Review by Mary & John Spencer
We have recently returned from an amazing fortnight with Adventure Alternative on Mount Kenya and on safari 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 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 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.
Review by Stephen Fletcher
I've been travelling with the Adventure Alternative team for 8 years and the experience keeps getting better. Tanzania for Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Toubkal in Morocco and now 5 times visiting Kenya.
During our visit to Kenya in August 2016 we were treated like royalty since the moment we landed and were well looked after by Kelly, Eva, Beatrice, John and OT. The Adventure Alternative Kenya team are first class and made us feel like family. They put so much work into organising a trip for a team of 25 although I know they can cater for larger groups. Everything ran like clockwork from the pick-up, arriving at camp, safari and activities with the children. Even when things didn't go to plan the team knew what to do and we felt safe at all times. On our way back to the airport a tyre blow out didnâ€™t stop anyone with OT jumping into his superman cape (his work overalls) and getting the job done with help from Kelly and John.
Not only do the team organise everything for a great practical experience they also prepare for emergency situations, help advise on interaction with the local community and best practices for building, construction, outreach and travel from village to village.
Once again we had an illness free trip which is testament to the great cooking by Eva and Beatrice and John ensuring we were well washed and catered for at camp. At each meal time it was a race to see what new meal experience had been prepared, it was great to try many local dishes. As the trip organiser there was a lot of pressure on me to take a team of 25 (including half a dozen children) but the Adventure Alternative Kenya team made it so easy. With no hotels near our project area the team set-up a camp site with tents, showers, toilets and cooking facilities; we were well catered for both during the day and slept warm and comfortably during the night.
Our trip finished with Safari to Ol Pejeta. The Adventure Alternative team are also experienced Safari guides with their own vehicles and trucks to get you into position to see the Lions and Rhino.
The preparation by the team before we arrived was very evident as everything ran smoothly. It is easy the respect held for the AA Team by the local Kenyan people. Their professionalism, all round good manners and ability to trust them 100% in their homes, with their vehicles and staff is something to be very proud off.
I cannot speak highly enough of the Adventure Alternative team both here in the UK and Kenya. From their professionalism, experience, safety awareness and friendship I would recommend them to anyone. You will not regret travelling with Adventure Alternative.
Review by Kay Finnegan
I travelled to Kenya in September 2016 with Adventure Alternative and Moving Mountains Trust for a 2 week trip of a lifetime. Twelve of us volunteered our time to work on a projects in Embu on the southern slopes of Mount Kenya. Two of our members administered 1000 typhoid vaccinations to people over a two day period. We worked in the rescue centre which provides meals on a daily basis for the street children as well as providing free education classes, toilets & washing facilities & a safe & welcoming environment where the kids can receive advice, encouragement, support & medical help. We also worked in slum schools in the area (Embu County Primary & Urban Primary) painting classrooms, which was the most humbling & rewarding experience of my life, as it gave us a chance to see how children & young people from incredibly difficult backgrounds live & work.
Our trip to Kenya was fully supported with a very special and incredibly lively team of experienced Adventure Alternative and Moving Mountains staff (many of whom are former street children and beneficiaries of Moving Mountains). This team are an incredible bunch of friendly, hard working, talented individuals who I regard asf riends for life,
The team of staff who looked after us for two weeks are;
Joseph Mungai who took us to see life in Kibera (slum in Nairobi).
Gilbert Njeru who is always smiling very friendly and helpful.
Eva Muronji & Beatrice Muthoni who headed up the kitchen and looked after all our food in Kenya, food was absolutely superb , both so lovely friendly & helpful.
Francis Kioni was the project manager & head of the "Community Development Team", he was always there to help on a range of matters, very friendly & helpful.
Jackson Otieno, who everyone calls O.T. Drove us around in a converted overland safari truck. He is a fantastic & reliable driver who we had many a laugh with.
Julius Macharia, was always there night or day, such a helpful & most caring person.
Alex Gathee and Ibra Ali who are members of the community development team were with us throughout the two weeks and John Akibare, Benson Muriithi and Edwin Kimani were with us the first week working in Embu County Primary. These guys were so lovely & worked very hard & long hours.
All these people have a long standing relationship with Adventure Alternative and Moving Mountains and it was fantastic to work with them and get the feeling of being involved with a "family", they make quite a team & we were in very good hands throughout the trip.
Thank you all & I hope I didn't forget anyone, I really enjoyed my trip to Kenya, it was "life changing". And I hope to return in 2018.
After the volunteering we travelled overland on safari, & experienced some more of Kenya's diverse culture & abundant wildlife at the world famous Treetops Lodge in the Aberdares National Park and around Lake Naivasha, in Hells Gate National Park and in the Suswa Conservancy in the Great Rift Valley..
I returned home with a true appreciation for life in Africa and a great insight into how I believe developmental aid should work.