October 9, 2012

Not a morning person

I can count the number of times I’ve seen the sunrise over the past 5 years on one hand, and I won’t even use all my fingers.  That is to say, I’m not a morning person.

There was that time I was camping resourcefully in Paros and couldn’t get back to sleep because my "bed" was a pool floatation toy and my "blanket" was covering myself with a layer of all my clean (and probably some dirty) clothes.  So I got pastries from an early-opened bakery and ate them down by the sea at dawn.  And there have been a couple early morning flights that took-off in the dark and saw the sun climb with us.  

And if there were any others, I’ve probably repressed them.  (Waking up in the dark in a Seattle winter doesn't really count as sunrise, since that’s simply a miserable part of living in the northern tundra.)  

So you may all be shocked to hear that not only was I awake for dawn last weekend, but I was even awake (and hiking uphill without breakfast) several hours before it.

Follow the head-lamp, into the dark.

Dawn on a hillside.

Naturally, there was a good reason.  I'm not that much of a fool to go stumbling around a snake and bat-ridden African forest in the dark without cause.  The sunrise over Kakamega forest in Western Kenya is reputed to be beautiful.  And, burning off the low-lying fog, it is.  

Foggy forest of rolling hills.

The Kakamega forest is Kenya's section of the once-robust Guineo-Congolian rainforest that used to span the continent continuously from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean.  These days, the ancient forest is broken into smaller, disjoined tufts in each country, but the quality has not diminished.  Butterflies, birds and baboons all frolic in the elder trees.  And the tall hill-side grasses provide a soft resting spot after a several hours hike (without breakfast).

Stalking prey in tall grasses.


You can fly or take the bus to Kisumu from Nairobi, and Kakamega town is about a 1-2 hours further by matatu.  If you are planning the sunrise hike, you can sleep at bandas in the forest area and wake up ready to go.

My only tip for improving this experience: bring breakfast.

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