Best Hiking Sites in Kenya in One Day

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As an experienced hiker, planning to have as much needed information as possible is essential. And on this article, I’ll try help with that by trying to list the best and most appropriate hiking sites in Kenya that you ought to take.

The hardest lot to get off the couch for a hike are guys who’ve never been to one. Kind of like the ‘tourist’ in that list of types of travelers. They, however, are the best to go with. Their naivety is refreshing. One will show up in jeans, another in a skirt, and another with his favorite Timberland footwear. These, after you have passed the ‘comfortable wear’ memo, make the best companions!

Hiking in Ngong Hills

Hiking in Ngong Hills

A beginner should choose to hike the trails that are nearest to home. You don’t want to get muscle pulls in any of the hiking sites in Kenya when you’re far from home. My first trail was the Ngong Hills. I won’t lie to you, I almost gave up midway. And somebody had tricked on beginning my hike from the Forestry Offices. Ngong Hills is the cheapest & easiest of the hiking sites in Kenya that you’ll come about. Located at only 100bob worth of fare away from Nairobi town, you need not rob a bank for this getaway. The area on the outskirts of Karen is also very scenic.

If you have a little more shillings in your account, or feel like going further from Nairobi, then Gatamaiyu, Kereita and Suswa Crater are your other options of hiking sites in Kenya. You can even go further to Nakuru and do Menengai Crater.

Mt Suswa

Mt Suswa

The Gatamaiyu Riverine Walk and the Kereita trail are part of the Kereita Forest, the southern-most end of the Aberdares range. Gatamaiyu is nearer to Nairobi, only 8KM off the A105 highway at Kimende. The trail starts at Gatamaiyu Forest gate and takes approximately 3 hours. The Kereita trail on the other hand starts at the Kereita Forest gate, taking approximately 6 hours of your day to complete. Both are relatively easy terrains, very scenic trails with waterfalls and caves for a break from your hiking.

The other two options, best for Nakuru residents, are Menengai Crater and Suswa crater & caves. The spectacular Menengai Crater (a caldera to be precise), with its massive circular rim, is situated on the outskirt of Nakuru town, about 2 hours’ drive from Nairobi, easily accessible for a day’s hike away from the city. The trail is moderate, taking you round the rim of the caldera. The sight of Nakuru town from a bird’s viewpoint is one of the rewards you’ll get from the top of Menengai crater.

Around Mt Suswa

Around Mt Suswa

Suswa crater & caves on the other hand is a moderate terrain, referred to some as the less popular brother of Mt. Longonot. It takes about 4 hours to ascend & descend Mt. Suswa, but for the brave at heart and fit, 3 more hours will take you round the summit. The best-known attractions on Mt. Suswa are the lava caves on the outer crater.

As a warning, try the hiking sites in Kenya below only if you are fit.

Mount Longonot, Mount Olorgesailie and Ol Donyo Sabuk are harder trails than the above mentioned. These are for the intermediate level hikers. They are not the most demanding, but you will feel the effects of hiking for long hours and/or getting to higher altitudes, albeit mild. The nausea, headaches, muscle pains and breathing in thin air will be part of these trails.

 

A panorama of Mount Longonot's rim.

A Panorama of Mount Longonot’s rim.

Mt Longonot is the most common of the three tough hiking sites in Kenya. Located next to Lake Naivasha, Mt Longonot consists of a hike trail to the top & a trek around the rim for the fit. It takes about 4 hours to get to the top and get back down; a further 2 hours if you plan to go around the rim. A view of Lake Naivasha, the surrounding Savannah landscape and Lake Elementaita further away is your reward for this hike. On a clear day, you can see as far as Lake Nakuru and the Aberdare Ranges, or so it is believed.

About 70km north-east of Nairobi, and about 25km east of Thika town is the Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park. This is home to buffaloes, monkeys, and other wildlife. Also within this park is the Ol Donyo Sabuk mountain, also referred to as Kilimambogo or Buffalo mountain. It is a moderate to high hiking terrain with steep rocky climbs in some places, taking about 6 hours to complete it. Standing at 2145M above sea level at its highest, the panoramic views of the surrounding plains are a lovely sight. The distant Nairobi to the south, Masinga Dam and Mt Kenya to the north, and Mt Kilimanjaro to the west are also a reward for climbing this little-known gem.

Ol Donyo Sabuk Hill

Ol Donyo Sabuk Hill

On your way to the top is also the grave of Lord William MacMillan, one who MacMillan library in Nairobi is named after. The trail begins at the Ol Donyo Sabuk park gate and so you can’t get lost. There’s a campsite at the park gate if you need to spend a night, just get there with your camping gear.

Mt Olorgesailie

Mt Olorgesailie

You’ve heard of the Olorgesailie Prehistoric site from your school geography, but what you weren’t told is that it got its name from the nearby 1,760M high Mount Olorgesailie. This is a mostly rocky & arid mountain in the Maasai drylands. This challenging terrain is dry, with shrubs to shelter you from the scorching sun. It takes about 6 hours to get to the top and back. The trail starts and ends at the prehistoric site.

 

Elephant Hill

Elephant Hill

Elephant Hill is the toughest of the hiking sites in Kenya for a day-trip. As such, it’s used mostly by those preparing to climb Mt. Kenya or Mt. Kilimanjaro. Starting at the Njabini/Kinangop South Forest Station, about 4km from Njabini shopping centre, the hike up the hill takes 4 to 5 hours from an altitude of 2500m. You experience the Mountain vegetation you learnt in school, passing the Forest zone, the bamboo zone, and the alpine zone . The occasional elephant footprints and droppings will be a reminder that you are in a game reserve teeming with wildlife, with the armed escort your only shield from possible danger.

Hiking in The Aberdares

Hiking in The Aberdares

The trail levels up at the end of the alpine zone, revealing amazing views of the surrounding countryside including the nearby Sasumua Dam down below to your right, and the distant Ndakaini Dam to your left. This point is known as the elephant’s rump, also known as the point of despair. You will sit to rest, and won’t be able to go on. For those strong enough to continue, the rest of the trail goes over rocky terrain at an altitude of over 3400m above sea level, with the temperature dropping significantly. Getting back down is ever harder. You will wish you had never gotten so far. Your knees will want to collapse as you try to hold back; letting your body roll down back to the Forest Station. The descent takes approximately 4 hours.

After conquering Elephant Hill, your mind will be made up to try Mount Kenya, or quit hiking all the same. (evil laugh) When you get to this level, you become an expert. At this point, you will have developed and sharpened your hiking skills and knowledge. Hiking is pretty much of a group activity, and so the possibility of you getting on your second hiking expedition depends on what kind of group you had on your first hike. A fun group will make you look forward to the next, a group full of show offs will make you hate hiking. As you go for your first hike ensure you have the right people around and you don’t go for a trail meant for guys who have been hiking.

Mt Kenya Peak Photo (credits @annitajoe1)

Mt Kenya Peak Photo (credits @annitajoe1)

Trying out hiking sites in Kenya make a lovely pass time. A weekend of hiking with friends may be what you need from your routine to spur your creativity. Try it out! You can also gauge how fit you are in the process. Choose a destination this weekend and go stretch your legs and enjoy the views. Remember, wherever you go, always remember to keep safe. Do not try unmarked routes and ensure you request for a guide/armed escort first before venturing out.

By Sammy Aloyo co-founder of Fun Travel Kenya

FunTravel Kenya is a tours and travel start-up co-founded by Linda Kavata with a focus on experiences by bringing together a fun group of people and making them friends while travelling,
Catch them on their blog
Twitter/Instagram – @funtravelke
Facebook – FunTravel Kenya

4 Comments

  1. Mburu muinamia

    July 29, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    Would like to join amateur group of hikers I am a fun of hiking.have hiked mt longonot and elephant hill in aberdares, want to go far.

    • lillian

      January 23, 2018 at 2:32 pm

      hey,
      did you get a group, i am interested,

      • Kiburu

        January 29, 2018 at 12:37 pm

        Hello. Kindly contact Fun Travel to get a group with which you can hike in a day.

  2. Victor

    April 18, 2019 at 11:28 am

    I am interested too……someone drop me an email at [email protected]

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