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Therapeutic waters of Magadi

 HARRIET JAMES 

The water from the hot springs cures skin diseases, acne and also foot odour,” read an advert I came across on social media.

Just that one sentence made me beat a chilling morning cold to go for an adventure to this lake whose waters cure acne. I have struggled with acne for a long time and after seeking out a lot of remedies, there hasn’t been much success. Well, that and the fact that I wanted a change from traveling solo and have an experience of being in a team; I booked my trip with Kudu Hills Safari Trail. However, I was so anxious of what would become of me after soaking myself in the so-called healing waters.

I had never travelled through the Magadi route before, so I wasn’t really prepared for the bumpy ride that I was about to have. My front seat though was a consolation. Although I’m not a great photographer, I enjoyed taking photos despite the fact that I had sworn to myself that I was going to try and make friends. Along the way, we passed by Maasai people going about with their lives, with a few of them trying to stop us for a ride.

Frankly, my mind was racing with thoughts, as I wondered just how people survived in the hot and dry environment. Lake Magadi is about 125km from Nairobi and it takes almost three hours to get there by road. The landscape and terrain down to the Ngong Hills is amazingly beautiful.

Magadi town is home to Magadi Soda factory. The factory produces soda ash, which is mainly for industrial use. We didn’t visit the factory though, as our journey was set for the hot springs. To me, the sojourn felt like we were going to the popular Loliondo area of Tanzania, where a certain medicine man — who claimed to cure all forms of diseases, conditions and ailments— hails.

After our bus getting stuck three times because of the state of the roads, we finally got to the hot springs and the excitement in the air could be defined as palpable. Soon, we changed into our swimming costumes, although I realised I had forgotten to pack mine. So, I opted to take a dip in my jeans and T-shirt. Basking in the sun after a long cold spell in Nairobi felt awesomely relaxing. One thing though, the waters are salty and would turn your skin whitish once you dry up.

We had a guide, Benjamin Saruni, who educated us on the various flora and fauna of Magadi, making it easier to understand the area better. Lake Magadi is a saline, alkaline lake that is said to be nearly 100 square kilometres in size. During the rainy season, a thin layer of brine (high-concentration solution of salt in water) that is less than one metre, covers much of the saline pan. But due to the area’s hot weather, the water evaporates rapidly leaving a gigantic expanse of white salt. This cracks in the end producing large polygons.

The lake is endowed with lots of flamingos, pelicans and marabou storks. Marabou stork is one of the ‘ugly five’ in the animal kingdom, others being wildebeest, warthog, vulture and hyena. After our relaxing engagements, we checked in at a nearby hotel where we treated ourselves to sumptuous meals. Some of us went ahead to have a dip at the hotel’s swimming pool, just to get rid of the dirt that could have been gathered during the engagements. By the time the trip ended I had made a number of friends as part of my goal for the trip. However, I’m still waiting to see whether the magical waters of Lake Magadi will restore the glow on my skin.

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