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on kenya (ii)

Headed down into the Great Rift Valley, the view is hard to grasp; it’s the kind of view that tells stories upon stories, but above all the story of your own smallness. Because in all your perfection, you’re nothing compared to its vastness. I love those kinds of views–they are both astonishing and soothing, and they give explicit directive not to take life so seriously, considering the long view of things.

Kenya Rift Valley view vista valley

We entered the valley at Hell’s Gate, rumbling through shrubby plains lined by enormous, wind-blown cliffs. The animals of my childhood storybooks traipsed about, and I pointed in glee again and again. Below, bottom right, there is a small brown bump headed over that low fold in the landscape. It could be anything; it is a warthog (my very first).

Kenya Rift Valley wildlife giraffe safari

Hell’s Gate is nothing if not hike-worthy, and we headed into The Gorge, led by a young Maasai tour guide named Richard who was lovely, and patient, and a fantastic contrast to the weathered surroundings in his bright red cloth. we made it all the way to The Devil’s Bedroom, but thought better of the long trek to The Devil’s Kitchen. Hot springs trickled out from between the rocks, warmed by volcanic lava pulsing beneath.

Kenya Rift Valley Maasai tour guide traditional hike

We went flamingo-hunting and came up short in terms of flamingos, but really quite long as far as the view: Lake Nakuru, a “soda lake” among the Rift Valley Lakes.

Kenya Rift Valley lake Nakuru soda dock

At the end of the day the view slowly recedes, and you’re left with a filmy sensation of gratitude for having seen it. what I try to hold onto going forward each time is that visceral certitude at my own insignificance, which propels me away from my own ego and towards truer compass points.

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