On a wet and cold August morning, we left the fast urban streets of Nairobi for a day’s hike on the slopes of Mount Kenya. The day’s itinerary promised great scenery, a tour of the slopes of the mountain and an exhilarating descent to one of the most spectacular waterfalls. Indigenous trees, lots of them.
Castle Forest Lodge is a quaint cabin-style lodge perched on lush green grass. The journey from Nairobi to Castle Forest Lodge takes about 2 and a half hours. Leave the city and drive along Thika Road into central Kenya. About one and a half hours later, turn right to exit the Nairobi-Nyeri Highway and join the Karatina-Kutus Road. If you are heading to Castle Lodge from Nyeri or Nanyuki, you will make a left turn, about 26km from Karatina. Proceed through a stretch of scenic plantations along the winding tarmac road. You will pass through small town centres like Kagio.
The Hike Challenge
– Hike distance : 20km (10km to the waterfall and 10km back).
Castle Forest Lodge is located along the Kamweti Route, proclaimed to be one of the most difficult routes when climbing Mount Kenya.
A monkey may scurry across the dirt trails into the forest. Birds fill the air with mysterious but beautiful melodies. The forest has buffalos and elephants too but they stay away from the trails most of the time.
The fog calls for a camera with a waterproof cover. For photography safari enthusiasts, Castle Lodge Forest provides a few spectacular landscapes of rivers and exotic forests.
Castle Forest Lodge is a moderate hike. The area was wet and cold when we started out hike. Our trek, despite foggy weather and a persistent drizzle, started on a dirt road right from the main gate. We walked over two bridges, into a steep elephant trail, and along one of the muddiest trails. The drizzle formed a halo of dew over our hair and despite the biting cold, we were sweating.
The decent to the waterfall started after a sparse bamboo forest. It was a steep one-step-at-a-time drop along a winding, slippery trail. We held onto twigs grass, protruding roots and anything else along the trail.
We crawled, and skidded, and hopped into ridiculously cold water just to be greeted by one of the most beautiful sights on earth- a waterfall towering over the forest and gushing water to the depths of the river. The spray of the waterfall was amazingly cold too, but we were determined to take selfies. The waterfall was our 10km mark before walking another 10km back to the main gate.
Castle Forest Lodge Hike is idea for:
First time hikers, and anybody looking for a fun walk in the forest. It is no challenge for a seasoned hiker.
About 2lts of water, energy drinks, snacks. You also need a waterproof jacket, long trunks, long-sleeved comfortable tops and a pair of hiking boots. Additionally, carry a change of clothes because you will be covered in mud after descending to the waterfall.
Gather your hiking buddies together and create a practical budget per person. Ideally, have a group of 10max. A large group( say 50) will give you endless stops along the trail waiting for everyone to catch up. It literally kills the spirit and gets your muscles cramping. Call in advance to have KWS Wardens assigned to you. Get transport for your trip to and from Nairobi.
Most budget tour packages to Castle Forest Lodge charge sh2,200 for citizens and sh3,000 for non-residents.