I Travel to Live

On April 14th, I turned 26. I was away on a “work trip” (if I can call it that) taking cyclists on a 3-day Mt Kenya Bike Tour with Baiskeli Adventures. The day wasn’t in any way spectacular though it also marked the second year of Baiskeli Adventures‘ existence. A couple of days later, I set off on a 7-day, “self-discovery” trip. Before you look at me like I’m some Buddhist (though my name might as well allow me), listen.

Cycling to Ngare Ndare Forest on the 3-day Mt. Kenya Bike Tour | Photo by Alberto

You know how once you hit 25, everything starts spiraling out of control. Too fast. Time flies faster. Some friends are getting married or buying plots and you’re there trying to catch your breath. You start re-evaluating the past quarter century you have spent on this earth, the sacks of maize you have consumed in ugali. Or the kilos of wheat flour you have devoured in chapatis. And you wonder, was it all worth it? Am I happy on this path?

I had spent a huge part of the year doing just that, not that I have stopped now. And all through my series of thoughts one thing stood out firmly: I am Free. I am Free to do whatever I please. I am free to be whoever I want to be and go wherever, whenever. I need not conform to anything, it has never been my best suit anyway. So I spread my “chicken” wings and hoped to fly.

It was one evening as I came back home by matatu that the idea of going on a long trip came to mind. Well, it wasn’t the first time the thought had crept in but it’s the first time I was absolutely certain I was going to make it happen. Yes, I travel a lot, mostly by bike. But most of that is often work related. This had to be different. This had to be more personal than Baiskeli related. So I packed a bag with my camera and a few toiletries.

Next morning, I hit the road. I wore only one t-shirt and shorts for the next 7 days since I had carried no changing clothes (knowingly). I wanted the rarest and simplest experience I could ever get. One driven by my instinct and spirit of adventure rather than a plan. And I got it, in heap loads!!

Kisumu, Kiboko Bay, Riat Hill, Mamboleo Cemetery, Nandi Hills, Wath Orego, Kibos, Bondo, Usenge, Lake SareGot Ramogi Forest, Yala Swamp, Lake Kanyaboli, Mbita, Mfangano Island and Takawiri Island; I visited and saw it all. I woke up early to watch the sunrise at Usenge hill, watched as fishermen cast their nets on Lake Victoria, wrote a bike travel article for Nomad Magazine while sitting on the black sandy Sena beach, made friends with motorbike “drivers”, boat owners, ferry operators, women and children of all kinds. Life was simple. Life can be simple. Life is simple.

The evening boats at dusk on Lake Victoria, Usenge
Sunrises over Usenge and Lake Victoria
Silhouette on Usenge Hill
Postcard from Governor’s Camp, Mfangano Island
With Ochieng’, the 11 year old boy who guided me through Got Ramogi Forest
The newly built bridge connecting Mbita mainland and Rusinga Island
Ferry ride
The Rocky edges of Nandi Hills

I came back home feeling elated from the experience. But as always, I sank back into the normal state of affairs at home, which kinda sucks the energy out of me. I’m actually considering going homeless for a few months to wander a whole lot more, but that’s a story for another day. I managed to visit the KICC helped for the first time since I started dreaming about it 3 years ago. And even though it was amazing being up there, I wasn’t fully satiated.

The view of Nairobi city from the top of KICC

I needed new horizons. I needed more adventures, I always do. I feed off of experiences that create long lasting memories. Mt. Suswa, Hells Gate and Lake Elementaita came to my rescue. A night in a manyatta, camping by the rim of Mt Suswa crater, climbing to Lake Viewpoint in Hell’s Gate (it’s a bruuuuutal climb!), wheezing down to Lake Elementaita and meeting Skipper the dog; I brought life back into my being one more time.

Here’s a short video of my escapades, alone and with some guys (Baiskeli Adventurers). Little cycling is involved but a lot of memories were made.

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