Are you a road trip junkie? Are you the kind of person who gets up to a lot of adventure within a short period of time? Are you thrilled by an activity-filled getaway? Then sit back because I come bearing a gift. I want to present you with a new and exciting itinerary. If you have done it before, you can get in on it again or sit this one out.
Two days are enough to hit 500km without exhaustion.
All you need to do is get a vehicle. If you own one, well and good. A four-wheel drive would be ideal. Get a few friends to travel with you. Adventure is better experienced with a posse, and besides when you carpool you can each contribute for fuel and car hire costs if need be. Friends will make your trip more fun especially during activities. Make sure you have packed for one night and do not forget a swimming costume. If you have travelled before, you know what is necessary to include. All packed? Great! You are now ready to hit the road.
The main objective of this trip is to go around Mt. Kenya. This will give you an experience of both the leeward and windward sides of this great mountain. I’m sure your geography will be polished up by the time you are done with this road trip.
Are you ready for adventure?
Leave Nairobi at 7.00am. Drive on Thika Road and start heading towards Nyeri when you get to Makutano Junction. A few kilometers from Nyeri Town, branch off and start heading towards Nanyuki. Drive until you get to Chaka area. From this point, Chaka Ranch should only be 9 kilometers away. This is your first stop. Drive in and get to enjoy quad bikes and buggies.
One and a half hours is enough to let your inner child come out and play. Check out and start heading to Nanyuki via Narumoru. The stretch from Chaka all the way to Nanyuki is a dry place. It’s the leeward side of Mt. Kenya. Currently it’s very hot during the day and very windy from 6pm onwards, therefore, dress for the weather. The view of Mt. Kenya from this road is magnificent. Take a few pictures at the Equator and stop for lunch in Nanyuki town.
Nanyuki is an old town but there are diamonds in the ruff. There are several hotels and restaurants that serve good food for as low as KSh 400 per plate. People here are very hospitable. This is probably because this area is frequented by travelers and foreigners. It is not a big town so I will not advise for a town tour.
Once you are done with lunch, proceed towards Timau. This journey will have you seeing a lot of green. Timau is full of green houses and wheat plantations. Even when sunny, the place is cold. You cannot afford to drive with your window down. I can only imagine how it gets in the evening. If you have to open the car windows, make sure you have a Maasai shuka close by because you will be reaching out for it after a short while.
When you get to Timau center, drive on for about 1 Km. You will pass a bridge and then come on to an all-weather road on your left. You should take this road and drive for another 11 Km. You will then find the little known Ngare Ndare Forest. This forest is conserved by the Ngare Ndare Forest Trust. You will be needed to pay a small entrance fee here and possibly get a guide.
While driving inside the forest, the first interesting thing you will get to is a canopy.
It’s the longest I have ever seen in Kenya. It is 40 feet high and 450 meters long. That is almost half a kilometer man! It is winding therefore this means you cannot see the end from the start. It proceeds inside the forest. It is made of weaved wires and supported by metal poles roughly after every 50 meters. If you get on to it with other people, it starts swinging side to side and this is as thrilling as it is heart thumping. Despite it being hair-raising, you’re given a treat of very scenic views. Flowing below it is a stream of water curving gently through the forest. On a lucky day, you will witness elephants drinking from it. You also get to see the stretch of the forest which is characterized by hills and valleys.
If you have a 4-wheel-drive you can proceed from here in it, and if not, leave your car here and prepare for a short hike to the water fall. This is where you require a guide to advice on the shortest route and also assist in case you come across any wild animals.. The waterfall is quite breathtaking. You’re allowed to take a dive and swim in it if you wish to.
When you’ve had enough fun swimming it’s time to drive out of the forest back to the Timau Junction. By this time it should be around 5pm. Once you get to the main road, turn left and start heading towards Meru Town. From this junction Meru is only 54km. There usually isn’t traffic, however there are many sharp bends and therefore a dire need to drive with caution.
Also, part of the road cuts through Mt. Kenya Forest and you will see several ’elephants crossing’ signs. Again, watch your speed. Before you get to the forest, there is a Junction where you will be needed to take a right. The road to the left leads up to Isiolo town. This is the one that takes you to Samburu National Park.
After the forest, Meru Town is only 20 Km away. This means that by 6pm, you should be in Miraa city. While here, you will need to get a place to spend the night if you had not pre-booked. The good thing with Meru is that availability for accommodation is 100% guaranteed, with the exception of holidays. Your budget has the final say on the star rating of the hotel you will stay in. Alba Hotel and Meru Slopes Hotels are examples of hotels within the range of KSh 4,000 per person sharing per night on bed and breakfast. If your budget is not that high, Nevada Palace Hotel is around KSh 1,250 per person sharing per night and KSh 2,000 for a single room per night on bed and breakfast. Whatever your budget you are guaranteed to find a place to stay in.. After checking in, walk out and eat dinner at a local restaurant of your choice. Food here is in plenty and bananas are like potatoes in Molo. You are free to do what you want to do with your night from here.
As your virtual guide, see you tomorrow morning.
At 9.00am, hit the Meru - Nairobi highway. This road is characterized by bumps at short distance and has so many bends and steep slopes. This explains why Miraa pickups prefer the Nanyuki route. The land of Meru is beautiful and stays green throughout the year. There are a lot of valleys and trees. As you drive through Meru County, you get to experience a different view of Mt. Kenya. Before you enter Tharaka Nithi County, be sure to buy some green bananas, mangoes and pumkins to take back with you home.
Tharaka Nithi and Meru county are similar in nature. They have the same vegetation and physical features. While driving in this county I would recommend a speed of 50kph. It has a lot of bends and steep slopes with major one being at the mojor blackspot on Nithi Bridge. At this point you are on the windward side of Mt. Kenya.
Past Tharaka Nithi, you get to Embu County. As the county slogan says, this is the land of opportunities. A few kilometers past Runyenjes, there are two waterfalls - Ndurumo ya Thenge Njeru and Ndurumo ya Mbui Njeru- that is a must see.
If you’re up for it, you can hike up the small hill called Karue. The hill has magnificent views of Embu County.
You can then have lunch at Embu Town before proceeding to Nairobi. You should be in Nairobi by around 5pm.
This road trip takes you through nine counties, i.e. Nairobi, Kiambu, Muranga, Nyeri, Laikipia, Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Embu and Kirinyaga. You will also have gone around Mt Kenya in only two days. Interestingly enough, this is a trip you can do any weekend without taking leave from work. This trip should not cost more than KSh 8,000 Kenya shillings per person. However, it is dependent on your means of transport.
Pack your bags; gather a few friends and #TembeaKenya. Mark Mt. Kenya region off your bucket list. Go explore!
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