Ol Donyo Sabuk
|Distance from Nairobi||About 70km|
|Starting Point||Ol Donyo Sabuk Park Gate|
|Ending point||Ol Donyo Sabuk Park Gate|
|Walking Duration||5 hours|
|Terrain||Rough boulder-strewn motorable road, with part of the hike along steep rocky trails.|
|Difficulty||Moderate, with some steep climbing.|
Revised July 7 2016
The Ol Donyo Sabuk mountain, also known as Kilimambogo or Buffalo Mountain, is situated about 70km north-east of Nairobi, and about 25km east of Thika town. It is a National Park under Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) that covers an area of about 20 square kilometres. Most of it is a natural forest inhabited by Buffaloes, monkeys, antelopes and other grazers. Standing at 2145m above sea level at its highest, Ol Donyo Sabuk offers panoramic views of the surrounding plains. You can also see the distant Nairobi to the south, Masinga Dam and Mt Kenya to the north, and Mt Kilimanjaro to the west.
This mountain’s proximity to Nairobi and its relatively higher altitude than the surrounding landscape makes it a popular location for radio repeater stations. Its top is bristling with telecommunication masts set up by telecommunication providers, security agencies, and utilities organizations with north bound communication links. As a result, a gravel motorable road winds its way to the top to enable servicing of these facilities.
For hiking enthusiasts, this mountain is ideal for a day hike. The 10km climb to the top takes between 2 to 3 hours depending on your level of fitness. At the KWS Park Gate, there is a serviced campsite for those who wish to spend the night and do the hike very early when chances of sighting herds of buffaloes are much higher. Hikers are required to be accompanied by a KWS ranger for security against buffalo attacks. All along the way up, you encounter a stunning array of flora that thrives here undisturbed by human exploitation. Barely 2 km from the top, you pass by the grave of Lord William Northrup MacMillan, an American who owned the mountain and a large estate around it during the colonial era. MacMillan’s exploits and adventures, as well as his philanthropic legacies such as the MacMillan Library in Nairobi, are well documented. Among his distinguished visitors were the former US President Theodore Roosevelt during his hunting safaris to Kenya in 1911, and the wartime British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill.
About 3km from Ol Donyo Sabuk is the Fourteen Falls on Athi River, an attraction not to be missed when you are in the neighbourhood. Access to the Waterfalls is currently managed by Thika County Council, which charges visitors a modest fee. A curious and incomprehensible practice by the gatekeepers is to charge extra if you are carrying a camera.
If using public means from Nairobi, use either Thika or Ol Donyo Sabuk matatus from the Ronald Ngala Matatu Stage near the OilLibya Petrol station . From Thika, take matatus for Ol Donyo Sabuk town, situated 2km from the KWS Park Gate.
If driving, use Thika Road and at the Thika turnoff, take Garissa Road and go right past Thika for about 18km. Look out for the KWS sign to the right indicating the direction to the mountain. Take this turn and at the next junction about 1km down this earth road, turn left and drive till Ol Donyo Sabuk Town, where you take another right turn to the KWS Gate 2km from this town.