Running Wild In Lewa: The #SafaricomMarathon Where Fun Meets Conservation

2
Ibrahim Maina,a guard at Ngare Ndare forest takes Travel Writer John Fox and sons through Ngare Ndare Canopy walkway. Image courtesy of Safaricom

Pack your bags and let’s go to Lewa for the Marathon on the 25th of June 2016.

Picture this, you close your eyes but when you open them you are not in you dreary, sometimes stuffy office, or classroom, or having constant nagging children or Parents, who God knows you love but who do drive you insane. Instead when you open your eyes, you are in a savannah. You see the home of Simba, the setting of Lion King, only this time it’s real.

Elephants in Lewa. Picture courtesy of Safaricom
Elephants in Lewa. Picture courtesy of Safaricom

The majestic elephants who deserve to be bowed down before trumpeting their way through life, but they pause for two seconds to observe you as your heart leaps out of your chest in awe. The rhinos, on the other hand keep their distance, not really paying you any mind which you don’t necessarily mind as you observe the pointy horn that comes right out of the centre of his head. Then the giraffe’s walk by, graceful and tall, showing of the length of her curves as she stretches her neck to bite into the leaf that attempted to elude her.

Beautiful Giraffes. Image courtesy of Safaricom
Beautiful Giraffes. Image courtesy of Safaricom
You will find the two types of Zebra in Lewa. Image courtesy of Safaricom
You will find the two types of Zebra in Lewa. Image courtesy of Safaricom
A sleeping Rhino. Image courtesy of Safaricom
A sleeping Rhino. Image courtesy of Safaricom

If you wake up early enough you also get to be woken up to the sound of colourful chirping and you can even try to be fancy and go out bird watching to see how many birds you can name. Each day, for two days you are reminded how small you are compared to these creatures which astound you. This is the whole point of the Lewa Run in the first place, to teach us not to take for granted what we have been given, to even give back to this beautiful earth that gleams with fertility under our feet.

The Marathon itself has a beautiful history, rich with meaning. We have actually shared The Story behind Lewa here. The Lewa Marathon is run over a bush course that winds its way across open plains, forest and hills. The 42.195-kilometre (26.219 mi) endurance race is sponsored by Safaricom in partnership with the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in order to raise funds, as we mentioned above, for numerous community development and wildlife conservation efforts. It is not only the perfect opportunity but a necessary experience to remind us that we don’t take nearly enough time to recognize to invest into Kenya. Our wildlife, our plant life, our forests, our land; it is all our future, our children’s future yet we take it all for granted.

Elephants and Rhinos in Lewa. Image courtesy of Safaricom
Elephants and Rhinos in Lewa. Image courtesy of Safaricom

It is, to say the least, a remarkable sight. Hundreds of runners from all over the world light footing it through the African wilderness under glow of a rising Equator sun. There are three race categories; The Full Marathon, Half Marathon and Children’s Race, so you can even have a little family fun and get the kids feeling like they are part of this big group of people making an impact!  The races start at 7.00 am at the southern end of the conservancy. The course is set on dirt roads that take the runners on an undulating 13 mile course through the reserve, across savannah plains, along river banks and through acacia woodland before finishing close to Lewa’s headquarters.

Running in the wild. Image from http://www.safaricom.co.ke/blog/road-to-safaricom-marathon-lewa-work-life-balance-is-an-art/
Running in the wild at the Safaricom Lewa Marathon. Image from http://www.travelstart.com.eg/blog/top-13-places-to-run-a-marathon/

But it does not end there; in fact some would say the end of the race is the beginning of the party! As they believe the land does not set in this land, and life’s exciting buzz carries on late into the night. In the evenings you can expect to meet world renowned athletes, and several other categories of new people, have drinks and share a meal with friends, and experience the authentic camping experience! Relax and enjoy the cool breeze as you listen to the night sounds. You do not have to be running the marathon to experience Lewa during the marathon. Because of impact issues on the animals, they keep the number of runners down but this is a great chance for you (even if you are not running) to experience the marathon in your own unique way. This will be the kind of trip where you have fun, help support the conservancy with the money you are paying for camping and you will have memories that will last you a lifetime. The Lewa Marathon is an experience you will never forget so you need to make your travel plans to head on down.

sunrise lewa
Sunrise in Lewa. Image courtesy of Safaricom

The next morning if the night life didn’t embed you, get a few friends and wake up early enough to catch the sunrise in this beautiful part of our country. Carry a camera lest you regret it! Wake up to the birds chirping unfamiliar tunes in your ears, and close your eyes. Feel the early morning breeze and realize that this is paradise. It doesn’t have to be a fancy hotel, or home, but for two seconds this here, this feeling of knowing that it is just you and the earth around you, this is what you are here for; to experience it, to let it remind you that you need to protect it at all costs.

Then during the day go out and adventure! Visit the Rock Gongs! The rock art at Lewa Downs consists of geometric and abstract rock paintings as well as of rock gongs. Gongs can be recognized for the large numbers of cupules – carved cup-shaped depressions. When struck in different places with a hammer gongs produce different tones just like a musical instrument. Rock gongs were likely used for divining purposes and ritual communication in the past. It is believed that the paintings have been made by Twa hunter-gatherer people between 1000 and 3000 years ago. Can you imagine that history, right in front of you?

Then you must not leave without visiting the Ngare Ndare Forest. Ngare Ndare is a lush indigenous forest at the foothills of Mt. Kenya. Azure pools glisten at the bottom of waterfalls and 200 year old trees stretch into the metal canopy supporting a rich variety of bird and animal life. The forest is a vital corridor that links the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy to Mount Kenya, and one which elephants have been using for centuries. It Are you captivated yet by the enchanting allure of such a forest?

The falls in Ngare Ndare are beautiful. The blue pool is a must see. Picture courtesy of Safaricom
The falls in Ngare Ndare are beautiful. The blue pool is a must see. Picture courtesy of Safaricom
Ibrahim Maina,a guard at Ngare Ndare forest takes Travel Writer John Fox and sons through Ngare Ndare Canopy walkway. Image courtesy of Safaricom
Ibrahim Maina,a guard at Ngare Ndare forest takes Travel Writer John Fox and sons through Ngare Ndare Canopy walkway. Image courtesy of Safaricom

It would seem like you have literally stepped out of this world and into another! This year there is even a special offer for the marathon goers. Whether you’re running or spectating, this year you get the chance to combine your Safaricom Marathon weekend with a trip to Ngare Ndare Forest Trust, which is just 15km away from the Marathon campsite. The trip includes transport, the canopy walk, a guided forest walk and an incredible chance to see this waterfall.  Find out more here!

Some of the other activities as shared by the Lewa Homepage include,

    • Game Drives
      Wildlife variety and densities on Lewa make any drive an adventure. Lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant, impala, buffalo, black and white rhino. The list is long and the experience memorable. All drives are done by local experienced guides in open four-wheel drive vehicles. It is also interesting to note that a large number of endangered species reside here such as the rare and endangered black rhino, Grevy’s zebra and sitatunga.
Image courtesy of Safaricom
Image courtesy of Safaricom
Image courtesy of Safaricom
Image courtesy of Safaricom
Image courtesy of Safaricom
Image courtesy of Safaricom

 

    • Educational Tours on the History and Day-to-Day Operations of the Conservancy 
      Whether it’s a visit to the pre-historic archaeological site, a local school, water project or feeding a baby rhino there are plenty of activities that will peak your interest for a behind the scenes look at the conservancy operations.

I hope that hearing about this trip will cause the call for adventure to grab at your heart strings, and tug, refusing to let go until you do yourself the best favour you can do yourself this year and go to Lewa! If you would like to know more check out the Safaricom Marathon page from more information.

Facebook Comments

2 COMMENTS

  1. […] Last week I was at the Lewa Conservancy to find out more about the projects that the Safaricom Lewa Marathon supports. While we were there we managed to go on a couple of game drives where we saw some of the attractions Lewa has to offer. Here are some of the animals you will see as you go on a game drive in this beautiful conservancy. It is worth a visit and you will not be disappointed. Running Wild In Lewa: The #SafaricomMarathon Where Fun Meets Conservation. […]

Comments are closed.