TRAVEL

All hail the North Pt1: Ngurunit and Ndoto mountains

If Turkana is the cradle of mankind, Ngurunit may have been the Garden of Eden

In Summary

• Northern Kenya offers one of the best places to see the stars and the Milky Way

Ngurunit and the surrounding Ndoto mountains on the border of Samburu and Marsabit counties
Ngurunit and the surrounding Ndoto mountains on the border of Samburu and Marsabit counties
Image: TEVIN MWENDA

After spending months held up in Nairobi due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I found myself in need of a long holiday; pandemic fatigue had really started taking its toll.

I, therefore, turned to social media to search for one. In my search, I came across a young man who runs a tour company by the name of Begin North Adventures that specialises in Northern Kenya tours. This is a place I had been meaning to travel to for a really long time, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

The journey to discover Marsabit county started at 4.30am on what would be a 10-hour journey to our first stop. Most of the trip was on the A2 tarmacked road that runs from Nairobi to Moyale. I must add the road happens to be one of the best ones to drive on in Kenya. Some of the famous stops on the road include the Timau wheat farms, Archers Post to see the Ewaso Nyiro River, and a photo op on the A2 with Mt Ololokwe in the background. At Loisamis, we left the A2 to join a rough road that would take us to our first stop, Ngurunit.

 
 

Located at the border of Samburu and Marsabit counties, the area is surrounded by one of the most dramatic mountain ranges I have ever seen, known as the Ndoto mountains. They form part of the Mathew ranges that are part of your journey from Isiolo town. My theory is if Turkana is the cradle of mankind, then Ngurunit may have been the Garden of Eden. The mountains, the forests, the drylands, the rivers which were a bit dry when we visited, everything just converges together at Ngurunit. It looks like a place out of James Cameroon’s Avatar movie or the Wakanda kingdom in the movie Black Panther.

We stayed at the Golobo Guest House, a nice little Inn located in Ngurunit and at the foot of the Ndoto mountains and run by a very lovely couple. I must add the food was excellent. For the adventurous ones, apart from the standard rooms the inn also has some really nice Manyattas that one can sleep in and experience the way of life of the ethnic groups who occupy the region. I chose the Manyatta and was not disappointed.

It is a well-known secret that Northern Kenya offers one of the best places to see the stars and the Milky Way in Kenya and on this night, it did not disappoint. The night sky shone brightly. It was my first time seeing the Milky Way that clearly. It is a stargazers’ paradise.

The next day, one of the locals decided to take us on a small hike to experience a bit of Ngurunit, from its forests to its rivers and mountain scenery. The hike culminated at River Ndelewai, where one gets a chance to bring out the inner child in them by sliding on the rocks to the shallow pools made by nature. Honestly, you can go on for hours doing this and never get tired.

Ngurunit and Ndoto mountains is an area of Kenya full of potential. Several activities, such as tourism, mountain hiking, filming, just to name a few, can be done at Ndoto mountains.

As with much of Northern Kenya, the area still lacks in terms of basic amenities, such as proper road infrastructure, and they are not connected to the national grid but rely on solar energy. However, the main drawback is the narrative that has long been given of the North. The government, media and us the Kenyan citizens have to change this narrative because Ngurunit and many places in the North are gardens of Eden.

Special thank you to Mike, Begin North Adventures, the lovely couple, Golobo Guest House, Saidimu, our guide at Ngurunit, and the friends who came along for this ride.

 

For more information on travelling to Marsabit county email [email protected]