The Hippo Hangout
The hangout is just a few meters off the Tuala dirt road just past the Nazarene gate on the left.
The few days before heading home for Christmas were nothing short of interesting. The same can be said for this new year. After going through a painful breakup, I found solace in taking random walks and exploring Ole Kasasi, Ongata Rongai. Walking has become my thing, and I try and take walks whenever I can. Sometimes I walk with a friend, but most times I walk alone. Ole Kasasi is in Ongata Rongai, Kajiado, Kenya, and is my home away from home. It is where I feel that my life is and where I want to be.
Directions to Ole Kasasi, Ongata Rongai
To get to Ole Kasasi, you need to reach Maasai Lodge Stage. On your way to Maasai Lodge, the actual gate to the Wildlife Park, you need to branch right, and there you will find Ole Kasasi A. Ole Kasasi A is just past Manna Bible Institute on Rimpa Road. Ole Kasasi B is past Manna on your left as you head towards Africa Nazarene University. To get to Ole Kasasi B, you need to branch right before getting to Nazarene, where you can find tuk-tuks at an intersection commonly referred to as Kona.
I live in Ole Kasasi, around Manna, and to me, the outdoor space around this place is to die for. There are two wide expanses, commonly referred to as ‘field’ on either side of the road to Nazarene, past Manna, and before Kona. These two are beautiful open spaces open to the public even though not sure whether intended to be. They serve as shortcuts or routes for people to intersect Ole Kasasi A and B.
You can imagine what it is like to have such space to feel the wind and sulk in heartbreak, so much for love and distance. Beyond the first field, you can see Nazarene University’s humongous chapel, and the field can connect you from Manna to the Tuala dirt road. Once on the Tuala dirt road, just meters from the Africa Nazarene gate, you can branch left past a tree plantation where you will find the Hippo Hangout.
Have you been to Ole Kasasi in Ongata Rongai?
You heard it right. I call the place the ‘Hippo Hangout’ because it is a swamp or small lake, if you will, behind Lutheran Maalum Children’s Centre. The hangout is just a few meters off the Tuala dirt road just past the Nazarene gate on the left. You can also get there using the Maasai Lodge dirt road, past the barrier.
The swamp is along a shortcut that connects the Maasai Lodge dirt road past the barrier to the Tuala Dirt road. It is mainly a footpath and has only enough space for a motorbike to cross. Mind you, a vehicle will only get you to the Lutheran Centre’s gate, and past there, the swamp is just a stone's throw away. I would advocate for caution to avoid trespassing into people’s land as there are settlements in that area.
The swamp actually has hippopotamuses or hippos, thus the name Hippo Hangout. These beasts are majestic beasts that assume they do not see you there staring at them and will mostly mind their own business. The swamp is near a thicket, and it is advisable to keep a few meters distance off its shores to avoid human-wildlife conflict. I need not say what danger a hippo with its humongous mouth would pose to an individual.
It is, therefore, crucial that you hang out carefully and watchfully. Again, there is the risk that the hippo could come out of the water, and there could also be snakes in the grass. I have not seen a snake in that area, but even around Nazarene, one could come across a snake. I have only seen a frog and, in one of the fields, a rat. Mind you, these small creatures are snacks for snakes, so one should be very careful while exploring those parts.
A View of Nairobi City
The Nairobi National Park is just meters away, and on the Maasai Lodge dirt road past the barrier, one can get a view of Nairobi City. One can also see giraffes, zebras, and even antelopes or gazelles from a distance in the evenings. A lucky explorer could see a few gazelles and giraffes on either side of the dirt road up close. One should, however, be cautious, especially in the evening, as it is inadvisable to walk in the darkness near there.
However, with a vehicle, an explorer is sure to enjoy a beautiful view of Nairobi City lights. The Hippo Hangout is a free opportunity to see a hippo and could serve as a picnicking location. We recently discovered with a friend that one hippo had had a baby, and I even have a picture of the baby hippo. If you love photography like me, then you will enjoy the photo opportunities. In the following shot, taken as part of David Mania Photography, the baby hippo is being held up, I think, by its mother to catch some sunlight. Here is the baby hippo on its mother’s back.
Hippos are good swimmers, and any explorer should be cautious not to get too close to the swamp. It is fun to see the animals, but I think the Kenya Wildlife Service or KWS should ensure that the swamp is safe and that the hippos are being monitored to prevent any accidents owing to human-wildlife conflict. Look at the beautiful view of Nairobi City from behind the Nairobi National Park, the only park in the world that is within a city and only meters away from the Central Business District or CBD.
Generally, the place is safe, and even herders will comfortably let their cows feed on the grass by the swamp. Here are the cattle.
The swamp also has birds, white birds that like to accompany cattle. Be sure to visit the Hippo Hangout, be safe, and enjoy.