Category Archives: Home Stays

Diary of an Explorer at the Tugen Hills…

Day 3: Medicinal Plant Collection

Our mission on that day was to collect as many medicinal plants as possible. We followed our usual routine and left house at 8am in the morning. We joined Mathew at the center (main point at Morop) and spent the whole day trekking one side of the mountain collecting medicinal plant samples, taking pictures and videos.

For each plant that was picked we paused for a couple of minutes attentively listening to Bakari, Mathew and Ester as they each shared their knowledge about the plants. It was absolutely interesting. Most of the morning was spent collecting medicinal plants from the lower part of the mountain and the rest of the day we focused on the midsection of the mountain. Some plants can only be found on certain parts of the mountain but in this case we found that most of the plants obtained could be located from a lower altitude to a higher altitude on the Morop Mountain. For each plant that was collected Bakari placed them in the middle of a two paged newspaper. He later on taught us how to arrange and press the plants using a plant press, which he made using pieces of leftover wood and wire. Check out the entertaining videos below, on the procedure of how to use a plant press.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/CoI94UAT2R0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/tg2OviV3ynU" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

We managed to collect around 30 medicinal plants in just one day. A great feeling of accomplishment filled our hearts because we didn’t anticipate collecting so much in just a day…what a productive day!!! Later on Mr. William Kimosop, the senior warden of the area joined us in the evening and was with us for the rest of the trip…it was a great pleasure having him with us!!

Day 4: Plant identification and Information compilation

The day was spent at the home stay, identifying each of the plants collected and writing down their uses and the treatments and also planning the agenda for the rest of the expedition. As Bakari was arranging, pressing and identifying the scientific names of each plant with the help of his son and Philip. Ester, Mathew and I were jolting down each of the plants information and their uses. It took longer than expected because we collected several plant species the previous day. William also spent the day with us, telling as amazing stories about the great rift valley and the beautiful places to visit and the adrenaline pumping adventures that are yet to be experienced by not only us but by everyone who loves the wilderness…

Our Plant of the day was….

Croton dichogamus

Common name: Orange leaves croton

Local Tugen: Kelelwet

Family: Euphobiaceae

Synonyms: Croton kilwae

Croton dichogamus

Croton dichogamus

Description

A Multi-stemmed shrub to 3 meters high with many branches, thin twigs and numerous leaves.

Leaves: silvery beneath and brownish on the upper surface, turning orange before falling, aromatic.

Flowers: yellowish and sometimes with male flowers only (male and female separate).

Fruits: golden brown 3 lobed capsules in small clusters.

Habitat

Commonly grows in dry bushland, mostly on rocky soil, thickets, along dry upland forest edges and also in disturbed and grazed areas at altitudes of 500-2100m.

Uses

Leaves are crushed to remove juice and then used in the production of local brew. The leaves that fall to the ground are eaten by goats and are also browsed to a lesser extent. Medicinal uses: the roots are boiled for fever and stomach problems.

Preparation and Dosage

An infusion made by boiling the roots in water.

Children: ½ a cup, 2 times (morning and evening) a day for 3 days.

Adults: 1 cup, 2 times (morning and evening) a day for 3 days.

Diary of an Explorer at the Tugen Hills…

I, Nasrin Suleiman, am delighted to share with you my amazing experience on an expedition along the trans rift trail to discover medicinal plants used by the Tugen community in the Morop/Tarambas conservancy. Joined by an amazing team, consisting of Bakari Garise the botanist from Mombasa and tea lover, his son Mohammed, Mathew Kipkemoi and Ester Jepkurui, the medicinal plant specialists/guides and Philip Ndungu the pilot/driver…join me for the next 9days and discover a new world of medicine and culture at the Northern side of Kenya at the great rift valley…

The team: from left William, Ester, Mathew, Nasrin, Bakari and Philip

The team: from left William, Ester, Mathew, Nasrin, Bakari and Philip

One of the most interesting features of the trans rift trail is the cultural dependence on medicinal plants for medicine. William Kimosop (Chief Warden of Lake Baringo National Reserve) invited us to document the various plants and their uses along the trail as a way of creating an attraction for tourism, as well as to preserve the details of this herbal knowledge by interviewing the most respected herbalists in the area, to create a database of their materials and methods and to also educate them in ways to preserve samples collected that will be utilized as a lasting document for generations to come. The best way to do this is to spend time with the very people who use and know about the traditional medicines.

Day 1: The start to our exciting journey

The team met for the first time at the AWF (Africa Wildlife foundation) offices followed by a brief induction by Dr. Paula Kahumbu on our objective, responsibilities and duties. We then geared up, fuelled up and left Nairobi at 12.15 heading north towards Naivasha. Driving along the Nairobi-Nakuru highway we were blessed with beautiful scenery of Mt. Longonot, Lake Naivasha and lake Nakuru. I made sure I didn’t fall asleep in the car so as not to miss out on the view. We then stopped in Nakuru to do some shopping and got extremely frustrated by lack of parking in the vicinity. Philip did a great job at that and finally got a safe place to park.

A Signpost showing that we are at the equator

A Signpost showing that we are at the equator

The Equator Educational Resource Center in Mogotio and William Kimosop's office.

The Equator Educational Resource Center in Mogotio

We proceeded with our journey up North and finally arrived at Mogotio Equator tourist center (right at the equator) and met William Kimosop. William gave us an informative orientation of the area where we will be working. This was extremely beneficial and made our work easier. He then directed us to our next destination, according to his simple yet very helpful map, we got the impression that the place was not as far as expected  but to our surprise it was 90Km ahead. We were absolutely convinced that we took a wrong turning and were lost, it was hilarious because we were looking for a cement wall as per the instructions on the map but couldn’t find it especially since we had been driving for over an hour and couldn’t contact William or Ester owing to very low mobile phone network signals. Just as we were about to turn back we managed to get through to Ester and she informed us that we were on the right track. We had a good laugh about the situation. More than 2 hours later we picked Ester up at Morop Junction and headed to the home stay in Kituro (3Km further ahead), owned by a bishop. The area is around 7Km before the town of Kabarnet.

We were accommodated at a beautiful house on a hill at kabilat farm meaning “the place where the thunder lives….”

Williams map: simple directions to our final destination

Williams map: simple directions to our final destination

We later found out that in the Tugen culture it is very offensive to inform someone of the exact distance of a destination, they believe telling a person just how far it is which is usually far, will demoralize them from perpetuating  with the journey. So whenever you ask for the distance you will simply be told it’s just around the corner yet it several Kilometers further on, strangely it’s actually a short distance for them to travel…now I understand why they are ranked the best runners in the world….