TRAVEL: The sights and sounds of Naro Moru

By: JOSEPHINE MOSONGO

Tucked a short distance away from the base of Mount Kenya is the Naro Moru River Lodge, a log cabin retreat that sits on a tranquil 2, 800 square kilometres.

The Mount Kenya forest serves as its beautiful backdrop. It is the ideal destination for a well-deserved getaway, away from the fast-paced city with its maddening traffic. Just 150 kilometres from Nairobi, the drive down to the lodge situated between Nyeri and Nanyuki is lined with manmade forests and greenery.

You can pretty much find everything in Nairobi without venturing outside the county. A perfect spot for a family vacation? Check.

A serene location for a team building retreat or a weekend away with friends? Check. But you will be hard-pressed to find wide open spaces with birds chirping in the background and with crisp fresh air that forces you to stop and take another long breath.

The entire establishment is mostly made of pine furnishings presenting a rustic outlook that turns romantic once dusks sets in.

The walk to the deluxe rooms is somewhat lengthy, but the beautiful gardens and trees lining the windy path make it worthwhile.

It is home to some of the most exotic and unusual creatures like the tree hyrax. Seeing it for the first time, one might actually mistake it for a rat.

These little nocturnal animals can be seen during daytime darting from tree to tree, playing peek-a-boo from the branches.

Their territorial calls fill the night air with bizarre screams that begin with a cracking sound and end with a series of shrieks.

SOOTHING, BURBLING SOUNDS

Once the screeching quiets down, it gives way to the soothing, burbling sounds of the Naro Moru River that sets a lulling tone for a relaxing albeit chilly evening. While the river still runs in the cold and dry season, trout fishing which the river was once famous for cannot take place because the water is running low. The dam is under renovation with no clear timeline of when it will be complete.

Come early morning, the gorgeous view of Mount Kenya is something to behold. George Okoit, the mountain operations manager tells us that the Naro Moru route is the shortest route to the mountain, it takes just three days.

The first stopover is at the Met Station while the second is at the Makindas Camp. But there is a catch, you have to be up at 3am to make it to point Lenana on the third day.

We are not physically prepared for the climb, so we opt for an early morning walk through the forest. The sun, seeping through the trees adds to the beauty of the calm day. Birding enthusiasts point out to some striking birds: the golden-winged sunbird, red-cheeked cordon-bleu and the African paradise flycatcher.

By November, the adventurous and athletic types, will have a biking trail through the forest ready. But for now, it is a complete workout weaving through intertwined trees and branches, and watching out for roots underfoot that snake above the ground.

After the day’s activities, a long hike and a simple nature walk, dinner is served at the camping site under the stars accompanied by a roaring bonfire. Definitely sounds like a good way to wind up the day.

But the tree hyraxes are at it again with their screams filling the night air.

STAYING AT NARO MORU

The Naro Moru River Lodge has been in existence since 1949. It is not overly luxurious compared to hotels in Nairobi but it offers a homely feel.

The rustic exterior of the cabins are in contrast to the modern interior suggesting that time hasn’t changed the lodge’s original appeal.

Naro Moru town lies 150 kilometres from Nairobi between Nyeri and Nyanyuki and provides a base for hikers heading to Mt Kenya.

Apart from hiking, you can also enjoy a trip to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy or Solio Ranch.