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Mt. Longonot


armchair bushman
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armchair bushman

So I know its not really the same as a week in South Luangwa or Masai Mara, but I have to get this off my chest.

 

My cousins are in Kenya for about 2 weeks (from the states), and had asked me if we could climb Mt. Longonot. Yesterday (may 1st) was Labour day, a public holiday, so I was happy to oblige. I hadn't been up longonot for maybe 2 years, and I relished the exercise.

 

We left home at about 6:30am to get to the gate before the public holiday crowds and in order to get down the mountain before the afternoon rain and/or heat. Everything went relatively smoothly at the gate and we were in the park in less than 10 minutes. (Citizen fee = Kshs 200, Non-Resident = $20, 5-seater vehicle = Kshs 300) Bit of a waste paying for the vehicle, considering the walk from the gate to the trail-head is less than 1km! Wasn't really thinking about that.

 

As we drove up to the trail head, we spotted Grants Gazelles, Coke's Hartebeest and a lone Augur Buzzard. these were to be the last wildlife we spotted the whole way (other than LBJ's).

We had not been walking 5 minutes before we spotted the first plastic water bottle on the side of the path. And then another. And then an empty crisps packet, and another water bottle. Such was the theme until the top of the trail on the crater rim, where we found a purposely dug pit full of water bottles and other trash. Unfortunately, the trash was not restricted to the confines of the pit. It was spread out all over the mountain top and down the steep slope into the crater.

 

So we stopped to enjoy the view (it was misty and cloudy, so we didn't stop long), and then carried on our merry way around the crater. The trash began to thin out a little, but thicker concentrations presented themselves near shade-trees and flat sections where people would stop for a rest. At the peak (the highest point), another trash pit had been dug, and, predictably, the strong winds had blown much of the contents across the whole area. Again, as we continued, the trash thinned out, but we still found random bottles and digestive packets on the side of the paths, and some much farther away from the paths.

 

It was a great day for a hike. It was not hot at all. The cool breeze and swirling mist kept us cool, but we never got rained on. And I still love that park. Its still a really beautiful place. You just have to put little blinders on to avoid the trash.

So I had a word with the lady at the gate on the way out. I told her that the pits were full and needed to be emptied and that there was much trash even away from the pits. I emphasised the point saying that a tourist who pays $20 for a hike does NOT want to see trash.

 

The fact is that in the United States, one can enter a National Forest or Park for a minimal fee (whether resident or not) and hike through gorgeous terrain with minimal trash. So why would an American tourist (or European, Asia, Australian or any other tourist) want to fly all the way to Kenya, drive down one of the scariest roads on the continent, and then pay 20 hard earned US Dollars to walk up a glorified land-fill?? It just doesn't make sense.

 

Here's what I don't understand: If you're physically capable of walking up a very steep mountain for an hour and a half with a full water bottle, why are you so incapable of walking down said mountain with an empty bottle?

 

When I was in school (both primary and secondary), the whole point of going on field trips to Kenya's National Parks and Reserves was to learn biology, geography, conservation, etc. I don't know if our teachers ever even had to tell us "Don't drop your trash on the side of the path". It was just understood. And yet, the greatest perpetrators of this trash deposit are School groups!! So what the HELL are their teachers teaching them!??

Excuse my language, but what the F**K is the point in paying money to go see a place that you only intend to destroy? What on earth is the point in wasting all that energy to climb a mountain, huffing and puffing to enjoy the view, if you only plan on destroying that view once you get there!? Or am I missing something? Is there some new research that shows that plastic bottles are actually good for the environment? I guess maybe I need to do some reading on the subject. Maybe these school kids and teachers know better?

 

My blood boils just thinking about it.

 

I'm ALL for school groups visiting our national parks. there is no better way for them to be educated about kenya's natural history, and the importance of conservation. But if the teachers, and indeed KWS, are not teaching them what they need to learn, perhaps they should not be allowed in any more.

 

Anyway, after Longonot, we drove over to Carnelly's camp on Lake Naivasha. Another depressing drive. The amounts of unplanned development and invasive species on both the Maai Mahiu-Navaisha road and the Moi South Lake Road are shocking. And every time I pass the flower farms I want to rip someone's head off thinking about the pesticides they freely pour into the lake, and the below-minimum-wage pay that the employees receive.

 

Carnelly's was nice as usual. Lively restaurant, good food. Its a bit on the expensive side, but its a nice atmosphere. Not too much hyacinth floating near the camp entrance on the lake. And good birdlife in the grounds.

 

And then back to Nairobi past all the IDP housing (more than 4 years after the post-election violence, these people still have not been given an alternative).

 

And yet, somehow I still love this country.

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Game Warden

What about this idea: pay as you enter but are given a large refuse sack. If when you come down to leave, the bag is filled with garbage you have picked up, your entry fee is refunded? - If I were in charge of KWS ;), I would instigate such a practice in any park in which one is allowed to walk, hike, climb etc. It is an incentive to help keep the parks tidy, whilst having a free day out in Nature. What are all the parks/reserves in which this is possible?

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Super LEEDS

Share your anger on this, AB. I'm really p***ed off just reading it.... where do you start.

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AB, have you posted this to the KWS Facebook page? When I was at school in Nairobi I don't remember taking water bottles on short excursions and when we did it was the non disposable type, you know the sort that you buy from a supermarket and refill.

 

Children need to learn respect and accountability. This is very sad.

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armchair bushman

AB, have you posted this to the KWS Facebook page? When I was at school in Nairobi I don't remember taking water bottles on short excursions and when we did it was the non disposable type, you know the sort that you buy from a supermarket and refill.

 

Children need to learn respect and accountability. This is very sad.

 

I have written it on the KWS facebook page, but unfortunately it's been moved off to the side where its hardly visible and I fear KWS does not take other people's comments seriously. I have a good mind to write to the head warden.

Honestly, though, I don't know if KWS is wholly to blame. The Kenyan public (and tourists) are to blame for their lack of caring.

 

I always took water bottles on trips. But as you say, I always brought them home. My mum was (and still is) someone who cannot throw anything away. As such, we have cupboards full of plastic bottles! And they get used. Unfortunately, you can't keep using plastic bottles for too long because of the chemicals they begin to release.

 

The problem is that there are so many mineral water companies selling bottled water, and the city council water is not clean. So everyone just keeps buying mineral water instead of refilling at home. I guess not many people bother boiling and storing water at home like we do. Too much hassle?? I don't know.

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Well, the problem will only get worse but the youth are the ones where hope lies. Once they take it to heart they can do amazing things.

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What about this idea: pay as you enter but are given a large refuse sack. If when you come down to leave, the bag is filled with garbage you have picked up, your entry fee is refunded? - If I were in charge of KWS ;), I would instigate such a practice in any park in which one is allowed to walk, hike, climb etc. It is an incentive to help keep the parks tidy, whilst having a free day out in Nature. What are all the parks/reserves in which this is possible?

 

If they couldn't fill it enough to get the refund, they'd dump it and the garbage they'd collected. :lol: ....... :(

 

 

Don't get me started about dumping plastic bottles and bags and other junk in national parks ..... or water hyacinth. All too familiar.

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Game Warden
If they couldn't fill it enough to get the refund...

Perhaps then a sliding scale of refund... BTW KWS did retweet this on Twitter, so maybe someone has seen the suggestion.

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armchair bushman
If they couldn't fill it enough to get the refund...

Perhaps then a sliding scale of refund... BTW KWS did retweet this on Twitter, so maybe someone has seen the suggestion.

Huh. hadn't seen that on twitter. but I see it now. Lets hope!.....

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