Mount Ololokwe is one of the least known hiking destinations in Kenya, thanks to the poor marketing or lack of altogether. However, with the new clearest and smoothest roads in Kenya; the Isiolo-Moyale road, Mount Ololokwe can start getting the attention it deserves.
When JK from Cheetah Revolution Safaris mentioned the intention to hike Mount Ololokwe, it was an idea I had to buy immediately. First, because of the captivating photos I had seen on the Internet, and secondly, because I had not explored the Northern part of Kenya quite well, and was on a mission to visit more places up North.
Stay with me.
We left Nairobi at around 6 am with a long stopover in Nanyuki for breakfast and the second one just after Archer’s Post for a photo shoot.
If you minimise your stops on day one you could use that time to explore a little bit of Samburu before evening falls and retirement at the only available campsite in the area, Sabache Eco Camp.
We arrive at Sabache Eco Camp around 4 pm and the sun was insanely hot. Too hot to make you melt, seriously.
There’s not much to do at the campsite except to sit down, drink our already hot drinks (water, beer, wine) as we bond. Walking around is a domesticated Kudu in the campsite whose name is Les Kudu. Quite friendly until you attempt to flee and she’ll have her long-coiled horns throw you up in the air like a tennis ball 😀
There are a number of well decorated Samburu morans up and down, guess preparing for our evening stay. Dinner is not ready until 8 pm. We already know each other at this point and have even practiced and played a few rounds of the table game ‘Ajua’ which is popular among Samburu men.
There’s barely any cell network connection and definitely no Wi-Fi so it’s a matter of sitting down and taking the memory lane back to the world before worldwide web.
Camping tents are ready for us since we got to retire early that day. Our Mount Ololokwe hike starts at 5.30 am the following day.
It’s advisable to hike early for one; to catch the beautiful sunrise (there’s none other like this experience) and also to summit before the sun gets too hot. Here, the heat is a subject that requires serious discussion because 9 am sun feels unbearably hot.
At night, the wind is blowing so hard that my tent is constantly shaking. I can’t sleep at this point as my head is filled with all the wild thoughts of what if it’s an elephant grazing by, or Les Kudu visiting or a huge desert snake!! At some point, I even imagined a crocodile crawling all the way from River Ewaso Nyiro to shake my tent, crazy huh.
That’s the joy of camping in the wild, isn’t it ?
I, later on, manage to sleep for about 3 hours before we’re loudly woken up by JK at 4 am.
Breakfast came a little bit late delaying our hike by 30 minutes. 6.05 am our group and four Samburu morans are crossing the bridge that joins Sabache Eco Camp with Mount Ololokwe trail head.
Our lead guide Charles mentioned there’s only one hiking trail and it’d take around 3 hours to hike up.
Are you ready ?
The beginning of the trail is a little bit civilized and gentle with occasional rocks so you got to be careful with your legwork.
The first one-third of the trail is proving difficult even to seasoned hikers. Selfie kings and queens are having the time of their lives here.
The trail is getting serious now and Charles is walking like a young gazelle… ‘You know we walk here almost every day’ he says.
We are now split into two groups; Fast hikers and slower paced ones aka selfie slay queens/kings.
Towards the summit and after the ”top of the hill campsite”, the hiking trail gets friendlier with gentle slopes at some points. We’re are viewing the summit with relaxed faces here but Charles says we’re still far from it.
This one and only Mount Ololokwe hiking trail is diagonal like. Putting it into perspective, Mount Ololokwe is shaped like the Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa and since it’s rocky the trail is diagonally set.
In the entire hike, we made two stops for group photos and snacking.
Getting To The Summit
At record 3 hours we made it to the summit which is 2,000 metres above sea level. If you hike without making lengthy stops like we did, you’d hike two hours or thereabout. The distance covered was 5.5 kilometres one way or around 20,412 thanks to our iPhone health App.
At the summit, the wind is blowing hard and the 9 am sunshine doesn’t feel too hot. We had a whole hour to do a photo shoot and toast to a successful climb. It’s no joke!
We must begin descent before it gets too hot. As I mentioned earlier in this article, the heat in Samburu is extraordinary hence worth a couple mentioning 🙂 It’s an important factor when making decisions like what time to begin hiking up or even descending.
The views from the summit are out of this world. We could see Wamba conservancy, Archers Post, and the popular Cat & Mouse hill locally known as Nkadoru Murto from top of Mount Ololokwe.
Hiking down any mountain is always tough on the knees. However, for Ololokwe, the breeze from the bottom mixed with views of the greater Samburu plains and Matthews Range makes an unforgettable cocktail to keep the knees going.
With Charles and the team walking pretty fast, the first team returns to the campsite within 1 hour 30 minutes. The other team is taking their time to hike down, or perhaps signing autographs in one of the numerous Ololokwe rocks 🙂
Back To the Campsite
There’s a small bar at Sabache Eco Camp where we order cold sodas and mawe baridi (loose Swahili word for ice cubes). This is the only way we could explain to the amazing Samburu morans that we needed ice cubes.
The second group arrives one hour later and lunch is ready for us.
It’s 2 pm and just about time to head back to Nairobi. Water is a luxury in Samburu so we head out without a shower, saving it for the elephants.
- Mount Ololokwe is located 1.5 hours drive from Nanyuki and easily accessible by car, from Nanyuki, Meru or Isiolo.
- You don’t need a 4*4 to get there thanks to the smooth road.
- You can use public means or a motorbike to Sabache Eco Camp. It’s not far from the tarmac.
- Ololokwe is managed by Namunyak conservancy. Book directly with Depa, the camp manager at 0726991597 or contact Cheetah Revolution Safaris who could organize the trip for you. For travel Photography, Bmpicz Photography captures your best moments.
- Camping prices are Kenya Shillings 1,500 per night at the base camp. If you plan to camp at the summit, you pay additional Kenya Shillings 1,000 for the porters to carry your camping gear uphill and back. There’s a mandatory armed guide fee of Kenya shillings 1,000 per day.
- Ensure you buy all your essentials in Nanyuki which is the only big town nearby. You could still shop in Isiolo but Nanyuki gives you better variety.
What To Carry When Camping and Hiking Mount Ololokwe
- Adequate drinking water (you need lot’s of it)
- Energy bars
- Camera (You can’t afford not to capture the memories)
- Backpack to carry all your stuff. Your hands need to be free
What to Wear
What you wear to Mount Ololokwe depends on what time of the year you visit. If during the dry season like we did, wear comfortable light clothes. Bring a sweater as the evenings get windy and cold. Also for the early morning hike, you’d need warm clothing. If during the rainy season, it’s best to dress in layers as the sun could be out any time.
Sabache Eco Camp – My Verdict
This is the only accommodation option around Mount Ololokwe. Other options include spending the night in Nanyuki or Isiolo, which may not work well if you plan to hike early in the morning.
If spending at Sabache Eco Camp, it’s better to bring your own food supplies and cook from the campsite. Otherwise, if you book full board you may be disappointed by the quality and timing of the food.
With regards to the sleeping tents, it’s advisable to bring your own. If you’re in a group, the available tents in Sabache Eco Camp may not serve you best.
Special Thanks to the Power Team
- Cheetah Revolution Safaris – organized our hiking and camping adventure in Mount Ololokwe. They’re the go-to people for safari experience throughout Kenya.
- Bmpicz Photography – the team behind the beautiful photos. Book a photo shoot with them, their talent is indisputable
Happy hiking !