Humping Up Mount Homa

Mt. Homa is a bitch to climb!

can't we wait till night?
Chilling, pre-hike
wash me, please
Sweaty & Victorious
on day, this wil all be...
May I introduce Homa Bay!
Here in Kisumu, I am staying with my good friend from DC, Sabeans, and her husband Mark, who is an Army doctor studying malaria, and today we decided that lounging around in their palatial estate, complete with a gardener and a maid, wasn’t enough. No, we decided that we should drive to the highest peak around, Mt. Homa, to test out my Mt Kilimanjaro gear, and of course, because it was there. All 1,400 vertical feet of it.

After a three hour drive on a road that reminded me of my Cambodian ass-breaking experience, and non-stop shouts of ‘Mzungu!!’ from every kid we passed, we arrived at the base of Mt Homa just in time for the mid-day heat.

Popping out my tiny Global Positions System receiver (GPS for short), I noted our starting position at S 00’24.013 and E 34’28.731 which means that we were next to Lake Victoria and a stone’s throw from the equator, yet at 4,238 feet above sea level so the air was thin and somewhat cool.

Then we were off for the peak, walking through slash and burn subsistence agriculture until the land became too steep to farm and the bush became to thick to push through, forcing us to following cow paths up the mountain.

Soon, Sabeans, lacking her inhaler, had to turn back when a bout of asthma stopped her accent, yet Mark and I, while regretting that Sabeans was going to miss the view from the top, did not stop, and continued up, up, and up.

She turned out to be the lucky one, for as soon as we started to really climb, the cow paths became goat trails, which then dissolved into formidable mats of thorn bushes. Pressing on, we men did not let a few dozen scratches or even an occasional draw of blood to slow us down.

The mountain accomplished that easy enough later with sheer rock walls that we took two hours of bushwhacking to circumvent, loosing a water bottle and our patience in the process. Interestingly we did come across a farmer making charcoal from the bushes during this circumventing. He was wearing a Washington DC sweater, but didn’t understand my hand signals asking for directions to the top of the mountain or explaining his sweater’s significance to me.

Luckily, Mark and I found a route to the top a while later, though it was the second-highest peak. Our goal, the highest peak, lay across a valley filled with thorn bushes that Mark and I felt were not worth the trouble. Instead we did what any 21st Century explorer does on making it to the top of a mountain; we yanked out our cell phones and started to dial.

While Mark chatted with Sabeans and a few co-workers, I powered up my cell and attempted to call my folks in America. Only Kenya’s antiquated international switch, which gave me a continuous busy signal, kept me from sharing my euphoria with people 7,000 miles and an ocean away. Instead, I pulled out my GPS and noted our maximum elevation: 5,683 feet above sea level.

Isn’t technology amazing!!

  1. As you have climbed Mount Homa, can you please help me with the following. I have a theory that MH is not a volcano, but a very large pyramid covered up with soil and vegetation. In the pictures I have come across, it looks too symmetrical to be a volcano, and too square at the base. The theory behind the theory would be that ancient Egyptian civilization extended further up the Nile than anyone has imagined.

    Having actually been there, can you shed any light? How does MH look from different angles? Is it simply too big to possibly be a pyramid? I’d love to read your observations!

    Kind regards
    Martin Doktar
    Tunbridge Wells, England

  2. Interesting question!

    Actually, there is no chance that MH is an ancient Egyptian pyramid! Several reasons come to mind:

    (1) The southernmost of the known (they’re hard to hide!) royal tomb pyramids are at el-Lahun in lower Egypt, over 2000 miles away;

    (2) the southernmost extent of ancient Egyptian (“pharaonic”) cultural influence was the Kingdom of Kush (around modern Khartoum), over 1000 miles away;

    (3) Mt Homa (on maps & “in person”) is not particularly symmetrical or square;

    (4) Mt Homa is HUGE compared with even the biggest of the pyramids at Giza (perhaps thousands of times bigger…). To imagine that Egyptians could have “built” it would require lots of other physical evidence of their civilization in the local area. That just isn’t there…

    (5) When you look at it, whether from far away or close up, whether from the bottom or from the top, Mt Homa is clearly a MOUNTAIN, not a built structure… This seems obvious even if you speculate that it could be covered with soil & vegetation…

    There are probably other good reasons why MH cannot be an ancient Egyptian pyramid that I cannot think of right now.

    Anyway, my theory: MH is a great, big NATURAL mountain in Kenya!

    Hope this helps!
    Mark W