One of the most magical things about Nairobi is that its madness and chaos on one end and a slice of heaven on the other. In this city, you could be stuck in traffic for hours or you could be in a serene environment in the hills enjoying God’s creation. You don’t need to go for an out of town trip that will cost you a month’s rent to enjoy this . You just need to call your friends and go hiking at Ngong hills just 25 km away for a little as Ksh. 1000 to Ksh. 1500 per person while sticking to a strict budget.
Before we begin, the figure works when you’re a group of friends so that the more you are the cheaper it gets. In our case we were six friends. This section of the blog post works for those of us in our early twenties looking to have a great hike on a budget in a practical way!
To get to Ngong Hills from the CBD on a Saturday morning, say 9:00am you get a Ngong Road matatu that uses the by pass opposite Ambassador in town. It’ll cost you Ksh. 70 to Ksh. 100 per person. After this alight at the last stage in Ngong Town and walk to Naivas Supermarket. Once at Naivas take a motor bike to the Ngong Hills entrance and it’ll cost you 100 per person or 150 for two depending on how well you negotiate. (Don’t take a bike at the stage it’ll cost more for only a five minute walk to Naivas)
Before I start on the experience you’ll need a few items as you plan to hike;
Water (at least 2 bottles per person)
Dry snacks (crisps, biscuits etc)
Sweets for energy
Hot dog bans
Your preferred energy drink.
For this list you’ll notice if six of you contribute Ksh. 350 you have a Ksh. 2,100 that covers the shopping which will sustain you for the hiking and a picnic in between. Go for affordable brands and bigger portions as opposed to multiple smaller portions for things like crisps or biscuits.
To hike, the premises are managed by the Kenya Forest Service (click here) hence a park entry fee paid once at Ksh. 250 per person. If you plan on hiking all the seven hills and finish off at Kona Baridi you only have to worry about getting a cab (read probox) for about 200 per person to Kiserian and taking another matatu from there back to the CBD or to Ongata Rongai then to CBD which will cost about Ksh. 200 on the higher side.
If my math serves me right all this will cost about 1200 bob. To be safe carry Ksh. 2000 bob in the event of an unexpected situation. (In case you’re getting botties you can contribute about 300 bob as per you preferred choice and still remain within budget) If you’re driving there I can’t help much but say there’s safe parking on the sight but you’ll be limited in that you can only hike 2-3 hills have a picnic then go back to get you car.
Now the hike!
Before you even get to the hills you find turbines used to harness energy and produce electricity. They are run by Kengen and we could see a few people learning about them. It quite scenic especially on a windy day because they are extremely massive and make you feel minute in their midst. They make amazing backgrounds for photos though!
Once you’re at the hills there’s no search or anything. You just start hiking. Here you’ll meet several people starting out including families and young kids with their walking talkies all energetic running up the hill. You really don’t need to run if you’re planning on making it to all seven of them that energy will come in handy somewhere.
The first hill is more or less a twin hill (if there’s such a thing) There’s a smaller hill and then the main hill. This is the point in the hike where you ask yourself why you subjected yourself to this torture. It feels never ending.
The second hill however is where you will regret ever signing up for this. It’s the steepest and it’ll remind you why you need to work out because you’ll realize how unfit you are! Unlike most hiking experiences I’ve had before, you usually wait to descend because it feels easier than to ascend, but with these hills even going down the hills is work because you need a lot of energy to stop you from racing down hill. (and some pretty great shoes since there’s grass)
The third and the fourth hills are a walk in the jungle. They aren’t straight forward per say. At some point you don’t even see where you’re going. In my opinion they weren’t as bad as the second but this is where the fatigue starts to kick in. Your body feels like it’s about to shut down and you really consider going back. What feels like a headache will start to develop and you might even feel a bit dizzy. By now there’s probably a handful of people in sight since most people turn back at the third hill. You’ll want to go back but the idea of hiking the hills all the way back will stop you. At this point just grab some candy or your energy drink.
difficult to hike. Hill 5,6 and 7 are a walk in the park actually (it’s like God knew you’ve been through a lot to get there and decided to give you a break). Except the fatigue there’s nothing much of a struggle you’ll experience. Once at the picnic sight you can set up you lesos/ maasai shukas and look into the amazing view and have your snacks and drinks.
The rest of the hike is very chill. No rush at all. There’s barely anyone in sight so do stick together. Once you’re done with the hills you’ll get a satisfaction that you can’t quite explain. It’s like getting a 3/20 in a maths contest test but still being the highest scorer, very bitter sweet. Would I do it again? At the time we finished hiking, nope who needs that torture? Now that I’m reminiscing about it… definitely. There are views on those hills that even the best cameras don’t do justice to unless you experience it for yourself.
Go ahead and have a wonderful hike! I promise it’s worth the experience.
For more on this hike feel free to check my highlights ‘Ngong Hills’ on Instagram