Forest destinations to write home about 

Thursday, November 14th, 2019 06:39 |

Instead of jostling for space in beaches and supermarkets at the Coast this holiday, why not just go hiking and enjoy some quiet in the jungle, listening to birds and insects chirping?   

For many years, forest tourism had been confined to readily available sceneries and nature walks, making the funfair and experience a limited adventure.

The adventure was limited to the scanty physical features; wild animals, wild creatures, weed, tree species and nature walk trails, locking out most local tourist who would consider the experience not worthwhile.

However, in the recent past, forest adventure has tremendously advanced due to the diverse activities now available in the jungle. In a team of eight journalist and two officials from Kenya Tourism Board (KTB), we set out on a thrilling tour of various forests in Kenya to experience the magical gems.

1. Nature walk at Karura Forest

From the capital city, Nairobi, we take Murang’a road and after 2km, we join Kiambu Road, and after another 3km, we get ourselves in the heart of Karura Forest. The forest has been known as a criminal den until 2009 when a community forest association started managing it.

John Chege, chief scout at the city forest, ushers us to the fascinating spot characterised by various activities, besides its famous caves and waterfall. He says at least 30,000 to 40,000 local tourists visit the forest for adventure every month. The number is evidenced by many people we encounter on our 3km trail. 

The well-marked trails have become synonymous with jogging and preparation grounds for hiking and mountain biking on trails covering up to 15km. “We have a designated area where families and individuals can gather for activities such as weddings and team building. We have a capacity to host 10,000 people.  We offer them a room to set up tents and conduct activities within the forest environment,” says Chege. 

For tennis and football lovers, a standard field for the games is available after parting with Sh200 as entry fee for residents. “When we were starting off, Karura was only limited to nature walks along the trails and visiting the 50feet water fall. There are also the historic caves said to have been used for religious ceremonies and as Mau Mau hideouts,” added Chege. The new activities have added sweet excitement to the natural splendour.

2. Up, up and away with the flying fox at Kereita Forest

Thinking about Limuru, Kiambu county, what comes to your mind is the chilly, foggy weather. A trip to the area demands that you dress warmly. 

However, in the heart of Kimende about 45Km from the city on the Nairobi-Naivasha highway sits Kereita Forest, which ranks among the new and most exciting tourist destinations in Kenya. The Forest Adventure camp is the place to warm up!

 With an entry fee of Sh200 payable at the forest gate manned by Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS), one can enjoy a range of activities including zip lining, archery, horse-riding, paint balling, nature walks and mountain biking. Each activity costs Sh1,000 or less.  

Adventurous people have a golden opportunity to enjoy a zip lining tour of up to 8kms. The forest management has focused on safety of visitors. Instructions and guide lines on every activity are clearly stipulated. 

During our visit for  zip lining activity, we find that reading safety instructions is mandatory for all regardless of how many times you have engaged in the adventure before. One has to sign a declaration form before embarking on  ziplining, giving out your details such as emergency numbers and next or kin. Guests unwilling to follow instructions or to commit on paper are prevented from participating. Instructors are also keen to ensure all the rules and guidelines are adhered to.


The weather can be extremely cold, so  dress warmly.

Sportswear and sports shoes are the ideal dress code for the activities (do not go there in a suit!) 

Your safety is prioritised, but before engaging in zip lining you, have to be of good health and not pregnant for the ladies. 

3. Ngare Ndare forest

At the border of Laikipia and Meru counties bordering Lewa and Borana conservancies stands an amazing expanse of 100 acres. Canopy Forest has  trees as old as 400 years. A walk through the 450 metres stretch canopy standing 20 feet above the forest floor gives you a breathtaking lifetime moment. 

The strong strands and floor of the Canopy Walk is accommodative enough, even for the faint-hearted. After making a few steps, the walk becomes more exciting and lovely. From above, you stand a chance of spotting buffalos elephants and leopards. We also walk three kilometres from the forest entrance gate to the Ngare Ndare falls for canoeing activities, but nobody dares to try the activity owing to the bad weather.  So, we quickly walk away to the diving falls for swimming. The water is ice cold and for our safety, only professional divers like Ben Kirui would take the challenge.


For your safety, an armed ranger accompanies you.

Sport shoes and sport ware are ideal for the walk.

Entry fee for residents is Sh2,000 and for non-residents is Sh4,000.

Ideal visit times are when it is not raining as the terrain can be slippery.

4. Aberdares Forest, Nyeri

It is a chilly, rainy morning, so we take an hour at the Aberdare Country Club consulting on the possibility of driving down through the heart of the Aberdare Forest.  We are warned the terrain is characterised by steep slopes and narrow forest roads, too slippery given the heavy rains that have recently hit the area. 

Still, we dare and take a game drive through the forest. Few animals can be spotted during the rainy season as everybody is taking cover in their dens. We manage to drive as far as Chania River and have a cool refreshing time at the Chania River Falls in Nyeri.  

On our drive back to the hotel, most of us take a nap. I am in deep thought about human activities, which have affected the vegetation of the thick forest. From what I had observed, there are on-going efforts  to preserve the eco system. The efforts by various stakeholders in reforestation initiatives is something I would like to explore further.

5. Shimba Hills Reserve, Kwale

For nature lovers who choose the Coast as their holiday destination this festive season, the Shieldrick Falls at the heart of Shimba Hills is a signature adventure. The 2.5km walk to the fall is perfect for interaction with nature. 

KWS officers manning the forest prefer escorting different groups to the fault to make the hiking more exciting. 

The home of the sable antelope was once a home to elephants, but they were relocated to Tsavo National Park to stem incidents of human-wildlife conflict.  

Other forest destinations include Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve 110 km north of Mombasa in Kilifi county.  There is also Mount Kenya Forest and Kakamega Forest in Western Kenya, famous for indigenous trees. 

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