Kenya is a paradise for hikers, with a wide range of popular hiking trails and routes to explore. From lush forests and rolling hills to snow-capped Mt Kenya and sweeping savannas. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner looking for a new challenge, there’s a trail for you in Kenya. In this article, we’ll take a look at the top 10 hiking destinations in Kenya, each offering its own unique scenery and challenges. These are the must-hike destinations for any hiker in Kenya. Most of these popular hiking trails are within National Parks and entrance fees are charged by either KWS or KFS. So, let’s get started and discover the best places to hike in this beautiful country.
1. Mt Longonot- The Most Popular Hiking Trail in Kenya
Mount Longonot is a stratovolcano located in the Great Rift Valley of Kenya. The mountain has a well-defined hiking trail that takes you to the rim of the crater, offering beautiful views of the surrounding landscape. The hike to the top of Mount Longonot and around the crater rim is challenging but rewarding, and it is a great way to get some exercise and enjoy the great outdoors.
One reason that makes Mount Longonot one of the most popular hiking trails is that it offers a variety of terrain, including forests, grasslands, and rocky outcrops. The trail is well-marked and there are several rest stops along the way where you can take a break and enjoy the scenery. The hike typically takes about 4-6 hours to complete, depending on your fitness level and how long you spend at the summit.
Another reason that Mount Longonot is a good hiking trail is that it is home to a wide range of wildlife, including buffalo, giraffe, zebra, and baboons. You may spot some of these animals as you make your way up the mountain.
Overall, Mount Longonot is a great hiking trail for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts who are looking for a challenging but rewarding hike with beautiful views and diverse wildlife.
2. Elephant Hill in the Aberdare Ranges
The Elephant Hill hiking trail is located about 90 km north of Nairobi in the Aberdare National Park and is accessed through the Njabini gate. It is a popular destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts due to the challenge it offers, the beautiful scenery and diverse vegetation zones in that section of the park,
The hike to the top of Elephant Hill and down is moderate to difficult and takes about 6-8 hours to complete, depending on your pace, fitness, and weather. The trail offers beautiful views of the surrounding landscape. From the gate, the trail takes you through a planted forest, bamboo zone, and finally the alpine zone near the summit.
The climb takes you from 2600m asl up to 3630m asl at the summit. The trail has two steep sections, one through the bamboo forest and the other on the ascent to the tail. The high gain in altitude means you may suffer from altitude sickness and you must therefore take it easy and slow to allow your body to acclimatize.
3. Ngong Hills
Located just a short drive from Nairobi, the Ngong Hills offers a convenient and picturesque hiking destination. The route begins on the north side of the hills, at an altitude of 1,961m. As you embark on the hike, you’ll pass through a wind farm before reaching several radio communications masts along the route.
The trail then winds its way up and down a series of several hills that involve going up on one side and descending on the other side. The hike ends at the southern end of the hills known as Kona Baridi. The entire hike takes around 4-5 hours to complete, depending on your fitness level, and is one of the easiest and popular hiking trails around Nairobi
4. Mt Kilimambogo
Mt Kilimambogo, also known as “The mountain of buffaloes,” is also among the best hiking trails in Kenya. It is located within the Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park. It sits in Machakos county, just across the border from Kiambu county, and stands at an altitude of 2150m.
The mountain offers stunning views along the hiking trail. There are both a paved road and a footpath leading to the summit, with the footpath being steeper and more challenging. Along the trail, hikers can visit Lord MacMillan’s burial site and take in the beautiful views of the surrounding farms and park from various viewpoints. The trail is approximately 18 km long and is suitable for most people, including children over 5 years of age.
5. Lake Ellis in Mt Kenya National Park
Lake Ellis is a picturesque lake located on the eastern slopes of Mt Kenya, at an altitude of 3455m above sea level. It is the third largest of the over 20 lakes and tarns found on Mt Kenya, with Lake Alice being the largest.
The 28-acre lake is a popular camping stopover point for climbers using the Chogoria route to Mt Kenya. It offers stunning views of the surrounding hills.
The hike to Lake Ellis starts at Chogoria Park gate and passes through dense sections of Mt Kenya forest. From the starting point, the hiking trail takes you through the forest, the Nithi falls, and up to the moorland where the lake is located. From the lake, the Mt Kenya peaks are visible on a clear day.
6. Sleeping Warrior, Ugali Hill, and Lake Elementaita
The Sleeping Warrior Hill, located near Lake Elementaita and about 140 kilometers from Nairobi, is a popular hiking trail. The hill is named for its resemblance to a sleeping Maasai warrior, with the peak of the hill being the warrior’s nose. According to local legend, the hill is associated with a Masai Oloibon who died long ago.
The hiking trail to the Sleeping Warrior Hill and Ugali Hill begins at the Lake Elementaita gate and runs along the shores of the lake to the hot springs. From there, the trail goes up the Sleeping Warrior Hill. The summit gives you the opportunity to view wildlife, birds, and the scenic beauty of the lake and surrounding landscapes.
After descending the Eastern side of the Sleeping Warrior Hill, the trail takes you through a rocky and flat stretch before a steep climb up to the second hill, known as the Ugali Hill. The entire walk offers breathtaking views and a chance to experience the natural beauty of the area.
7. Table Mountain in the Aberdares
Table mountain is among the most popular hiking trails in the Aberdares. The hike is a challenging but rewarding experience. The hiking trail starts at Mikeu shopping center. A steep climb welcomes hikers from the onset. The trail passes through dense forests and over rocky terrain, eventually leading to the summit of Table Mountain. Table mountain neighbors both Rurimeria and Seven Ponds hiking trails. The hike takes about 4-6 hours to complete, depending on the pace and weather.
8. Ol-Donyo LeSatima Dragon’s Teeth Route
Mt Satima is the highest of the Aberdare ranges and stands at an impressive 4000m asl. There are several hiking trails to the summit and the dragon’s teeth route is the most scenic. The hike to the summit takes approximately 3 to 4 hours to complete. The first two kilometers of the hike are through scrubland, and then the trail enters the moorland, which is characterized by rocky outcroppings which resemble a dragon’s teeth and this is where this route derives its name.
9. Kijabe Hill and Dark Tunnel
Kijabe Hill hike trail runs up the Rift Valley escarpment from Kijabe town at the bottom to Soko Mjinga at the top. The trail starts on a flat section along the railway line for a few kilometers. It then descends to a dark tunnel where hikers can test their guts by venturing inside the pitch-dark tunnel that is home to bats. The trail then runs up a steep climb before easing into a gentle stretch through scrubs. At the top of the hill, you’ll be rewarded with stunning panoramic views of the surrounding area. It then passes briefly through farmland. From there it’s a brisk walk through a planted forest up to Soko Mjinga.
The hike typically takes about 4 hours, depending on your fitness level and pace.
10. Mt Kenya Lenana Peak Through Chogoria Route
Of all these popular hiking trails, the Mt Kenya climb is by far the most rewarding hike one can do in Kenya. This is the highest mountain in Kenya and the second-highest in Africa, after Kilimanjaro. Lenana peak is the third highest peak at 4985m asl after Batian (5199m asl) and Nelion (5188m asl). Lenana is the only one accessible on foot without the need for technical rock climbing.
There are several hiking trails/routes in Mt Kenya but the Chogoria one is the most scenic. The route begins at the Chogoria Gate, located on the eastern side of the mountain, and follows a series of well-marked trails through the forest and up to the summit. Throughout the route, hikers are rewarded by stunning views of gorges, lakes, tarns, vegetation, and wildlife such as rock hyrax and birds. The climb can be done in 3 or four days.
As you near the summit, the hiking trail becomes steeper and more challenging. The final push to the summit is a strenuous climb up a steep, rocky ridge, but the views from the top are worth the effort. From the summit, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, including the snow-capped peaks of the mountain and the rolling hills below.
In Conclusion, these are just a few of the most popular hiking trails in Kenya. There are numerous more and each trail offers its own challenges and rewards. Before going on any hike, you should be prepared with the proper clothing and gear, such as a well-fitting pair of hiking boots, comfortable and weather-appropriate clothing, a hiking pole, and enough water to stay hydrated throughout your hike. You should also respect the natural environment by not littering and practicing Leave No Trace principles.
Join us on These Popular Hiking Trails
We organize hikes to most of these destinations regularly. If you wish to explore them, check out our calendar. You are also welcome to join our community here.