Kenya is, in many ways, synonymous to “safari”. Bike safaris in Kenya introduces the traveler to the country’s world renowned wildlife, stunning landscape and vibrant cultures. With a variety of cycling trails through conservancies in Athi River and the Hell’s Gate National Park; a challenging climb up the green tea highlands and ultimately Mount Kenya; and the dusty cycling tracks in the heart of Maasailand at the bottom of the Great Rift Valley, anyone looking for bike safaris in Kenya is spoiled for choice. But let’s make it simpler for you with our 7 best bike safaris in Kenya:
Just 35km out of Nairobi (Kenya’s capital), there lies a 20,000 acre wild animal conservancy at the foot of the Lukenya Hill – Swara Plains. With a dazzling diversity of wildlife (giraffes, wildebeests, antelopes, hartebeests, zebras, ostriches and several other bird species), 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 in the world while enjoying the expansive views all around – Ngong Hills and Nairobi city visible in the far horizon. The jumpy wildebeests may try to outrun you on some parts of the trails making for an even more spectacular man versus animal showdown.
- Around Lake Victoria and Her Islands
Usually, the mention of Lake Victoria is associated with Kisumu City. Yes, it may be the largest city by the lake (at least on the Kenyan side), however, for the ultimate adventure, one has to go further to Homabay county – precisely, Mbita. Mbita is the gateway 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 kilometers from the Ruma National Park. A 40km winding cycling trail lies by the lakeside providing stunning views of the crispy blue waters of the lake and the numerous islands on it. One Baiskeli Adventurer once likened it to Croatia’s lakeside trails.
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 with amazing views too. You can take some time off the saddle to wander through the villages, explore the sacred forests and the rock arts on the hills and learn their relevance to the local Suba community. A detour to the Tom Mboya Mausoleum on Rusinga Island also provides a sneak peek into Kenya’s and Luo’s political history.
The Kiambu area is notably known for its extensive green tea and coffee fields. These farms are not only beautiful on your drive by, but also provide some of the most adventurous cycling trails in the country. Depending on one’s confidence and bike handling skills, you can choose between the tarmac roads, jeep tracks and single tracks. The single tracks are the most tricky yet overly thrilling as one wheezes past one tea bush to another. In most places, you need permission from the farm management before riding through the trails. However, there are also public roads that cut through these green valley. Be prepared for some steep climbs and equally steep downhills on the most part. The epitome of these adventures is to be standing at 7000ft looking down at Mt. Longonot’s peak and Nairobi’s skyscrapers in the hazy horizon.
Named for the intense geothermal activity within its boundaries, the Hell’s Gate National Park is a remarkable quarter of the Great Rift Valley. Spectacular scenery including the towering cliffs, water-gouged gorges, stark rock towers, scrub clad volcanoes and belching plumes of geothermal steam make it one of the most atmospheric Parks in Africa. Hell’s Gate is an ideal venue for full day bike safaris from Nairobi where, in addition to the bio-diversity that includes raptors, visitors can enjoy rock climbing and a natural spa. Following the buffalo cycling circuit (named after the ferocious herbivores that roam parts of the park), one gets a stunning view of Lake Naivasha below, Mt. Longonot and Mount Suswa on the Eastern side of the park. There are Maasai manyattas within the park as well and you can pass by a talented metal-smith’s shop or the beadworks market for a souvenir.
Karura Forest is probably the most frequented cycling destination in Nairobi and it’s rightly so. The forest provides an array of cycling trails for all cycling abilities; from easy 5km loops to the technical 15km loops featuring some 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). A short stop by the waterfalls and Mau Mau caves only spices up your cycling experience.
Popularly known as a hiker’s destination, the Ngong Hills also offer a stunning backdrop for many Baiskeli Adventures including our Bike to Barbecue adventure and The Great Rift Valley Tour. For the more adventurous, there are open roads ideal for bike safaris leading up to the gigantic wind mills. One can cover anywhere between 30 and 70km circumnavigating the seven knuckles. Currently, the Nairobi – Naivasha Standard Gauge Railway is under construction with the 5.3km tunnel expected to run not so far from the base of the majestic hills.
7. Pinky Lake Magadi
From the edges of Ngong Hills (Kona Baridi) to the bottom of the Rift Valley (Lake Magadi) over a stretch of 80km, there is an asphalt road snaking through Maasai countryside; wild, shrubby and expansive savannah. In the heat, your wheels spin on the winding Magadi road to an oasis of cooling swimming pools by the day and warming, therapeutic hot springs for the evening. As you near Magadi, the mass of scarlet salt crust, pink flamingos and the peculiar smell of the soda ash welcomes you. Camp out wild under the starry African night. Breezy as it may be, enjoy the warmth of the bonfire, sample some Maasai-style barbecue and enjoy some campfire games. Come morning, a sight seeing trip (on or off the bike) introduces you further to the beauty in this very remote area. This is ideal for your weekend bike safaris.