I recently ventured out to a mysterious place called Ngare Ndare Forest for the weekend. Usually, when I think of beautiful blue cascading waterfalls and large canopy forests I think of exotic places like Thailand and Brazil. Little did I know it was right on my doorstep…
The forest is about a 4-hour drive from Nairobi. Driving up, you will see the towering figure that is Mount Kenya to your right. That’s when you know you are close. It’s only 40 minutes from Nanyuki town, so if you get peckish there are plenty of lovely little places to grab a quick bite on your drive up (Barneys, Soames, Trout tree etc.)
Tip: It is essential that you call ahead for a ranger before you make your way to Ngare Ndare. You can contact Samson on +254 720 070120
After picking up the guide from a pre-determined spot within the forest (you need an armed guard with you due to the fact that all of the big 5 live around here) we headed to the campsite where I was a little surprised to find a clearing and nothing more in the middle of the forest. There are a few campsites dotted around but only one with a toilet and shower. But hey, that’s the beauty of it- getting away from the city and getting down and dirty with Nature.
Here are just a couple of reasons why you have to go:
- Canopy walk– Being Africa’s 2nd longest canopy walk it is something pretty spectacular. Running over 40m high and 450m long through the luscious green forest it really is picturesque. If you look hard enough you are likely to spot some forest elephants majestically trudging through the bushes below your feet. It might sound cheesy but whilst up there take a minute and just look around, take a deep breath and listen to the sounds of life around the forest. Here you will feel at one with nature, trust me.
- Waterfall swims– At this point, the baby wipes probably aren’t doing it and you’re in desperate need of a shower. Well fear not, a short way away you can hike through the forest to some beautiful clear blue waterfalls. There are several waterfalls around some you can jump off and somewhere you can have a swim in the plunge pools. Make sure you try to explore them all, particularly the blue pool pictured below, definitely my favourite moment of the trip! It can be quite tricky to get up there so wear some comfortable shoes. Let me warn you now, the fresh melt water coming from Mount Kenya is icy, but the best way to conquer it is to just take the plunge as the adrenaline rush will make you want to do it over and over. Plus you leave feeling squeaky clean and refreshed, just don’t forget your towel!
- Star gazing– whilst sitting around the fire, look up and take in the stars. What constellations can you see? Without any visible light apart from the fire and given it’s a clear night, it’s pretty easy to get a magical view of the stars and beyond.
- Make sure to take some warm clothes for the night-time, it may be hot during the day but it did get pretty chilly later on.
- There’s limited phone reception, no wifi and no power points. So put that phone away and try to enjoy being in the moment.
- Camping breakfasts are the best, be it a full English or teas and coffees to wake and warm you up in the early hours of the morning make sure you go prepared for your most important meal of the day.
- Baby wipes are a campers best friend. Whatever you need, baby wipes can save the day.
One of my favourite parts of this experience was getting to be in such close proximity to the elephants. Having these beautiful majestic creatures grazing right by our camp without a care in the world was a pretty humbling experience and something I would definitely do again, even though I was a little terrified!
So come guys on take on an adventure filled weekend out of the city, and venture out to Ngare Ndare. Happy Camping!
Find our more about camping at Ngare Ndare here: Ngare Ndare Forest Trust