Hells Gate

Hells Gate

Team Amunga’s Day 9 starts with a trip to the 54 room Lord Egerton Castle in Njoro. The castle was built by Lord Egerton between 1938 and 1954. It took that long to be finished because of the second world war which interrupted the building. The roof zinc tiles and marble in the castle were imported from Italy and the timber and cement came from England. It’s only the stones which were sourced from Kenya. The land the castle was built on was acquired by Egerton in 1920 as a reward for fighting in the first world war. In total the land was about 21,000 acres. In the beginning he built a small house with just 8 rooms. After his father died and he acquired the title of Lord he married an Austrian princess and brought her to Kenya. When she saw the 8 room house , she refused to stay citing the fact that the house was too small for a woman of her stature. He then resolved to build her a castle. She never got to enjoy it because by the time it was finished she had already married someone else. She did come to visit briefly just to see it but that was it. Egerton never married again and since he was last heir his property reverted to the state when he died. Presently, the castle sits on 34 acres, Egerton University, which Egerton started as an agricultural college has 4,200 acres and the rest was allocated to various people. The castle, which is now being taken care of by the university, is very run down. Apparently it was vandalised after Egerton died and has never been completely restored. However, it’s a great place to visit just for the history. There’s really nothing to photograph and it’s on to the next one.

We head towards Naivasha hoping that our luck will change. First stop, Kariandusi which is opposite Lake Elementaita on the highway. It is a prehistoric site built around an archaeological site discovered by Louis Leakey between 1928 and 1931. He discovered tools used by early man like hand access tools, cleavers, scrubbers, bolar stones (which were all made from stones). Kariandusi also has skulls that are from different parts of the country like Kobi Foora, Njoro River cave among others. We get a guided tour of the sites and a nearby gorge. Nothing of interest there. For our purpose anyway. Amunga is inspired by a scene from the Shakespeare’s play ‘Othello’. This one is well read. He gets the guide to hold one of the skulls while looking at it. Like he is explaining something about it. It’s pretty straight forward and we are done in 6 shots.

Next stop is Hell’s Gate National Park Naivasha. Hell’s Gate was established in 1984 and it covers an square area of 68km. The name Hell’s Gate comes from a narrow break in the cliffs that was once a tributary of a prehistoric lake that fed early humans. It is more known for it scenery but it has wildlife as well. It has buffalo, zebra, eland, hartebeest, Thomson’s gazelles, giraffes, baboons and antelopes. There are over 103 species of birds in the park including vultures, Verreaux’s Eagles, augur buzzard, and swifts . It is also home to three geothermal power stations (Olkaria). Activities in the park include hiking, camping, rock climbing, biking, bird watching and of course wildlife viewing. In the park, we come across some kids climbing a rock with their dads. We ask one of the dads if we can shoot his boy who is struggling to get up a rock crevice. It’s his first time and it is amazing how far he has gotten. As the boy struggles to get to the top, Amunga squeezes in some shots. He waits for the boy to get to the top and gets more photos. We see a guy on a bike. Amunga wants to shoot him on his bike with the scenic hills of the park in the background. It backfires a couple of times. Thrice because bike guy was cycling too fast and the twice because the sun disappears. Once the sun graces us with its presence, Amunga gets at least two good shots and it’s a wrap.

Tomorrow we are going to Suswa and Mau Narok. Wish us luck :-).

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