April 22, 2013

The devilish details

The devil's in the details, they say.  And those details aren't always well-suited to being captured on film.

The Ngong Hills, just outside Nairobi, mark the imprint of where a giant god grabbed the earth to stabilize himself after tripping over Mt. Kilimanjaro, according to one version of Masai legend.  That's why the top four peaks form the shape of knuckles ("ngong").

The hills have long lived in Masai legend but grew in international recognition after Karen Blixen praised them in Out of Africa.  Today, they are popular with day-trip hikers from Nairobi and the bandits that try to mug them.  (Incidentally, hire a guide from the park gates when you go).

View of the Ngong Hills from Karen Blixen's house

The hike is deceptively challenging from what one might expect of these gently rolling hills.  But that's really the issue- hills, plural.  There may be only four peaks that constitute the knuckles, but there are somewhere around nine hills in total, of varying lengths and grades.

Traversing the knuckles

Hills beyond hills

One of the highlights of the hike, if undertaken on a less foggy day, is the great views of both the Rift Valley and Nairobi.  The juxtaposition of the natural and the urban.  

Background: the buildings of Nairobi

So what's the rest of the story?  The devilish details, if you will?


Safari ants combine the colony-style workmanship of regular ants with the savage blood-sucking lust of vampires.  And they were all up in my pants.  And socks, and shoes.  And you don't really notice until it's too late and they're swarming all over.  There may be some kind of strategy for ridding yourself of them, but in the absence of removing my pants completely and jumping into a large body of water, I had to hop on one leg while two French and Ethiopian girls fearlessly plucked them off.  And then completed the hike with paranoia threshold set to RED, periodically slapping myself at every twitch or prick that could potentially be a critter.  

And what was the reason I ended up standing on this ant-hill of death and destruction?  

Because our path was blocked by a dead cow (also not pictured) and we had to re-orient.

All in another fun-filled day in Kenya.

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