This trip has been a long time coming, originally I had planned to go out of town but that will have to wait.

I’m off to the Nairobi suburb of Karen where I get to visit a hidden gem– the Oloolua nature trail. The nature trail is part of the indigenous Oloolua forest that is also home to the Institute of Primate Research (IPR). The institute is run by the National Museums of Kenya which established the Oloolua Nature Trail in part of the forest, providing a refreshing environment away from the city’s hustle and bustle.

Oloolua Nature Trail_Entrance

Once you get to the entrance it is not too much of a walk before you get to the nature trail.

Our first stop was the water falls. There is a proper path with steps that lead to the falls but we took the difficult way down which was rather steep because we heard the falls before we got to the path and assumed that it is the only way down.

Oloolua Nature Trail_Waterfall sign


sitting on top of the waterfall one of the key attractions in the Oloolua Nature Trail


Oloolua Nature Trail_Waterfall6


Oloolua Nature Trail_Waterfall5I stayed at the top while my friend went down the side of the falls to take pictures. This was definitely my favorite part of the nature trail.


Oloolua Nature Trail_Waterfall1


Oloolua Nature Trail_Waterfall2


Oloolua Nature Trail_Waterfall4The a 20 foot waterfall is one of the major attractions of the nature trail


We had taken a picture of the map at the entrance but it was not very useful.

Map showing areas of the Oloolua Nature Trail


For the most part we just walked along the river and the next stop was the bamboo. This time we found the right path down.

Oloolua Nature Trail_trail on slope


Oloolua Nature Trail_trail on slope2


Oloolua Nature Trail_Walkaway


Oloolua Nature Trail_Walkaway2The path and rickety stairs that lead to the river


Oloolua Nature Trail_Bamboo1


Oloolua Nature Trail_River3


Oloolua Nature Trail_River1The Mbagathi River meanders through thick forest vines and undergrowth beside giant riverside bamboo and bushes.


We then walked a bit and got to the cave. I was wishing I had carried a flashlight. We did go into the cave but I stayed close to the entrance. I kept imagining that a Smaug-like creature would come to chase us out of its lair.

Oloolua Nature Trail_Sign to cave


Oloolua Nature Trail_Cave


Oloolua Nature Trail_Cave1The caves are reputed to have once been a hiding place for the Mau Mau freedom fighters during the colonial period of Kenya’s History. There was also an acrid smell in the air (probably as a result of an existing bat colony) and that didn’t encourage us to stay either.


Oloolua Nature Trail_forest floor


Oloolua Nature Trail_stroll


Oloolua Nature Trail_Flowers


Oloolua Nature Trail_PathThe forest has a relatively good road network that has been reinforced with building blocks.


We consulted the map again and it gave us a vague idea of where we were. We had wondered away from the river and I was hoping that somehow we would end up at the quarry but instead we found ourselves at the picnic site.

Oloolua Nature Trail_Picnic site1


Oloolua Nature Trail_Picnic siteThe picnic site was complete with benches, toilets and trash bins offering a nice setting for trekkers or campers to enjoy a rest within the nature trail.


Oloolua Nature Trail_to camping site


Oloolua Nature Trail_benchesThere are several camping sites, all with tapped water and long drop toilets. You bring your food, tents and cooking facilities.


By this time it was about half past 5 in the afternoon and the trail closes at 6 so we decided to take the path most likely to lead us back to the entrance.

Oloolua Nature Trail_Trees


Oloolua Nature Trail_Bridge3


Oloolua Nature Trail_Bridge2


Oloolua Nature Trail_Bridge


We guessed right and we ended up back at the bridge where there was a troop of monkeys feeding in the trees above us.

Oloolua Nature Trail_Monkey


Oloolua Nature Trail_Monkey2


Oloolua Nature Trail_Monkey3


Oloolua Nature Trail_Monkey4


Oloolua Nature Trail_Entrance FeesThe entrance fees ($1=ksh90)

If you do decide to visit the trail, get ready to get lost, they haven’t stuffed the paths with sign boards so it is natural and adventurous.

Oloolua Nature Trail is large enough to accommodate loads of people at the same time without crowding, you practically feel like you are alone in the middle of a forest – a nice escape from the busy noisy city life. Best of all it is easily accessible and open daily.

How to get there;

Oloolua Nature Trail is situated 20km from the city centre in the Karen suburb. If using public means, take matatu or bus number 24 from the city centre, and alight at the junction of Bogani Road and Karen Road near Karen Blixen Museum. Oloolua Nature Trail is 600 meters to your left.

If driving, take Uhuru Highway till Nyayo Stadium, then turn right onto Langata Road and drive past Bomas of Kenya till the junction to Hardy. Turn left onto Langata South Road, then right onto Bogani Road. Drive till the junction between Bogani and Karen Road, then turn left. Oloolua Nature Trail is 600 meters from this junction.

Previous post
Saving Mount Kenya
Next post
Watamu: A Touch of Gold


  1. June 9, 2014 at 12:43 am — Reply

    What a beautiful place for a hike! Looks fun and peaceful!

  2. June 9, 2014 at 1:49 am — Reply

    This really looks like a nice trail Rachael and a great place to get lost in. I personally like especially the bamboo forest and a picnic in the middle of the nature sounds actually quite amazing… 🙂

  3. June 9, 2014 at 3:51 am — Reply

    This place is a bit mysterious and wild, so I like it even more than safari parks!! :D! Let’s go camping! Whooooo

  4. June 9, 2014 at 9:17 am — Reply

    Beautiful place…

    • June 24, 2020 at 8:44 am — Reply

      A good place to be

  5. June 9, 2014 at 10:24 am — Reply

    Very interesting spot – I wish I’d known about this park the last time I was in Nairobi! Karen is such a beautiful spot and this looks like a good alternative to the more touristy options in the area.

    • June 10, 2014 at 4:12 pm — Reply

      You could always come back…

  6. June 9, 2014 at 10:30 am — Reply

    It actually looks like a very well maintaned trek where it is impossible to get lost in. That is just my impression judging from the photos. Would love to go on it one day and see all the monkeys! 🙂

  7. Keniamoja
    June 9, 2014 at 11:52 am — Reply

    We have so much in Nairobi. I did not know such a place existed, thanks for the detailed info, should be visiting the place soon.

    • June 10, 2014 at 4:31 pm — Reply

      You’re welcome. Let me know if you manage to find the quarry.

  8. June 9, 2014 at 7:37 pm — Reply

    Walking this trail looks like a relaxing way to just getaway and be alone with your thoughts. The waterfall looks refreshing too!

  9. June 9, 2014 at 8:15 pm — Reply

    Looks like an amazing place. Great photos again 🙂

  10. June 10, 2014 at 12:40 am — Reply

    Gorgeous photos of the waterfall and stumbling upon those monkeys must have been pretty cool. And you’re right – that map definitely doesn’t look too useful! At least you were able to navigate back to the start. Thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler!

  11. June 10, 2014 at 6:37 am — Reply

    What a lovely trail – and the nature looks so lush too!

  12. June 10, 2014 at 10:10 am — Reply

    Tranquility and beauty. Never new such a place existed in Karen.

    Will surely visit in the near future.

  13. June 10, 2014 at 10:17 am — Reply

    Hi Rachel! Life got a bit sidetracked with Phoenix the past 3 months so we were off the blogosphere. I love to see I can pull up your latest post and your photography is as beautiful as ever! Great job “catching” some shots of the monkeys! Loved it! We hope all is well with you, our friend 🙂

    • June 10, 2014 at 4:40 pm — Reply

      I know the feeling. Welcome back and thank you.

  14. Kevin Sang
    June 10, 2014 at 2:44 pm — Reply

    Beautiful pics Rachel, keep it up.

  15. June 10, 2014 at 5:14 pm — Reply

    These photos are beautiful. The first and only time I visited this place I was in high school. I should definitely make a point of going there again.

  16. June 10, 2014 at 10:04 pm — Reply

    Looks like you had fun hiking the Oloolua Nature Trail. That map is certainly unique :). I like the fact that you can actually pitch your tent in the park. We love camping!

  17. June 12, 2014 at 9:36 am — Reply

    WOW, You make some amazing pictures, there are really stunning.

  18. June 13, 2014 at 3:50 pm — Reply

    Rachel, The photos of the trail are beautiful. I love the waterfalls and the bamboo forest shots. You are so lucky to be able to see these places.

  19. June 13, 2014 at 6:47 pm — Reply

    Looks like a great place to go for a walk. How was the bird life on the trail?
    I always marvel at the colour of the earth. It looks so rich.

  20. June 15, 2014 at 11:58 am — Reply

    This trail and the waterfalls look lovely! Thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler!

  21. June 16, 2014 at 10:10 pm — Reply

    What a great hike – filled with beauty, adventure and even wildlife. Those waterfalls look so refreshing. Beautiful photos and a very inspiring walk.

  22. July 7, 2014 at 5:53 am — Reply

    […] time at the Karen Blixen Museum, I had initially planned to combine this visit with the trip to the Oloolua nature trail but things did not work out as […]

  23. July 14, 2014 at 3:31 pm — Reply

    Looks like an amazing place ! Stunning photos.

  24. @davde
    November 19, 2018 at 10:19 am — Reply

    I love the view …..i will visit the place with family members ?

  25. […] Oloolua Nature Trail Water Fall – Image Courtesy of […]

  26. […] Photo by safari254 […]

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *