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Contents  |  Day 3  |  Day 4  |  Day 5

Day 4 - The Kiambere plantation

February 16th 2009

Program:
- Breakfast, check-out and loading the bus 6am-7am
- Bus to The Kiambere Plantation 7am-5:45pm
- Lunch at Matuu N'Dalas Hotel 1:30pm-2:30pm
- The Kiambere Plantation 5:45pm-7pm
- Bus to Mwingi Cottage Hotel 7pm-10:30pm
  (with circumstances)

 

On Our Way to The Kiambere Plantation

We left Tsavo National Park early in the morning for the Better Globe plantation in Kiambere and saw giraffes, buffalos and other animals along the road out of the park. We missed the park and the idyll on the rest of our journey in Africa and wouldn’t mind staying there for many days more. But quickly discovered that we were not here for vacation...

A long bus ride was ahead of us. We stopped at Matuu N'Dalas Hotel and had grilled goat for lunch we were both hungry and exhausted after 6,5 hours on the bus.

Little did we know, even if we had prepared, that the last 7 kilometers would offer the most eventful bus trip we had or ever will experience!

Almost there...

As we came closer to the plantation and drove along the Masinga dam (a dam supplying wide areas with electricity), we got convinced that the road had ended as we saw nothing but grovel, dikes and packed soil. But no, to our surprise, this was the "road". Our driver James was obviously not used to roads without asphalt and soon gave up. In order to continue, we had to release some weight on the bus. So we went out and also had to push the bus over the worst hills and bumps. Along the ”road” we met people living in the bushes. They lived in huts made of poles and dried clay or in round straw huts, run their farming with hoes or used bulls for the plow, grind the corn by hand and used antique methods in their farming.

The Kiambere Plantation

When we arrived at the plantation, the time was 5:45 pm, we were 4 hours and 45 minutes behind schedule (Note that the program on the top of this page shows real time and not the schedule). It was a pity because we had to hurry up during our visit as it was very dark at 7 pm.

Jan Vandenabeele, Executive Director of Better Globe Forestry, guided us through the different test fields where all trees had been planted during the dry season. This opposite of normal procedure when planting trees but very necessary to test out regarding Better Globe’s plans of planting thousands of trees every day throughout a year. The different planting fields get different quantities of water (from 2.5-5 litres per week) and given different quantities and kinds of nutrition. This is how it will be possible to find out the optimal growing conditions for Jatropha and Mukau trees in this very dry area.

At The Better Globe plantation we are testing by using straws around the trunks to keep the soil moist and prevent vermin by simple techniques made “captures” to prevent erosion. At the farm all the trees are watered manually once a week. When the trees are one year old we stop watering them, then they have to manage by themselves.

Click for larger image On the other side of the road we found the fields with more than one year old member trees. The fields reached down to Lake Kiambere and the nursery. We observed a lot of seedlings and signs with the text "Warning! Watch out for crocodiles and snakes!"

The last thing we did was planted our own Jatropha tree!

It had gotten dark when starting our journey from Kiambere to Mwingi Cottage Hotel. Fortunately, we took a different route back, but after a while when our guide Gilbert made a telephone call and said:

"I don’t know where I am!
I am in the middle of nowhere!"

We got a bit worried! We had to get out of the bus to lighten it, and Tone noticed some small brown-yellow scorpions crawling around our feet.

At one place we had to back up the bus reaching a very narrow bridge and the greatest challenge came when our driver stucked the bus in a sandy river bank. We shouted to him to drive at full speed but was no use and got fastened in nearly one meter of sand. The most efficient tool to shuffle away the sand was our hands and Jan-Tore showed real energy when he dug away sand in front of the bus, and the scorpions were flying everywhere! By using ropes, pushing and real teamwork we finally got the bus out of the grip of the sand. Luckily, Jan-Tore didn't know that those sandy colored scorpions are deadly and poisonous if you get stung but else we may still have been there "in the middle of nowhere".

We were very tired and anxiously anticipated to arrive at Mwingi Cottage Hotel. It was 10:30pm when we arrived and we all sat straight down at the dinner tables, dirty, hungry and exhausted. We looked forward to a shower and nice sleep, but to our biggest disappointment, few of us had water in the showers in this rather low standard hotel. We were warned about large cockroaches and the quality of sleep was poor. We totally agreed that this had been an unforgettable day and night!

 

Contents  |  Day 3  |  Day 4  |  Day 5

 

Special News
By Jean-Paul Deprins

Kiambere Tree Plantation

In November 2006, Better Globe Forestry Ltd started a pilot tree-planting project on 100 hectares – the first phase of a major tree plantation of 5,000 hectares in the area around Kiambere dam on the Tana River. The land is in the custody of TARDA. Over 65 per cent of the people in the area are counted among the absolute poor, with very high unemployment.

Ecologically, the area around Kiambere dam is situated in semi-arid lands (ASAL), with an average rainfall of about 600 mm a year. Altitude varies between 700-800 m, making for a hot tropical climate where evaporation exceeds rainfall by far. Rainfall is however, erratic and completely dry years do occur. So far, large-scale tree plantations in ASALs do not exist in Kenya and BGF is pioneering the field.

Tree species planted in the Kiambere drylands, to produce economically strong products are Melia volkensii (mukau) for high-quality timber, Azadirachta indica (neem) for oil and Jatropha curcas for bio-diesel.

 

Contents  |  Day 3  |  Day 4  |  Day 5

On our way to the
Kiambere tree plantation
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Almost there...
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The Kiambere Plantation
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Mwingi Cottage Hotel
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