So far in my exploration of Kenya I must admit that the Aberdare’s have proven to be one of the most scenic and easily accessible hiking destinations (accessible from Nairobi). Ragia forest did not disappoint. This was my second time there having been there in early 2016- January 23rd to be precise. Unfortunately the visit back was one that left me in shock and pretty sad about what we humans are doing to our environment. (Below is a pic from January 23rd 2016)
In January 2016, the drive through the boundary that separates Kiambu from Nyandarua County we were able to see why Sasumua dam is one of the critical water towers that supplies Nairobi County with 12% of her water. The water levels were pretty high and water was all around us. We drove over bridges and spillways that were brimming with water. The sun bounced off the surface of the water causing us to squint at the beauty that lay before us. We took out our cameras (phones mostly) and captured the waterscape before us for posterity. (Below is September 2017)
Fast forward to September 9th and the experience was not the same. I strained my neck trying to figure out where the water was, trying to convince myself that we had taken a different route to our starting point. When I inquired from our chatty guide if this was the case, he sadly said no. It was at this point that I took a keener look around and then it hit me, we were on the same path just without water. Where before there was massive water all around, this time we were looking at greenery; the water basins were replaced by grass. I did not know whether to laugh or cry so I simply stared around me with my mouth agape. Apparently the last time the water levels was high was when we were last there in January 2016. (Below is January 2016, navigating across the water took tremendous skill, this year it was like walking over a puddle)
What have we done to our environment? What have we done to ourselves? By cutting down trees, by littering and choking the environment, we have sent the ecosystem to the brink and now we have drought. The weather patterns have been changing over the last couple of years and we will rue the day that we stopped taking care of the environment. The system of life is that we protect the environment and it in turn protects and provides for us. We have forgotten that and abused the environment. Unfortunately the environment can be pretty unforgiving as has been witnessed by the current ‘natural’ disasters that are taking place all around the world. We will regret the decision to drop that wrapper on the ground, to cut down that tree without replacing it, by killing off the wildlife for quick personal gain. We indeed shall reap the effects of our nonchalance to the environment.
The Mountain Slayers who made it to the hike were energetic and committed to the six hour hike. We learnt a lot of history about Ragia forest and the important part that it played in the struggle for Kenya’s independence. Save for the shock of seeing how badly depleted the environment has become, we enjoyed a beautiful hike that left us ‘nicely’ exhausted and looking forward to the next trip. If you want to be a part of the next hike, send an email to email@example.com
Until the next hike, take care of your environment and speak out when you see people litter or degrade your environment. Remember that your environment is not only the obvious but also includes any space you find yourself- your office, your home, transport (bus, car, train, plane).