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Hiking the Aberdares

Every wanderer has a few favourite trips he or she would like to do again. Some of the places were one-shot deals. But hiking the Kenyan Alps, as George Tafaria Waititu, founder of Tafaria Castle calls them, is in a different category. It’s an experience that never leaves you, but one you’d like to do again and again.

Like the European Alps, the trails in the Aberdares offer a plethora of walks and as such, should be on every keen hikers bucket list. I still get goose bumps when contemplating their majesty. After all, where else can you enjoy drop-dead gorgeous mountain scenery and never have to carry anything more than a light daypack?

Tafaria Castle, which sits on a hill overlooking Mount Kenya and the Laikipia Plains, is the launching pad for hikes into the majestic Afro-alpine moorlands of the Aberdare National Park. The Aberdare is a mountain range located in Central Kenya about 180km North from Nairobi and stretches over a wide variety of terrains because it covers altitudes from about 7,000 feet (2,100m) to 14,000 feet (4,300m) above sea  level.

This altitude has given rise to moorlands a type of habitat found in upland areas, characterised by low-growing vegetation on acidic soils and heavy fog. While a major attraction of the Park includes magnificent waterfalls with the main ones being the Karuru waterfalls, which fall in three steps, first step 117m, second step 26 m and third 130m, making a total of 273m — Ol Donyo El Satima was what left me mesmerised. And while I don’t doubt flying would have taken less effort and given me an even broader experience of the mountain range, I have learnt the best way to experience the wildflower strewn paths is on two feet.

From the ‘Theatre of Heaven’ to the ‘Devil’s Sword’ to ‘The Lost Pyramid’ — the mountain range was a cocktail of scenic summits, valleys; a hikers paradise. The trail takes your breath away with its undulating valleys and hills of rich alpine flora. It is strange to know that until recently, the Northern end of the Aberdares Park is less frequented.

Satima is the highest peak in the Aberdares and sits over open moorland with many interesting views and rock features. It is also the second highest peak in Kenya standing at 4001m.

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