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Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park Kenya

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Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park Kenya | Kenya Wildlife Service | Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park Entrance Fee | Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park Machakos County | Hiking Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park | Ol Donyo Sabuk Kenya Wildlife Safaris | Ol Donyo Sabuk Camping | Ol Donyo Sabuk  Resort | Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park Accommodation | Ol Donyo Sabuk Hotels & Lodges | Birds & Animals of Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park | Kenya National Parks Game Reserves

Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park Kenya

Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park is located about 85km northeast of Nairobi in Machakos County. The park is known as the “ultimate Panoramic experience” and is a mountain and national park adjacent to a small town near Thika in Kenya. The park was established in 1967.

The peak, height of 2,145 meters (7,037 feet), was named by Maasai pastoralists, meaning big mountain. The Kamba name, Kyanzavi means the mountain. Kilimambogo, (another name for the mountain) has two parts, Kilima – meaning a hill or mountain in Swahili, and mbogo meaning a buffalo in many Bantu languages.

Incidentally, the forested part of the mountain has a large population of buffaloes. The park sits in an area of 20 km2 and is built around the slopes and summit of Oldonyo Sabiuk hills. The ecosystem constitutes a mountain that is entirely covered with dense montane forest except for a small area at the top.

Just one road leads to its summit, which offers magnificent 360’ panoramas over the Athi River, the pineapple fields of 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 scenic Park make for an ideal day trip or camping weekend.

The park was first settled by the European Explorer Lord William Northrop McMillan). He settled here with his wife before they both died and up to date the 3 graves of the explore family are still here as you approach the summit.

He and his wife and their dog were buried here which acts as a great attraction at the park. Lord Williams left here from 1872 to 1925 with his wife Lady Lucie.

Ol Donyo Sabuk park is home to more than 200 buffalos which are the dominant mammals at the park and other animals include mongoose, porcupines, bushbucks, baboons, and leopards. Visitors will also find the colobus monkey, vervet monkey, Sykes’ monkey, Kirk’s dik-dik, bush pig, reedbuck, rock hyrax, bushbaby, tree, aardvark, porcupine, python, and monitor lizard.

The park has over 45 bird species that include both Forest bird species, open savannah grassland, and wetland/waterbird species. The most common birds include African Hawk-eagle, sunbirds, different types of weavers, pied wagtail, mourning dove, Buzzard, and many more.

Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park’s main attractions include hiking/mountain climbing to enjoy the scenic views. The hike to the summit can be done in hours with a stop for historical events and visits to Lord William’s graveyard and visit fourteen scenic waterfalls.

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.

Other attractions include Montane landscape, Game viewing, Bird watching, Camping, Scenic views of Mt.Kenya from the summit, Fourteen Falls, an unusual burial site – McMillan grave, and picnicking.

Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park Animals & Birds

Visitors to Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park will see animals such as Buffalo, Bushbuck, Leopard, Olive Baboon, Colobus Monkey, Vervet Monkey, Sykes’ Monkey, Kirk’s Dik-dik, Bush Pig, Common Duiker, Bohor Reedbuck, Rock Hyrax, Bush-baby, Tree and Ground squirrel, Aardvark, Porcupine, Mongoose, Southern Rock Python, and Savannah Monitor lizard.

Birdwatching in Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park is done while walking, which makes it more fun and rewarding, the gradient is ideal for any age group. Birdwatching  usually starts at the main gate, there is a stretch of woodland and thickets, the area is quite productive, the Purple-crested Turaco may be seen or heard calling from the top of the fruiting trees

Kenya Wildlife Rangers provides security for people walking, hiking, or birdwatching due to the wild animals. Ol Donyo Sabuk national park is home to more than 100 Birds species which include; White-browed Sparrow Weaver, Grey-headed Sparrow African Pied wagtail, Red-eyed Dove, Augur Buzzard, African Hawk-Eagle, and the Golden-winged Sunbird.

Others include Bronze Sunbird, Superb Starling, Grey-headed Bushshrike, Black-backed Puffback, Tropical Boubou, Crowned Eagle, Montane White Eye, Whiskered Greenbul, Hinde’s Babbler, Purple-crested Turaco, Martial Eagle, and the Common Bulbul, Speckled Mousebird, Helmeted Guinea Fowl, Black-headed Oriole, White-bellied Tit and Ring-necked Dove among others.

2022 Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park Entrance Fees

Citizen/ Resident Rate Per Person Per Day

Non-Resident Rate Per Person Per Day

Adult 300 Kenya Shillings 30 US Dollars
Child 215 Kenya Shillings 20 US Dollars

Notes

* Child refers to persons from three years but below 11 years
* Resident refers to persons of other nationalities residing in Kenya with valid documentation from the Kenyan government
* Citizen – A native or inhabitant of East Africa Countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and SouthSudan) with valid identification documents or passport
* Daily – Fee paid for a single entry to a national park, national reserve, or sanctuary and which shall be valid for no longer than twenty-four hours

Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park Attractions | Activities

Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park

Dominated by the montane forest and the small mountain, Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park is home to a wide range of attractions that guests can enjoy. Below are the highlighted attractions in the park.

Montane Landscape

The park is dominated by Mt Oldonyo Sabuk which is located at the center of the park. Getting its name from the largest mountain around the park attracts 80% of the guests who visit the park.

The mountain rises to 2,145 meters, and the terrain of the slope requires one to have a 4×4 wheel car in order to reach the starting point of hiking. As one approaches the summit one is welcomed by the graves of the family of lord Williams who were buried here. The mountain can be hiked in only one day before we embark on any other activities at the park.

The Burial Site of Lord William McMillan

Lord William was the first European to reach and settle in Ol Donyo Sabuk national park and he lived there with his wife Lucie and their dog. After their death, all three family members were buried in the same destination. It’s one of the attractions that guests come to view during a visit to the Ol Donyo Sabuk national park.

Bird Species

The size of the park does not affect the number of bird species at the park but the wide range of habitats at the Ol Donyo Sabuk national park gives an added advantage to the birders.

The park has over 45 bird species that include both Forest bird species, open savannah grassland, and wetland/ waterbird species. The most common birds include African Hawk-eagle, sunbirds, different types of weavers, pied wagtail, mourning dove, Buzzard, and many more.

Mammals

Ol Donyo Sabuk national park is gifted with more wildlife apart from bird species. The park is home to more than 200 buffalos which are the dominant mammals at the park. Other animals include Mongoose, porcupines, bushbucks, baboons, leopards, etc.

Fourteen falls

The fourteen Falls is located inside the park in River Athi, it’s one of the attractions that offer the romantic scenic beauty of the land. It’s both a traditional and religious site that has an impact on both Asian immigrants and residents of the area.

The Asians use it as a recreational and spiritual site. They dispose of their ashes for the loved ones who have died as they believe the water reaches and delivers their ashes to India. The Fourteen Falls is geographically raised at an altitude of 1400 meters above sea level.

Scenic view of Mt Kenya and Kilimanjaro

Not very close to the Mountains of Kenya and Kilimanjaro but due to a high raised level that makes guests have a clear view of Mt Kenya and Kilimanjaro on clear days. This adds the scenic view of the adventure. 

Mountain climbing

Mountain climbing is one of the key activities done at Ol Donyo Sabuk national park. The trek is not very challenging but full of adventure and scenic views. The hike to the summit can be done in hours with a stop for historical events and visits to Lord William’s graveyard. Birders enjoy the hike very well s you keep viewing different bird species as vegetation changes. 

Game viewing

Game viewing/ Game Drives can be done by safari car or by walking safaris. The most seen animals are the large herds of Buffalos which always live in groups. On lucky days guests enjoy the shy leopards though not easy to see but are always seen. Other animals include Baboons, bushbucks, porcupines, Mongoose, and others. Walking safaris are rare unless with the escort of a ranger guide due to the presence of the leopards.

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. (the relatively rare Charaxes nandina is sometimes comonly seen within the park)

Accommodation at Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park

OlDonyo Sapuk Resort Accommodation Machakos

There is no lodge or tented camp in the park at the moment. Self-catering accommodation includes Sabuk House.  It is fully furnished with a living room area, dining area, and a well-equipped kitchen and conference room. The facility accommodates up to 10 people.

Visitors can camp at the public campsite near the main gate. There are three campsites; Turacco Public Campsite, Rock Hyrax Special Campsite, and the Summit Campsite. The campsite is set – up to the nines, showers, benches, fire-pits toilets, running water and they even have a little food preperation area with a sink grill and electricity.

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

Hotels and lodges Near Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park include Fourteen Falls Lodge, The Luke Hotel Cravers Thika, Blue Post Hotel, Manyika House, and OlDonyo Sapuk Resort.

Other hotels near Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park can be found on the following link; Thika Hotels.

Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park Weather & Best time to visit

Weather

The weather in the park is hot and dry. It is only a few months when there is rain. January to March marks the driest season. April to June is wet and hot whereas from July to October, it’s warm and dry. November to December is warm and wet. 

Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 54°Fahrenheit to 81° Fahrenheit and is rarely below 50° Fahrenheit or above 84° Fahrenheit.

Best time to Visit

January to March marks the driest season and is viewed as the best time to visit Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park before the peak summer tourism season. Activities like game watching, hiking, nature walks, and mountain climbing are easier in the dry season. However, during the wet season comes to the sunshine and birds stay in the park.

April to June is wet and hot whereas from July to October, it’s warm and dry. November to December is warm and wet. 

How to access Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park| Roads

Fourteen Falls Thika

Ol Donyo Sabuk, or Kyanzavi in Kamba – the mountain is located 65 km from Nairobi to Thika town and 15km from Thika town to the mountain. Once at Thika Town proceed along the main Thika-Garissa A3 road to Makutano Junction.

At the junction, you will see a Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) sign and turn to the right. Proceed 3km on a murram road to Ol Donyo Sabuk town. In the town, you will see Ol Donyo Sabuk National park signpost. It is a 2 km drive to the park’s main gate. The drive takes 2 hours from Nairobi = 80 km)  Payment is through Mpesa pay bill or credit card, cash is not accepted.

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