I have always wanted to visit Mt. Suswa, especially after first learning about it through photographs taken by Amunga, back in 2014.
What drew me most to the place was the famous ‘Baboons Parliament’, which I was a bit hesitant of its existence at first, until I actually went to the place, courtesy of an invite extended to me by a friend and my Photography mentor, Mwarv.
Armed with four well-lined stomachs, an undying spirit of adventure and a Land-Rover, we set out for Mt. Suswa Conservancy at 9 a.m on a chilly Wednesday morning.
Now, if you love road-trips and are crazy about scenic views like I am, then it is automatic that you will make a thousand and one stops along the way, before you finally get to your intended destination.
There is this little chapel that I had always seen whenever I drove on this road and I always wondered what the story behind it was. Well, my curiosity was finally put to rest when we made a stop there.
It turns out that the Italian Catholic Church P.O.W (Prisoners of War), as it is called, was built in 1942 by Italians who had been captured by the British, during World War II (WWII). The chapel is where they were held captive during the time of the war, and were made to build the now Escarpment Road, which connects Nairobi and Naivasha towns.
Most of the captives eventually died due to the harsh living conditions they faced such as mistreatment and snake bites. Others ended up committing suicide because they could not stand being alive anymore. Their remains are scattered all over the Rift Valley, with some being buried in places like Limuru and Lari constituency.
After learning a bit of history, we resumed our 131 km journey, which we discovered upon making the turning from the main road would be a dusty affair.
The conservancy is about 10 kms from the main road so I would advice you to travel in an off-road vehicle, because the road is filled with rocks, ditches and mounds of sand. Also, if you are not in the mood to hike and trek for long distances it would be ideal since it can maneuver all these barricades.
It is better to get there early in the a.m, at least by 8 o’clock, so that you can experience all that the place has to offer. The caves, the hot-springs, the crater views and the maasai culture.
It is also advisable to get a guide because it is very easy to lose your way in the conservancy, especially if it is your first time. I doubt it I’d remember the way if I went a second and third time. It’s like driving through a maze, the only difference being that there are no defined pathways to guide you. Every corner you turn to looks the same.
Our first stop was at the lava-tube Suswa caves and boy wasn’t it quite the experience. We had to strap on headlights because we were entering into a zone of pitch darkness.
I tend to believe that I am one of the strongest people (emotionally) around, but I failed that test miserably on this particular day.
Total darkness, bats hanging from the ceiling, undiscovered-insects crawling around, recalled scenes from previously watched horror movies, exposed manholes, coming across a leopard’s lair, being stalked by bees and flies that were in search of water and the unabating stench of baboons’ urine was the recipe for my instant death and resurrection all at once.
Squealing , shrieking and yelping really helped me get through it all. PHEW! Those were the longest two (2) hours of my life.
Next stop was the crater.
Mt. Suswa, now a dormant mountain was once considered to be volcanic.
Fumarolic activity continues to date and the locals have taken advantage of this, by harvesting the steam, which in turn produces water.
One of my highlights of this day, captured by Amunga. These maasai children were so friendly and jovial.
A few things to note when visiting Mt. Suswa Conservancy:
- Conservancy fees of kshs. 500 and Guide’s fees of kshs. 500 per person are paid in order to access the place.
- Always call the guide in advance for bookings. Either Kodonyo or Jeremiah will do. Kodonyo’s number is +254702804172.
- Carry lots of water and food if you intend to be there all day. There are no neighboring shops in case you run out of supplies. If you have a cooler, the better.
- The place is hot and unforgiving so make sure you dress light.
- Camping is possible. It will cost you kshs. 500 per person, provided you have your own tent and camping facilities.
Would I visit the place again? Most definitely!!