Do you have a fear of heights is an interesting question which I rarely know how to answer. See I have done a picnic atop KICC and had a ball but I also think of what if a flyover gives way when I am crossing the road.
So when I was confronted with a canopy walk made of wire mesh and rope that is 25 metres above the ground and half a kilometre long I was torn between hell yes I want to go up and hell no, what if the canopy walk snapped.
Seeing an old man walk up the steps and begin walking made up my mind to walk the canopy. The oldie was John Fox. John is a travel writer who has been writing about Africa for close to three decades. His articles feature on the Sunday Nation under the banner Going Places.
I am not a small man. So stepping on the wire mesh was a leap of faith and I held on to the sides with a vice like grip while looking straight ahead at John.
Step after step and I finally believed the canopy would not break and I was able to enjoy the unique birds-eye view.
It was exhilarating seeing nature up close with huge 200 year old trees, fresh air and sounds of the Ngare Ndare forest for company.
Aside from John, his two sons and I, our pack of six also included two crew members of a production house, a director of the Northern Rangeland Trust as well as Ranger Ibrahim Maina.
Ibrahim is a walking encyclopaedia on Ngare Ndare Forest. He regaled us with descriptions of the many indigenous trees, told us of the herd of elephants that had visited in the morning and what kind of wildlife visited the mud bath at Ngare Ndare.
The Ngare Ndare Forest is an important corridor for elephants and other wild animals that links the Lewa Conservancy and the Mount Kenya region.
In 2015 I had visited it as one of the legs of the Safari Rally was held there in a very old road which appeared to have been built at least 70 years ago.
As part of the 2016 Safaricom Lewa Marathon participants and visitors are encouraged to day a trip to Ngare Ndare Forest. The delights are the exhilarating and terrifying canopy walk as well as a mud bath (for the wildlife), stunning waterfalls and camping opportunities.
Ngare Ndare is Maa for water for goats. There is a stream that crosses the forest and a bridge to cross over was built in 1947 by the Italian Prisoners of War. It is still in use and quite a delight to behold for a history buff.
Driving out of Ngare Ndare we gave Ranger Ibrahim and his two colleagues a lift to the nearest town where they live. At one point we have to share the road with a huge herd of domestic animals and Ranger Ibrahim explained that the community is allowed to graze in the forest in a rotational format to ensure a win-win situation for the forest conservancy and the community.
Aside from the two Kenya Wildlife Service/NRT rangers was Joy, an intern from Egerton University who was on attachment at Ngare Ndare. She incidentally played a starring role in convincing someone from our party to walk across the canopy.
40-something year old J suffers from phobia of heights. But in an amazing display of mind over mind Joy pep-talked J across the canopy walk and J was eternally grateful for the memory.
Many of my friends upon seeing the pictures of the canopy walk and finding out that I had walked across asked the same questions: 1) Were you not scared? 2) What if it snapped? 3) Are you crazy?
I am glad I walked across the Ngare Ndare Forest Canopy and I will definitely walk across it again upon my return to take in the waterfalls, mud bath and campsites because there is something quite liberating about staring at fear or doubts and overcoming.
Ngare Ndare Forest is a lovely unique getaway.
Visit it :-).
GOD BLESS KENYA!