How to get there ?
One and half hours drive from Nairobi.
Where to stay ?
Ol Donyo Sapuk Farmhouse, read here!
Hike up the mountain
I have never hiked up a mountain, I have hiked up small hills and I thought this would be easy but oh boy I didn’t know what was waiting for me half way through the hike.
To get to the hiking location, you will need to get to Ol Donyo Sabuk national park. There is a park fee of 300KSH for Kenyan citizens, 600KSH for residence and USD26 for non-residence. The park is covered by mountain forests and is home to abundant species of birdlife. Buffalos are the dominant animals in the ecosystem, about 250 buffaloes can be found on the slopes. Our guide mentioned that other wildlife include baboons, bushbucks, pythons and monitor lizards.
The peak height of the mountain is 2,145 meters about 9 kilometers. I was determined to make it up to the summit, every step further kept exhausting me but the excitement was intriguing and it gave me the energy to hike further.
One of the greatest attractions of the mountains is the viewpoint where you get to see scenic views of Mount Kenya; yes I got to this point of the mountain. Another fascinating feature of the mountain is Lord Macmillan’s graveyard. Near the peak you will get to see Lord Macmillan, his wife and their dogs grave. His wish was to be buried on top of the mountain. Before my trip the only thing I knew about the Macmillan’s was the Macmillan Library in Nairobi, this just touched my love for learning about the history of people and places.
As we got closer to the peak, my eyes started reddening, the weather was changing and it was getting cold, the rains were coming and I was getting exhausted. I wanted to get to the top but I thought to myself, do I need to walk back down? There was no way on earth that my unfit self would actually hike down 9km so I gave up at the sign board which said ‘1.5 kilometers to the summit’. I just hitched a ride back down with a bunch of school children that were on a school trip, hopped into the bus and felt extremely relieved from the exhaustion although I did feel like a failure for not completing my hike. Oh well, blame it on being unfit.
This is an activity I would definitely recommend for everyone to experience at least once in his or her lifetime. Make sure to dress-up in comfortable hiking gear, carry lots of liquids and some yogurt or fruits for energy.
Visit Lord William Northrop Macmillan’s Castle
Lord Macmillan was an American soldier who arrived in Kenya in 1901 for big game hunting and ended up making Kenya his home. Macmillan owned all the land in the Ol Donyo Sabuk area and he wanted to own the mountain as well.
About a kilometer walk from the farmhouse, the castle is built on a cliff facing Mount Kilimambogo with 32 bedrooms, it is said that Lord Macmillan and his wife changed bedrooms every six months. Walking into the castle you feel the glimpse of history, the castle is surrounded by tress and gardens with the horse stables complimenting the front the side of the castle.
The house has an underground bunker with a tunnel that leads out of the house. During the Mau Mau struggle it was in this meeting room that the colonists held meetings.
The house also hosted a number of prominent people that include, the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill and British colonial governor Sir Evelyn Baring. One of Kenya’s celebrated politicians, Tom Mboya was born on the farm where his farther worked as a laborer.
There is so much to learn from the history of Lord Macmillan, as a lover of all things history I totally enjoyed visiting his castle and touring the grounds getting to experience some stories that are yet to be explored in Kenya.
Visit the local town and village
This has got be my favorite part, I love exploring how different cultures and tribes live. I love getting an insight of the local culture. For the culture lovers like myself, enjoy a visit to the local village where I met Cucu (grandmother) and her family. I took a boda boda (motorbike) ride to the village, where I passed through miles and miles of pineapple plantations and to the other side you will always get that beautiful Mountain View. That was my first time on the boda boda – I so exciting that my friends thought I was totally INSANE. Well, I got that ticked of my to do list.
Visit Fourteen Falls
Although I did not get to visit fourteen falls because the weather was extremely bad and the rains were pouring, we were told that area would be a bit rough. That was a bummer, but there’s always next time.
To learn more about Fourteen Falls, read here!