ABOUT MOUNT LONGONOT NATIONAL PARK
Mount Longonot national park is a magical hidden gem of Kenya located in the great rift valley south east of lake Naivasha, the park is situated approximately 60 kilometers north west of Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. The park covers 52 square km most of it being occupied by Mt. Longonot, a young volcano which is thought to have last erupted in the 1860s. Its name is derived from the Maasai word Oloonong’ot, meaning “mountains of many spurs” or “steep ridges”. The sides of the mountain have beautiful V-shaped valleys and ridges. The stony soils have little vegetation but the crater has an impenetrable forest. The park is famous for its amazing scenic views created by the mountain and its crater with a forested floor.
CLIMATE IN MOUNT LONGONOT NATIONAL PARK
Temperatures in Mount Longonot national park ranges from 20-300 c and rainfall from 200mm – 700 mm. A forest of small trees covers the crater floor, and small steam vents are found spaced around the walls of the crater. The mountain is home to various species of wildlife, notably plains zebra, giraffe, Thomson’s gazelle, Buffaloes and Hartebeests.
WILDLIFE AND BIRDS
Mount Longonot national park is home to a reasonable number of wildlife species, they live both inside the forested crater and in the short grass regions of the park. These animals include plains Zebras, giraffe, Thomson’s gazelles, Buffaloes, Hartebeests, Antelopes, Baboons, Leopards, Bushbucks, Grant’s Gazelles, Eland, Impalas and many more. The park is also home to over 100 species of birds which live in various vegetation covers. These birds include Verreaux’s Eagle, Lammergeier, Common Ostrich, Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Egyptian Goose, Helmeted Guinea Fowl, Scaly Francolin, Speckled Pigeon, Red-eyed Dove, Mottled Swift, Common Swift, Nyanza Swift among others.
ATTRACTIONS IN MOUNT LONGONOT NATIONAL PARK
- Mount Longonot and the crater – Mount Longonot and the crater are situated and reached on a 3.1 kilometer trail from the park’s main entrance. Mount Longonot consists of rugged terrain and a crater on
its top, the crater is an 8 X 12 caldera formed as a result of numerous volcanic activities which are believed to have taken place about 21,000 years ago. The crater floor is dominated by forests which create a splendid scenery, while at the crater you also get to encounter geothermal vents from which you notice steam escaping from several fissures around the rim of the crater. Mount Longonot is a stratovolcano that stands at an altitude of 2,776 meters and is the main attraction in the park, this mountain is a stunning physical feature deriving its name form a local Masai slag meaning Oloonong’ot, meaning “mountains of many spurs” or “steep ridges.
- Birds – Mount Longonot National park is an ecological wonder, it has small valleys on the mountainsides, lava rocks, a thick small forest with the mountain crater and it is home to several birds. The birds in the park include Blacksmith Plover, Hildebrandt’s Francolin, Black Cuckoo, Levaillant’s Cuckoo, African Cuckoo among others
- Wildlife – Major wildlife attractions in Mount Longonot National Park include Buffaloes, Elands, Lions, Bushbucks, Common Zebras, Giraffes, Grant’s Gazelles, Thomson gazelles among others. Leopards have also been spotted but can be difficult to find.
ACTIVITIES IN MT. LONGONOT NATIONAL PARK
There are several activities that tourists can engage in on their visit to Mount Longonot national park which are as follows;
- Game viewing – Mount Longonot national park is not known for habiting large population of animals but the ones present in the park make your wildlife viewing safari worth engaging in, wildlife viewing expedition in the park is an opportunity for you to see animals as you hike up to the rim of the crater and inside the floor of the forested crater. Animals sighted in the park include buffalo, zebra, Antelopes, Baboons, Leopards, Bushbucks, grant’s gazelles, eland, hartebeests and many more.
- Bird watching – The park has been noted to be one of the most important birding areas and a bird watchers’ paradise in the rift valley region of Kenya. The park is partly forested thus providing a perfect habitat for rift valley birds. Birds that can be seen while birdwatching include; Verreaux’s Eagle, Lammergeie, common Ostrich, Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Egyptian Goose, helmeted guinea fowl, scaly francolin, Speckled Pigeon,
Red-eyed Dove, Mottled Swift, Common Swift, Nyanza Swift and many more.
- Hiking – This activity involves hiking to the rim of the mountain top navigating through the rigged forested terrain. The whole hiking to and around the caldera takes about 4 -5 hours and is such an unforgettable experience. From the park’s main entrance gate, you hike on a trail of 3.1 kilometers. This activity is both amusing and challenging as you hike through the steep and rocky sides of the volcano with the amazing scenery of the crater with its floor covered by forests and sights of the surrounding.
- Sightseeing – Up the peak and the crater you will enjoy beautiful views of Lake Naivasha, the small forest and the Nakuru surroundings. You will also see several birds and animals and many other park features while you are up there.
- Biking – You can take biking excursions on the rocky areas of the mountain and around the park for an adventure and fun experience. This activity is done on a 2 kilometer circuit road which runs towards the volcanic lava flow.
ACCOMMODATION IN MOUNT LONGONOT NATIONAL PARK
There is one facility inside the park known as Olongoonot campsite and is located along access road to the crater. Other established facility for accommodation are situated in Naivasha town and they include; Lake Naivasha country club, Enashipai resort and spa, Lake Naivasha panorama park and Masada hotel.