ABOUT OL DONYO SABUK
Ol Donyo Sabuk national park is positioned in the Kyanzavi division in Machakos County in Kenya, 65 km (40 mi) north of Nairobi. It was established in 1967 on an area covering 20 square kilometers of green panoramic view of perfect ambience and intriguing scenes composed of mountain OI Donyo Sabuk raising to a height of 2,145 meters. It provides great views at the summit for Eastern and Central Kenya province. The mountain is the highest peak in the park. The park was named out of this mountain OI Donyo Sabuk, which means “large mountain” in Maasai language.
Lord William Northrop McMillan, an American born Kenyan settler, adventurer, and philanthropist settled at Ol Donyo Sabuk national park. After his death in Nice, France in 1925 at the age of 52, his body was returned to Kenya and was buried at a site chosen by him prior to his death on the slopes of Ol Donyo Sabuk. The historic site lies about seven kilometers along the road that lead to the summit of the mountain. The place is not only host to the remains of Sir William but also his wife, her maid and the family dog and is a tourist attraction site.
CLIMATE IN OL DONYO SABUK NATIONAL PARK
In Ol Donyo Sabuk, the months of January to March are hot and dry, April to June is hot and wet, July to October is very warm and dry while the months of November and December are warm and wet. Activities like game watching, hiking, nature walks, and mountain climbing are easier in the dry season.
VEGETATION IN OL DONYO SABUK NATIONAL PARK
Ol Donyo Sabuk national park is covered by the dense forest vegetation that is known by the Kikuyu locals as “the Mountain of the Buffalo” The ecosystem constitutes a mountain which is entirely covered with dense montane forest except for a small area at the top.
WILDLIFE AND BIRDS
The park offers a good ecosystem which is home to a wide range of birds and wildlife species mostly large herds of buffalos and other animals like Bushbucks, Leopards, Olive Baboons, Porcupines, Aardvarks, Mongoose, Pythons, monitor lizards and over 45 bird species. Some of the bird species include white –browed sparrow weaver, grey-headed sparrow weaver, African pied wagtail, Augur buzzard, Mourning dove, African hawk eagle and purple-breasted sunbird among others.
ACTIVITIES IN OL DONYO SABUK NATIONAL PARK
- Game viewing – Game viewing in this park is best enjoyed through game drives or guided walking safaris. Walking safaris are rare unless with the escort of a ranger guide due to the presence of leopards. Along tourist’s game drive here, most of animals to be viewed are the large herds of buffalos which moves in groups and are usually seen roaming the park’s slopes. On lucky days guests enjoy the shy leopards though not easy to spot but are always seen. Other animals seen here include Baboons, bushbuck, porcupine, Mongoose, and others.
- 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 event and visits to the Lord William’s graveyard. Bird watchers enjoy the hike very well as they keep viewing different bird species as vegetation changes.
- Birding – Ol Donyo Sabuk national park boasts over 40 bird species, the birders enjoy trekking around the mountain as they look for rare bird species. The park is home to permanent residents with few migratory birds with both forests and open savannah bird species.
Ol Donyo Sabuk national park is home to a wide range of attractions that guests can enjoy while on their safari. Below are the highlighted attractions in the park.
- Montane Landscape – Mount Ol Donyo Sabuk is located at the center of Ol Donyo Sabuk national park, getting its name from the mountain and 80% of the guests who visit the park are contributed by it. The mountain rises to 2,145 meters, one requires to use a 4WD car in order to reach the starting point of hiking. As you approaches the summit, you will find the graves of the family of lord Williams who were buried here which is also an attraction site.
- Lord William McMillan’s Grave – 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 their visits to the Ol Donyo Sabuk national park.
- Wildlife and Birds – On a game drive, one can spot animals such as: Leopards, Bushbucks, Impalas, Pied Columbus Monkeys, Duikers, Aardvarks, Olive Baboons, Banded Mongoose, Crested Porcupines, reptiles such as African Rock Pythons, Boomslang, Vine Snakes, Green Mambas, Monitor Lizards and striped skinks. The park is also home to 45 bird species with African Hawk Eagle, African Pied Wagtail, White Browed Weaver, Streaky Seed Eaters and Black Kites easily sighted.
- Fourteen Falls – The falls are geographically situated at an altitude of approximately 1400m above sea level, they are located just a little bit away from Thika town. The Fourteen Falls area is protected and equipped with a picnic site. It has historical and religious importance both to the residents and Asian immigrants. The Asians use the site for recreation and spiritual rites, disposing of cremated ash in the river in the belief that it will go all the way to India through the Indian Ocean, hence acting as a shrine. Others come for recreation, retaining the Happy Valley theme that was first introduced by Lord McMillan. Like Lord McMillan, the adjacent community, some of whom are descendants of the people the adventurer brought here, still farm the land.
- Scenic views of Mt. Kenya and Mt. 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 at clear day. This adds the scenic view of the adventure.
ACCOMMODATION IN OL DONYO SABUK NATIONAL PARK
On your visit to the park, you can do camping since camping sites are available including Turaco Public campsite, Rock Hyrax and Summit Campsite. There are also comfortable hotels and lodges that tourists can sleep in on their visit to the park including; Chania Tourist lodge, Trade Winds lodges, Cool Tavern House and Blue post Guesthouse.