Day 7 – August 4
What a great night of sleep and at a perfect time as today marks the beginning of the actual Proper Walk. John and Amanda of Ol Maisor, the ranch supplying our camels and handlers, will be driving down in their pickup to carpool to Chanler Falls. We played a long game of frisbee with a few of the staff members joining in. It was a rousing game of “bee” with some good hot dogging and trick throws to keep things entertaining. Cathy informs Michael she is experiencing a great deal of discomfort in her hip after yesterday’s tune up walk and decides she can’t do the Proper Walk. She must be extremely disappointed.
John, Amanda, Roger, and Toto head into the grounds and we all introduce ourselves. Amanda is Jasper Evan's daughter, the patriarch of Ol Maisor and a legend in the camel world. Roger is Jasper’s cousin who hails from Australia but grew up in Kenya until he was 17. Toto is one of the ranch employees. Roger has been on all of the walks and is greeted warmly by Michael and Steve.
After greetings we load up and Toto joins us in Teddy. We head into Nanyuki for some supplies and have lunch and a few Tuskers with John and Amanda. Soon we take off to join the camel caravan that is waiting several hours north and east of us.
We pass through at least half a dozen ecosystems including a large agricultural area in the high plains where wheat is grown on huge fields. When we arrive at Isiolo we stop at a police check point to clarify directions to Chanler Falls. The last miles are spent on a dusty, wash board road through an arid landscape with sporadic herds of cattle, goats and camels. Along this road we stop to take a break as the road worsens.
Finally, we come to a Boran village just above the river and we drive across a ford. We stop and are told that we have arrived at Chanler Falls. We all head down to the river bed to see if we can find the falls that we can only hear. Instantly, we have a phalanx of kids watching us with some asking for a hand out. We come to the edge of a cliff and see below us a beautiful river with lush green trees and the muddy red/brown water of the Ewaso Nyiro. The lush green before us is in stark contrast to the arid land we have been surrounded by for the past several hours. We make our way to our right following the roar of the falls and there it is, the famous Chanler Falls.
The falls are named after William Astor Chanler, an heir to the Astor fortune who funded several personal East Africa expeditions; including one in 1892, during which he discovered the falls we are at today. We will be following a different route from his but it is interesting to read about his accounts of the area 100 years ago. Tommie brought Chanler’s book chronicling his explorations with maps of his routes and detailed journals.
While we look at the river and falls, John heads off to find the camels and herders who should be camped close by. He finds them on a plateau and directs us to turn around and head back to the village we passed. One of the herders comes to meet us at the road and runs ahead to direct us. My first sight of the camp is of the camels, 16 in all. I have never been this close to a camel before. They are amazing, gurgling and complaining and making sounds that I recognize from Star Wars. So, that is where George Lucas got some of his special sound effects - from camels.
We are introduced to the 6 handlers who will take care of the camels, protect us from lion and hyena attacks, communicate with the Samburu and other tribes we encounter along the way; and to generally enjoy themselves on our little adventure. We meet Robin and Jessica, two of John and Amanda’s friends who will be taking Teddy back to Ol Maisor. They will stay with us for the next 2 nights helping with meals and camp set up and tear down; very nice couple.
John, Roger and the herders are inoculating the camels. We learn several died on the journey to Chanler Falls from tryps; a type of sleeping sickness, I am told. The camels don’t like this process and produce some truly amazing sounds while acting as if they are going to bite their handlers.
We have a quick supper, unload and set up our tents for the first time and go to sleep. We are provided a thick plastic sheet to protect the bottom of our tents and a mat to sleep on. Each of us brought a sleeping bag and mat for extra padding. Even though we are tired the excitement of starting the Proper Walk makes it hard to nod off.