Kijabe Hill Hike

I recently had the opportunity to join some experienced hikers on a hike up Kijabe Hill. I had made all the usual beginner questions and was assured that it was an easy climb that take about 6-7 hours and quite suitable for beginners.
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I should have listened to my gut and not expected it to be suitable for beginners. The thing is, the person that extended the invitation neglected to mention that it would be a 8-9 hour hike and it was Not Moderate! Fellow beginners, pay attention here- start with a 6 hour hike then build up the difficulty levels! Lesson learnt the hard way!
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Great thing about this group of hikers is that they were very professional considering that I had given them the heads up that I was a ‘green’ beginner. They had useful breathing and walking tips that I used along the hike especially when the altitude change threatened to rip my lungs out of my chest cavity at some point.
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Kijabe Hill is about 10 minutes from Maai Mahiu Town right across the road from Kedong Ranch on the Nairobi-Maai Mahiu Highway. You can drive there or use public means easily. Always plan to hike in groups and get a professional hiker, we got ours from recommendations from other hiking groups. The circuit started from Kijabe Hill and ended at Soko Mjinga along the Nairobi-Naivasha Highway. The hike up the first hill took about 4 hours and at some point we were literally walking through clouds with no view of what lay on the steep sides of the hill we were hiking through.
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The descent was pretty easy and at some point we were walking through a forest of euphobia trees which was pretty cool and then stopped for lunch at a murram quarry where we had a beautiful view of the torturous climb that awaited us to the next summit. Lunch entailed potluck and stories of previous climbs of which I had none (maybe except for my Mt Longonot climb which they considered child’s play). It is here that I got to hear of some interesting stories from these guys, all of tthem had climbed Mt. Kenya several times (minimum of three times!), others had even done Mt. Kilimanjaro at least twice while some were prepping to climb it for tthe first time. Kijabe hike was part of their Kili prep slated for this October.
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Back to summit 2, this one was not as bad as the first one, although it was difficult because of the dense thicket that we had to go through. By the time we got to the summit I was beat!!! And thank goodness for having the foresight to carry tons of water because I was drenched with sweat even though the temperatures were 11 degrees and even lower at some points. To be honest I nearly gave up at some point, but encouragement from some of the guys I was with kept me going. At some point, they told me that I was not so badly off for a beginner because I was only a few minutes behind everyone and not an hour or more like some beginners.
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Some lessons I learnt were:
Have a good professional guide
Always aim higher after you start hiking in terms of the hikes you choose to go for; if your first hike is 6 hours, make the next one be 8 hours and so forth
Carry a lot of water
Energy bars or energy drinks are always a plus
Get a hiking/mountaineering stick
Run as part of your practice for hiking, gyming will not help you much
Wear comfortable khaki/hiking clothes, denim is not the best in terms of comfort
Have something warm to wear in case the temperature plunges
Leave no man behind
Have an interesting mix of people to keep the group dynamics flowing
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If you plan on doing the Kijabe circuit, I wish you the best of luck, it is hard, but the views are well worth it!
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