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10 Hiking Trails To Try In & Around Nairobi

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Hiking Trails Worth Checking Out In & Around Nairobi

  12 July 2017       Tripindigo       5 min read

Hiking in Nairobi is a favourite activity among both locals and tourists alike, and it's no secret why. The sheer variety of trails ranging in difficulty and offering some great views 

They range from arduous mountain hikes to 'walk in the park' nature trails many of which are not too far from the city centre and perfect for a weekend trip. 

While there are several trails located closer to the city of Nairobi, however, there is one common trait about all these trails – wherever the trail takes you, the stunning scenery is worth the effort.

If you're interested in getting out there, being one with nature, getting some fresh air and experience or just looking for great shots for your Instagram, then these trails will not disappoint you.

1. Ngong Hills

Ngong Hills can be found a short distance from the city centre of Nairobi and is easily accessible by car. The hiking route starts from the northern side, at 1,961m (6,400ft) above sea level. 

The initial part of the trail cuts through a village, then past a wind farm and finally, you get to the radio repeater stations. From then on, you climb and go down the undulating series of hills. 

The trail ends at the southern part of the hill known as Kona Baridi and takes approximately 4–5 hours to complete, depending on your fitness level.

Ngong hills

A View of Ngong Hills | © Ninara / Flickr

2. Nairobi Safari Walk, Nairobi National Park

The Nairobi Safari Walk is a nature trail set inside Nairobi National Park. It takes approximately 2 hours to complete the trail which covers three major habitats. 

The first is a wetland area where crocodiles idle, the second a savanna grassland where you can spot wildlife including an albino zebra, leopards and the rare bongo. 

The third habitat is a woodland area exhibiting indigenous plants, labelled with their traditional uses. You will really feel like an explorer after taking on this trip.

3. Karura Forest

Karura forest is renowned for being one of the best hiking trails for families. Seen as a nature lover’s haven, with marshland, a wealth of tree species and birdlife. 

There are numerous hiking trails, covering a distance of 50 km (31 mi). The trail leads to caves and a waterfall. 

The first 2 km (1.2 mi) is a steady walk on a dirt track when then turns right at a marked point and drops down a steep hill, all the way to the river. 

From there it steadies again until you get to the caves. These caves are thought to have been a hideout for Mau Mau fighters during the struggle for independence. Further on, you will find the waterfall.

4. Castle Forest

Spend a day experiencing the slopes of Mount Kenya with a trip to Castle Forest Station in Kirinyaga County. The hike is well worth the two-hour road trip from Nairobi to the forest station. 

Your adventure will start from Castle Forest Station’s gate, and you will walk through the quiet forest and eventually ending up at the enchanting waterfall, before making your journey back. 

It takes about half a day for the 20km adventure, but the mud trails and the steep descent to the waterfall can have you spending a few extra hours in the forest.

5. Mount Longonot

Mt. Longonot is situated about 60km from the capital of Nairobi and will set you back with about an hour’s journey to get there. 

You will have the choice of either a hike to the rim and back down, or go all the way up and around the crater’s rim. It takes about 3 to 4 hours to explore this attraction.

Traverse the mauve looking attraction you may have seen countless of times when driving along the Great Rift Valley Viewpoint. 

6. Nairobi Arboretum

A milder walk perfect for taking the family out for the day and working up an appetite is The Nairobi Arboretum. Situated adjacent to the State House on a 30-hectare (74-acre) piece of land. It was set aside by the government in 1907 to plant fast-growing exotic trees for use during the construction of the Mombasa-Kampala railway. 

Back then they would cut indigenous trees along the railway, which was not sustainable, as they discovered because indigenous trees would take a long time to mature.

To date, the arboretum has over 350 types of both exotic and indigenous trees. There are paved footpaths throughout, which serve as hiking trails.

Nairobi Arboretum

A View of Ngong Hills | © Ninara / Flickr

7. Ol Donyo Sabuk

Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park is a bit of a trek to get there and can be found about 85km from Nairobi and will probably take you around 2 hours by car. The day trip will take you around 8 hours to complete and have a few picnic spots for a well-deserved rest afterwards.

The park has a wonderful centrepiece that is a large mountain named Ol Donyo Sabuk which in the Masai language is a single mountain. 

The mountain rises to 2,145 meters (7,037 feet) from an otherwise flat area hence it being the dominant feature of the park. However, wildlife enthusiasts may be more interested in the fact that the park is home to buffalos, monkeys and antelopes.

8. Oloolua Nature Trail

If you are looking to do a short hike, quick jog or run with your dog, then this tranquil forest in the Karen suburb is the perfect backdrop to your outdoor fitness experience. 

Explore their meandering river, waterfalls, 33m long cave, papyrus swamp and you can even get to camp if you are that into the outdoors. This 5km walk is not strenuous and is great for beginners who want to start exploring trails or want to start improving their fitness

9. Chyulu Hills

Probably the furthest from Nairobi of the trails on this list at around 200km from the city we felt we needed to include this one. These underrated and unexplored hills can be found between Amboseli National Park and Tsavo West National Park. 

They cover a distance of 150 km (93 mi), with the highest point standing at 2,188 m (7, 200 ft) above sea level. Unbeknown to many, Chyulu Hills has one of the longest lava tubes in the world. 

The trek covers a distance of 15 km (9 mi) through rugged terrain filled with wildlife and beautiful fauna, particularly after the rainy season. It takes about 3–4 hours to the mouth of the caves.

35 km (22 mi) from the Chyulu Hills National Park headquarters is the other hiking trail called Satellite, which was used as a training base by the US Army. The peak stands at 1,900 m (6,200 ft) above sea level. 

Note: There are no trails; hikers follow wildlife tracks through these gentle hills. It is advisable to go with a park ranger.

10. Hells Gate National Park

This one is a bit of a trick located in Naivasha in Kenya which is 100 km outside Nairobi but still within a day's trip. Hell’s Gate National Park is home to a variety of wildlife, flora and over 100 species of birds. 

It was a belief that this was the outlet for the prehistoric freshwater lake that stretched from here to Nakuru. 

The park offers a memorable one day trip which can take you between ‎3-6 hours to complete.

if you don’t fancy walking, hire a bike at the gate of the park and enjoy a ride in the wild and if that wasn't enough, you could also enjoy rock climbing and a natural spa.

Hells Gate

A View of Hells Gate | © Ninara / Flickr



When in Nairobi, Take A Hike

Whichever route you choose we are sure you'll have a fantastic time trekking through the wilderness. If you have any spots, you believe should be mentioned let us know we'd be happy to update our list. 

Do you have any photos of your hikes on these paths? Feel free to share it with us on social media @tripindigocom & use the #tripindigo

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