CHAMPAGNE AND CRISP MOUNTAIN AIR

Linda, tighten the reins, Clipper, keep up…….the clear voice of the head syce floated on the crisp morning air. We were on our way up the slopes of Mt Kenya on horseback….this was part of a weekend away for 4 girls and we wanted to take advantage of every possible moment.

When planning this trip, the extra activity of “Breakfast on the slopes of Mt Kenya’ caught everyone’s eye and it was a unanimous decision to book this trip as soon as we arrived at the Mt Kenya Safari Club  in Nanyuki.

We started off from the Club at 8 am this morning…the 2 syces brought out the horses and they looked impossibly high for us amateurs to mount. Luckily, the staff had foreseen this and we made use of a metal bench on the grounds to mount the horses, with lots of help from the Club staff. After some brief instructions on how to handle our horses, we were off, suitably attired in long pants, sturdy boots and helmets.

It was a gorgeous day and we walked down by the river and into the Mt Kenya National Park….a line of 6 beautiful horses, walking sedately in a line. The forest looked dark and mysterious in the morning light and we could hear lots of rustling in the trees and bushes. Don’t worry…we were told..the horses are used to the wildlife. That may be, but what about us? We surely were not used to the wildlife!!

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We rode along the trail, in single file as the horses did not like being overtaken….traits of human competitiveness? On the 30 minute ride up the mountain slopes, we saw monkeys and bushbuck, while the trail winded up and down. Being total amateurs on a horse, we were advised to lean forward while going up and lean back with heels down on the downward trails. It took a little getting used to, but after a while we got the hang of it and began to enjoy the morning ride through the forest.

The mountain remained out of sight for the entire trip up, until we came to the clearing and saw the breathtaking view of the mountain. Luckily there was no cloud cover on the mountain top and there she was, revealed in all her glory…we were indeed fortunate to have seen this beautiful sight.

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Another beautiful sight that greeted us, was a breakfast table laid for 4, complete with crystal glasses and champagne. What a lovely start to the day. On dismounting, which proved to be easier than mounting, we settled down for our delicious champagne breakfast.

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Starting us off with a fruit & muesli parfait, we then moved to eggs served with salmon. It was a perfect cloudless day, and the setting was also perfect. The staff serving us breakfast were so discreet that we felt we were alone in this forest

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setting. After we felt we couldn’t eat another bite, they brought us platters of fresh fruit with honey….sooo delicious!

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Great company, good food and the mountain in front of us…..we sat there chatting for ages, catching up on events. It felt so good to just be there, so relaxing after the difficult & stressful week we had been through. They even rigged up an outdoor toilet for emergencies, complete with sweet smelling handwash and lotion.

Finally, it was time to head back and reluctantly we made our way to the horses. Here again, I wondered how we were going to mount the horses but I had underestimated the syces….we used the base of a fallen tree and this time it was easier…..maybe we will make good horsewomen one day!

Coming back to the Club seemed shorter, as is normally the case. One of the horses got spooked by a bushbaby and began cantering wildly. Luckily the rider had the presence of mind to remember the instructions given to us at the beginning, and managed to calm her horse…..didn’t I say we were on our way to becoming good horsewomen?

Riding into Club at the end of a perfect morning was a bit anticlimactic, but I reassured myself that the mountain would always be there and  promised myself I would be back soon…..

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