Soon after the outbreak of World War II we boarders from the Prince of Wales School were moved to the old Sparks Hotel at Naivasha because the military required our school building at Kabete for a military hospital.

We boys regarded our time at Naivasha like a long holiday, but they required us to work at our lessons as well. The spacious school grounds extended down to Crescent Island Lake. Sunday afternoons we could roam where we wished – only the dukas in Naivasha town were out of bounds.

One Sunday afternoon three of us decided to climb Mt Longonot. As soon as lunch ended, we left the school grounds and crossed over the South Lake Road. We headed across a vast empty plain for Mt Longonot, miles away on the horizon. We set off at a fairly fast but sustainable run. There were no roads or tracks to follow but the grazing Tommies, Grants, and zebra had kept the grass down and the going was easy.

By mid afternoon we reached the base of Longonot. We looked up the bush-covered slope and decided to give it a go to the rim. We climbed up a steep ridge following a game track. We paused near the rim when we heard the crashing of bushes. Several buffalo galloped down past us on an adjacent ridge a few yards away from where we stood. Soon we stood on the rim of the crater and looked down its bush-covered walls. We didn’t spend long there but turned our attention to the return journey. We couldn’t see the school, but we made out its position by the glint of Crescent Island Lake.

We were soon off the mountain, but we still had a daunting distance to cover to get back in time for Sunday evening prayers. We kept running, helped by the cooling afternoon. Darkness fell as we reached the school. We just had time to put on ties and pull on long trousers and change into blazers before joining the other boys trooping into service.

John Poulton, Portugal

This was taken from the Only in Africa section of our magazine.

If you enjoyed this story check out our compilation book Leopard in the Kitchen.