I have had this post in my drafts for ages. I went back to the swamp over the Easter weekend so I decided I need to share. The last time I had been at the swamp was slightly more than one year ago.

Ondiri wetland is located within close proximity to Kikuyu town (Central Kenya). It is an important wetland since it forms the headwaters of Nairobi River within the Athi drainage basin.

Ondiri swamp


Ondiri swamp 10


The Ondiri wetland is oval in shape and local legend has it that it used to be an open lake in the early part of the last century and indeed the name itself is Gikuyu corruption of old lake (Ondiri).

Ondiri swamp 1


Ondiri swamp 2


Ondiri swamp 3


However as deforestation and subsequent erosion accelerated, the lake came to be covered with floating reeds on peat such that now it has an extensive reed mat that covers more than 95 percent of the wetland to form a quaking bog, the only one in the country.

Ondiri swamp 4


Ondiri swamp 5


Ondiri swamp 6


A quaking bog is made up of a layer of vegetation floating over water. This is wet spongy ground that is poorly drained, made up of a layer of accumulated plant material floating over water. You can walk on the vegetation, but if you jump up and down the whole bog quakes .I took a video of the movement. You can watch it on our YouTube channel here

Ondiri swamp 7


Ondiri swamp 8


Ondiri swamp 9


This time I went I was a bit confused because with the bypass almost complete everything looked really different. In order to get to the swamp before, there was only a small and steep narrow path.

Ondiri swamp old path 1Old path


There is a wider path these days but I chose to go down to the swamp by walking down the drainage channels.

Ondiri Swamp bypass 4They’re pretty steep but I was up for a bit of adventure.


The view from the top is also very different. The area is a lot less forested now.

Ondiri Swamp view from Bypass


For comparison here is the photo I had taken before the construction of the bypass had started

Ondiri Swamp old view


And this is how it looks now after the construction of the road

Ondiri Swamp bypass 3

You can actually walk across the swamp. There is a narrow path made out of logs (to the left of the picture above), it kind of feels like walking on a tightrope (or so I would imagine)


The last time I went to the swamp, construction of the bypass had only just begun. In order to allow water to flow from the swamp,  a culvert was built under the road.

Ondiri Swamp culvert 1

I took this picture when the construction of the Southern Bypass had just begun. The bypass spans 28.6km from Likoni Road on Mombasa Road at Ole Sereni Hotel to Kikuyu.


Ondiri Swamp culvert 2

This is how the culvert looks now.

There is also a small river that was not there before

Ondiri Swamp mini river


Thankfully, the rest of the swamp looks pretty much the same.

Ondiri Swamp old 3


Ondiri Swamp old 5


Ondiri Swamp old 6


How to get there..

The swamp is easily accessible. Once you get to Kikuyu town drive/walk past the railway bridge then take a turn right after the second bump. Just follow the road and once you get to the bypass, the swamp is on the opposite side of the road


You can read more about the swamp here

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  1. Manesha
    May 6, 2014 at 7:11 pm — Reply

    Gosh I have absolutely no clue of where this place, and that was definitely adventure climbing down the drainage..your trouser shows the signs 🙂

  2. May 7, 2014 at 3:16 am — Reply

    Green, green, green. I can see a lot of green here and I love this place. Adding it to my itinerary when I already get there :).

  3. May 7, 2014 at 3:42 am — Reply

    From the looks of the vegetation, I’d never guess that there’s water underneath. The before and after pics really show just how much this area has changed.

  4. Samuel Njoroge
    May 7, 2014 at 8:24 am — Reply

    Greetings,my name is Samuel .I discovered of your website just minutes ago and think your interests and mine are a common platform.I saw your photos about my back yard and was so elated to see someone appreciate the beauty of our landscape in Kikuyu( Undiri swamp photos).I have been campaigning for the conservancy and promotion of this swamp since its one of its kind and should be a key tourist attraction in this region.However, in most instances,my locals think its just a stream which they dont care much about.I have a company that is working on sustainable development and part of the projected plans are to rally behind conserving the swamp as a community initiative.I would be intrested to have a chat with you soonest and see how we can promote this noble cause.Are you a member of the Kenya powershift??? please subscribe to the fan page on fb and be informed of the climate change activities happening.

      November 1, 2021 at 10:48 am — Reply

      I am currently undertaking a research on the conservation and better management of the swamp. please reach out to me on kipkiruilelei191@students.tukenya.ac.ke

  5. June 23, 2014 at 3:49 pm — Reply

    Great shot of you rock-surfing there, Rachael! Is there any wildlife around the swamp?

  6. Kabuu Njuguna
    October 22, 2014 at 3:11 pm — Reply

    Great Photos. hope to see the stakeholders of Ondiri swamp Exploite the potential of such a land mark.

  7. February 2, 2017 at 9:49 am — Reply

    […] Image credit here. […]

  8. […] source of the Nairobi River is Ondiri Swamp, located nearly 13 miles to the east of central Nairobi. Formerly a lake, it became a swamp as […]

  9. February 20, 2024 at 8:58 pm — Reply

    NICHOLAS GERALD Basil and Laetitia Jean owned 250 ACRES Kikuyu, BELVEDERE DAIRY, including ONDIRI SWAMP, and Missionaries Rev Thomas Watson and Minnie Cumming built MAMBERE SCHOOL and KIKUYU Church of The Torch on 30 acres bought from Chief WAIYAKIS Son, History forgot to mention MAMBERE SCHOOL THOGOTO Students JOMO KENYATTA, JAMES GICHURU, REV MUSA GITAU e.t.c there was KENYA’S BEST ARTIST AND GRAPHICS DESIGNER Mr Warukira 1940s, 1950s, 1960 to 1968 Dec 24th day of his Tragic Accident at MWIMUTO NGECHA ROAD, A Blackman Mr Warukira designed food Logos and others, kiwi shoe polish BATA SHOE, Kenyan Beers Logo, Heineken, OSTRICH MBUNI DRY CLEANERS LOGO, THOUSANDS OF local and International Logos and was A Business Partner of TYCOON OGILVY DAVID Advertising Agency also in France, Mr Warukiras Paintings in France next to LEOPOLD Davincci of MONA LISA Famous Painting and PABLO PICCASSO, Mr Warukira should be honoured by King Charles III and written in African History Books, even his Photo and his many posh Cars, should be put on History Books not just EUROPEAN MISSIONARIES.
    Nduta, BATLSK, BFPO 10.

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