Register for 5 days or 3 days of breathtaking adventure. Registration closes on 30 June with entries limited to only 120 riders.
STANDARD CHARTERED presents the 5th Rift Valley Odyssey (RVO) on 24-28 September (5 days) and 26-28 September (3 days). A breathtaking mountain bike adventure across Kenya’s spectacular Great Rift Valley; an amazing experience for the discerning rider that seeks pure MTB adventure across a fascinating landscape; for the racing snakes, this is an opportunity to race with your heart and eyes wide open. Whatever your pace, the Standard Chartered Rift Valley Odyssey is an unforgettable experience!

Last week I surveyed new trails for Stages 3, 4 & 5, I was delighted with what I discovered, especially the 1,000 vertical meters of continuous descent over 27 km, descending from 3,050 m ASL. The mission for my next survey is to find an easier ascent to what is potentially the highest point ever for the RVO. Breathtaking adventure takes on a new dimension at this rarified altitude.

The all new RVO Stage 4 will traverse the indigenous Ol Donyo Eburu Forest, which is home to 10-15% of the world’s wild population of Eastern Mountain Bongo, 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, 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, and a management plan for both captive and wild bongo is currently underway.

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, akin to riding through the most ancient forest that you could ever imagine. Please read these 3 links 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 Mt. Eburu ecosystem is essentially an island, surrounded on all sides by human settlement. Illegal logging and charcoal burning are long standing and ongoing problems that have critically depleted the forest cover. Indeed, for many years Eburu has been synonymous with the illegal charcoal trade in Kenya. Mt. Eburu’s wildlife has been decimated by poaching/bushmeat hunting, loss of habitat and human encroachment. The eastern mountain bongo once roamed free within these steep forest slopes, enjoying a wide range. Over the years, however, due to poaching and the wanton destruction of its habitat the bongo was thought to have been wiped out. 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 species still remaining in the Eburu forest. The Eburu bongo thus comprises a significant percentage of the fewer than 100 individual Bongo thought to exist in the wild globally – the population is found only in Kenya. The BSP is a Rhino Ark supported community based conservation initiative.
RVO_June_2.jpgDuring a recent route survey in May, I discovered that vast areas of Lake Nakuru National Park have been flooded by the exceptionally high water levels prevailing across all the Great Rift Valley lakes, currently at the highest levels on record. So far, these water levels remain unexplained, a natural cycle that we simple humans cannot fathom. Significant re-routing is required which means I will enjoy even more time in this beautiful national park. The photographed building used to be 2 km from the lake shore, such is the level of flooding.

To review the 2014 route description please click here
To register your entry please click here

The RVO traverses 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.
Once again the Standard Chartered Rift Valley Odyssey will be supported by GARMIN (Navigation Systems), Keringet mineral water, Castle-Lite, USN (Sky Healthcare), VW Kenya (CMC Group), Brackenhurst Hotel, Africa&you travel, Kedong Ranch, Finlay’s Flowers, Oserian Wildlife Sanctuary, Mundui Estate, Crater Lake Sanctuary, Kijabe Ltd, Soysambu Conservancy and many other landowners (large and small scale), Rhino Ark Conservation, Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Forest Service.
I look forward to hosting you on an odyssey across Kenya’s Great
Rift Valley.
Eric Nesbitt

The Rift Valley Odyssey supports ‘Seeing is Believing’: Standard Chartered Bank’s flagship sustainability initiative aimed at eradicating avoidable and curable blindness.  The program was launched in 2003, as part of the Bank’s 150th anniversary celebrations. Since its launch, the Seeing is Believing program has helped 23 million people, giving more than 2.78 million people their sight back.

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