Saturdays are event days in Nairobi. On this particular Saturday as a Nairobi backpacker I intended to climb the Ngong Hills. First I had to gang up with a group of other backpackers at the Nakumatt lifestyle shopping mall located at the central business district of Nairobi city.
Climbing Ngong Hills -A Nairobi
We set off at around 8.30 am for the 22 km journey. Ngong Hills is located southwest of the city and is a well-liked weekend destination for visitors from all over the country. We snake our way through the already building up jam into Ngong Road, through Dagoretti Corner, Karen and into Ngong town. Once at Ngong town we redirect off the town and drive towards Ngong Police station which is the starting point of the hike. The gate is manned by Kenya wildlife service wardens, we pay our entrance fee of Kshs. 100/- and off we start our hike. We are accompanied by a warden as security is still not tight. It is reported that small groups of hikers have been attacked on a few occasions. Not one to take chances we opted for an armed ranger who takes us across the entire hills. It is also believed that there are still a few wild animals present.
Nairobi Backpacker Experiences the Hills
At the beginning of the hike, the paths are narrow that lead us past the wind farm. We then encounter our first steep hill; an area that is populated with radio mast stations. For the physically fit, climbing the Ngong hills is a walk in the park. However if you have not been out hiking for a while like me, then you are bound to feel the pressure of hiking after a long time. On this day, a majority of us were breathless due to the challenge.
After going past the steep hill, the paths thins out and decline into a depression before we can start climbing the next steep hill. But just as we were thinking that the worst was over, more hills seem to be popping up with each one panting even harder. The hike was definitely taking a toll on each one of us. Our guide tells us that on a lucky day we could encounter buffalos at the fourth hill. On this day we are not lucky, he indicated they may have moved further interior to the bushes. At this point the view is magnificent. On the right side you are able to view the rift valley and on the left is the Nairobi City.
We take a break so that we can have a picnic. This gives us an opportunity to get to know each other; we undertake some introductions and a few games coupled with school day songs while for others, a rest and refill of their energy was all they were looking forward to have. From here we are headed to Kona Baridi the other side of the hills at Kiserian. Finally after five hours the first group is through with this weekend’s hike. We however had to wait for the rest of the group. For party lover, one may venture into a nyama choma joint where one can enjoy a meal of nyama choma (roasted meat) from Kiserian.
Getting there -Nairobi Backpacker
For those driving from the city centre, take Ngong road past Dagoretii and into Karen and finally to Ngong Town. It is advisable to have someone drive your vehicle to Kona baridi which is the end of the hike. However one can leave their vehicle at Ngong Police station and take a matatu from Kona Baridi to Ngong once you are through with the hike.
For those taking the public transport, take a matatu (mini buses) that ply route 111, to Ngong town. The fare is about Kshs. 70-100/-. Alight at Ngong town and walk to the Ngong Police station. You may also persuade the matatu driver to take you the police station especially if you are a huge group. Otherwise one can hire a bodaboda (motorcycle taxi) that will take you to the entrance.
A hike to Ngong hills is a great way to enjoy your stay in Nairobi. The hike is suitable for a minimum of two. However I would recommend a group of at least four Nairobi Backpacker.