Longonot Day Hike
Distance from Nairobi About 60km
Starting Point: Mt Longonot Park Gate
Ending point: Mt Longonot Park Gate
Walking Duration: 4 hours
Terrain: Fine dust, with loose gravel in some areas. Difficulty Moderate, with some steep climbing.
Background: As you drive from Nairobi along the upper escarpment road to Naivasha, the breathtaking view of Mt Longonot beckons you to the left, barely 60km out of Nairobi. A dormant volcano estimated to have last erupted in the mid 1800s, and standing at an estimated 750m above the floor of the Great Rift Valley and 2776m above sea level, this colossus dominates the surrounding landscape, with lava canyons on its steep slopes, and a circular caldera over a kilometer in diameter.A number of viewpoints on the highway have become popular stopovers for motorists drawn by the splendor of this magnificent view.
The whole mountain is a National Park under the jurisdiction of Kenya Wildlife Services. It is home to several wild animals including buffalos, antelopes and leopards, most of which live in the thick forest covering the crater floor. Spotting them is not guaranteed.
A hike on this mountain takes about 2hr from the Park Gate to the rim of the crater and back , while for those going round the crater as well, the hike takes about 4hr for the round trip. The path up the slope is pretty steep and slippery at some points, so you need to be reasonably fit to do this hike. The views from the crater rim however make every painful step worth the effort.
From Nairobi, you can get to Mt Longonot by public means using Naivasha matatus (Taxis), which are available at Nyamakima off River Road. The fare is about Ksh 200 one way. Once in Naivasha town, you then get onto matatus headed to Mai Mahiu for Ksh 70, and alight at Longonot Station. The Longonot National Park Gate is 4km to the right. Follow the Kenya Wildlife Services signboard.
If driving yourself, you can get there using the lower escarpment road commonly used by trucks to Naivasha. This road takes you past the old Catholic Church built by Italian Prisoners of war during the second world war, and reputed to be the smallest church in Kenya. Further on, you will go past Mai Mahiu before reaching Longonot Station, where you turn left and drive 4km to the Park Gate.
Details on Park entry fees for getting into this National Park are available from the official KWS rates list. You can also visit the Kenya Wildlife Service site for further information.