Mount Kenya Impact SurveyJanuary 9 2015
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We were very pleasantly surprised by the lack of litter items we were able to collect on the trek from Old Moses Camp to Shipton Camp. We were only able to collect a quart ziplock bag of trash items during a 6 hour hike. The items were small plastic wrappers for gum and candies, cigarette butts, Popsicle sticks, water bottle plastic seals, parts of shoe soles, and wet wipes. Kinarro our guide told us that the Guides and Porters organize a bi-annual clean up day, where the members collect trash and debris for removal. It's working.
One of the first things that we noticed at the park was the construction of a new EU financed Tarmac road from the Simiron Gate to the Old Moses Camp. Why the road was being constructed through the park was a bit of a mystery. Was it just because the funds were available from a foreign source? Our guide Kinarro told us that the road was not supported by the Guides and Porters Association, they feel like it is an unnecessary intrusion into the Park. Sometimes Aid money can have unintended consequences.
We travelled to the park on the 11th January from Narobi, meeting our guide, porters, and cook in Nanyuki.
The local Kikuyu People who live in the areas surrounding the park have developed an organization of certified guides, cooks and porters. This system provides much needed employment for the locals in the area of the park and provides a sense of value and local ownership to the park system that is noticeable amongst the local people.
My plan to use the "BRIC" device and an i phone to record some of our findings in real time fell afoul of my poor technological skill set, I wasn't able to set the APN settings on my iPhone to allow it to talk to the BRIC before we left. However we did bring the device with us to test its signal reception in the remote areas of the park, and found it able to pick up weak signals and amplify them in areas where there was no available cell phone reception.
The fee for non residents entering the park was 255 US dollars, and the fee for residents was 6000 Kenyan shillings. It's a two tiered scheme but we understand the need for revenue to run the park, and the rational that foreigners have a greater ability to pay. The 6000 shilling fee for residents excludes a great many lower income Kenyans, as evidenced by the mix of climbers and tourists we encountered in the park
We also picked up a very cool Router and Portable wifi hotspot that is designed here in Nairobi, called the "BRCK" it can take a very weak cell phone signal, amplify it and allow us to get internet access in remote areas. Www.brick.com if you are interested in learning more about these people and their amazing device.
We were hoping to take it into the park with us to allow real time posting of observations
Planning and preparations have begun here in Nairobi, with Makuhei arraigning for transport and employing local porters and a guide. Brian is arrainging gear and supplies here in Nairobi while we wait for Curtis to arrive from New Hampshire in the USA . Makuhei will be making her second trip to the park, and will be a great member to have onboard as a native Kikuyu speaker and experienced climber. Curtis brings many years of technical climbing experience and wilderness Paramedic qualifications. We have brought of our gear and equipment from the States, and will be sourcing food and locally available stove fuel here.
We plan to get information from park officials and the local guides as to the visitor traffic numbers, and to estimate the number of local citizens who are employed as guides, cooks and porters.
On a trip to Mount Kenya January 9th through the 17th we will be trying to survey the impact of our and fellow tourists visits on the land and water resources of the park. We plan to concentrate on foot traffic erosion, waste disposal, and water pollution from tourism activities.