Aberdares Trekking, Shamata to Table Mountain
|Distance from Nairobi||About 190km|
|Starting Point||Twin Peaks|
|Ending point||Table Mountain via Oldonyo Lesatima|
|Walking Duration||2 days|
|Terrain||Animal trails through marshes in the moorland, with some rocky sections close to the summit. Stunning rock formations along the route.|
|Difficulty||Moderate to High. You need to be reasonably fit to do this hike.|
The northern moorlands of the Aberdares Ranges, accessed through Shamata Gate, offer some of the best trekking in Kenya. Outside of MCK, very few hikers ever come to explore this delightfully isolated wilderness with landmarks like Dragon’s Teeth, Table mountain, and Oldonyo Lesatima summit, the highest point on the Aberdares ranges.
The first 11km from Shamata Gate is a motorable southbound dirt road that climbs from 2850m to 3450m asl through an indigenous forest, ending at the forest edge near the Twin Peaks. If driving, you’ll need a 4WD vehicle for this road.
From this point, animal trails ascend up the lower moorlands normally covered with the alpine Giant Heather, which sadly gets ravaged by forest fires from time to time, leaving behind charred sticks. As you work your way further southwards, this vegetation gradually gives way to tussock grass in marshes. Breathtaking landscapes soon unfold ahead as interesting rock formations including the Dragon’s Teeth come into view, standing tall on the plateau. Depending on your level of fitness, it takes about 2 hours to trek from the Twin Peaks to the Dragon’s Teeth.
As you climb higher past these rocks on the marshes, the trail contours along ridges till Lesatima comes into view. A short steep climb gets you to the summit at 4000m asl, about 3 to 4 hours and 8km from the Twins.
The 8km trail from Oldonyo Lesatima to the Table Mountain goes over the top of a ridge as you drop about 250m and contour around small hills to another marshy area dotted with the majestic Giant Groundsel trees and Giant Lobelia plants. As before, you follow animal trails heading in the general southward direction of the Mountain, and where the trails head off in a different direction, you leave them and cut across the marshes as you make a beeline for the goal. One final 100m climb through a small saddle in the Table Mountain eventually gets you to the plateau and the Ponds on top, which make an ideal camping location.
The trail from the Twin Peaks to the Table Mountain is not marked, and generally follows animal trails on and off. If you are new to the territory, you could easily get lost. It would therefore be prudent to have a GPS device loaded with this track to guide you. This would especially be vital during cloudy conditions, when you cannot rely on landmarks.
Caution: Beware that the weather at this altitude can change for the worse very fast. Carry warm clothes and rain gear, and unless you are navigating by GPS, stop hiking if a fog moves in. Be prepared for the worst.
KWS rangers are not trained as guides, and are generally not dependable. if you wish to meet your target, go with someone who knows the area well, or use GPS to navigate.
If using public means from Nairobi, take Nyahururu Matatus at Tea Room, then take Matatus going to Shamata centre from Nyahururu town. From Shamata centre, it’s a short 5km walk to the KWS Shamata Gate.
If driving from Nairobi, use the Naivasha Road (upper escarpment) till the Naivasha turnoff, then turn right. This road joins the new road linking Njabini to Ol Kalou. Turn left and head towards Ol Kalou. 8km before Ol Kalou, turn right to a dirt road that climbs up the escarpment to Shamata centre and the KWS Shamata Gate beyond.
Visitors are required to be accompanied by armed escort from Shamata Gate. The official Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) tariffs for Park entry and armed escort are applicable here. Call the Senior Warden, Aberdares National Park in advance on phone number +254 772 171 247, or send him an email on email@example.com, to make arrangements for your visit.
A campsite with tap water and toilets is available at Shamata Gate, but you’ll need to bring your own tent and other camping gear.