Brigid Travels

Updates from The Road

another quick one [2000]

I'm back in Nairobi waiting for my flight to Mauritius, where I will spend tonight. And tomorrow night I'll be in Perth. Madagascar was very good - it was much harder to communicate there, since I don't speak Malagasy or French, but enough people spoke enough English for us to get ideas across. It is quite the land of disparity - such intense poverty but such intense natural resources, and my accommodations were very plush. I went hiking on the days I wasn't traveling, and it was very cool to see chameleons and lemurs in their native environment. The volume of wildlife was less than in Kenya, but hiking in the rainforest was really cool - and appropriately it rained. It took over 2 days for my boots to dry out. More on Madagascar later, as I have to catch my flight.

On the flight from Tana to Nairobi this morning, I read a copy of Financial Times from a few days ago, and I saw a little bit of CNN in Tana, so I'm starting to get reacquainted with the outside world, but very slowly. I can't believe I'll be home in a week. But between now and then, I have dolphin swimming, snowboarding and beach relaxation to accomplish!!!


update on Earthwatch study [2000]

Jambo. Sorry I skipped over the black rhino study - and I don't have time to do it justice now, but I'll see what I can do in the 5 minutes I have.

I definitely recommend doing one - the people are great and very eager to learn, the people that run it are very aware of safety and getting the most out of the experience. My team was 9 people - 2 couples, a set of brothers and 3 single women. The 3 of us shared a thatch-roofed hut (individual rooms) and we were also teamed up together, so I got to know Wendy and Anette very well.

We would go out into the bush each morning between 7:45 and 8:15, and walk between 5-13 km. The most exciting times were those first few days being chased by elephants, lions, buffalo, and rhino (more details on those later). The last day was a special treat - we went out with the rhino patrol (as soo as they spot them, we note where they are on the GPS and what they are doing). We tracked 2 adolescent males and found them! They were napping in some brush 50 m away!! Rhinos can only see 50 m, and the wind was blowing in the right direction so they couldn't smell us, so we were relatively safe. But when we took some pictures, they both stood up and looked in our direction. We stood quiet and still, but they were at attention for a good 15-20 minutes. And when the guard made sure we knew to climb a tree if they started charging, it didn't make us feel so secure! But eventually they lay back down (ears still rotating, listening for us) and we backed away. What a way to end the experience!


Hi from Nairobi, again [2000]


Quick note to say I'm still kicking after my Mount Kenya expedition - I'll try to send another one before I leave for the airport tomorrow morning. I'll send another email with more details on the rest of the Earthwatch study later, but that ended on Monday (lots of fun, great people). I got to the gate of Mt Kenya National Park in the morning, and we had to deal with rain so got up to the first 'hut' Monday evening - Old Moses (9km, 800 m ascent - not too tough). By the way, the huts have no heat (just a bed), no hot water and you have to bring your own toilet paper (I didn't know that, but brought some in case, but not enough so I had to ration for 4 days).

Tuesday we went 17km, up 1100 m to Shgipton's Camp so that was tougher, because we also had to deal with more altitude affects and again the rain and mud. But most of the altitude was in relatively extreme chunks so it was ok. Wednesday I got up at 2:30am (after sleeping maybe an hour due to the altitude) and we started our ascent at 3:45am. It was 3.5km up 800 m - straight up gravelly and rocky slopes. And the rocks slid, so you couldn't put full weight on them. My guide, Joshua, later told me that nobody ascends after 6am because if you could actually see where you were going, you would be too scared to continue. It was intensely exhausing, and Joshua had to pull me a couple of times, but I made it to Point Lenana at 7:15am (just under 5000m). Unfortunately, since I took so much time going up, the ice crystals that held some gravel together started melting and the way down was not fun, or fast. We had to do the crab quite a few times - on hands and feet, sliding down the slopes, when you are going too fast or get close to the very steep, unrecoverable edge you stop yourself by dropping your butt. I don't get the gluttons for punishment who do this as a hobby. I'm glad I did it once, but I'm thinking high altitude trekking is not for me.

So I finally got down at 9:15am and realized that I had to hike 17km out, to the first hut. Oh - and because of the altitude I could not eat - I wasn't ill, just couldn't force anything down. After resting an hour, we left. My guide Jimmy got a little ahead of me, and I realized I was lost as I saw Jimmy disappear into the fog. I kept going, thinking my trail would meet up with him at the river, but I kept going up. So a few minutes later I sat down on a rock and thought about what you are supposed to do when you are lost: remain calm (nope - I was so exhausted and scared that I would have to spend a night where I was that I started sobbing - a real energy boost); have enough food to make it through the night (check - I had 1/2 a power bar, and 2 pkgs of candy a guy from South Africa gave me when he saw how exhausted I was after the ascent and that I wouldn't eat); water (check - I had 1/2 liter); a signalling device (check - the powerbar's label was silver inside, but it was all foggy so that doesn't really help); a whistle (check); a flashlight (check). So I calmed down a bit - in between yelling 'Jimmy! Joshua!' into the fog.

Eventually a voice called back - Joshua had found me. So I had to go all the way down the ravine to the river to take the 'easy' route back toward the ridge. For a 1100m descent, there was a ton of uphill and muddy downhill. But I made it to the Old Moses Camp. There were about 15-20 cheery energetic people at the camp, ready for the next day's hike to Shipton's camp at the base of the mountain and I was so worn out, they just stared a bit as I dragged my sorry butt in. I ate a bit and slept. Today was much better, except that I discovered 2 huge blisters, but I ignored them on the way down. The car Jimmy had arranged did not pick us up, so he got the park rangers to agree to take us. After ~20 min they got the car started, and it was a wild bumpy ride to Nanyuki since the steering was so loose. At one point we slid around into an embankment on the muddy way down, but nobody was hurt. In Nanyuki we had a beer at the Impala Butchery and Bar (to get to the cafe area, you walk through a little room where they are hacking at carcasses) and I took an incredibly packed puegeot station wagon to Nairobi. I cannot tell you how nice it is to have a bath, and toilet paper!!!!!

Gotta go - I'll try to send more in the morning as I don't think I'll be able to email in Madagascar. I cannot believe I will be staring at lemurs tomorrow!


Jambo from Kenya [2000]


That's hello in Swahili. It has been an exciting week. I'll go into details later as I can only write a page worth today. Monday was spent traveling to here (Sweetwaters Reserve outside Nanyuki). My accommodations are 1/4 of a thatch-roof hut, which is very comfortable. So far I have been chased on foot (and had to run away from) 3 elephants, 2 rhino, a cape buffalo and today we had to walk slowly away from a lion (running would have only encouraged her to gore us). The guards only had to shoot (to scare off) for the elephants - we had followed one big male swimming down the river, and when he cane out of the river and charged us, we ran towards a momma and baby who charged us as well. Lots of running for that one, but I haven't had to climb a tree to get out of reach of anything yet. Other animals I have seen in their natural habitat include: zebra, lions, elephants, giraffes, warthogs, hartebeest, eland, hyenas, baboons, cap buffalo, bushbuck, impala, Thompson's gazelles, reedbuck, ostriches, jackals, hippos. Also chimps in a Jane Goodall sanctuary - one threw rocks at us through the fence! Yesterday I went into town to look at their wares, and that was a whole different adventure.

Other notes: The night sky is gorgeous - I can see the milky way clearly - but I have not seen the moon yet - I'm not sure why. Daily schedule is: get up ~6:30; eat breakfast (usually porridge and toast); go out into the bush with an armed guard from 8-12 or so (different tasks each day),; shower; eat lunch; rest until 3 (generator-run electricity is only on 6a-12p, 3p-11p); download data we collected in the morning; do an afternoon activity (or nothing); eat dinner; night activity (or nothing). Afternoon and evening activities are things like game drives and trips into town. Tonight we are going to a disco in town - should be very interesting!!

By the way, I can't see my own email, so I will not be able to read/respond to them for another week. Hopefully next Thursday or Friday.


Arrived in Nairobi [2000]

Very quick message from Nairobi. I made it here safely yesterday and the team is now assembling for our trip into the wilderness. I think I'll be a bout to email every once in a while - I'll send it to one person and they will forward it to you. After resting all day yesterday, I'm pretty much over my cold and ready to go! As I was drifting off to sleep yesterday I could hear beautiful singing and chanting, I think from a church close by. It was soothing. But there is definite absolute poverty here, And the hotel is across the street from the Israeli embassy, which makes the heavily guarded police stations in Northern Ireland look tame.

talk at you when I can -


Kenya [2000]



9/24 and 10/12 :

Fairview Hotel

 – 10 Bishops Road, Nairobi

Earthwatch Study

Saving Kenya’s Black Rhinos

, Ol Pejeta Ranch on Sweetwaters Research Centre – PO Box 167, Nanyuki

Flight Out

NBO-TNR 10/13 10:15am-2:30pm (Air Madagascar 739)

To See

Animals on Sweetwaters Game Reserve, Goodall Chimpanzee Reserve, Hike Mt Kenya, Nairobi


  • Nairobi – We stayed in Nairobi on the first and last nights – a very crowded and dirty city.
  • Sweetwaters Reserve – I stayed at the Sweetwaters reserve while doing the black rhino Earthwatch study. It was incredible!
  • Mount Kenya – To top off my Kenya experience, I climbed Mt Kenya – it was very tough and I got lost at one point!!