Canyoning: If your friends jumped off a cliff.. would you follow?

It’s been said many times across the years so much so, that I can imagine a loin clothed mother scorning her stone aged child in the mouth of their cave .. “If [insert friends name] jumped off a cliff, would you do the same??” Well.. we did!

We took a trip, along with some other daring folk from work (and their families), up to the Ngare Ndare Forest Trust and undertook some Canyoning.  Neither Wendy or I had ever taken part in the sport before, but had heard about it since arriving.  The context of the day being that we were to head into a canyon and jump from cliffs into pools of water.  Sounds easy enough.

The group met early in the morning and as the transport was provided by work, this allowed us to admire the magnificent scenery Kenya has to offer – we weren’t

Looking Eager after seeing a giraffe

disappointed as we managed to grab a look at some giraffes and baboons on the way!

The whole activity was provided by Rift Valley Adventures and we met with our instructors for the day at their HQ, just outside the Ngare Ndare rangeland.  After a quick introduction and a coffee to steady the nerves, we boarded a bus to take us into the trust area. We had previously done a bit of digging into the Ngare Ndare and found that it’s an indigenous forest, which serves as a route for elephants and other wildlife to reach Mount Kenya, from the Lewa wildlife conservancy.  The area is fenced off from surrounding farmlands which has alleviated the historic clashes between farmers and elephants.

We eventually reached a point where the bus could go no further and we headed out for the final 30 minutes on foot.  Although Wendy and I didn’t get face to face with an

Armed Ranger on our walk

elephant or rhino, we were kept alive to the fact that they were around by the presence of the armed ranger accompanying our group.

Finally we reached the staging post and safety gear was donned before a safety brief from the instructors.  The team explained the route that we would be taking and that we would be jumping off cliffs and waterfalls up to 8 metres high with a bit of rock scrambling for good measure.

Additionally, we were to be rewarded at the end of the day with an abseil down a 27 metre waterfall.

It was only a short walk to the first jump and we were broken in gently.  This pool had 3 points, at differing heights, which meant that you could slowly build confidence. And off we went!  One foot planted, the other striding as far into the pool as you could get in DSC00391order to avoid the face plant into the rocks below.  It was an epic feeling.  The first jump wasn’t greatly high but as we worked our way up, wobbly leg syndrome began to spread throughout the group.

After the instructors were happy that everyone was competent enough to avoid a swan dive into shallow water, we moved on.  We were told that we only had time for two more pools (due to us doing the abseil) but… and it was a big but, once you go over the first you had to do the second – there was no other way out!  After a look over the precipice, several of the group decided to preserve dignity and opt out.  The first jump was over a waterfall and into a specific target area of deep water.  We were told that had missed this target area, we would have been making sandcastles with our faces, as a shallow sandbank sat to the side.  The instructors had the patience of saints and soon enough we were over the edge like lemmings!


With all willing victims volunteers through the first jump, we scrambled our way to the final jump of the day.  This one was only slightly higher than the previous, but had us leaping from the side of the waterfall.  We were told in this case that we had to stride further into the pool, as dropping straight down would have us land [read: Splatted] on rocks below.  I had taken my action camera to film the days events and it was at this jump where I decided to undertake a ‘jumping-selfie’. At this juncture,  I realised that I stick my tongue out when I’m concentrating.  I’d never noticed this before and only when I hit the water, did it become apparent.  I didn’t bite it off though.

With everyone riding the adrenaline high, we scrambled our way back to the staging post for some lunch.  It wasn’t long though before we were heading back into the canyon for the abseil.   We were led to the top of the waterfall where two sets of ropes and instructors were waiting for us.

It’s a long way down

They informed us that one side had us abseiling in the waterfall and the other along the edge of it.  We had to decide ourselves which to do, but it was recommended that only those with previous experience were to undertake the waterboarding toughest route. Wendy and I were first up and after I coerced her into abseiling Table Mountain on our honeymoon, I could tell she was really excited.

I had always wanted to abseil down a waterfall and this didn’t disappoint. Yes, it’s the closest I ever want to come to drowning, but the feeling was intense.

Wendy being the first down

The second route was  equally difficult, as the stone was slippery with algae and very hard to keep momentum going.  Wendy and the others who took that route managed it very well.

The day was an amazing experience and we hope to repeat the day with some guests, next year.  It’s a great way to realise that on top of the outstanding safari, scenery and trekking, Kenya still has a lot more to offer.

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