PLACES IN KENYA
16-08-2021 by Freddie del Curatolo
The green heart of Africa, where every nook and cranny is a metaphor for the continent's wild and fabulous eternity: springs, forest, sudden precipices and escarpments, gentle hills covered with flowers and plants, rocks with surprising shapes, rivers of crystal-clear water, breathtaking views, free-roaming animals and people who have always moved about living with nature and making the most of their simple, bare existence.
This is how one might define the Cherangany Hills, a mountainous and hilly range in the middle of the Rift Valley, in western Kenya, defined by many experts as one of the natural paradises of East Africa, where dozens of rare indigenous plants can still be found and where the De Brazza guenon, one of the protected and endangered species, also known as the 'swamp monkey' or 'white-bearded monkey', can safely move.
The peculiarity of this ecosystem is that it is one of the few of non-volcanic origin in the country. The area covers about 1,800 square kilometres and the highest peaks reach 3,580 metres. The average height of the area, which lies on Africa's most famous plateau, is 2,700 metres, but slopes and overhangs can drop as low as 600 metres, along the course of the Marun River and in the Kaibibich forests or on the other side, in the Nzoia River valley.
The area is still partly unexplored, but in recent years there have been hiking trails through gentle slopes and more open valleys, where the local people, the Pokot, have also developed farmland and businesses.
The easiest and safest way to trek in the Cherangany Hills is to start from the Kenya Wildlife Service headquarters, which can be accessed by 4WD. From there, a half-day hike takes you to the Nakugen summit, 3530 metres above sea level, with some of the most incredible scenery you will ever see. There is also the possibility of an anthropological visit for those interested in human culture and ancestral habits, with contact with the local communities. There is also the chance to meet the isolated Sengwer tribe of hunters, who live in the forest eating only what they find in nature and who rarely mix with other populations.
The Cherangany Hills are under the protection of the United Nations Environment Programme as one of Kenya's five most important watersheds. The deforestation of the Rift Valley, which has significantly affected the nearby Mau forest and the slopes of the volcanic Mount Elgon, has so far affected the forests of the mountain range in a minor (though already worrying, about 200 hectares) way. Protecting the thirteen forest reserves protects not only the lives of very rare indigenous animals and plants, but also the entire ecosystem, which is able to guarantee climatic conditions that are fundamental for any human activity that can benefit from Nature.
But, as some would say, "what can I tell you about it?".
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