Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Don't miss Marafa

‘Don’t miss Marafa!’ is what my Lonely Planet – Kenya tells me about this geological phenomenon… and I couldn’t agree more! Here is why…

Day one in Malindi, my second in Kenya and the Marafa Depression, locally called Nyari, topped my places to see in this coastal town. Hell’s Kitchen as it is also known is about 30 kms away and we set out on a taxi after lunch. The plan is to reach there after about 3.30 pm when the sun’s rays are a little lesser intense. The place is known to be extremely hot in the peak hours of the afternoon.

It’s a scenic drive with some pretty steep ups and downs. 

  Road to Marafa
 The road is surrounded by arbitrary shrubs, acacia trees, some neem and the distinct baobab. It is a grand tree to which I am introduced to, by my smiling guide and I’m to meet ever so often during the course of my Kenyan Vacation. He tells me that the seeds are edible. They are sweetened and the kids here love them! 

 Baobab Tree
After about an hour’s drive we reach Marafa village. We have to take a guide who leads us to the canyon. A ‘wow’ escapes my lips as we approach the rim of the canyon.  I’ve seen pictures of canyons, but that’s about it… this is the first time I’m seeing a canyon, live!

At the Rim

The sandstone existing in this area eroded over time, due to wind and rain to form this depression.

There is a native legend about how this place was formed, our guide explains.  The place was once inhabited by a rich family. Water was scarce, so they used the milk of their cattle to wash and bathe. This display of excess angered God. Enraged, He cursed the family and sunk the land into the earth.  The soil here is in distinct shades of red, white and yellow. While yellow is the earth, white and red mark the milk and blood respectively.

The colors: milk, earth and blood

  We walk along the rim first and then follow a trail that leads to the floor of the depression. The walls of the canyon are sandy and unstable, vulnerable to touch, causing the surface to crumble. 
Eroding walls of the gorge

The erosion is continuous making the cliché, ‘change is constant’ super-apt here! The eroding sandstone forms some interesting sculptures.

An Elephant Shrew?!

 We complete a circuit and arrive at the place we started. A bit part of the route is narrow and tricky, because of the deep, steep fall there. But a few deep breaths and some assistance from the guide sees me through.
 ... the guide office
It is amazing that a place such as this should be so devoid of consumerism, without even as much as a chai-stall there. We had gone there without carrying water but this they sold at the bench n’ table guide office, along with some soft-drinks, out of an ice-box! A man selling curios near the parking lot was the singular exception.This to my eyes only adds to the allure of the place – untamed and beautiful!!!

Marafa Hell's Kitchen: Bird's eye view


Bella said...

Just found your blog while I was looking to buy chili-flavor chocolate online. Beautiful photos! :)

Gouri said...

:)) Thanks Bella

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