A walk with Kwea Milele
Last year, I decided to start hiking; mainly because I was bored and needed to have a more active social life and also because I thought it would be a good way of keeping fit.
Unfortunately, I only managed to go for two main hikes. The first one was a trek at Mt. Kenya through Castle Forest Lodge with Kenya Outdoors Tours and Travel. The second one was a 7 hours strenuous hike at Olorgesallie with Kwea Milele. I didn’t complete the Olorgesallie hike, had to call it quits at one of the first peaks, too exhausted to move forward. In my defense, I’ve heard from experienced hikers that I may have been too ambitious starting with Olorgesallie as my first major hike. However, I hope to conquer Orolgasallie someday.
Below are a few pics from the Mt. Kenya, Castle Forest Lodge trek:
The scenic views at the Castle Lodge forest
The terrain was dry, rocky and full of thorns. However, it was an awesome adventure despite the difficult climb.
I decided to start hiking again this year hoping to manage at least one hike every month. I really hope this will not be one of those New Year’s resolutions that I always make and give up by February.
So to start off the year, on 11th January 2015, I joined the Kwea Milele team for a walk through Karura forest. This forest is located just 15 minutes from where I live but sadly I have only been there once during the first lady marathon in 2014. I didn’t get to see much of the forest then and so was excited about the chance of exploring it and getting some exercise at the same time.
My neighbor and friend, Charity, and I linked up at 7:30am and fifteen minutes later we were at Karura forest. One thing that really surprised me was how full the parking lot was considering it was still early morning and on a Sunday. We stood at the gate for a while waiting for others to show up as we watched more people arrive for their workouts. There were all kinds of visitors, from elderly people to young kids and a lot of family brought their pets too. After a few minutes, our team had assembled and we started an adventurous walk that took about five hours.
Below are the highlights of my morning at Karura and some great reasons why you too should visit the forest:
Accessibility and Proximity
Karura forest is located in Nairobi and so should be easy enough to get to from any part of the city. You can use the Limuru or Kiambu Roads. The forest is about 5kms from the city center.
The entrance fee for the forest is only Kshs.100 for residents and Kshs.200 for nonresidents.
The scenic Views
Karura forest is absolutely beautiful, with trails paved with tall trees and green vegetations. There are also scenic routes with the occasional wildlife like we spotted a number of monkeys. We also came across quite a number of beautiful butterflies especially near the caves and waterfall.
Beautiful images from Karura forest
There are three rivers, Rui Ruaka, Getathuru, Thirie and Karura that pass through the forest linking to Nairobi River. This adds to the beauty of the forest and the feeling of tranquility emanating from watching the streams. We crossed about 2 bridges at two different spots during our walk.
There are a lot of such streams and little bridges around the forest
There are also historic sites like the Mau Mau caves situated deep into the thick forests. The caves lie quite low and you have to take a long curvy flight of stairs before getting there. Around the caves, we spotted some very long trees with hanging roots. We could only speculate about how long they had been in existence.
Too much light but these are the long roots that we saw
I love all things Mau Mau, I know that sounds like a weird statement but I really am fascinating with that part of Kenya’s history. I have always enjoyed reading everything based on the struggle for independence and also really liked the “Kitchen Toto” movie which was based on colonial times in Kenya. I think this is part of the main reasons why Ngugi Wa Thiong’o is my favorite author. Most of his books are based on colonial times.
Anyway, I digress. Karura forest has Mau Mau caves. We were able to go into two of them. One was really large. Being in there, it was interesting to imagine how it was decades ago with the Mau Mau hiding there. I tried to visualize them with their dreadlocks, seated around a fire making plans/strategies.Who knows, maybe I actually stood at the exact same spot that Dedan Kimathi sat at one point LOL.
In short, you really should check out the Mau Mau caves at Karura forest.
After the caves, we came across more rivers and at the end of that trail; there was a breathtaking waterfalls. There was something enchanting and soothing about being there near the waterfall, surrounded by the trees and listening to the sound of the water hitting the rocks. You go into a deep connection with nature that is simply calming and inspiring.
Near the end of our trail, we also came across the lily lake which as the name suggests, is filled with lilies, a sight to behold.
More Kenyans are becoming keen on fitness. This is evidenced by the growing number of gyms and also joggers all around the estates. If you would like to keep fit in a calm, serene environment, there are a number of workout options at Karura forest. The awesome trails provide great opportunities for running, jogging or walking. You can do this even when alone because there are normally quite a number of people on the trails especially in the mornings.
Cycling is also a good sporting activity that you can do at Karura. You can hire a bicycle for only Kshs.500. There are also marked cycling trails mapping out different routes in the forest.
There is a huge field that can be used by groups for exercising or sporting activities. As I mentioned before, I attended the first lady marathon at Karura and enjoyed four hours of aerobics and zumba on the field. There is also a tennis court just near the field.
The filed actually looks bigger than what is depicted in this photo
Needless to say, I truly enjoyed my time at Karura forest. Whether you are looking for a place to keep fit, enjoy a family day on the nature trails or just get away from the city without actually leaving Nairobi, then Karura forest is a great place to visit.
Kwea Milele has organized the next trip to Karura Forest on 1st February. To find out more about their activities, please visit their pages below;
Website: Kwea Milele | Twitter @kwea_milele | Facebook Kwea Milele Page | Facebook Kwea Milele Group
I took this pic sometime last year at 14 falls