|Distance from Nairobi||About 60km|
|Starting Point||Mt Longonot Park Gate|
|Ending point||Mt Longonot Park Gate|
|Walking Duration||4 hours|
|Terrain||Fine dust, with loose gravel in some areas.|
|Difficulty||Moderate, with some steep climbing.|
Updated 16 November 2019
As you drive from Nairobi along the upper escarpment road to Naivasha, the breathtaking view of Mt Longonot beckons you to the left, barely 60km out of Nairobi. This colossus dominates the surrounding landscape, with lava canyons on its steep slopes, and a circular caldera over a kilometer in diameter. It is a dormant volcano estimated to have last erupted in the mid 1800s, standing at an estimated 750m above the floor of the Great Rift Valley and 2776m above sea level. A number of viewpoints on the highway have become popular stopovers for motorists drawn by the splendor of this magnificent view.
The whole of Mt Longonot is a National Park under the jurisdiction of Kenya Wildlife Services. It is home to several wild animals, most of which live in the thick forest covering the crater floor. Spotting them is not guaranteed.
A hike on Mt Longonot takes about 2hr from the Park Gate to the rim of the crater and back. For those going round the crater, the hike takes about 4hr for the round trip.
The first kilometer of this trail takes you past a Campsite to the left, followed by a flat section where gazelles like to graze. It then turns into a slight climb as you get into Buffalo point, an area covered in dryland bushes where you are likely to encounter grazing herds of buffaloes. Soon, you get to an extremely steep “concrete staircase” that seems to go on forever. Mercifully, it eventually levels off at the location of a gazebo for resting and picnic. The trail gently undulates for some distance, as you finish the second kilometer and embark on the third and final kilometer to the crater rim. Soon, it turns into another steep incline that leaves many a hiker questioning their sanity. Eventually you crest the crater rim and breath a sigh of relief as the majestic view of the crater opens up below you.
For the stronger hikers, the trail beckons you to the right along the crater rim. It undulates gently as you work your way towards its highest point. As you get closer to the summit, it gets extremely steep, with sections that are literally a staircase that requires the use of your hands to work your way up. Soon, you are at the top, 5km from when you started at the Park Gate, having gained nearly 650m elevation in the process.
The rest of the trail around the crater rim starts off from the summit with a steep downhill, then rolls up and down gently to the gazebo where you first reached the crater rim, 9km since you started the hike. From here, its a quick drop down to the Park Gate, having done a total distance of 12km, with an elevation gain of 750m.
If driving, the shortest approach is the lower escarpment road commonly used by trucks to Naivasha. This road takes you past the old Catholic Church built by Italian Prisoners of War during WW2, reputed to be the smallest church in Kenya. Further on, you will go past Mai Mahiu town before reaching Longonot Station. Turn left just before the railway bridge at Longonot Centre, and follow the signposted dirt track that is parallel to the railway, right up to the Park Gate, about 4km from the turnoff.