Less than an hour from Central Nairobi is Lukenya, an adventure playground for climbers, mountain bikers and rhino chargers out for a practice.
The Athi plains sport a surprising number of good accommodation options, and a place such as Swara Plains makes for a good day trip. Pick your time carefully, though, lest you find yourself caught in the quagmire of Mombasa Road traffic.
Quadbiking in Lukenya
We thought quadbiking in Thika was cool, but the motorcross in Lukenya is the real deal. Although the venue offers a bunch of activities, such as hoverboarding, or a pool for the more sedentary, it’s the quad biking that’s the main draw.
Riders kit up in jump suits and helmets, entirely necessary to keep the dust at bay, and a guide leads riders on a thrilling ride through countryside trails that wind through farmsteads, dunes and up and down hills.
An hour’s ride costs Ksh5,000, and half an hour Ksh2,500. It’s advisable to book ahead. lukenyamotorcross.co.ke
Lukenya is famous for its boulders, and the Mountain Club of Kenya has its own site in the Lukenya Hills, with members travelling here most weekends for a spot of rock climbing and camping.
For those not quite ready to hit the great outdoors, MSK runs regular indoor-climbing events at the wall in Diamond Plaza in Nairobi. Before you know it, you’ll want to graduate to the real thing.
Yearly membership of MSK costs Ksh4,000. There’s a joining fee of Ksh2,500. mck.or.ke
This 20,000-acre ranch belonging to the Hopcraft family is a tranquil spot just a short drive from Nairobi.
Acacia Lodge offers a range of accommodation in bandas and permanent tents, a bar and restaurant, but it’s just as easy to come for the day, and drive or walk through the vast property, spotting plains game, such as wildebeest, impala, hyena and giraffes.
Those with their own rods can fish for tilapia in the dam. The lodge itself is an oasis set well back from the busy Nairobi-Mombasa highway, and the camping is in an attractive acacia-ringed clearing. swaraplains.com
If you find yourself near Machakos, then take a detour to Kituluni, or “gravity hill,” the place where water flows in the wrong direction, and cars roll uphill.
Some have even posted YouTube footage to prove it. Like other gravity hills around the world, It’s thought to be an optical illusion: the surrounding countryside deceptively makes a downhill slope appear to be going uphill.
This old-style property just beyond Malili is not strictly Lukenya, but it’s well deserving of inclusion. The old house has been beautifully preserved, and the main bedrooms open out onto a verandah overlooking a pool and the plains beyond.
It’s at the pricey end of the scale, but it is all-inclusive, with activities such as horse-riding and biking offered free. Included in the full-board offering is afternoon tea with scones and clotted cream. kilimakiumanor.com
Just beyond Lukenya Hills is the Maanzoni estate, a private residential estate with a difference. No picket fences here, but open plain and wildebeest scattered throughout the dozen or so properties on this ranch.
There are a couple of accommodation options on Maanzoni, but we liked Koppie House, a three-bedroom property perched on a hill with expansive views over the plains.
The house sleeps six adults comfortably (with additional beds for children), and costs Ksh20,000 a night. The owners also have two one-bedroom cottages on the same property. Both are quite basic, and Ksh10,000-12,000 a night seemed a little steep to us. Contact Franco Mwema on 0724154389 for bookings.
[Photos by Brian Siambi]
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