RVO Stage 4 circumnavigates the volcanic craters of Mount Ol Doinyo Eburru, a large central massif that rises 980m above the Rift Valley floor. The race route peaks at an altitude of 2604m, skirting the craters that are concealed by Ol Doinyo Eburru Forest, a lush indigenous forest that carpets Mount Eburru (wikipedia). At numerous points along the route riders will pass by natural steam vents, with some of them being tapped by villagers to harvest water by condensation.

This severely threatened forest is home to 10-15% of the global wild population of Eastern Mountain Bongo (wikipedia), a large forest dwelling antelope that lives at high altitude in dense indigenous forest and bamboo thickets. The Eastern Mountain Bongo is listed as CITES Appendix I, considered as critically endangered. Wild population estimates are inferential, altogether less than 100 mountain bongo are believed to survive in the wild, all of them are in Kenya, 12 individuals have been recorded in this unique forest. The Eastern Mountain Bongo has never been plentiful. Historically, hunting, poaching, and lion predation decimated the wild population. Currently, the remaining wild bongo are fully protected by the Kenya Wildlife Service, surviving under an intensive management plan for both wild and captive bongo.

The Mount Eburru ecosystem is essentially an island, surrounded on all sides by ever expanding human settlement. Illegal logging and charcoal burning are long standing and ongoing problems that have critically depleted forest cover. Indeed, for many years Eburru has been synonymous with Kenya’s illegal charcoal trade. Mt. Eburru’s wildlife has been decimated by poaching for bushmeat and loss of habitat by human encroachment. The eastern mountain bongo once roamed free within these steep forest slopes, enjoying a wide range, but uncontrolled poaching and the wanton destruction of its habitat has very nearly wiped out all the Bongo. Through the tireless efforts of the Bongo Surveillance Programme (BSP), it has now been proven that there is a small population of between 7-12 members of this critically endangered species survives within Eburru forest. The Eburru population thus comprises a significant percentage of the 100 Bongo thought to exist in the wild – all of them are in Kenya. The BSP is a Rhino Ark supported community based conservation initiative.

The Rhino Ark is currently fencing around the Ol Donyo Eburu forest to create a sustainable and harmonious environment that enables people and wildlife, including all flora and fauna, to coexist; by providing sustainable programmes for forest edge communities based on payments for ecosystem services. Courtesy of the Kenya Forest Service and Rhino Ark, we can relish the opportunity to ride through this unique indigenous forest, a forest as ancient as the hills! Please browse the 3 links below for further information on this critically endangered species and the conservation efforts underway.

Rare species conservation
Bongo surveillance
Mt Ol Donyo Eburru fencing project
The RVO is a long adventurous journey across Kenya’s Great Rift Valley; traversing high altitude forests on both eastern and western escarpments of the Great Rift Valley, riding challenging terrain along smooth yet raw technical single-track, forest trails, bush trails, exhilarating descents, arduous ascents (peak race altitude might be 3,050 m ASL), pristine wilderness and open savannah teaming with plains game. Riding the RVO is like cycling through pages of the “National Geographic”, starting from the verdant tea farms of Limuru, the adventure navigates high altitude indigenous forests, along the serene shores of Lake Naivasha, Lake Oloiden, Lake Elementaita and Lake Nakuru, around the extinct volcanoes of Mt Longonot, Hobley’s Volcano, Mt Ol Donyo Eburru, Ol Karia; riding under the imposing cliffs and past the natural steam vents of Hell’s Gate National Park. Each day on the RVO will deliver stunningly different terrain.

To review the 2015 route description please click here

Once again the Standard Chartered Rift Valley Odyssey will be supported by GARMIN (Navigation Systems), Coca-Cola, Dasani mineral water, Castle-Lite, USN , Mazda (CMC Motors Group), Brackenhurst Hotel, Africa&you travel, Kedong Ranch, Finlay’s Flowers, Oserian Wildlife Sanctuary, Mundui Estate, Crater Lake Sanctuary, Kijabe Farm, Soysambu Conservancy and many other landowners (large and small scale), Rhino Ark Conservation, Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Forest Service.

 

 

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