Ol Donyo Sabuk – the mountain of buffaloes

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Classified as a scenic/special interest park by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), this classic mountain rises gracefully over the Athi Plains. The mountain formed as an old erosion surface possibly from the late Jurassic. Surrounding this hump-backed outcrop are the lava shaped Athi plains that were smoothened by lava flowing out of fissures in the ground. The park offers its visitors an experience to remember.Some highlight activities to do in the park include: mountain climbing, bush hiking, game viewing and camping.

At the gate

This park is just 85km North-East of Nairobi city. The park is also known as Kilimambogo. Local names describe it as “the great mountain” in Maa and “the mountain of buffaloes” in Kikuyu and Swahili. Kea-Njahe, meaning the “Mountain of the Big Rain”, was an old name used by Kikuyu elders in the area who regarded the place as one of the lesser homes for Ngai, their God.
The big game is dominated by the local Cape Buffalo population. Other mammals recorded in the park include: Vervet Monkey, Bushbuck, Leopard, Olive Baboon, Aardvark, Crested Porcupine and Slender Mongoose. 

Cape Buffalo skull

Reptiles include the Blue-headed Tree Agama, Red-headed Rock Agama, African Rock Python and Nile Monitor Lizard. 

Kenya Red-headed Rock Agama

Highlight bird species include: Martial Eagle, African Crowned Eagle, Ayres’s Hawk-eagle, Hartlaub’s Turaco,Brown-capped Weaver, Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, Eastern Double-collared Sunbird, Eastern Golden Weaver, Zanzibar (Sombre) Greenbul, Violet-backed Starling, Sulphur-breasted Bush-shrike, Pale Flycatcher, Northern Brownbul, Pallid Honeyguide, Red-throated Wryneck, Mountain Buzzard, Scaly Francolin, Tambourine Dove and Purple-crested Turaco. Some uniquely exceptional species in the forest include Lead-coloured Flycatcher, Bearded Scrub Robin and Red-capped Robin-chat. The Kenyan endemic Hinde’s Babbler has been sighted in bushes not far from the park. 

Bearded Scrub Robin

Inside the park, you can also visit the famous Lord William N. McMillan’s grave site, an American soldier and farmer who became knighted by the King of England. He owned land around the mountain and hosted elites like the former US President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, back in his days. The late McMillan was buried here, as well as his wife. A library in his name exists to date, in Nairobi. The grave site is located on your left as you drive to the peak. The late Tom Mboya, a renowned Kenyan politician, was brought up here, as his dad worked on the farm. 

Road sign to the site

The mountain, being close to Nairobi-the capital, has been used to station radio booster plants and telecommunication masts. These can be seen from the peak. 

Masts at the peak

From the 2,145m high peak, you get fantastic views of the Athi Plains and on a good morning you may try your luck at the view of Mt. Kenya and a distant Mt. Kilimanjaro. Nairobi city and the beautiful farms of Thika are a marvel. Do take some time to enjoy the amazing bird species of this exclusive park.

At the peak

From the park you can easily access the famous Fourteen Falls washed by the mighty Athi River. The falls indeed has fourteen flows bathing the beautiful rock cliffs. The falls were of great religious importance to many Africans and Asians, who used it as a shrine many years back. The local guides may perform a few “dives” for you to enjoy. The scented air keeps you warmed up the entire session.
Directions: take Garissa road from Thika, drive 22km to Makutano Junction and turn right at the KWS park sign. Drive 3km to Donyo town then turn right for an extra 2km to the main gate. The signs on the road ensure you get there without being lost.
Washington Wachira
Washington Wachira
Born and raised in Kenya, among the wilderness is where I feel most at home. Guiding people from all backgrounds through the journey of nature interpretation and conservation is my lifeline.

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