Living at Kilimanjaro Bush Camp
If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you probably have seen a lot of pictures based out of Kilimanjaro Bush Camp (KBC). This is where we’re calling home for our time in Kenya. It’s a facility located near Kimana, Kenya — just about 40km away from the northern side of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Just a side note, we are working very hard everyday (we work about 6 days a week — 10–12 hours a day on our research project)…so we’re not just going on safaris and relaxing everyday.
Anyways, KBC is quite a spacious and comprehensive camp. In the center of the facility is the central classroom/kitchen/dining hall called the chumba, with 10 individual grass huts called banda, where we sleep at night. We also have access to an outdoor shower and toilets.
Here’s five interesting points I’ve noticed about living at our campsite:
Lots of bugs, mosquito, and other natural “friends”
I think one of things you notice immediately, especially at night, are the bugs and mosquito. I’ve had to constantly spray myself with bug spray to keep these critters away from me. Maybe it’s genetics or maybe it’s in my blood, but they always gravitate towards me. I’ve had numerous bites already — and I also get some pretty large swelling.
In addition to these critters, we also have animals joining us: friends like bats and baboons. When we were writing our literature reviews (with limited internet access), these flying creatures would come swooping into our large classroom. I’d constantly have to have my hoodie.
Sleeping in mosquito nets
Because the area that we’re staying in is prone to mosquitos carrying malaria, we have to sleep under these nets at nighttime to prevent mosquitos from biting us. It definitely took a few days to get used to sleeping under them, but now, these nets no longer bother me.
What is annoying about these nets, however, is that we have to crawl in and out of them all the time. When we go into these malaria nets, we always have to make sure the edges are tucked securely underneath our mattress. This prevents us from sleeping with mosquitos or other critters like ants and beetles. So, let’s say if you crawled into your net, then wanted to read a book before going to bed, you would have to crawl out then back in get to that book.
These primates are everywhere at KBC. They also constantly are intruding our territory. We are equipped with slingshots, but most of them time, we end up just running towards them or making noise to scare them away.
These nature friends aren’t aggressive or harmful, just merely annoying. After lunchtime everyday, they’d come to the field in front of our classroom to forage. But the horrible part afterwards is that they poop everywhere.
The one part about living in such a remote location in a developing country is the limited amount of resources we have access to. It really forces you to limit what you use and partition what you have. For example, Wifi is horrible out here — and even worse when you have to share a single Wifi hotspot with 30 other people. You learn to be creative in using Wifi and stand in locations where the Wifi spot is the strongest.
You learn to use only what you need, especially in terms of water and electricity.
If you thought doing your own laundry was bad (with modern washing machines), it’s even worse when you must hand wash them.
Power outages are frequent at KBC. But in terms of sustainability, it’s great. We’re always using our reusable water bottles, switching off the lights when we don’t use them, and doing laundry with cold water and air drying it outdoors.
One of the most amazing aspects of living in this remote area of Kenya is the great vista we get every day. Mt. Kilimanjaro is viewable from our campsite. It is breathtaking. Looking up, we see the great blue sky and white fluffy clouds. Looking around us, there’s plenty of luscious green vegetation. It is absolutely so serene and peaceful. But, without a doubt, my favorite type of vegetation in this part of Africa is the acachia trees — the ones you see in The Lion King.
Contrary to stereotypes, we are fed very well here at KBC. The staff take care of us by cooking both local East African cuisine and American food with an African twist.
Since we’re all living communally, we don’t have to worry about cooking for ourselves. So it is nice in that aspect. But, we also have to help out with kitchen duties on a rotation basis. This usually involves helping out with prepping breakfast to washing dishes after dinner.
Here’s a sample of the food we typically have everyday:
Fried potatoes with onions and peppers
Cucumber, tomato, and green pepper salad
Ramen or pasta
Pineapples or watermelon
The wide variety of fresh fruits at KBC is amazing: everything from passion fruit, mangoes to watermelon and pineapples are readily available.
The kitchen staff go out of their way to make sure the food we eat is suitable to our palate. They re-created pizza and onion rings — things they typically don’t eat in this part of Africa. Plus, we also get desserts like ice cream and banana bread. I think I can say on behalf of our team that we appreciate their tireless efforts.
For now, it’s been great to enjoy everything this part of Kenya has to offer. I don’t know if I could live like this forever, but it’s a great new experience that I’m embracing head on.