Ol Donyo Orok
|Distance from Nairobi||About 170km|
|Starting Point||Namanga Town|
|Ending point||Namanga Town|
|Walking Duration||5 hours|
|Terrain||Dirt trail, rocky|
The Ol Donyo Orok, also known as Namanga Hill, soars to an elevation of 2,548m above sea level, towering over the vast surrounding semi-arid lowland like a lone sentinel, 22km from its closest neighbor Mt Longido on the Tanzanian side of the border. Situated about 170km south of Nairobi at the border town of Namanga between Kenya and Tanzania, it is shaped like an arrow pointing north, stretching about 17km north to south, 10km east to west at its broadest, and covering an area of 11,860 hectares.
The hill is a gazetted natural forest reserve that serves as a water catchment for Namanga town and the surrounding area. Its largely unexploited vegetation makes it one of few intact forests in Kenya, with minimal harvesting of construction poles by the local Maasai community for building their huts. The boulder strewn Namanga River cuts a deep gorge through the mountain, and spots caves used by Maasai Morans in some of their rituals.
One of the trails up the hill starts off near the entrance to Namanga River Lodge. It goes past an old bridge and an abandoned school before getting to a path running parallel to water pipes supplying the town with water from mountain streams.
The vegetation gets thicker as the trail wounds its way higher up the mountain along Namanga River. The clear mountain river waters, boulders sculptured by centuries of water erosion, and caves carved into the river and mountain sides provide a most rewarding outdoor experience for the hiking enthusiast. At some places higher up, the trail opens up into clearings from where views of the town below, the distant Mt Longido, and Mt Kilimanjaro about 65km away are a sight to behold. You may also get lucky and spot some of the local game like herds of Buffalos, various antelope species, dik dik, and monkeys.
Hiking up the hill can take anywhere from 4 to 6 hours for the round trip. It goes without saying that the experience is more rewarding if you make stops at strategic viewpoints along the trail to take in the views, sounds and scents of the general surrounding. It would also be helpful to get the help of a Maasai guide.
If using public means from Nairobi, you can get Namanga matatus from the Junction of River Road and Ronald Ngala Street, near Jack & Jill Supermarket. The fare is about Ksh 450 one way. If driving yourself, take Mombasa Road, drive about 25km till Athi River junction where you turn right onto Namanga Road and keep driving past Kitengela, Isinya and Kajiado town.
Jonnah Ole Milliah – 0712252574
The Kenya Forest Service, the custodian of the Forest on Namanga hill, does not levy any fee for hiking within. If you request them for an armed ranger though, a tip will be expected for the service.
Other sites: http://www.mck.or.ke/photo-gallery/ol-orok/