Hiking in Mount Kenya Forest following River Thiba.
If you have been to Kirinyaga County, Kenya, then you are bound to encounter the Thiba River flowing through the county at different locations. This river is known for many reasons and uses both good and bad. It’s one of the sources of water for the Mwea Irrigation Scheme, which supports the biggest pishori rice-producing farms in Kenya. It has also been in the headlines a couple of times for bad incidences of people drowning as young people in the area consider it a good place to learn how to swim in their younger years.
It’s also a source of domestic water supply to people in the area as far as Embu County. Some farmers use this river for commercial fish farming that is gaining popularity in the area. The government has also taken up this reliable source of water to build a million-dollar dam named the Thiba Dam. This dam is meant to serve a large part of the country as well as help local farmers improve in their commercial farming in the area especially rice.
This river drains down to River Tana which eventually drains to the Indian Ocean. The source of the river is our focus here which is Mount Kenya. For anyone who loves adventure, hiking Mount Kenya should always be on your bucket list. Even though you may not be a qualified mountain climber, The Mount Kenya Forest provides a great opportunity for amateur hikers to take up day hikes through the thick forest, experiencing the natural waterfalls and listening to birds and animals sing out sweet melodies.
Hiking through Mount Kenya Forest
Mount Kenya Forest and National Park is one of the marked Heritage Sites in Kenya. The Mountain touches different counties in Central Kenya, hence there are different locations approaching it. Hiking through the forest and up the mountain all depends on what you want to achieve and the time you intend to take.
As an amateur hiker or one who loves to explore and discover new places, day hikes are a good way to cover this. Covering an average of 20km and walking for 5-6 hours exploring is always an adventure worth trying. In Mount Kenya, one of the best routes to achieve this day hike is using the Kamweti Route through the Castle Forest Lodge.
The Castle Forest Lodge route is where you find the Thiba River flowing down through the forest from up the mountain. Just as you start the hike from the forest entrance, a few meters away you will hear the crystal clear water flowing down in between the thick forest. The water is so undisturbed by the forest animals as it makes its own harmony while hitting hard on the age-old rocks on its path.
As you go further up towards the Castle Forest Lodge, there is a big bridge built on top of the river that can hold heavy vehicles but carefully built not to harm the water underneath. This is a perfect place to stop and stare at the clean, clear water. The surrounding vegetation can provide a nice place for a mini picnic (just be careful not to litter or mess up with nature).
Finally, you get to the lodge which is situated on a steep slope overlooking the great mountain at a distance surrounded by the thick green forest cover. Well, this is one of the best parts of experiencing River Thiba. Walking through a narrow trail surrounded by tall trees leads you to the riverbank that provides a good location for trout fishing as you watch the water flow down a mini waterfall.
Now the main forest hike starts here, with a signpost warning you of wild animals and attack by these animals is at your own risk, the management is not responsible. Well, that should not scare you as most wild animals rarely show up during the day in an area with humans unless too hungry.
Walking deep in the forest alternating between old elephant paths and hikers trails while listening to the soothing forest sounds with the river flow being heard from a distance. Passing through wooden bridges on top of River Thiba gives surety that you are still on the right path. Making stops by the bridge for some nice nature shots by the clear water. The Mountain becomes clearer as you go deeper into the forest and the weather definitely changes.
Finally, the forest cover gets thicker, wetter and the trail gets a little steeper. The flow of water from a distance gives surety that you are still on the right track. After approximately 9 km of walking through the forest with stopovers to take pictures, collect berries and learn some information about the forest, you get to the scenic waterfall.
The majestic waterfall spilling water from up above stands right in front of you. Such a sight to behold, the crystal clear water running down with great force and authority the only thing on one’s mind is to take a dive or a swim. It’s until you step in the water that you realize how cold the water is, your feet are almost frozen and it hits you how swimming in such cold water is next to impossible.
Well, technology saves the day as you remove your camera and start taking some awesome moments around the waterfall trying all kind of stunts around and in the ice-cold water. Some very daring and adventurous people even try to climb up the waterfall or go round behind the fall but the cold water cannot let you stay there for long.
The experience at the waterfall somehow makes you forget how long you had to walk through the forest to get there and after some time by the waterfall, it is time to walk back retracing your steps down the river. The best part of trekking back is all the knowledge you have gained about the origin of a river you have stared at for many years not knowing how it all comes to be.
I would recommend such as adventure to any nature lover to visit Mount Kenya Forest via the Castle Forest Lodge Route for an experience of a lifetime with an aim of tracing back Thiba River from the source which is Mount Kenya.