|Distance from Nairobi||About 5km|
|Starting Point||Karura Forest Station, Kiambu Road|
|Ending point||Karura Forest Station, Kiambu Road|
|Walking Duration||2 hours|
|Terrain||Dirt road, that turns to a narrow trail close to the end.|
|Difficulty||Easy walk. Ideal for the whole family.|
When you visit the Karura Caves & Waterfalls situated in Karura Forest about 5km outside the Nairobi central business district, you cannot help but wonder how such tranquility and natural splendor could within a big city. Surrounded by the northern up-market suburbs of Muthaiga, Runda and Gigiri, with Kiambu Road on one side and Limuru Road on the other, Karura Forest covers an area of about 564 hectares. One controversy after another have bedeviled this forest over the years, with logging activities and land grabbing reducing it to its current size from the officially gazetted forest area of 1041 hectares in 1994, as the Late Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai and other conservationists fought and continue to fight to preserve it.
From the Forest Station on Kiambu Road, the walk to Karura Caves and Waterfalls is about 4km long. This family trail was opened to the public in early 2009 through the collaborative efforts of the Kenya Forest Service and Friends of Karura. After walking on motorable dirt roads from the Forest Gate for a couple of kilometers, you’ll encounter a sign pointing to a trail on the right that leads to the Caves. The trail drops sharply until it reaches Karura River, before leveling off following the course of the river. A few meters on, you’ll come upon the caves. These caves were considered sacred by the local community, with a long history of usage as a place for religious worship. They are also reputed to have been a hideout for the Mau Mau during the fight for independence from the British colonial government. A kilometer further down the trail is the spectacular 50ft Karura Waterfalls, with water furiously cascading over three shelves of rock before settling to a gentle flow down the river.
Besides the two attractions above, Karura Forest has over 50km of nature trails, an old chimney incinerator that was used in the past by Central Bank of Kenya for destroying decommissioned currency notes, a bamboo forest, and a marshland filled with a wide range of birdlife. It provides the perfect backdrop for picnic lovers.
The Karura Caves and Waterfalls are best approached from the Karura Forest Station on Kiambu Road, opposite CID Headquarters and 1km from Muthaiga Golf Club.
You can get there by public means using Kiambu matatus number 100 stationed at the Central Bus Station in the city centre.
If driving, take Muranga Road till Muthaiga Roundabout, then turn left on to Kiambu Road. The turn off to the Karura Forest Gate is about 300m on the left from Muthaiga Golf Club. Alternatively, you can use Limuru Road and get in through a second Forest Gate on that road, opposite the Belgian Embassy.
Kenya Forest Services charges are:
Kenyan/EAC Citizens – Ksh 100 per adult, Ksh 40 per child,
Residents – Ksh 200 per adult, Ksh 100 per child
Non-residents – Ksh 600 per adult, Ksh 300 per child
Optional Ksh 600 per 2 hrs for two armed Rangers from Kenya Forest Services, or a guide from Friends of Karura Forest for Ksh 300 per 2 hrs
Useful Contacts: John Chege – 0724-215423, Sgt Julius – 0720-616452
Other hikes near Nairobi
- Kereita Cave and Waterfall
- Gatamaiyu Riverine Walk
- Mt Olorgesailie
- Suswa Crater & Caves
- Ngong Hills
- Ol Donyo Sabuk
- Hell’s Gate
- Oloroka, near Oltepesi
- Ole Sayeti
- Mt Longonot
- Elephant Hill, Aberdares