I have always wanted to hike Mount Kenya. To be on the highest mountain in Kenya. Obviously because it’s a challenge and a nice accolade to have as a hiker, but mostly to remind that little girl in me, that her passions, her desires, the weird things she enjoys, are valid.
But my decision to hike that mountain this year wasn’t particularly influenced by my hiking passion or even Mount Kenya. I wanted to work out on my own, and knew that I needed something to make me accountable. And what better thing than a tough mountain waiting for me in two months time?
But I almost lost hope when the first two preparatory hikes didn’t happen. Not hope of me going to Mount Kenya, but it happening for me this time. But last month I had been really prepared for that one preparatory hike. Not physically as much, I’m still unfit, but I had pushed my body and prepared it for an event that would push it beyond what it’s used to.
So when that tough preparatory hike got postponed, I decided to go to the closest hiking area close to me, and that’s how I found myself in Ngong Hills.
Getting to the place was a little tricky but looking back it shouldn’t have been. We had a little trouble finding the starting point of the hike and even after we did, we realised that we had started the hike around 30-45 minutes before where most hikers do.
Online advisories tell people to take guides because of local robbers on the trail. I found that dramatic because I’ve hiked a few mountains in Kenya and rarely is one given such a warning. But since we went on a Saturday, we found so many people at the trails that we knew that we would have company along the way.
So in the begining there were lots of scouts, children and groups of fitness hikes that were either coming back or going the same direction as us.
Ngong Hills is in such a way that you start hiking at one town, and finish at another. So for people who come with vehicles or who would want to go back to Nairobi, it’s always easier to hike half the hills, then come back to the starting point to either take your vehicle or get mats to Nairobi. Only those who come with drivers or tour agencies get lucky to be picked at the other side.
Or alternatively, hike all the hills, seven I think, then take a boda from that other side to bring you to the starting point where you left your means of transport- this is the option we chose. Hike all of the hills, take a boda to a nearby town where we can take a mat that will take us to the entrance. Or at least that was the plan.
On the actual hike, I would say that the first two to three hills were the toughest. We walked for a while to get to what is counted as the first hill, and going up seemed like such an uphill task. By then we had hiked some little entrance hills that are not considered part of the main seven.
But it gets tougher at the second or third hill. The body is complaining on what is happening to it. The hills look little until you are on them and it’s a never ending uphill battle. While I was worried that our water would run out. At the entrance of the hiking trail they tell everyone that only reusable water bottles are allowed in the park. And since most people come with the usual plastic water bottles, one has to buy from the entrance, a water bottle, which is also what we did. But since one can’t buy as many water bottles, it means that we had limited water.
But I noticed that as the hills rolled around, I started understanding my body or being more in tune with it better. Like I noticed that on a really steep gradient, 50 steps were all I could take without stopping. And that made the rest of the hike better as there can only be as many 50 steps taken on those steep little looking hills.
I found it a moderate hiking experience. Not too tough but not easy either. But the only thing that caught me by surprise, were the many children selling sweets along the way and if you say you already bought, which you truthfully could have bought from the 20kids you saw before that one, they would ask you for something to eat.
Had it been one or two kids, that would have made sense, but we encountered so many children along that whole trail. At some point when we were at the last hills, we were the only ones we could see infront of us and behind us as either most people had come earlier and thus finished their hikes or they had turned back halfway. And the deeper the hike went, the older the kids got and some were herding cattle. It felt a little menacing to encounter teenage boys asking for food along the trail. I think we gave something to all the older kids we encountered because we were not too sure about our safety at that point.
In future I hope that is corrected. Like it would even be better in my opinion if the community was given some designated places to sell either at the start or the middle of the trails rather than encountering selling and begging children along that whole Ngong trail.
We eventually finished our hike some 6 or so hours later and took a boda to the next town so as to get a Matatu to the entrance of the gate where we had left our vehicle. I would say that anyone planning to do this, should start hiking early to prepare for anything that comes up. Our boda got spoilt on the way so we had to walk for quite a long distance in a new town and the Matatus we took still didn’t leave us at the entrance so we had to take another boda.
But overall, I would say I loved going back to hike Ngong Hills after 5 years. It was still as scenic, still as rewarding as a hiking experience and a good way to gauge one’s body. Now on to the next one. And hopefully, to Mount Kenya.
Enjoy more pictures of Ngong Hills below.