Kiou & Kalembwani Explore

My hiking buddies and I were absolutely elated about this hike as it was going to test our endurance. Being the first major hike we were attempting since March, our excitement levels were at the roof. It would also be the first time we were hiking with Hikemaniak. The drive to Kilome in Makueni County was approximately 2 hours from Nairobi; commencing around 6 a.m.

By the time we started the ascent, the sun was magnificently genial. It was going to be a hot day but nothing would wipe away our smiles. We all had our masks on-embracing the new hiking normal. The rocks were unrelenting, the sun steaming, dry bushes and grass pricked on our skin as sweat spiraled down. The terrain was unfriendly. Possibly because the trails had been abandoned for a while.

Despite the scorching sun, we had summit Kiou Hill by around 11 a.m.. We had a long way to go and the descent would not be easy judging by the landscape.

The Kiou summit where paragliding in Makueni normally takes off from.
At the Kiou Hill summit.
The perfectly formed rocks along which a river flows during the rainy seasons.
The dry riverbeds tell a story of drought and erosion … the paradox.
There were wet patches along the sandy riverbeds painted by hoof marks
Enjoying the descent.

We walked along the dry riverbed that snaked towards civilization. We exited close to our starting point and crossed the Mombasa-Nairobi highway towards Mt. Kalembwani. According to Kiprono’s Relive, it took us 5h 9m covering 10.4km.

Kiou Hill

We had our socially distanced lunch before attempting Mt. Kalembwani. It was possibly 28 degrees but felt like 35! Do not attempt this hike in the wrong attire-and do not forget your hat.

Our socially distanced lunch

The weather was super hot as we strolled towards Kalembwani; heat was bouncing from the already heated ground. From a distance, it seemed as though it would be an easy climb. The terrain was unfriendly and the sun unforgiving. I kept hydrating and slowly scaled the hill, never stopping. In about one and a half hours, we had summit.

My hiking buddy Nzilani and I with Kalembwani in the distance

During the descent, I had an encounter with a snake. I hate and fear snakes in equal measure and I do not mean to scare anybody. I’m highlighting this so that y’all are watchful during your hikes. It was a steep descent and due to the loose rocks, sliding and falling was quite easy. I slide. The snake must have been living it’s best life and enjoying the hot sun. It was startled. I caught a glimpse of it’s mid to tail as it slithered through the stones. I was terrified as I ran in the opposite direction screaming like a mad woman. Moral of the story, watch your step as you hike.

The complete Mt. Kalembwani trip took us (according to Kiprono’s Relive) 2h 47m, covering 6.2km. We took off for Nairobi by 4:45 p.m. and was home by 8:00 p.m., well ahead of looming 9:00 p.m. curfew :-).

Mt. Kalembwani

Tips to hikers: have your long sleeved tops and cargo pants, proper hiking boots, don’t forget your sun screen, hat, change of clothes-for after the hike, enough water (3 or 4 litres should do).

I have borrowed some of my photos from my friend Mbuthia-thank you sir for the amazing landscape images and from the Hikemaniak professional photographers. Kiprono, thank you for allowing me to use your Relive compilations.

Njoki.

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