Kereita Cave and Waterfall
|Distance from Nairobi||About 60km|
|Starting Point||Carbacid Forest Gate|
|Ending point||Carbacid Forest Gate|
|Walking Duration||6 hours|
|Terrain||Animal trails through an indigenous forest.|
The Kereita Forest at the southern-most end of the Aberdares range features many interesting hiking trails established by Kijabe Environment Volunteers (KENVO), a local community based organization that works to conserve this rich biodiversity which is a designated Important Bird Area. One of these trails, the Carbacid trail, leads to Kereita Waterfall on Gatamaiyu River, and the adjacent cave that is home to a small bat colony.
Kereita Forest bears the distinction of being the site of mass graves where over 5,000 victims of revenge attacks on the local population by the British colonial administration were buried. These reprisals were triggered by the Lari Massacre in March 1953, after Mau Mau combatants attacked and killed about 100 loyalists in this area, including the local colonial Chief.
The walk through Kereita Forest starts at the Carbacid Forest Gate. This general area sits on top of an underground natural CO2 reservoir that is currently mined by Carbacid Ltd for industrial and commercial usage, hence the name of the Forest Gate. You can visit a small natural spring in the neighborhood to view water bubbling from underground as this gas makes its way to the surface.
During the first hour, you’ll hike through large open clearings created by the controversial Shamba System. This system is credited with the large-scale destruction of Kenya’s indigenous forests countrywide during former President Moi’s rule. Current efforts by KENVO to rehabilitate this section of the forest are continuously thwarted by local farmers driving their cattle into the forest land, in the process destroying newly planted tree seedlings.
As you get further into the forest land and descend into the first river valley, the clearings give way to indigenous trees. The trail then goes deeper into the forest, with the undergrowth now getting thicker and more interesting and varied. Giant ferns and climbers abound deep in the forest, competing for the meager light filtering though old gnarled mammoth trees that stand tall and proud, untouched by human exploitation. The sounds of various species of monkeys and birds increasingly become a regular part of the jungle. The trail is hardly discernible due to infrequent visitors to this part of the forest. The guide therefore has to carry a machete for cutting his way through some of the undergrowth, in addition to following animal trails going the general direction of the waterfall.
After walking up and down two steep river valleys for about two hours, the trail passes by Elephant Pool, a large natural water body that Elephants love to frolic in. A further one hour walk finally brings you to Kereita Waterfall on Gatamaiyu River. This waterfall drops 60ft to the stream below. To the right side of the waterfall is a cave with a small bat population.
Getting back to the Carbacid Forest Gate is faster through an alternative trail that climbs up and out of the forest zone into the bamboo zone, before descending to the Forest Gate. The whole round trip takes about 6 hours.
From Nairobi, take Njabini matatus stationed at the Old Nation House roundabout, and alight at Kimende, about 47km from Nairobi. The fare is between Ksh 100 and Ksh 150. From Kimende, take a taxi to the Carbacid Forest Gate for about Ksh 300. The KENVO guide will accompany you from Kimende.
If driving from Nairobi, take the new Nakuru Road on the upper escarpment for about 47km to Kimende. From here, the KENVO guide will join you for the remaining 10km ride to the Carbacid Forest Gate.
You’ll need to get in touch with KENVO, the local community organization who’ll provide you with a guide, and arrange for Kenya Forest Service armed escort.
Entry charges: Ksh 200 for residents, Ksh 600 for non-residents.
Guide fees: Ksh 2,000 for a group of 10 or less
Fees for a Kenya Forest Service armed ranger: Ksh 1,000.
Camping fee: Ksh 200 per day