Review by Mary Spencer
We have recently returned from an amazing fortnight with Adventure Alternative on Mount Kenya and are so grateful for all the various and unforgettable experiences it provided.
We ascended on the Naro Moru route and at 7am on the fourth day we, and our fellow trekker Andy, made it to Point Lenana! Hurray! Sadly we weren't rewarded by wonderful views of sunrise over the plains of Kenya but the mists and gleaming icy rocks made for some very atmospheric photos. We descended on the Chogoria route and within three quarters of an hour were looking back to a frosty white summit clearly standing out against a brilliant blue sky!
Both routes had stunning scenery as you passed through the different zones, past cabbage goundsel and giant tree groundsel, past tarns and lakes and the cliffs of the Temple. We saw sunbirds on our way to Mackinders Hut, chestnut-winged starlings at Mackinders (4200m) and seedeaters at Minto's Hut (4300m) on our way down; lots of friendly rock hyrax popped out to say hello at various places as did the odd chameleon lower down.
We felt a great sense of achievement on reaching the summit but knew we could never have managed it without your wonderful team. The strong and smiling porters! After we set off each morning they packed up our tents, carried them, and everything else, yet still overtook us on the way up and had the tents all set up again before we arrived at the next camp! Apparently mine was the heaviest rucksack so a special thanks to James! They never seemed tired and were always cheerful and happy and on the last night at Meru bandas they even sang and danced for us! The excellent cook Ephriam and his assistant made three great meals a day including hot breakfasts and very tasty soups and stews which kept us going when the going was tough – ie most of the time. And they never forgot the table cloth – in spite of the fact that mostly there was no table, just a conveniently-placed large rock. And of course Cyrus our wonderful and witty Guide, endlessly cheerful and encouraging and also very professional. He seemed to know exactly what pace was right for us (slow or very slow!) and thanks to him we made it to the top without suffering any effects of altitude at all.
The second week we visited some of the Moving Mountains projects such as the Rescue Centre for Street Children in Embu town where we helped the amazing Lilian serve the beans and maize she had spent all morning cooking in the largest pot I had ever seen over a smokey wood fire that stung my eyes and soon had me running out of the kitchen. We also visited the Tigithi Primary and Secondary Schools, near Naro Moru, which many of the porters' children attend. Instead of a few poor wooden huts Moving Mountains have now built proper classrooms for each year group and a brand-new laboratory - although as yet containing only a few benches! We were shown around by Francis (Kioni) the lovely and enthusiastic manager of the Moving Mountains work team, and Cyrus (our mountain guide) who introduced us to his son Brian, a pupil in the primary department.
The rest of the week was spent visiting the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Hells Gate National Park and the Suswa Conservancy, home to Masai. Moses was our both our driver and cook and Kelly was our guide and Moses' helper – so they were both pretty busy! Moses saw the funny side of everything and told great tales! And his cooking was so good he christened his kitchen the Sheraton! Kelly was also full of fun and enthusiasm for all activities. We cycled through Hells Gate on hired bikes, walked down and through the gorge and when we came to a volcanic pillar set up with ropes I could see he was so keen to climb it that I agreed to join him! Kelly was also very knowledgeable about everywhere we visited and everything we saw – as well as anything to do with football. Much to John's delight he supported Man U - and he'd grown up with Victor Wanyama !!
What an amazing and varied fortnight – I doubt that any other company could have given us so many different experiences with such wonderful and unforgettable people.
Testimonial by Shanni Collins
Hi Andy and Gavin and all, Happy New Year to you.
I want to say THANK YOU. Our trip to Kenya, going to the Moving Mountains Projects, visiting the Street kids Project and climbing the mountain has been one of the most memorable and transformation times of my life. The people we met along the way, Kelly (what a star), he was intelligent, reliable, funny, sincere and a pleasure to get to know. He told us so much about the project, the country, you all, the story of how he met Gavin and has so much knowledge to share.
The staff at BlueLine were so great. Friendly, fun and loveable. Kioni - what a lovely man. He took us to the school project and showed us round with great detail and sensitivity. Cyrus (seriously) :-) - The Mountain Man with his mountain medicine. He was gentle, really funny, welcoming, re-assuring and again, really made me laugh. All the porters, I do know lots of their names, David, Richard, Elijah, Wilson the fabulous cook and the others which I know their faces so well, but I think the altitude affected my memory. Gilbert and Purity - again, kind, funny, reliable, knowledgeable and welcoming. I was moved, challenged, and humbled by the humanity and kindness we experienced. I laughed so much and felt like I made friends.
The mountain was spectacular and unforgiving and majestic and I summited on my birthday - New Years Day at 6am with Cyrus. You probably heard that Sam suffered quite a lot from the altitude, however managed to get the Austrian Hut, and then we hooked up for breakfast (totally knackered! :-D) We are both very grateful for all the input and thought gone into our trip. I have experienced travel with several organisations, but nothing like this. So personal and with integrity too. So thanks to you too.
All the best and I will let people know about Adventure Alternative and the Moving Mountains Charity. With Gratitude, Shanni