Rakesh Young of Baiskeli Adventures takes every opportunity he gets to jump into the saddle. Here, he picks his five favourite spots to cycle in Kenya.
Swara Plains Cycling trails
Just 35km out of Nairobi, there lies a 20,000 acre wild animal conservancy at the foot of the Lukenya Hill – Swara Plains. With a dazzling diversity of wildlife, Swara Plains is perfectly set for a unique cycling safari for cyclists of all abilities. It’s not every day that you get to cycle with wild animals anywhere while enjoying the expansive views all around. The jumpy wildebeests may try to outrun you, making for an even more spectacular man versus animal showdown.
Lake Victoria and the islands
Mbita in Homa Bay county is the gateway to for all adventure seekers around the lake with cycling trails going as far up as the Gwasi Hills, past small fishing villages only a few kilometres from the Ruma National Park. A 40 km winding cycling trail along Lake Victoria provides stunning views of the crispy blue waters and its islands.
For the more adventurous, Rusinga and Mfangano Islands offer additionally spectacular cycling trails. On Mfangano island however, the roads are a lot hillier and rugged, but you can take some time out of the saddle to wander through villages, explore the sacred forests and the rock arts on the hills.
Kiambu Tea and Coffee Farms
The Kiambu / Tigoni area is known for its extensive green tea and coffee fields, offering not only beautiful scenery, but also some of the most adventurous cycling trails in the country. Depending on one’s confidence and bike-handling skills, you can choose between tarmac roads, jeep and single tracks. The single tracks are the most tricky, and in most places you need permission from the farm management before riding through the trails. There are also public roads, however, that cut through these green valleys. Be prepared for some steep climbs and equally steep downhills on the most part.
Salama to Kajiado Cross County
If you are all about rolling cross-country trails, a 75 km stretch from Salama town to Kajiado is ideal for you. You can do this trail in two days, depending on how you approach it and your level of fitness. From Salama, cross the newly built Standard Gauge Railway line at Kiu. From the Kamba side in Salama, through sandy and dusty hard roads, you cross three seasonal rivers on your way to the Maasai side. Note as the landscape, the people, the language and the dress code change the further you go. This is a very remote area with limited phone reception, ideal for connecting with the surroundings.
Karura Forest Trails
Karura Forest is probably the most popular cycling spot in Nairobi, and rightly so. The forest provides an array of cycling trails for all cycling abilities; from easy 5 km loops to the more technical 15 km loops featuring steep ascents and single tracks. This is ideal for families and leisure cyclists looking for a few easy minutes on the saddle as much as for the hardcore cyclists aiming to tear the trails and break a sweat. Choose your trail wisely before heading out as it is easy to get lost for the first timers (despite there being clear markings).
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