On the journey to Eburu forest, I linked up with the other hikers of Kwea Milele at Uthiru. It was not a good idea. The bus, a Nissan Civilian, was overbooked. As such, I was made to sit on a sambaza, (one those flimsy aisle sits without a backrest). The trip may have taken two hours but to me, it was more. Many more on account of my afflicted backend.
But we did get to
the starting point of the hike. That after we had a pre-hike hike of about one hour because, after Ndabibi, the road progressively became worse until eventually, it was one big continuous rut with medium to small ruts inside of it. If you have looked at the Civilian carefully, you have noticed it is not meant for off-road, right? Good. This excuse of a road, was practically off-road. But we did get to the starting point. Now the starting point is a VIP (very import point). It is a VIP because this is where the gunslinger, whom hike adverts refer to as armed escort, justifies his presence by claiming that there are buffaloes in the particular forest. So it was then at the starting point, our guide summoned his business face, called us around him and after making all the pre-hike blah blah blah, introduced the gunslinger.
We hit the cattle tracks into what is remaining of the Eburu forest. What is remaining of the the home of the endangered mountain bongo? Ferns are what is remaining and were having quite some fun until a fern hit the shit. Actually, it was a black boot that hit the shit and then the shit hit the fern, and it was smoking fresh buffalo dung! I don’t know at what point the gunslinger decided we were some sought of US marines, but he lifted his clenched-fist arm signal like in the movies. We all froze, just like in the movies, and we were quiet as night, just like in the movies. The gunslinger whispered, “Buffaloes”, pointing at the evidence covering his avunja. He listened awhile, we helped him listen awhile, then observing the hoofprints, he led us a down different path. Down a garden path as it were since there was no path. No trail. None.
Then suddenly the thicket ended and with it any pretences of a forest.
Eburu, oh Eburu! How I weep for you. There was no tree for Kilometres on end but ferns and ferns punctuated by remnants of charcoal burning patches.