(This week is a guest post from my friend Ratia, who takes us on a hiking adventure up the Elephant hill in the Aberdares ).

A few weeks ago I decide to join some friends for a hiking expedition to the Elephant Hill in preparation for Mt. Kenya which I will be climbing at the end of the month. I didn’t know much about the hill except that it was a good challenge for people who were training for more challenging climbs like Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya. This was a good opportunity for me to see how prepared I was and also get to experience something different.

Elephant Hill Aberdares_view1

 

Elephant Hill is ideal for a day’s hike we therefore left town (Nairobi CBD) at 5:45 a.m. The Hill is located in the Aberdare Ranges southern end, west of Mt Kenya and about 90km north of Nairobi. We used the Nairobi-Nakuru Highway until the town of Naivasha, then turned left onto the flyover and headed towards Njabini. We drove to Njabini Forest Station from where we were to begin our climb.

Elephant Hill Aberdares_view2

 

Elephant Hill Aberdares_view3

 

After a short briefing session with our guide, it became apparently clear that this was not going to be a walk in the park. I was however determined to give it a try despite my inexperience. We were a group of about 60 and therefore, it was important to start the climb well so as to pace ourselves suitably.

Elephant Hill Aberdares_view4

 

My friends (all of whom are experienced climbers, I am not) and I, decided to move fast at the begining. We joined forces with some guys who had a similar goal. It took us about an hour to get to the first resting point through the thick expansive forest. By the time we got to this point, half of the team had decided to turn back. The temperatures at this point were not so bad and after resting for a little while, we continued with our trek.

Elephant Hill Aberdares_the group

 

My favorite part of the trek was through a canopy of towering Bamboo. I found this place very scenic despite its treacherous nature. The ascent was very steep and one had to pause several times for water breaks. The path is quite narrow and therefore, guys have to walk in a straight line.

Elephant Hill Aberdares_ascent

 

Temperatures started dropping and I learnt that one has to be mindful of their pace so as to avoid altitude sickness. Besides being steep, elephant “footprints” are quite common, and rest be assured that you will fall and plunge in the mud several times like I did. Just before starting the second stage, my body was almost giving up. I was extremely tired and the altitude was giving me a hard time. Thanks to great friends who were encouraging and don’t really know what giving up is, I continued the trek. The second zone was a gradual ascend and quite manageable. It took us about three hours in this area.

Elephant Hill Aberdares_ascent2

 

The last stretch will make you question why you chose to go to the mountains as this is by far the most difficult part of the climb. My goal was to take photos along the way but the complexity of the climb could not allow. I’ll be sure to carry a Go-Pro next time. The place is extremely steep and full or rocks. My friends and I nicknamed this place “stairway to heaven” as the climb is literally a stairway which is not easy at all. Temperatures are dropping and you can see the clouds. The view from above is spectacular as you can see other surrounding hills. At about 3530m, we reached the first peak and this was it for me.

Elephant Hill Aberdares_ascent3

 

I had wanted to continue to the second peak which is at 3600m but altitude sickness wouldn’t let me. Despite that, I was glad to have made it to the top and was among the first people.

Elephant Hill Aberdares_top1

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Elephant Hill Aberdares_top2

 

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The descent is as tough as the climb and will take approximately 3-4 hours depending on your pace. Just a few pointers from this experience, carry a super light bag, the climb is tough from the beginning and a heavy bag will only drag you down. Once there, walk in packs. This is a guided climb and most of the time the wardens/guards will be staying behind with the group that’s not walking too fast, so being with other people helps. Be sure to carry warm clothes with and a rain jacket as it normally rains frequently. It is also advisable to have climbing boots due to the nature of the climb and to avoid any injuries.

This was indeed the ultimate test of fitness and resilience and it was worth every moment. Next time plan to climb the elephant hill, I’ll make sure to prepare thoroughly for the climb.

This week we are linking up with;

1. Reflections enroute #wkendtravelinspiration

2. Adelina’s Pack Me To in  #SundayTraveler

3. Noel Morata’s Travel Photo Mondays

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Northern Kenya - People and Places

17 Comments

  1. August 18, 2014 at 1:12 am — Reply

    What a great guest post, Ratia! Oh my gosh it looks so green and beautiful. I got the impression that while it was a bit of an exerted climb that it was also paced to allow all folks to make it to the top regardless of the varying degrees of physical shape. I’m not the chipper young climber I used to be back in the day 🙂 Thank you for sharing her with us, Rachel! 🙂
    Mike recently posted…Woody’s Grille And Spirits In Sparks, Nevada For Top Notch Food!My Profile

  2. August 18, 2014 at 9:03 am — Reply

    Very beautiful place…
    Muza-chan recently posted…Great views from train, Mount Fuji from the Chuo LineMy Profile

  3. Keniamoja
    August 18, 2014 at 10:50 am — Reply

    Thanks so much for posting about the Elephant Hill hike.

    I would like to hike there at the end of October. Kindly advise if this is a good time to hike or is it too wet and treacherous? It will be a day hike from Nairobi and back.

  4. August 18, 2014 at 5:35 pm — Reply

    What a great walk and lovely shots.
    ladyfi recently posted…IrresistibleMy Profile

  5. August 18, 2014 at 7:46 pm — Reply

    Wow very impressive. I think I would have been with the first group giving up. I’ve never had altitude sickness, but I’ve been described it in great detail and it doesn’t sound like fun at all. Congrats to you for making it to the first peak. A massive accomplishment!
    Adelina // Pack Me To recently posted…My Super Secret Travel Project: eyeCanGoMy Profile

  6. Wendy
    August 19, 2014 at 12:58 pm — Reply

    That one chic looks PISSED.

  7. August 19, 2014 at 7:15 pm — Reply

    Congrats for making it to the top, Ratia! Altitude sickness is no joke. And it’s unfortunate that the trek down wasn’t easier. Nevertheless, this sounds like a great challenge.
    Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans recently posted…Making a Home for Nepalese Kids at Nana’s HouseMy Profile

  8. August 20, 2014 at 7:37 pm — Reply

    This landscape’s so gorgeous. One of the most magnificent views I’ve seen on your blog. WOW! I’m speechless.
    Agness recently posted…Hotel Recommendation: Ribeiro Hotel, Fatima, PortugalMy Profile

  9. August 22, 2014 at 2:12 am — Reply

    Ratia you did so well to get so very close to the top. Your group of friends supported you well, you were lucky to be with them. I love your photo of the group resting and the mist lifting off the mountain. Good luck with Mt. Kenya.
    jan recently posted…Angkor Wat is Heaven on EarthMy Profile

  10. August 23, 2014 at 3:48 pm — Reply

    Well done for making it to the top peak! Love the photos, the scenery is beautiful 🙂
    Catherine recently posted…Where Should We Go For A Weekend Break?My Profile

  11. August 24, 2014 at 11:22 am — Reply

    Ratia and Rachel. What a gorgeous place. Don’t you just love getting up high above the clouds? I would love to go here. Rachel, once again thanks a million for linking up with Weekend Travel Inspiration!

  12. August 24, 2014 at 9:18 pm — Reply

    Congrats for making it to the top, that looks like a very challenging climb. The scenery is breathtaking
    Freya recently posted…Begonia Flower Carpet in BrusselsMy Profile

  13. August 25, 2014 at 8:11 am — Reply

    Congratulations for making it! This looks stunning and what a view. I’ve had altitude sickness and I can empathize. What a great accomplishment for you though. Great photos!
    Mary {The World Is A Book} recently posted…Cruising Crater Lake National ParkMy Profile

  14. August 25, 2014 at 10:09 pm — Reply

    Hi Rachel, that looks like a good training hike indeed. I’m excited for your climb to Mt. Kenya. I’d love to climb it myself. I’ve done Mt. Kilimanjaro and some people I met told me that I should set my eye on Mt. Kenya next. I’ll let you do it first and you let me know how it is:) Good luck and all the very best!
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  15. […] Elephant Hill; hiking in the Aberdares – August 17, 2014 […]

  16. […] body will begin to enervate as it gets steeper on the way up. Where Ratia calls the stairway to heaven will literally have you catching your breath out of sheer hard […]

  17. james
    October 24, 2015 at 10:18 am — Reply

    how much did you spend on the guideand fees

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