Sunday, 18 May 2014

The South Rift Valley, Bomet, Narok, Masai Mara, more.. and Naivasha (2)

As I said before, the most striking thing about the countryside in this part of Kenya is the prevalence of agriculture activity, presumably because of the rich volcanic soils. The scenes that I encountered were reminiscent of sights that I had previously seen only in England, farm after farm, after farm, with human dwellings dotted here and there; although in Kenya, unlike in Europe, these dwellings were not just the single farmhouse with the odd barn or two. Here, the dwellings were more of a small cluster of several homes perched on the edge of a vast expanse of communal farmland; fields that were covered with this season's maize and wheat crop, and with evidence of the employment of agricultural machinery at some point in the recent past.

These clusters of homes were scattered right across the countryside as far as the eye could see, all along the entire route, save for the occasional stretch of acacia brushland, or rocky terrain, where it was evident that farming was not viable. But even on that land which was not cultivated, one could see large herds of cattle and goats herded by Masai herdsmen and boys, often in traditional Masai attire, the animals sometimes gathering at waterholes to drink. And all of this was presented to my eyes through the window of the bus and from the fairly busy highway on which we were travelling. I found it quite magical.

There was also to be seen the occasional European-style farmstead, but these were far outnumbered by those farms that clearly were owned and run by the indigenous people.

The land was not flat, this was after all the Rift Valley. It undulated significantly, seemingly endlessly, with large hills and massive rock outcrops. And the farms extended up the sides of the hills too, because the farmers use the terracing technique as well; neat orderly terraces, which, all put together, made for a scenic beauty that was hard not to gasp in astonishment over.

A few hours of this and then we reached the outskirts of the town of Narok, a mostly Masai town that is a major staging point for trips to the famous Masai Mara National Reserve and the Ngorongoro Crater which is across the border in neighbouring Tanzania. Narok, with a population (I later learned) of about 40,000, is not a big town in the sense that I am accustomed to, being a large city dweller myself for all of my life. But it is a lively town. And busy. There was a lot going on, commerce, trade, wheeling and dealing, money to be made from the eager, naive tourist aplenty. I liked it, this was my kind of place. Unfortunately, I would not be staying here for anything more than a brief rest-stop. I was after all on a journey of a different sort, a journey to Bomet. To meet with Bernard.


Part (3) coming up soon.