“…..The following takes place between 8.00 and 1.00 PM on 27th of June 2015”.
Breakfast at the Rift Vally Adventures forest camp is at 8.00 AM. The camp is hosting a lively and diverse group consisting of students from Saint Loise Nanyuki, Tigithi boys(Kenya) and Langley Fine Arts School. (Canada). Interestingly, this encounter is their first face to face meeting as they had only previously interacted though Skype and on the Butterfly Effect website. This notwithstanding, they get along like a grass thatched, african hut on fire. By 9.00 AM, they all get on on the RVA bus and head for the Ngare Ndare forest where they are scheduled to engage in various activities the first of which is Canyoning. This basically involves jumping from high rocks into deep pools of water. It sounds pretty straightforward until you are at the ledge and you realise you have to fall through 8 or 9 meters of thin air with jagged rocks on all sides.
The pools in the Ngare Ndare forest trust are simply incredible to behold. They are formed at the bottom of waterfalls with varying heights and shaded by evergreen foliage. As result, unless in the rainy weather when they are stirred up, they tend to be a shade of blue or green reflecting either the sky or the overgrowth, sometimes both. They are however extremely deep, which is why the instructors make it mandatory for everyone to wear a buoyancy aid.
The bus stops 3 kilometres from the jumping areas. From there on up, the PA-MOJA team has to make a gruelling uphill trek. Probably because of their eagerness for adventure, the make short work of the hills. On arrival, they get into their aqua gear and listen to a safety briefing from Richie, Dougie and Ndiritu. (RVA Instructors) they then take turns jumping. The first cliff is only around 6 meters high and most of them get by without much fuss.
Everyone is equipped with a buoyancy aid so swimming inabilities are not an issue. At an adjacent pool, Dougie gives swimming lessons.
After this warm up jump, the group then sets off to see the source of the river which is about a Kilometre upstream. This is probably one of the most breathtaking sights in the entire forest. Surrounded by a semicircle of rocky and green natural outcrops, the source of the river is a is crystal clear, blueish pool that is fed by rivulets dazzlingly clean water form an overhead spring. The butterfly kids swim to the very wall of the pool into the waterfall and have the rare opportunity to observe the world from behind and inside a waterfall.
Fast forward to the second jump. The rock face is about 10 metres high and one has to drop next to a waterfall. The jump however has an interesting twist to it. From the air into the water, the only way forward is towards another equally high waterfall from which one will also have to jump. Simply put, if one commits to doing the first jump, they had either to do the next one or well… indefinitely take residence between the waterfalls. When Victor Mageto from Tigithi Boys sees the 10 meter cliff ledge for the first time, he backs his lanky frame away and swear nothing will make him jump off it. His friend James and several of the girls from Langley Fine Arts School and Loise also makes it clear that they have no intention of jumping either. In all fairness, the jump is pretty intimidating. However, when the instructor jumps and floats up to the pool seemingly unharmed, the students are more willing to try. Still, they remain apprehensive until Theresa, from LFAS nimbly perches on the cliff edge and launches herself into the pool without as much as a shrug.
This inspires the rest of the group and soon, the forest is reverberating with
splashes, cheers and encouraging (sometimes teasing) shouts as more people jump.
The last jump is just as fun but less eventful since all the jumpers have evidently gotten over their fear. At the bottom of the cliff, they are joined the rest of the group that had doubled back to await them. Together, they make their way back downstream for the trek back to base camp to share a well deserved lunch.
By Ian Mungai