Living in Nairobi is both exciting and exhausting. As vibrant, diverse, and fun East Africa’s most important city is, as dingy, unpredictable, and stressful can it get. I enjoyed living in Nairobi, but everytime I left the city, I realized how crowded, loud, and dirty it also was. We soon felt the need to escape from the Nairobi every other weekend. Luckily, there are quite a few places with great outdoor and wildlife opportunities within a few hours reach in the area of Naivasha:
Camping at Lake Naivasha
Hop in a matatu in the city of Naivasha and let the mate drop you at one of the campsites (e.g. Fishermen’s Camp) along the Lake Road. Pitch your tent at the shore of the lake or stay in one of their tents or huts. Chatter with other travelers, plan your outdoor adventures and have a drink at the campsite bar (or get some good local food and drinks in one of the bars in the villages close by). Monkeys play in the trees above and hippos browse at the waterside by night. Camping at the lake is simple, inexpensive, exciting and the perfect start for some decent wildlife experiences.
Kayaking Lake Naivasha
Exploring the lake by kayak is fun and passably safe as long as you stay off the shore (where the hippos hang out). It’s probably helpful if you’ve been in a single kayak before and if you look out for weather changes. Hiring a boat is not a problem, but a life jacket and the renter yelling “Make sure you stay off the shore- hippos!” is probably the only security advices you’ll get. You’ll forget about that once you’re actually paddling on the lake, hear monkeys in the trees at the shore and once again become aware of the beautiful vastness of Kenya’s countryside.
Mountain Biking Hell’s Gate National Park
If you want to play it safe, take a mountain bike and cycle around the lake or to Hell’s Gate National Park where you can literally ride your bike between zeals of zebras or herds of antelopes. Bike through the canyon of Hell’s Gate, most decently in the early morning, as you meet giraffes, african buffalos, warthogs, and birds of prey. Hell’s Gate is a comparatively small National Park and since you don’t have to pay for a car or driver, it’s a perfect wildlife experience for backpackers with a small budget. It’s easy yet exciting to explore, and as a mountain biker, you’re very independent and free.
Hiking Mount Longonott
Mount Longonott is a stratovolcano in the Great Thrift Valley close to Naivasha. After paying a reasonable entrance fee to the park, you can take an uphill trail for a bout 3 kilometers, followed by a 7 kilometer path around the crater. Hiking Longonott is fun and not too crazy, although parts of the trail are very steep and heavily eroded. With its summit being about 2700 meters high you’ll be able to overlook the region of Naivasha and spot some wildlife animals.