From a national park within the city to a diversity of fun activities, Nairobi’s allure has never been in question. Kenya’s capital is known for its boisterous persona that’s unlike any other East African city. No doubt, this city’s popularity lies in the growth it has experienced over the decades, a growth that inches it closer and closer to African heavyweights like Johanessburg or Cairo. However, you might be the type of person who easily gets tired of the cacophony of the metropolis. If so, then a getaway in nature might be just what the doctor ordered. Below is a list of the best hiking spots in and near Nairobi for a retreat into nature. Scroll down to learn more.
Found just 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) from Nairobi’s city center, the Karura Forest has defied past threats of land grabbing and illegal logging to remain standing as a testament to the late Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai’s conservation efforts. With this tumulous past behind Karura, its gates are now open to the public, many of whom are interested in exploring the forest’s gems: the Karura River, Karura Caves and Karura Waterfalls. There are over 50 km (31 miles) of trails to hike and at least 3 hours should give you a snippet of the beauty that is Karura.
Karura Forest Hike Trail Bike & Nature Walk Nairobi Day Tour
Duration: 8 hours
In the horizon, visible from Nairobi CBD, there are four peaks in the shape of knuckles. These are the Ngong’ Hills, found in the Great Rift Valley, but only a 30-minute drive from the city center. Popular as a weekend hiking spot, the Ngong’ Hills offer a generally simple hike at the onset, but it gets more and more arduous as you progress.
If you’re up to it, you can hike the entirety of the hills, from the first one at Ngong’ town’s windfarm to the last one that ends at a small hamlet known as ‘Kona Baridi’. To hike all four hills, spare about four to five hours, although you may also hike up just one or two of the hills, enjoy the view, turn around and return to the starting point.
Day trip Ngong hills day excursion private tour
Duration: 3 to 6 hours
3. Oloolua Nature Trail
Tucked within Nairobi’s affluent Karen neighborhood, the Oloolua Nature Trail is a gem that offers a respite from the city’s boisterous persona. This trail cuts through the Oloolua Forest, which is home to a large colony of monkeys, many of which you’ll spot as you hike along. But the highlight here isn’t the primates, it’s the scenery that is like a convergence of the best bits of the country in one place.
The trail snakes through the forest, taking you past bamboo vegetation, descending to the Mbagathi River, then onward to a fascinating 33-meter-long (108-foot) cave. As a bonus, learn a bit of local history and the role these caves played in colonial times. Ultimately, the trail reaches a waterfall which, during the rainy season, cascades enthusiastically.
Oloolua Nature Trail
Address: Karen Rd, Nairobi
Website: Oloolua Nature Trail
Duration: 2 hours
The name says it all: a paradise that’s found close to the city center, but far enough to offer seclusion. The resort spans 54 acres (22 hectares), with nature trails meandering the entire area. While on your hike, you’ll be fascinated by the stone age caves and waterfall, which are, no doubt, the highlight of this destination. Once you’ve completed your hike, you can enjoy a boat or horse ride before settling down at the picnic spots for a bite to eat.
Nature Trails in Kiambu
Duration: 1 day
5. Lukenya Hills
Lukenya is an unassuming destination. It’s not very popular in comparison to the Ngong’ Hills, but still an apt hiking spot for a day away from the crowds of the city. If you’re looking for a non-touristy spot, you’ll definitely love Lukenya, located about a half-hour’s drive south of the city.
The hill’s terrain is quite rocky, but there are noticeable footpaths that lead to the top. And, once you reach the summit, you’ll be rewarded with a view of the expansive Athi Plains. On a really clear day, you might also see Mt Kilimanjaro on the horizon. Hiking up Lukenya is simple and will take you about two hours, both ways.
Address: Mutungoni Rd, Athi River
Duration: 2 hours
Found in Naivasha, about an hour’s drive from the capital, Hell’s Gate is one of the country’s most popular national parks. Unlike the larger Maasai Mara or Nairobi National Park, this park is a hotbed (almost literally) of geothermal activity. Dotting the landscape are rock towers, cliffs and gorges, all of which are a result of the intense volcanic activity that was rampant in these parts, centuries ago.
The trekking trails will lead you to the famous (and sometimes infamous) gorge known as the Devil’s Kitchen. Don’t let these eerie names spook you, there’s nothing hellish about Hell’s Gate – this destination is more heavenly if anything.
Hell's Gate National Park,Biking and Lake Naivasha Tour
Duration: 6 hours
If you’ve never heard of Mt. Long’onot, that’s probably because you’ve only been focussing on Mt. Kenya, or perhaps Kilimanjaro. So here’s another mountain, not as imposing as the Kilimanjaros of this world, but still worth your time. It’s found near Lake Naivasha, slightly over an hour’s drive from Nairobi. Long’onot sits on the floor of the Great Rift Valley, another testament to the area’s volcanic pedigree. At the top, there’s a crater rim, the mountain’s crown. The hike should take about five hours both ways and it’s suitable for even novice hikers.
Mt. Longonot Hiking with a boat ride in lake Naivasha guided tour from Nairobi
Duration: 1 day
8. Ol’Donyo Sabuk Mountain
You may not have heard of Ol’Donyo Sabuk Mountain, first, because its name is unpronounceable. It used to be known as Buffalo Mountain, but the locals changed it to something a bit more native. The mountain is also known as Kilimambogo, a name you can more easily use when you’re asking for directions. Found near Thika Town, which is close to the capital, Kilimambogo is an easy hike that should take about three hours. However, a ranger must accompany all hikers because lots of wild animals call the mountain home. At the top, you’ll get a panoramic view of the plains with Mt. Kenya visible in the distance.
Ol’Donyo Sabuk Mountain
Address: Thika, Nairobi
Website: Ol’Donyo Sabuk Mountain
Duration: 5 hours
9. Nairobi Safari Walk
For an easy family trek, head to the Nairobi Safari Walk found within Nairobi National Park. The Safari Walk is basically an elevated boardwalk which winds through a section of the national park. It’s only about a two-hour walk, but you should plan to go in the morning or the evening if you want to catch sight of the animals. Most animals love their afternoon siestas, so a walk in the afternoon won’t be very fruitful.
Nairobi Safari Walk
Address: Lang'ata Rd, Nairobi
Website: Nairobi Safari Walk
Duration: 2 hours
10. Mt Olorgesailie
Found in the pre-historic site of Olorgesailie, the mountain which gave its name to the site has a height of 1,760 meters (5,770 feet). The whole hike should take about six hours, but thankfully, there is a camping site and cottages if you choose to spend the night. However, if you want to make this a day hike, this is still possible since the mountain is only about an hour’s drive from Nairobi city center.
Address: Magadi Rd, Kajiado County
Duration: 6 hours
Retreat to nature
Escape from the city’s boisterous persona and retreat to nature. Thanks to these hiking spots, you can get a workout and enjoy the serenity and beauty of Kenya’s landscape. Whether you’re looking for a short day trip or an extended hiking expedition, you’ll find it in and near Nairobi. Start planning your trip today.
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