to Tanzania again on the Taita side to a town called Holili. One thing I will remember about Holili is the mishikaki (Nairobians, you should try this) we had there and the cold refreshing fanta passion.
In summary it was a nice experience. Just a reminder, it’s super cold this night over there. If you are planning to visit, carry heavy pajamas or a snuggle buddy. I caught a really nasty flu due to the lack of any of the above.
By Samantha Nas