Upon arrival at the foot of the mountain, we enjoyed lunch right under the blazing sun. The biscuits and bread helped us get recharged before actually starting the climb. Afterwards, we met our hiking guide Peter and started our journey to the top.
Due to the sandy road surface, our each and every step brought sand particles up in the air. Therefore after the hike, all of our skin and clothing were covered by sand. Moreover, the gradient of the route we were taking was quite high, making it quite a physical challenge to some of us. Nevertheless, it was all worth it as the scenery at the peak was extremely spectacular as we can overlook fields miles across. Not only was this hike my first outside of Hong Kong, it also allowed me to learn more about the ecological succession in volcanic landforms. Hence it was particularly meaningful to me.
In addition, I learnt more about the livelihood of Kenyans through speaking with Peter. He seems to be in his early twenties and is very skillful when it came to hiking the mountain. While we were gasping for air, he seldom panted. Though he seems to enjoy his job for the time being, he said that earning only 5,000 Kenyan Shilling per month makes it quite difficult to support his daily necessities. He also shared with us that the peak season is only three months short between June to August.
His words really shocked me as his income is seriously quite low compared to the physical output and effort required. It gave me concrete data to understand how poor and unfortunate this group of Kenyans is. Although he does contribute to the country’s ecotourism development, his efforts are not recognized at all.
In terms of the facilities in this ecotourism hotspot, I personally think that it is acceptable while more improvements in the future can attract more tourists to facilitate better development.
Though the hike today was quite demanding to me, I still enjoyed every part of it as this unique experience provided me with another precious opportunity to learn more about the ecology of another landform present in Kenya while also letting me understand what ecotourism brings to the local community.