Ngong Hills Hike: A Walk Down the Colonial Lane

Immortalized in the Academy Award-winning film, Out of Africa, the Ngong Hills are a beautiful sight to behold. These hills are located 35.3km from Nairobi, an hour and a half drive from the city center. They are situated in the Ngong Hills Forest Reserve, a 21,000 square kilometer gazetted area. In total, there are seven hills and four tower over the rest. They make for an excellent hiking experience. The highest hill has an elevation of 2,460m (8,072ft) and gives picturesque views of the Ngong area, the city, and the Great Rift Valley. Here is more about the hills that inspired Baroness Karen Blixen’s highly acclaimed romantic epic.

Arrival at the hills

Ngong Hills. Credits: kenyageographic.com

As you drive along Ngong Road, you can take in the breathtaking view of green fields dotted by white windmills. The Ngong Hills Wind Farm has a total output of 25.5 megawatts and brings modern technology to the historically significant Ngong Hills. Notably, this wind farm was the first one in East Africa.

The Ngong hills hike begins at the Forest Reserve gate, situated on the Northern side of the hills.

Historical significance

Karen Blixen. Credits: JSTOR daily

Baroness Karen Blixen was a wealthy aristocrat who settled in Kenya. She bought a bungalow at the foot of the Ngong Hills in 1917 where she lived until 1931. During her time in the hills, she wrote the famous book, “Out of Africa”. It was later turned into an Academy Award-winning motion picture of the same title in 1985.

The movie brought her life in colonial Kenya to the big screen, shining a light on her exploits and fiery love affair with big-game hunter Denys Finch-Hatton. After independence, her house was transformed into the Karen Blixen museum. Her book lovingly chronicles this hiking spot in the opening lines of her book, “I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills…” Hiking these hills evokes a feeling of nostalgia, thanks to Karen’s story.

Immortalized in the Academy Award-winning film, Out of Africa, the Ngong Hills are a beautiful sight to behold.

Picnics and photographs

When you are hiking at Ngong Hills, you can enjoy wide expanses of green grass. Here, you’re free to enjoy a rest, picnic or photo session. The amicable environment provided by Ngong Hills makes them quite popular with hikers, amateur runners, school trip goers and occasionally, worshipers. Over the weekends, the hills become very busy.

Conquering the hills

The Ngong Hills are 7 in total. The first 3 will test your physical resolve. The terrain is mostly grassy but there are some rock outcrops to jump over. Once you’ve passed these hills, you can proceed to hills 4 and 5. Their angles of incline are not as punishing. As such, it is a relatively easy climb.

Hills 6 and 7 crown the Ngong Hills hike. They are picturesque and carry the beautiful colonial essence. It is interesting to note that Karen and Finch-Hatton enjoyed hunting lions on these hills. As a matter of fact, Finch-Hatton’s epitaph and burial spot are here. Your guide will show this great piece of Afro-European history to you.

After hiking the Ngong Hills, the trail leads you to Kona Baridi. This is the last point on the hike. From here, you can drive to the nearby eateries. A hikers’ favorite is Olepolos Country Club due to their tasty, affordable barbecue. You can also head back into the city to your hotel. You can always book your Ngong Hills hike with us when you are hiking in Nairobi!

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