Gicheru Mines Day Hike

The hike route is on the western side of Kiambu county, near Kamangu area. It starts 4km from the Rift Valley Escarpment and progresses down to the plains below after which we gradually descend to the diatomite mines known as Gicheru. The return journey is the same way back but going up the plains and escarpment – this results in a total hiking distance of 20km.

The hiking route covers farm roads, rocky and dry escarpments and plains as well through thorny dry vegetation areas. Over the course of the hike, spectacular views of the surrounding regions can be seen such as Mt. Suswa, Mt. Longonot and the Standard Gauge Railway line (SGR)

Full day trip

It takes about 1 hour to get to the starting point and the roads are very smooth. The distance to the starting point is only 40km and using the bypass will get us there very quickly. We’ll depart the city at 6am

As usual, we’ll be departing from Nairobi CBD. Our route will be using Ngong road followed by Southern Bypass up to a certain point after which we turn left towards Kamnga area


  1. Hiking level – difficult, needs prior hill hiking experience or reasonable level of fitness and stamina. Total hiking distance is 20km. Factors contributing to difficult hiking experience include steep slopes, long distance, high temperatures, dry environment, rough terrain and large altitude difference


  1. Main attractions – Escarpment, diatomite mines and caves, SGR, views, rock formations, farms, few birds


  1. Type of hike – hill type of hike through dry scrubland followed by rocky dry plains


  1. Atmospheric conditions – Little to no cloud cover, dry air, low chance of wind or rain, dusty environment with high temperatures as we descend


  1. Slipping hazard – medium level as most of the escarpment and plains are covered with loose stones coupled with some steep sections


  1. Steepness – escarpments have some steep sections which can take time to cover. Total elevation change is almost 600m with the highest altitude being 2175m at beginning and the lowest being 1585m at the mines


  1. Hiking path condition – paths on the escarpment and plains are almost invisible and descending/ascending involves doing new routes. Additionally, thorny trees/bushes are numerous and possibility of being scratched is high.


  1. Water usage – high due to the dry air and long hike – recommend a minimum of 3 litres


  1. Route visibility – mostly visible but need to keep together to avoid misdirection


  1. Biodiversity – numerous species of insects, birds and some domestic animals

The hike begins with a short and steep descent followed by walking through wide dirt roads that pass through many farms


As we near the escarpment, we’ll see man made forests through which we’ll walk and finally do a quick ascent to the top of the escarpment



Climbing the escarpment


Looking back the way we came from the top of the escarpment


The view from the top of the escarpment – the mountain in the background is Mt. Suswa. Mt. Longonot is on the right but out of the frame – you can see it on the next photo


Views of Mt. Longonot and the escarpment as we descend


Nearing the end of the descent on the escarpment and getting close to the SGR


On the other side of the SGR as we move towards the diatomite mines


Surface of the diatomite mines – area is very dry and hot. Sunglasses are really needed as the surface reflects a lot of light and heat


  • Good hiking boots – these are really needed due to the small stones, rocky terrain, loose soil, thorns and insects
  • Trousers and long sleeve shirts – due to the dense thickets and thorns, there are high possibilities of being scratched. Bring gloves if you can to make it easier on the hands
  • Sun hat – to protect against the sun and overhead branches
  • Water – at least 3 litres
  • Lunch and snacks – the hike is long and we recommend you to carry some snacks and lunch. Snacks can include fruits, nuts and energy bars
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Elevation Profile

Trail Map