Mount Kenya

by Ucman Scher
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3 days around mount kenya

Best Way To Spend 3 Days Around Mount Kenya

Mount Kenya is the second tallest mountain in Africa after Kilimanjaro. This majestic mountain is also quite an elusive one because it is quite hard to capture it in photos unlike its taller cousin Kilimanjaro which is recognised around the world. While I decided against climbing this beast, I did spend 3 fabulous days around Mount Kenya.

You will need some prep for the trip though so check out my article about Nanyuki and Ol Pejeta for more details.

Check out my Kenya guide for all information you need to visit this beautiful country.

Mount Kenya Travel VLOG

 

Day 1 – Heading To Mount Kenya and Ol Pejeta Conservancy

The drive from Nairobi to Nanyuki was tiring but also a good chance to catch some sleep before I got woken to the bustle of Nanyuki. It took 3 and a half hours to cover the distance of 200 km but there was an accident along the way as well which slowed things down. We arrived at Nanyuki and headed straight to Ol Pejeta Conservancy and Serena Sweetwaters, I was already excited. A local friend really built the hype for me.

A proper African welcome

The tarmac road gave way to a gravel one and covered in dust, we arrived at the Rongai gate of conservancy. I paid the extra fees and we drove in to the camp site. My driver Solomon alerted me to an amazing scene; two lionesses right next to the road not far from the gate. I was mesmerised, it was my first time seeing one in the wild and no words or pictures do justice to their majesty. Solomon told me I got a proper African welcome. Highly appreciated and honoured!

The next quick stop was the rather informative equator stop.

read the sign in picture not the caption!

Another 2 km drive and we were at the gate of Serena Sweetwater.

The check in was smooth and after some buffet lunch, I headed to my tent to relax. I was planning to go around for a drive later but the place was so serene, I decided to stay and spend the day in the camping site.

Some unpacking later, I was ready with some green tea to sit by the water hole. The first animals I saw were the rhinos and a giraffe, I was smitten!

Reality TV but much much better

A little later, I got some fruits and cake and sat outside my tent which was more private. A big flock of buffaloes appeared followed by two black rhinos and a small fight ensued. The day went by without much of a notice, I took a dip in the pool and refreshed headed for dinner.

Not doing much for a day was absolutely perfect but I have had a busy day planned for second day.

Day 2 – Game Drive Around Ol Pejeta, Rhinos & Chimps

The day started early, I woke up at 6am, took a shower and got ready for the sunrise. The sun came up from behind Mount Kenya. It was a bit cloudy but it just added to the intrigue. I did wonder, honestly, how I got to be so incredibly lucky without the need for an answer.

I got some breakfast and headed to our car where Solomon was ready and waiting. I could sense he was as excited too. We drove to Morani where our guide was waiting for us. Sebastian was waiting for us and we left at 7:30.

With Sebastian

 

Game Drive

We headed out to a bunch of vehicles nearby which turned out to be an entire pride of lions. I was told again, I was extremely to be able to see an entire family of 9 lions so close to the road, right in front of my eyes, this early. Again appreciated and honoured.

The male lion sat at a distance facing opposite the rest of his family, the rest of his family chilling and perhaps wondering about all the freaks who were busy taking photos and watching them with such intrigue. Sebastian lent me his binoculars which made things more exciting, I could see things so much better, it was thrilling and exhilarating both.

We drove on and found the second amazing spectacle, an entire herd of elephants with a massive matriarch. The baby elephants are so cute, I really wanted to go play with one but had to control myself. When it comes to their babies, things can quickly get out of hands. After a few minutes they stopped paying attention to us and I felt like I could sit there watch them for hours.

The rest of drive was also full of excitement. We saw warthogs, zebras, lots of buffaloes, impalas, gazelles, deer, jackals, rhinos and the heaviest flying bird called Cory Bustard.

We crossed on to the other side of the river and saw some baboons on the way. I was really after some giraffes and we finally saw some after quite a lot of driving.

It was an entire tower (group of giraffes is called a tower). It was next to another water hole, quite a busy place but we got to see so many of them. It was a smashing success and by 12 we have had seen everything I could ask for and more.

<3

I thanked and dropped Sebastian and headed back for some lunch at the hotel.

Meeting The Rhinos

I had booked the visit to meet the last 2 northern white rhinos for later. It did cost me extra but I was happy to part with $60 which went towards the conservation of these animals and also helps with the programme of their artificial reproduction. We drove back to Morani information centre later, got our ranger with us and headed to see Najin and Fatu. Both are mother and daughter and live with another female Takwa who is southern white rhino. Both of them were raised in captivity in a Czech zoo, Takwa is teaching them about living in the wild. She is also going to be a surrogate mother for the IVF reproduction program for Najin and Fatu.

Click here to donate for this very worthy cause.

It was really sad to see the last two animals of an entire species, killed and decimated by humans. I felt immense happiness that I got to see and meet them. Both of them are majestic and the entirely fun to be around. Touching them is prohibited and they are placed inside a secure enclosure where they are monitored for 24 hours.

Fun Fact: Rhino copulation is the longest in animal kingdom with sex lasting around an hour. This led ancient people to believe they had magical properties and their horn symbolised their sexual prowess. This was the main reason they were poached for their horns which are made of keratin. It is the same protein which makes up your and my nails and hair.

I didn’t want to leave but we were out of time and still had another star waiting for us; Baraka. Baraka lives close by in his own enclosure. He is a black rhino who lost one of his eye in a fight and got cataracts in his other eye, leaving him blind. He is very instinctive though and the moment ranger called his name he came running to get fed. The ranger gave me some branches to feed him. He was a perfect gentleman and he actually liked it when I caressed his neck.

All well until I turned around and saw something dangling between his legs. His massive penis was almost touching the ground, I was almost shocked with people grinning. I know it is a bit of a stretch but I’d love to think I did that to him. He was a red blooded male after all, good for you Baraka!

Chimpanzee Sanctuary

The last stop for the day was the chimpanzee sanctuary. It was free to visit. A guide showed us around and I got to learn a bit about our closest relatives in the animal kingdom. They are not local to Kenya and were brought over from Central and Western Africa. There are two families of chimps and they live in separate enclosures. They are very lively creatures and they are almost always active. They are compared to 3 year old human kids, full of life and curiosity.

I felt like I lived so oblivious to the plight of so many animals who we share the planet with but keep decimating their habitats for our own benefit. These chimps are also in danger because their parents are killed for meat and young are sold as pets. I am ever so glad someone is looking after them.

It was getting dark and it was time to head back to the camping site. I slept like a baby after dinner, looking out of the tent. It was one of the most precious days of my life.

Day 3 – Ngare Ndare Forest & Mount Kenya

Entrance Fees

International 4000

Vehicle 500

Ranger 1000

The last day was slightly saddening when I woke up, I’d gotten used to waking up to the sunrise in bed over Mount Kenya. I sat there for a long time, did some meditation and finally got up to get ready for an adventure filled day. It was time to see Ngare Ndare Forest, it’s waterfalls and blue pools.

Ngare Ndare means ‘good water’ in Maasai language and this gorgeous forest is a protected area with a lot of animals calling it home. It has all big five from lions to leopards, buffaloes, rhinos and elephants. The real reason I loved it so much is different though. This is more of an active adventure compared to game drives where you’re constantly driving around to spot animals. I loved stretching my legs and hiking in the forest.

I’ve had an argument with my mom the night before and it was really irking me but a hike through the forest really sorted my head.

Now on to the more practical side of things:

  • You need a 4×4 here if you cannot walk around 7-8 km, normal cars aren’t allowed inside and they cannot function there anyway.
  • Bring sturdy shoes and some water with you, make sure to take your trash with you though, plastic bottles are not allowed inside.
  • Book yourself in advance as you need an armed ranger or a guide to go inside the forest and some times they are not available. Best way to book is by calling them a few days in advance and checking availability.
  • Bring your swimming trunks and towel if you want to swim but only swim if you are good at it, the pools are deep and you can drown easily.
  • The way to the forest is not correct on Google Maps, call them on the day to get directions, this way is much shorter and accurate.

The girl on the phone also helped us find the way and we started with the drive from Nanyuki to Timao. It took 30 minutes. A further 2 km out of town, we took the the gravel road on the left, there is a board with Ngare Ndare Forest Trust on it. A further 11km drive later we were at the gate.

From the gate the road is really bad and if it rains it is accessible with 4×4 only.

After an hour we were standing at the starting point.

The ranger accompanying me was Gladis. The thought of being protected by a fierce young girl with a gun was quite tantalising. I silently shouted ‘girl power’ in my head and we were off to an epic adventure.

The Waterfall

The hike from to the waterfall was 3.5 km one way, it started off easy and became moderate. I was happy to be in comfy shoes. We passed through beautiful streams, dense vegetation and thick forested areas, it would have been very easy to get lost here. Gladis spotted some fresh rhino and elephant dung on the way which meant both were close. The idea of roaming around a forest with these mighty beasts was very thrilling.

We eventually got close to the waterfall and with the quiet of forest I could hear it perfectly well. The last bit of getting down was tricky though with steep stairs but we did it eventually.

I stood in front of this beautiful waterfall in its awe. It wasn’t the biggest waterfall I have seen but it was the setting. I was lucky enough to be the only one there at the time. The roaring waters created the song of the forest after merging into the beautiful stream that flew more peacefully and silently disappeared into the forest.

I stayed there for half an hour with my feet dipped in the cold water talking to Gladis about being a ranger.

It was time to go see the blue pools my breath had become normal and my sweat had dried.

The Blue Pools

The pools are located around a km and a half away from the waterfall and this hike was tricked than the first one. We did get there though and with every step I felt like I was Alice in wonderland. The small waterfall forming a pool of clean water and the entire stream flowing down, the thick forest around. I was so glad I didn’t skip this. Another half an hour in the beautiful sound of water and the roar of jungle passed before I realised how hungry I was.


Gladis and I headed back to what seemed like a really hike back to the parking area for the last part of the excursion; The canopy walk. I must admit I am a bit of a geek and watch a lot of nature documentaries. I know how important forest canopies are and most of the lift thrives up here including plants. There was no way I was going to give this up for some food.

The Canopy Walk

The stairs to the canopy walk were very high and steep but once I got up there, things looked amazing. Walking on top of the forest knowing the animals that live down there was fun. I kept looking to spot any animals below but the forest was thick and all I heard was the sound of water flowing through the forest.

I did see some beautiful birds though. The entire 450 metres and back were great fun. It might not be for you if you’re scared of heights or swinging bridges, I really enjoyed it.

at the end of a nice walk with a rumbling stomach

Mount Kenya

A quick lunch in Nayuki town later, I headed to Fairmont Kenya Safari Club. It is located at the base of Mount Kenya and offers great views of the mountain along with an animal orphanage. It is a great way to get up and close to Mount Kenya. This elusive mountain is almost always covered in clouds and it was no different during my stay. I did see the sunset over this beast one day which was beautiful.

Sadly, the hotel was closed for refurbishment which threw a massive spanner in my plan. I couldn’t even get past the gate. The only option was to head to Nairobi a bit early.

mount kenya int he evening

Mount Kenya

If you’re interested in hiking to the top of mount Kenya, it is a 6-7 day affair and most people start with Sirimon Gate into the Mount Kenya National Park. Unless you’re experienced and have all the gear you will need to book it with some company. I did a quick google search and saw plenty of options.

The three days I spent at the foothills of Mount Kenya were full of intrigue, beauty and lots of fun. I saw all these beautiful animals, some at the verge of collapse and some aplenty. It made me realise the preciousness of nature around us. I learnt so much about these majestic beasts and the conservation efforts, I’ll forever be a happy person with the honour of being in their presence.

If you have any further questions, feel free to reach out, I’ll try my best to help.

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