Hiking is a vigorous walk usually on trails. It’s the best way to experience diverse landscape that nature has to offer. Hiking enhances body fitness since it works all your body muscles. It’s also the perfect time for you to indulge in soul searching and self reflection. There is no better way to experience the beauty of nature than trekking. You get a front row seat where you can take in all its magnificence. There are so many health benefits associated with hiking. I am certain that many people would like to go hiking, but they lack either ideas on the appropriate hiking destinations or a group to hike with. Hiking by yourself would be a tormenting endeavour. Having a group makes the journey seem shorter and the struggle bearable. In our beautiful and magical Kenya, there are unlimited hiking destinations: Mt. Longonot, Mt. Kenya, Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Kilimambogo, Ngong’ Hills, Mt.Suswa, Zaina Falls, William Hill, Elephant Hill, Sleeping Warrior, Ugali Hill, Lukenya Hills and Mt. Kijabe, just to name a few.. Hiking is an activity everyone can take part in. From a 7 year old to a 70 year old. It has benefits for all age groups, physical fitness being the most important one..
I have explored a good number of these hiking trails and they are one of the reasons I adore my country a lot. I especially fell in love with the Majestic Ngong’ Hills. I have hiked these hills not once, but twice.
These are peaks in a ridge located southwest of Nairobi along the Great Rift Valley. The name Ngong’ Hills comes from the phrase "enkong'u emuny" which means rhinoceros spring. This name derives from a spring located near Ngong’ Town. The hills are only 22km from Nairobi city centre and trekking through them takes an average person only 4-5 hours. There are various reasons why Ngong’ Hills should be in your bucket list if you have not been there. It’s a place you wouldn’t get tired of going back to again and again. In my opinion, the following are 9 reasons why you should go hiking the Majestic Ngong’ Hills:
1. Accessible through public means
Unlike various other hiking destinations, Ngong’ Hills is accessible through public means. Number 111 Matatu from Kencom or Railway station will leave you at Ngong’ Town. If you’re up for it, you can begin your hike from this point, heading towards Ngong’ Hills. If not, you can take a bodaboda which will leave you at the Kenya Forestry service check point. Using public means is cost effective and convenient when you are hiking alone or with a group of less than 10 people. If you’re a group of less than 10, the cost of hiring a private vehicle is high and it would make the trip expensive. Using public transportation means that you have to come back the same way after getting to the desired point. If you choose to complete the entire trail, you might have difficulties getting transport at Kona baridi. Lack of personal vehicle or a big group should not limit you from exploring the Ngong’ Hills.
2. Good for beginners
Never hiked before? You should not worry if you choose to take up the Ngong’ Hills challenge. It is made up of 7 hills. To have it easy you can rest at the peak of every hill before hiking down. You are not obligated to conquer all the 7 hills. Therefore, you can choose to go back when you get to your breaking point. However, this knowledge should not make you chicken out. Self discipline is essential for beginners. The hills are not steep slopes but gentle. Hiking allows you to go at your own pace. It’s never a race or a competition. If in a group, all of you should walk at the pace of the slowest individual. Remember, you’re only as strong as your weakest link. The worst mistake you can make as a beginner is to strain your muscles. You might not be able to walk the next day and this will discourage you from going hiking in future. Endurance comes to play when you feel like quitting, but there is some strength left in you. Unlike other hiking destinations that do not allow you a chance to call it quits when you can’t stretch any further, Ngong’ Hills understands the struggle.
3. Appropriate for families
Exploring together as a family enhances bonding. Hiking teaches kids endurance and reminds them that life is not a walk in the park. They will find ways to climb up and down the hills on their own. This enhances creativity and problem solving skills. The trails at Ngong’ Hills are clear and wide. Only a small section passes through a bush. This makes it safe for kids. There are grounds where you can play with your family either during or after the hike. You can carry snacks and drinks for the family and set up a picnic on top of a hill. You would be surprised that kids might be more fit than the adults. Again, when the family cannot go any further, you can always go back to the starting point.
4. Security-Armed guide
Getting yourself security while at Ngong’ Hills is paramount. I have been to many other hiking trails where we just got a local guide to show us around. This is not allowed at Ngong’ hills. There is a police post with a sign written, “Do not go beyond this point without security”. You might be wondering why there is emphasis on security. According to the guide I had a conversation with; there are around twenty heads of buffaloes at Ngong’ Hills. Also, there are leopards and occasional hyenas. The possibility of encountering buffaloes grazing along the way is high. This is the major reason why the guide has to be armed. The police guide give assurance of security and it is important to adhere to their instructions. While hiking as a group, it is advisable to be close to each other. There shouldn’t be people left too far behind or speeding way ahead. The guide walks with you to a point where they are sure you are safe, and then they hike back to lead another group. This is the true definition of dedication and passion for your job.
Ngong’ Hills hike is one of the most scenic destination I have ever been to. The beautiful view is evident immediately you start the hike: the views of Kiserian Town on the left side and breathtaking views of Maasai Land on the right hand side. The sight of the scenery will relieve you from tiredness and fatigue. When at the peak of every hill, you forget the struggle you went through to get there. Kind of like giving birth, after the baby comes, the mother forgets about the pain of child birth. The views are worth every drop of sweat. After the 5th hill, you will have 270 degrees of scenic views of Kiserian, Kajiado, Olepolos, Kisames and other hills. The motivation you get from this is phenomenal. You get the energy to go on and on. The sceneries scream to be captured on camera. They make you want to invest in a more powerful lense, one that would be sure to capture every aspect of its magnificence. The memories you derive from the scenes are golden. The sight of the hills is beckoning. When you look at the next hill, you just want to get there. When you look back after climbing down, the view is satisfactory and you are glad to have passed there. My dear reader if you are craving a photo shoot or doing a commercial footage, Ngong’ Hills should be your next stop.
6. Best for Couples
A hike at the Ngong’ Hills is one of the most romantic activities you can do. Your bond is made stronger by the feeling of having conquered something together.. Helping a partner uphill is satisfying and it makes them feel safe and see your support. Enjoying the views and sceneries together is magical and generates sparks that bring you closer. If you manage to climb all the 7 hills together, you will have ample time to share stories, moments and enjoy being in the presence of each other. This is something that should not be taken for granted. Our daily hustles keep us away from spending time with each other. The fact that the hiking trail at Ngong’ Hills brings you to an elevated point, you feel closer to the creator more than ever. There is a feeling of peace and love when at the highest point. Your partner adds beauty to the views and sceneries. The support shared together makes a couple more energetic. It is damn near impossible for a couple to quit a hiking trail and go back. You know what they say, “you are stronger together”. It is very important to help each other keep fit as opposed to pointing fingers and blaming each other. The hike helps you understand each other more and learn your partner’s strengths. At the end of the hike, you share the sense of achievement together.
7. Hiking path
The hiking path at Ngong’ Hills is encouraging. There is no dust or chances of mud. You walk on grass throughout. This makes it manageable with any kind of sports shoes. It feels like being off the beaten truck. However, there is evidence that a number of people have hiked there before you. The path is wide and this makes it possible to walk beside each other as opposed to behind each other. There is a safe distance between the path and the thick bushes. This gives you assurance on safety. In case a dangerous animal emerges from the bushes, there is enough space and time to sprint as the guide contains the situation. If you have never been to Ngong’ Hills, you will know that there are zero chances of getting lost. The path is predictable and clear. As I mentioned before, there is no steep slopes or slippery downhill throughout the trail. If it were not for the dangerous wildlife, it would be easy to hike alone without a guide.
8. Convenient for Serious Hikers
If hiking is your cup of tea (not literary), then Ngong’ will be a walk in the park. Hiking to the 7th hill and back to the starting point will be a good challenge for you. The good thing is that the police guides are fit. They are always ready to walk to and fro with a group that’s hiking. They are flexible. This means that they can walk fast, slow or moderately depending on the pace of the group. The hills offer a challenge when hiking it either way. Where you climb when going will be a downhill when coming back and vice versa. The level of fitness of a serious hiker is above average and that means the entire hike (to and fro) would take them at most 5 hours.
9. Nyama Choma, Swimming and Relaxation
If you re hiking all the way to the end, you can have the driver go round and meet you at Kona Baridi. From here, you can proceed to the famous Olepolos Country Club. This is a getaway built on top of a hill with great views and sceneries. It has a swimming pool and enough ground for relaxation. You can order readymade Nyama Choma or visit the kitchen to choose your favorite cut. When at Olepolos, you will be able to view the Ngong’ hills and feel proud for having conquered it. If you manage to complete the hike early, you will have ample time to swim. The swimming pool is built at the edge of a cliff and offers great views of Magadi. The charges for swimming are 300 Kenya shilling adult and 200 shillings for kids. There are swings, slides and artificial creatures for children’s entertainment. There are also lounging areas with DSTV cable if one wants to catch a game of football. This is a place you want to capture the sunset would appear. If you came in a group, the place has enough ground for team building sessions. They also sell any kind of drinks and charge corkage fee if you choose to come with your own refreshments from outside. You can as well come with your music system for private entertainment.
If you have always wanted to go hiking, the time to start is now. Start with the Ngong’ Hills. Hiking is addictive. After getting over the muscle cramps, you will start asking when and where is the next one. When ready, call up Embrace the World Travel Agency or Rupu Kenya and they will hook you up. Hiking is not only for the fit. It is not for small bodied people. Hiking is for bonding, burning unwanted calories and for fun. Foregoing one drink up on one weekend is enough to fund two consecutive hikes. True story.