HIKING OL DONYO SABUK NATIONAL PARK
Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park also known as Mt. Kilimambogo is a solitary mountain dotting impressive wildlife. It is situated in the vast plains of Donyo Sabuk town within Machakos County, Kenya. Ol Donyo Sabuk is a Maasai name meaning big mountain. Kilimambogo is derived from the Swahili and Bantu language meaning Buffalo Mountain.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Directions: the mountain is located 65 km from Nairobi to Thika town and 15km from Thika town to the mountain. Once at Thika Town proceed along the main Thika-Garissa A3 road to Makutano Junction. At the junction, you will see a Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) sign and turn to the right. Proceed 3km on a murram road to Ol Donyo Sabuk town. In the town, you will see Ol Donyo Sabuk National park signpost. It is a 2 km drive to the park’s main gate. At the gate, the entrance fee for citizens is Kshs. 300 for adults and Kshs.200 for children. A non-resident adult pays $30 whereas a child $20. Cars with less than 6 seats are charged Kshs.300 ($3). Payment is through Mpesa pay bill or credit card, cash is not accepted.
Most mountains in Kenya are located far off Nairobi city. This requires a detailed plan of the trip and some days off to fully enjoy the experience. If you lack several days off, then Ol Donyo Sabuk is the place to go. Reaching the summit will only take you three hours. Towering at a height of 2,145 meters, Ol Donyo Sabuk is a beginner-friendly mountain for all new hikers. And for the veterans, it is a friendly reminder of why you love hiking. Mountaineering not only presents a good cardio workout but it is a good way to spend time with friends and family. There is something so pure about hiking. Maybe it is the constant encouragement from others that you are almost at the peak or the clean air that tickles away the motor fumes from the busy town life. What I know for sure is I love the sense of well-being that I feel after a hike.
Traversing the mountain amid the montane forest presents a rather relieving time. Away from the frenetic life of the corporate world. The area surrounding the park is a savanna grassland so expect a hot day and a cold night. Visit the park very early in the morning preferably at 7 a.m. when birds are gleefully chirping and the weather is cool.
Along the hiking terrain, you may spot several species of birds ranging from the African pied wagtail to the African hawk-eagle. You may also see bushbucks, olive baboons, mongooses, and aardvarks. If you are lucky enough you may spot buffaloes that have reduced in number as the years go by.
There are several observing points on your way to the summit at which you can enjoy the panoramic view of the Ol Donyo Sabuk area. The summit is located 9 kilometres from the main gate. It serves both as a picnic site and a camping site. The summit offers a panoramic view of Mount Kenya and if you have your binoculars a good view of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
The Park History
Ol Donyo Sabuk was once home to Lord William Northrop Macmillan whose house still stands at the foot of the mountain. Lord William Northrop Macmillan was an American soldier who was knighted by the King of England. He and his wife arrived in Kenya in 1901 to carry out hunting expeditions. They were philanthropists who established the Macmillan Library in central Nairobi. Lord Northrop together with his wife, house help, and their family dog were buried at a site seven kilometres along the terrain that leads to the summit of the mountain.
OTHER INTERESTING ACTIVITIES
Bird Watching. The first thing your guide will tell you is the species of birds in Ol Donyo Sabuk. There are about 45 species of birds. It’s a birdwatchers dream. Whether you are birding as a recreational activity or as an ornithologist you will enjoy the variety of species the mountain has attracted. Some of these birds include the African hawk-eagle, mourning dove, several species of weaver birds, African pied wagtail, and augur buzzard. Most of these birds are diurnal species hence the best time to come and get the ultimate experience is at sunrise and sunset. That is generally as at 6:00 am and 3:00 pm EAT. Get your notebook, your binoculars, and your camera and come and enjoy birding.
Camping. If you still feel like you need to enjoy the mountain, accommodation is provided. There is a campsite at the gate with firewood, water, a camp kitchen, power sockets for charging your phone, and a bathroom. You can also camp at the summit campsite which is at the peak of the mountain, but then you have to hire a guard at 1,700kshs. Hiring a tent will also cost you an extra Kshs. 500 per night. Grab your bag, come take a three-hour adventure of hiking the Ol Donyo Sabuk!
Ol Donyo Sabuk Park contact details: +254-200 2062503 / +254-20-2379407/15
Also Read: Hiking Safaris in Kenya