When people hear of Kenya, they think of lions and elephants and the wildebeest migration. Then they think of the Maasai, the sunny beaches and Mt. Kenya. After that they can think of whatever the media has made them believe to be great about Kenya, but few, if any, have had the pleasure of knowing about, let alone visiting the hidden wonder called Kibuka Falls. From what I learnt from a hydro-mechanical engineer, one of the basic elements about water is that it always finds it level.
The Chinese, with their unending philosophies about nature have found a clever way of expressing this, by stating that even though water is soft, it overcomes any barrier not by fighting it but by going over it. The Latin phrase gutta cavat lapidem non vi sed saepe cadendo translates to “a drop makes a hole into a rock, not by force but by constant falling”. These are some of water’s great yet simple attributes, but beyond these there is the issue of cohesive forces and gravitational flow that dictates the flow of water, and here is where my interest lies. This is because Kibuka Falls is one of the places where you will be treated to a natural spectacle of water flowing from almost opposite sides, and then merging and flowing as one.
I remember very well the evening when I was told that I should travel to Kibuka Falls and document it, but as is man’s usual habit, having not heard of it before, and because it is in a very remote area with zero communication network, I gave the issue little thought and digressed to other matters. But the man pressed onto his point, and when I realized how serious he was, I decided to give it a try, and try I did – what I saw, especially that it was during the rainy season left me immersed in wonder and immeasurable pleasure. I will now try to explain the sight, though I certainly deplore my inability to describe it: before draining into River Tana, most of the rivers flowing from Mt. Kenya converge at Kibuka Falls, with multiple waterfalls draining in simultaneously from various directions, the most preeminent stretch bearing over five channels of varying size and volume. The Congo River, which is the deepest and second longest in Africa is also among the most difficult to navigate, most remarkably along the rapids at Inga, but even the difficult navigation at these rapids falls short of that posed by the rocks at Kibuka Falls.
Unlike the conventional tourist attractions of wildlife and mountains which can well be found in many areas, this magnificent river formation bears two waterfalls on almost directly opposite sides, which is in itself an unparalleled fascination, roughly defying the laws of science from a far-off look, but upon closer inspection you find that entropy is very much at play here. The water flows on two levels, at the top of the valley and at the bottom after it has cascaded a perilous bed of rocks, of course by following the path of least resistance. Accessing the water at the top is easy since it is at the same level with the road, but to get to the bottom of the valley you should be prepared to descend an almost endless array of jagged rocks similar to those marking the water’s course, upon which great bodily balance is necessary to make any progress.
Most of our team members, having had enough of accelerated palpitations developed cold feet, but the rest, courting the outrageous and motivated by challenge, advanced on all fours up to a point where our bodies, by impulsive decisiveness refused to move, even though we wanted to get closer to the deafening tumult of abrasion and attrition below the rock which we had so fearfully clambered. With the spray of water droplets reaching me up from twenty feet below, I was within inches of the edge of the precipice when with trembling hands I took only one photo and made my way back, not by turning around but by retreating in a backward manner.
There have been investment talks about the installation of cable cars in the hills surrounding the area, which is a clear indication of the huge tourism potential of this area that is yet to be discovered. It could be that the place has remained unexploited due to its remoteness, but as is with new horizons begetting new frontiers, this is about to change.
Kibuka Falls is an amazing sight to the painter, a fascinating reality to the poet and an enchantment to the free-spirited individual, and one looking for an unusual adventure or family getaway might consider giving it a try. It is reached after extensive travel through ‘stone country’, a natural seamless blend of rock and shrub, comparing almost directly to the artificially established Zen gardens of Japan.