There comes a time... I have always wanted to say that.."There comes a time.."
So, there comes a time that you pick up the phone when a call comes through. My friend Mwangi 'Mwarv' Kirubi and I had been planning to go so the Suswa caves for a little over two weeks and now the day had come. Mwarv was being selected to run one of Airbnb's new country specific immersion trips and his included a trip to Suswa caves (sign up here). I had been there before but its always an interesting place to go, so i jumped on the opportunity to go again on a personal trip.
This time Mwarv had a companion who'd signed up for his trip. Mwarv had already taken Janina to other scenic places in Nairobi and this was their last destination. Janina was really cool..very full of life. She just decided to come to Africa and hopped on a plane and did! She was so full of life and was excited to tackle the darkness of the unknown caves. We were also joined by Isabel Nimu, another photographer.
So we hopped into Baloo, our faithful steed, and headed down into the Rift Valley. On our way there, we passed by the famous church built by WWI prisoners of war.
"37,000 Italian POWs captured after defeat in Ethiopia were interned in East Africa including many in the Rift Valley where amongst other activities they were made to build the Mai Mahiu road, which must have been quite a feat of engineering, ascending some 450m up the steep eastern wall of the Great Rift Valley as it climbs up from dry hot and dusty Mai Mahui on the valley floor to cool, wet and green Limuru on the high plateau. Many POWs died of malaria and TB in the war camps.
The captors were at least compassionate enough to allow them to build in 1942 this tiny Catholic church which is certainly the smallest of this faith in Kenya & must be one of the smallest places of worship of any religion in the country. It has survived the test of time, seen the colonials leave, and witnessed several changes of regimes in Kenya. People of all faiths call here to appreciate this haven of peace adjacent to this busy road, which is a major transport link both for heavy trucks and for tourists accessing the Maasai Mara National Park, and pay homage to the prisoners who built it."
We met up with Kodonyo, our guide, hoped back into Baloo and raced to the caves
So we got to the caves. Actually, Suswa caves are very unassuming. You get to a bunch of trees and park. You then walk in between the trees, down a very tiny path and low and behold, the caves literally swallow you
Janina only had her iPhone with her but she still seriously kept up with us and our DSLR's
Mwarv and I had fun playing around with long exposures and head lamps
The thing about Suswa is it's quite dangerous. Its pitch dark, and there are volcanic rocks everywhere. You need flashlights and good hiking boots. One can easily fall into DEEP holes and never be found. Again. Ever.
Kodonyo kept checking his phone for texts in the complete dark. I came to two conclusions. Either:
- He had the smartest most powerful phone in the world
- He was selling our organs on the black market to the highest bidder
Luckily, it was the latter. And it wasn't a smart phone.
We walked through the first part of the 'beginner' cave, which is cave 18A then Kodonyo took us down Cave 18B
Cave 18B took us through some more darkness and out to a place called the Baboon Parliament. The Baboon Parliament is named so because every evening at 6pm, a large congress of baboons converges at this point. One alpha male goes to a central point and leads a 'discussion' of sorts amongst them, going as far as pointing them out to prompt individual baboons to 'talk'.
That's what we were told.
It's quite a large space and the rocks have been smoothened by the butts of many a baboon. Smells like it too.
Once we were done, Kodonyo led us back into the suffocating darkness, to a place that has some ancient rock art.
We then left the caves and drove over to Suswa's crater. Its incredible!
Finally, we raced the sunset, heading back home.