Monday, 10 November 2008

Marich Pass Field Studies Centre, Marich, West Pokot, Kenya

Kenya Field Trip 2009 Information
Geographical Location: Approx. 550 km. north of Nairobi on the Nairobi to Lodwar road, 67 km. north of Kapenguria down what has been described as “possibly Kenya’s most spectacular tarmac road”.

Map location: 01° 32’ 4.3” N 035° 27’ 56.9” E

The Marich Pass
The Marich Pass is a deep, rocky cleft carved where the Moruny River emerges from the Cherangani Hills onto the dry plains of the Lake Turkana Basin. The Marich Pass Field Studies Centre (conceived in 1989 as an educational base) is in a forest clearing along the river bank two kilometres downstream of the Pass. The Centre is situated on the boundaries of distinctive ecological zones, and a wide variety of physical landscapes, vegetation, wildlife and human lifestyles is within easy reach. The surrounding scenery is superb, and the general area remains one of the least modernised in Kenya. Marich Pass is at an altitude of about 900 m. and enjoys a mild climate. Annual rainfall is approximately 800 mm, but is very variable in both annual and monthly distribution. Generally December through to March are dry months with cool nights and warm to hot days.

M.P.F.S.C. Accommodation
The centre has been constructed in a simple, but distinctively African style. Buildings are of fired brick (produced on site) with grass and palm frond thatch for roofing. The whole centre has been designed to blend in with the landscape of mixed acacia forest and grassed clearings, low hills and valleys, giving open vistas of the River Moruny and the towering wall of the Rift Valley escarpment a few kilometres away. Only 10 acres of the 30-acre site has been used for building; the remainder is left under virgin forest.

Facilities currently available for visitors include clean drinking water, European-style toilets, showers, restaurant, bar, gift shop, classroom and secure accommodation in dormitories or bandas/cottages supplied with beds, mattresses, sheets, blankets, mosquito nets and washing facilities. Lighting is by kerosene lamps although a generator is used for lighting of the restaurant, classroom and other communal areas. English speaking Pokot and Turkana guides are also on hand and are available on request.

Additional Information
The Centre is built on land leased from the the Pokot County Council and the Centre’s security lies in maintaining a positive relationship with the local Pokot people, whom are employed as far as possible both on the site and as guides and field assistants.

Monkeys and baboons frequent the area, while buffaloes and elephants are occasionally seen in the vicinity, but none have ever, at any time, been a danger or given cause for concern.

Malarial mosquitoes are present but are not a serious threat. Mosquito nets are provided and weekly prophylactics are recommended (Anti-malarial prophylactics are available from most chemists and the course of treatment should start as soon as possible). Scorpions can be found but precautionary measures which include checking footwear and wearing footwear when walking about, especially at night, should be taken to avoid getting stung. The only real threat is the intense sunlight and as such, the use of sun creams, sun blocks, sunglasses and hats is strongly advised in order to gain protection from harmful ultraviolet radiation.

Emergency Contingencies
There is a well-run and well-staffed mission hospital 17 km. away at Ortum and the Marich Pass air strip can be used for emergency evacuations.

In case of an Emergency, contact can be made, with Mr Hinstridge, by telephone, as follows +254 (0)712 355502. Other members of staff will also be issued with local SIM cards and numbers will be communicated once we have the information. Communication with the outside world is possible in most areas of Kenya and more specifically on higher ground in Marich and in parts of the Masai Mara National Reserve. The cost of calls can be exorbitant but when using locally sourced SIM cards the cost for a call from the UK can be a low as 18p / min or 25p per text.

Other information

It is expected that students will become actively involved in all guided walks; visits and tours by asking questions and pointing out things of interest. Students will also be expected to take notes from guides whilst out and about and to jot down other observations and occurrences. They will also be expected to act as ambassadors for our school and country at all times and therefore to act and behave accordingly.

Postcards are available from M.P.F.S.C. and as such, students will be asked to keep in touch with home.

In addition to the detailed itinerary students will be encouraged to keep a diary of their experiences, to maintain contact with students and people that they have met once they return to the UK and, as already advised, to present their experiences to groups at a number of presentations to be held at the Stalham High School and other schools on our return.

No comments: