We were on a very short family visit to Kenya and were staying on the family farm near Kampi Ya Moto, Nakuru. We were extremely keen to visit this cache for many reasons - it was our first ever Kenyan cache and of course it has a very special status as GC53 and the oldest ever original virtual cache. It also just happens to be the closest geocache to their farm (13km as the crow flies) and it was an opportunity to introduce the family to one of our more obscure interests (in their opinion).
Now the listing carries a warning not to do this one at the height of the rainy season and April is not meant to be that, but the local often arid countryside is now lush with green vegetation and sodden after very heavy rainfall for some weeks. We were lucky in that we had two almost dry days leading up to our adventure and local family equipped with capable off road vehicles and an intrepid exploring spirit. There is a tradition perpetrated by my brother-in-law (Jo Mills) of taking spontaneous deviations from tried and tested routes to look for new and interesting countryside. These deviations, which can take hours longer than planned and often take in uncharted (and sometimes non-existing) roads and tracks, are known in the family as Mills Mystery Tours (MMT).
After a drive up to have a look at the new Chemususu dam (which will eventually supply water to many local towns) and which is also virtually on the equator, we set off to find the cache on our way home. True to tradition the expedition soon turned into a MMT involving poor and non-existing roads, cattle, goats, lots of sisal and dramatic scenery and in the end, lots and lots of water! As we got closer to the cache area the roads got wetter and wetter and the heavy clouds sprinkled a whole lot more water into the picture. We were lucky to be in superb off-road vehicles with experienced drivers but even then we thought we would not be able to get close. As it was we got to within 50m of the exact spot before the vehicles were forced to stop and back out. The canal was full with the adjacent flooded road pouring into it and this bit of the equator was temporarily under water. Two sacred ibis and two crowned cranes were sheltering under the marker tree while waiting for the world to dry out a bit.
Having achieved our goal, we set about extracting ourselves from the swamp and then discovered that while we were travelling in comfort, we were sharing the road with intrepid travellers of extreme tenacity. Some of the local boda boda (motorcycle) riders transport charcoal from the production areas to the local towns. As they load the boda bodas with impossible loads consisting of 4 to 6 sacks of charcoal weighing at least 400kg, they take the back roads to avoid the traffic authorities on the main roads. The sacks are packed on the seat and carrier of the boda boda and piled high which means the whole thing is incredibly heavy and unstable and the rider sits perched on the fuel tank with his knees jammed against the handlebars. This unstable arrangement seems near impossible anyway, but the flooded roads and potholes meant that inevitably we came across a couple of capsized and stranded vehicles that we helped to push and drag out of their respective holes.
This was one of our best and one of our more extreme caching experiences ever and it was gratifying to top it with an iconic and historic geocache. I would endorse the advice in the listing that this one is best left for drier weather, but sometimes one needs to take the opportunities that present themselves and enjoy the additional challenge.
Thanks for a most memorable experience.