Mount Longonot National Park

Mount Longonot National Park

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Mount Longonot is an extinct volcano that rises from the floor of the great rift valley like a pillar.  Mount Longonot National Park-Kenya is located southeast of lake Naivasha in the great rift valley of Kenya- East Africa, Africa. Approximately 90km from Nairobi, Kenya`s capital city. Mountain Longonot is said to have erupted way back in 1860s. This stratovolcano has a large 8x12km caldera formed by vast eruptions of trachytic lava. The name Longonot came from the Maasai word Oloonong’ot, meaning “mountains of many spurs” or “steep ridges. Mount Longonot National Park-Kenya is a small National Park in only 52km2 and is protected by Kenya Wildlife service.

The ecosystem of Longonot National Park comprises of mountain rising 2,776m above sea level. On the sides of the mountain are V-shaped valleys and ridges with little vegetation. A 3.1 km trail runs from the park entrance up to the crater rim, and continues in a 7.2 km loop encircling the crater. A unique feature of a thick forest occurs within the mountain crater. The crater rim also offers stunning scenic views across the beautiful Rift Valley all the way to Lake Naivasha. Major wildlife attractions in Mount Longonot National Park include buffaloes, elands, lion, bushbucks, common zebra, giraffe and Grant’s gazelles, Thomson gazelles and many other antelopes. Leopards have also been spotted but can be difficult to spot.

While at the crater rim, look out for geothermal steam coming out from several fissures around the crater rim, a reminder of the energy trapped beneath your feet.

Stunning Scenery in Mount Longonot National Park-Kenya

The views from the rim of the volcano are dramatic!  From the elevated perch you will get a perfect birds-eye view over a large section of the amazing southern Rift Valley, all the way to Mount Kenya and the Aberdare Mountains in the distance. Beautiful Lake Naivasha will also be beckoning, as will Hell’s Gate National Park, both of which you can visit when you leave Mount Longonot.

Wildlife in Mount Longonot National Park-Kenya

On good day you see a selection of wildlife on your way up to the rim, and those who venture into the forested crater should also be on the lookout for; Buffalo, Zebra, Giraffe, several species of Antelopes, Baboons and Leopard which is very elusive, but tracks have been spotted inside the park.

A good number of Rift Valley birds may be spotted like a host of raptors which can be seen catching the thermals over the crater. Specifically, look out for Verreaux’s Eagle and Lammergeier.

Hiking at Mount Longonot in Mount Longonot National Park-Kenya

One of the rare hiking destinations in Kenya is Mount Longonot where you have the opportunity to hike up to a breathtaking viewpoint on the rim of a volcano, in just an hour or two (depending on how fit one can be).  Right from the park gate, a 3.1km trail takes you up to the crater rim. Now, although 3.1km sounds like a piece of cake to any tested hiker, Mount Longonot is here to challenge your acumens!  you will climb almost vertically up the steep and rocky side of a volcano!  It is a demanding hike, and you do need to be reasonably fit to accomplish it, but the view from the rim and the sense of achievement make all the effort worthwhile.

Once you reach the rim you can chose to walk along the perimeter of the caldera, which is a further 7.2km, and will give you amazing views all the way around. Regular hikers suggest that you set off in a counter-clockwise direction for the best views and a better ascension to the peak. The entire loop of 13km to and from the gate should take you around 4 to 5 hours, allowing for necessary rest stops.

Heroic hikers have ventured into the caldera; you will need to get permission from the park ranger and a guide if you plan to follow in their footsteps, as this part of the trail is not well marked and could be quite dangerous.  It is planned to establish a campsite inside the crater, but currently you would need permission to do so on your own.

Some of the Hiking Tips to the Crater Rim of Mount Longonot in Mount Longonot National Park include;

  • Set out as early as possible because heat can be punishing at midday. The park opens at 6am.
  • Bring at least 2litres of drinking water per person and snacks because its quite grueling.
  • Wear a hat and sunscreen to protect from scotching sun.
  • The landscape in very steep and eroded in places. Firm hiking boots and a hiking pole- (can be hired) are essential
  • Start slowly, don’t drain yourself before the situation dictates! the first part of the trail is deceptively easy and you could wear yourself out before you reach the really steep sections if you set off at a cracking pace.

Wildlife viewing in Mount Longonot National Park-Kenya

Although there is a fair selection of wildlife inside the Mount Longonot National Park you should consider wildlife encounters as a bonus rather than a certainty! Most of the animals live down in the dense forest inside the crater, and are quite shy. Birdlife is abundant, and there are many raptors to be seen from the rim of the volcano, including Verreaux’s Eagle, and the Lammergeier.

Mountain biking in Mount Longonot National Park-Kenya

Cycling is allowed on the circuit road towards the volcanic lava flow about 2km. Bikes are available for hire. Have fun!

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