I have dreamt of conquering Mount Kilimanjaro, but it is unrealistic to wake up one day and imagine myself fit enough to climb the highest mountain in Africa without any prior practice. But… I could opt to go and climb Mount Longonot. Located in Kenya’s Rift Valley, Mount Longonot was the perfect weekend activity to work my way up to Mount Kilimanjaro.
Standing at a height of 2,776 metres, Longonot has been extinct for a while and the crater is now home to thick lush herbage. It is also protected by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), I later learned why. Various animals, such as zebras, antelopes and buffalos call Longonot home, but it is highly unlikely to spot them during a hike. After doing my research, and deciding that Longonot posed a good but achievable challenge, I planned to go hiking the following weekend.
The drive from Nairobi to the Longonot takes approximately two hours, while the hike up and down Longonot takes about 4 to 5 hours, depending on how quick you are. I wasn’t prepared for how dusty the hike would get. An hour in, my feet did not look like the belonged to me. It was challenging, some places were incredibly steep, staying true to its name, and I doubted myself and often thought about turning back. It was getting to the third hour, and it all started to look the same. I admit that I am not the most outdoorsy person out there and Bear Grylls wouldn’t be threatened at all, but I was on a mission! Determined to get to the crater!
When I finally did get to the crater… the view of the lake and the forest inside the crater was worth the hike. I opted not to go around the crater, to preserve my energy for the descent, which required a lot more concentration than the ascent. After dusting myself off enough to get back into the car, I decided I wasn’t quite ready for Kilimanjaro just yet. I did decide I’d work my way up a few more mountains and maybe Mount Kenya, before facing the mighty Kilimanjaro.