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It happens to the best of us. Despite intentions to get out of the city come Friday, we find ourselves planted firmly on the coach after a hard week’s work. But fret not. If you haven’t got as far as planning a weekend away but still want to get out of town for a few hours of hiking, some beautiful trails await. If you can stay one night or more the better, but these four gems are accessible day trips.

Rock climbing at Ololosokuan nature trail

If an adventurous rock climb is what you’re after, this hike in Kajiado county can be reached in an hour. The rocky path starts off along the rift valley escarpment, over boulders and past huge trees nestling in the mountain ridge. Climb down into the valley and across the Ololosokuan river bed, before coming up against nature’s ultimate challenge: the 12-metre rock face. If you suddenly contracted vertigo, the bad news is that the only way is up, unless you fancy the hour-long trek back the way you came. Nothing can beat the sense of achievement on getting to the top though, and on a clear day, you can see Mount Suswa in the distance from the escarpment. The scramble up the rock face is not especially technical and can be done without climbing gear.

GETTING THERE AND BACK

Take Ngong road through Karen to Ngong town. At Ngong town, there is a small roundabout. Take the left for around 5 kilometres – the tarmac ends after 2.5 kilometres and continues as a dirt road for another 2.5 kilometres before you will see a signpost for Ololosokuan.

For more information and to arrange a guide, contact Jackson at Savannah Sunset Resort: +254 743814053.

Forest Hike at the foothills of Mount Kenya

Photo: http://tembeaplaces.com/

Set in the thick forested foothills of Mount Kenya, this lush rainforest is complete with waterfalls and stunning views of the valley and mountain peak. You will need a guide to navigate the trail passages through dense forest, but you don’t need any technical skill and the walks can be taken at an easy pace. The tree canopy is home to hundreds of bird species – this is a birding paradise. Tread over bright green moss and listen to diverse bird song as you pass under towering medicinal trees, through colourful plants and wild flowers. A pathway cut into the side of a steep hill eventually leads you down to the twin waterfalls, where a rock pool awaits below and you can dip your feet in the cool water, giant wild banana plants hanging overhead. You can also arrange horse riding through the forest and bird watching trips.

GETTING THERE AND BACK

The main road is an easy two-hour drive from Nairobi on a good road, though the road from the gate is dirt and you may need a 4×4 in the rainy season. Take Thika highway north to the C73. Follow the road to Kutus and Kimunye, until you reach the gate to the Mount Kenya National Park. Follow the road for another 15 minutes to the Castle Forest Lodge, where the hikes start. You can also take a bus to Kimunye and a boda boda to the lodge.

Contact Jackson to arrange short or long walks from two to six hours, and for more information: +254 731 407109.

Mathioya river hike

Photo: Pete Muller

If a light, relaxing walk through lush countryside is what you’re after, this trail along the beautiful Mathioya River offers a pure tonic from city life. A leafy footpath dotted with stiles passes through farm boundaries along the river, between patches of dense eucalyptus forest, emerald green tea fields and maize farms. Downstream, the river is popular with tourists rafting its winding path, but here, the waterway is too narrow for rafting and is much quieter. Set against the backdrop of the Aberdares, green backdrops and cold, tumultuous water eddying through the rocks make for some beautiful shots. In the heat of the day take a light dip in the cool water, and if you’re lucky, catch a glimpse of the trout. You can also arrange trout fishing.

GETTING THERE AND BACK

The drive takes between 2-2 ½ hours on winding but well-tarmacked roads in Muranga county. Take the Thika highway past Thika town and join the C71, which will take you through Muranga County to the C72. Head to Gatunguru tea factory and towards Aberdare Cottages and Campsite. You can organise hikes and lunch from the cottages.

Contact Zac: +254 721646613 or Pete: +254 711342999.

Mountain trek at Mt Lesatima

Photo: http://www.africanfootprints.de/

This is a hard day out and will need a little planning. If you’re prepared, however, this trip to the highest peak in the Aberdare mountain range is well worth it. You’ll need a 4×4 vehicle, enough energy for a full day out, lots of water and snacks, and an armed guard to accompany you because there are wild animals in the park. From the gate, it’s a steep drive through beautiful ancient bamboo forest and giant heather to the start point for the hike – your guide will show you where this is. Continue on foot up a narrow rocky path which winds through clusters of other-worldly looking giant groundsel plants, rocks and flat open moors, before reaching the rocky peak at around 4,000 metres. The hike is strenuous because of the elevation, but not technically difficult, and gentle for most of the way except for a steep 15-minute climb to the peak. Depending on how often you stop to take photos – or eat snacks – it should take around five hours in total to walk to the top and back.

GETTING THERE AND BACK

With minimal traffic before day break, it will take around three hours to reach Mutubio gate from Nairobi. Follow the A 104 and then C67 to Njabini. From there it is 17 km to the small town of Engineer and another 7 km to Ndunyu Njeru, from where you will pick up signs for the Aberdare National Park. Bring warm clothes, rain gear, strong walking boots, snacks, lunch and plenty of water. There are no provisions in the park so you need to bring everything with you.

Guides are compulsory, check park fees in advance and arrange your guide with the Kenya Wildlife Service via Geoffrey Kariuki: +254 722 403 665.

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