Barely 60km from Nairobi along the Nairobi Nakuru highway, the breathtaking view of Mt Longonot dominates the surrounding landscape.
Standing at 2776m above sea level, and an estimated 750 m from the base, Mt Longonot is a young dormant volcano created during tectonic activities and volcanic eruptions that formed the great Rift Valley.
Mt Longonot is one of those achievable destinations over a weekend from Nairobi and also attainable for a novice hiker. Here’s an account of my journey to one of Kenya’s most famous hiking destinations courtesy of Bountiful Safaris.
We set off from Nairobi at 8 am stopping over a number of strategic viewpoints set up on the highway to view the splendor the Great Rift Valley. We arrived at around 9:30 am.
We started the ascent at around 10 o’clock. The hike consists of several sections with each section having a rest point where you can prepare yourself for the next part. The first part was a relatively easy gentle ascent.
The second section was a total workout, I did not realize the volcano would be so steep in some places. The copious amounts of dust and scorching heat made the task more strenuous. After barely making it through this section we were close to the rim of the crater. The third section was less demanding before finally making it to the fourth section which though tough, was not as demanding as the second section.
When we finally reached the crater rim, it took my breath away – the grueling hike was worth it! Down the massive crater floor was a sea of green vegetation, a huge contrast from the sides of the mountain which are dry and sparse with vegetation cover. The experience of standing at the lip of the crater and looking down at the bowl was simply incredible. Circumnavigating along a path less than a meter wide in some places and coming within inches of a precipitous plunge down either side of the volcano was a hair-raising experience. In addition were the majestic views of the Rift Valley and Lake Naivasha at a distance.
To conclude there are a few pieces of advice I would like to share:
Try and go earlier in the day to beat the heat or the months of June, July when the weather tends to be cooler with lots of cloud cover.
Get a walking stick, you can buy one at the park at ksh 50 ($0.45), it will help you with balance.
Carry plenty of water and a few snacks.
Come prepared to get dirty, the hike up the slope is dusty, very steep and slippery at some points which will require your hands as well as your legs. The descent involves some sliding on dusty paths.
Hike COUNTERCLOCKWISE around the crater because of the much steeper descent you will face going clockwise.
Overall climbing Mt Longonot was an exciting and invigorating experience that I would definitely recommend to any tourist visiting Kenya!