An eight-year-old girl, Elsie Akeyo, observed Kenya’s Jamhuri Day – the day the East African nation became a republic – on December 12 by successfully climbing Africa’s second-highest mountain, Mount Kenya.
And though officials at the Mt Kenya National Park and Reserve said they do not keep records of the youngest people who successfully reach its summit, Elsie’s feat has still gone down as very commendable.
According to the Sunday Nation, the little girl successfully reached the highest point a hiker can get to on the mountain – Point Lenana – without the need for specialized gear and any form of training. It took Akeyo months to get ready for the daunting hike.
“We had fun,” Akeyo, who successfully climbed the mountain in the company of her 10-year-old brother, mother as well as other adult members of the Rotary Club of Ngong Hills, told the news outlet. “The experience was nice. Mt Kenya was very lovely.”
The climb took Akeyo and her hiking partners almost three days to ascend and the same day they reached the summit – December 12 – to descend. Impressively, this isn’t the first time Akeyo and her brother, Darwin, have successfully completed hiking expeditions. Together with their mother and members of the club, they have hiked William Hill, Mt Kilimambogo, Sleeping Warrior Hills, Elephant Hill and also Mt Satima.
Speaking to the Sunday Nation, the kids’ mother said she initially had them join the hikes as a way of getting them out of the house as they’ve had to stay home because schools have been closed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She said her children, however, later developed a passion for it.
“I thought, ‘When I go with them, they will at least be outside, because they no longer go to school.’ But then it became like a passion to them. That is how now they started,” she said.
Darwin also said the hiking adventures has made him love science and social studies more. “When you go to the hills and visit many places, then you get to see what teachers were telling you about,” he said. “And also, sometimes we study about soil, like there is volcanic soil on some hills; you go and see it.”
Akeyo also told the Sunday Nation: “The views are beautiful, and they are things we have never seen. We only see them in pictures in class. When you’re there in person, it’s always interesting.”
Though the challenge was grueling and Akeyo occasionally asked for timeouts, her mother said their guide was very patient with them. As they made their way down, however, Akeyo said she was encouraged by another hiker who asked her age. “Then he said, ‘Well done; keep it up,’” she said.
Their mother also said those compliments spur them on to hike more mountains. “What encourages them most when they are tired is when they meet the adults and they are told, ‘You have come up to this place? Wow, I’m proud of you.’ So, they get that motivation and they say, ‘You know, we have to reach the summit,’” she said.