Last Sunday, my spouse and I decided to go on a hike. We had met a group of fellow hikers through a facebook group and we arranged to meet at 7 a.m. in the parking lot of the mall next door to our apartment.
By 7:10, we had squeezed into a mini van for the drive to Mt. Longonot. On the drive we saw zebras, giraffes, cows, sheep, goats, and dikdik (a super small antelope). We even saw Massai herding their cattle.
I would have taken more pictures to share with you, but this was my view.
Meanwhile, the mountain loomed in the distance, until suddenly it was next to us. Then it was behind us. Our driver decided to turn on to an unmarked dusty path that looked like it went in the general direction of the mountain. Then our driver realized that we were going the wrong way, so he headed back out to the paved road.
We continued to drive away from Mt. Longonot in search of the entrance to the mountain. It made no sense, but we didn’t know what else to do.
We turned on to another dirt path, this one had a small sign that said “Mt. Longonot”. We drove for a while, then stopped at a fork in the road and asked a van filled with members of a Kenyan running club which way to go. The van driver pointed left. We went left. We saw another sign, promising that the gate to Mt. Longonot was 800 meters away. Hurray!
Several kilometers later we were off-roading in our minivan. We re-traced our steps and ended up at a guard station. By this time, we had been driving for close to three hours, so we stopped for a minute. We peed in the bushes, and ate some snacks while our driver talked to the guards.
The guards got on their walkie-talkies and told us that if we continued down a specific dirt path, we would end up at a ranger station and could get a ranger to show us where to go.
So we piled back into the van and continued on our merry way.
We ended up at another guard station. These guards told us that we were on private property and that we would have to pay them a small bribe before they would let us on to the public land. The Chinese woman in our group was comfortable with the bribing situation. It’s just like in China, she said. The rest of us were not so comfortable. Plus, we reasoned, we could not possibly be on private land, there had been no sign! And even if we were, how could they charge us to drive onto public land?
Our driver worked his magic and eventually one of the guards opened the gate, sans bribe. We drove on. A sign on the other side of the fence informed us that indeed, we had been driving on private property. Oops.
Mt. Longonot seemed so close, and yet so far.