Oldonyo Sabuk


“The Mountain of the Buffalo”

A rugged hump-backed outcrop of ancient rockjutting high above the Athi plains and hazily visible from Nairobi. Ol Donyo Sabuk is densely forested mountain known to the local kikuyu as” the mountain of the buffalo. And to the maasai as ‘The big mountain’. Just one road leads to its summit, which offers magnificent 360’ panoramas over the Athi River. The pineapple fields Thika and the snow-capped peaks of both Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya. Within easy reach of Nairobi, the lush vegetation and cool air of this compact. And scenic National Park make for an ideal day trip or camping weekend.

Oldonyo Sabuk
Oldonyo Sabuk

A montane landscape

The mountain’s slope and ravines essentially comprise the park, and the entire area is forested except for a small area at the top. Within the halo of primal forest at the summit, you can also find some of the giant plants more commonly associated with the Afro-alpine zone of Mount Kenya and Mount Elgon, particularly giant lobelia.

Driving to the summit

The Park’s one road leads directly to the summit (4WD required all year round) a flat open glade marked by a large survey beacon. The summit is the focus of the park and offers breathtaking views, especially in December and January when the air is particularly clear.

Walking to the summit

Due to security reasons, the 9 km walk from the main gate (where 2WD vehicles can be left) to the summit was long prohibited. However, now it is possible to undertake the walk as long as an armed KWS ranger accompanies you. The walk to the summit will take approximately 3 hours. To avail the services of a KWS ranger, you must book through the warden and pay a small fee.

An unusual burial site

Along the road to the summit, you will find the grave of Sir William Northrup McMillan, a wealthy American farmer. They had to abandon the intended burial place on the summit when the vehicles accompanying his hearse burned out on the steep slope. Here also rests his wife, her maid and the family dog.

Wildlife watching

As the name suggests, the animals in the park are dominated by buffalo, which are often attracted to the salt lick below the summit. Additionally, it is easy to spot bushbuck in the park.

Leopards and porcupine are also in residence, but may prove more difficult to spot in the thick bush.

Abundant forest birds

Easily spotted species include: white-browed sparrow weaver, grey-headed sparrow weaver, African pied wagtail, mourning dove, augur buzzard, African hawk eagle, purple-breasted sunbird, yellow-vented bulbul, speckled mousebird,helmeted guinea fowl, black headed oriole, grey tit, ring-necked dove, bateleur, great sparrow-hawk, bronze sunbird, superb starling, red-necked cordon bleu and Mackinnon grey shrike.

Butterfly kingdom

At certain times of the year, usually after the start of the rains, there is a colourful showing of butterflies on the mountain, particularly of the swallowtails and charaxes species. Within the park, it is sometimes common to see the relatively rare haraxes nandina.


0l-Donyo Sabuk is a remnant of Africa’s oldest erosion surface, generally regarded as late Jurassic. Lava (molten rock) escaped from fissures in the earth’s crust, forming the monotonous lava plateau of the Athi plains that surrounds the mountain. The lava gradually filled the valleys and smoothed the contours of the original landscape, leaving behind a residual hump of metamorphic rock.

The ‘Fourteen Falls’: while en route to the park take time to admire thika famous ‘ Fourteen Falls’. These are located half—way between Makutano and Ol Donyo Sabuk. The falls are sign posted to the leftjust before the bridge crossing the Athi River, and lie lkm, down a track.


There is no lodge or tented camp in the park at the moment.

Self—catering accommodation

Sabuk House. This is KWS self-catering GuestHouse. The facility is fully furnished with a living room area, dining area, well-equipped kitchen, and conference room. It can accommodate up to 10 persons. You can make reservations through the Warden or KWS Headquarters. Nairobi.

Tel: +254(20)6000800, 6002345. Email: marketing@kws.go.ke.

Website: www.kws.go.ke.

Turracco Public Campsite

Visitors can camp at the public campsite near the main gate. Facilities include picnic benches, water, latrines and showers.

Picnic Area

Visitor can picnic at the picnic site near the main gate or at lookout point which is at the mountain. At the point clients have an exellent view of Athi plains, Nairobi City, Thika industrial town, Ngong Hills and the expansive Kapiti plains of Kajiado District while enojoying the rest of the park.


All year round. After heavy rain, the road leading to the main gate may require a 4WD (four-wheel drive) vehicle.


Drinking water and picnic items (and camping equipment if you intend to stay overnight). Also useful are: camera, binoculars, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, insect repellant and guidebook.

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Sabina Kamene