Mt Longonot is a cone shaped volcano in Kenya’s central rift valley just 74 km to the northwest of Nairobi and 95 km south east of Nakuru. The name ‘longonot’ come from a masai word, ‘oloonong’ot’ which means ‘steep ridges’. The volcano having lastly erupted in 1863 is now dormant. The mountain most impressive feature is the large caldera near its peak. The caldera measures 1.8 and is its floor is mainly a dense rainforest. The mountain also has several parasitic cones, some of which are still perfectly shaped, which give evidence of volcanic activities having taken place just a few hundreds of years ago. The peak on the mountain is at 2780 m a.s.l. The mountain is part of the Longonot National park that is a dwelling of different animal varieties, mostly grazers and browsers.
Hiking mount longonot
With the mountain being located just 1 hr 30 min drive from Nairob, Mt Longonot is one of the popular day hiking destinations in the country. The hiking trail starts at the longonot park gate, which is at a 1784 m elevation. The trail only follows a single route to the peak. As you trek through the bushy wilderness that covers the slopes of the mountain, you will enjoy the sights of wildlife like bushbucks, elands, common zebras and grant gazelles. Lions and leopard are also said to dwell in the park but in very low numbers. It will take up to 4 hrs trekking to reach to the peak of the mountain and descend. The Mount longonot hike is one of the moderately strenuous hikes in Kenya. The lower reaches of the mount are fairly gentle but would steadily changeover to a steeper inclination that goes on to the summit. The climb is, however, not technical and anyone, including complete beginners, can summit. You also don’t need rock climbing skills to hike Mt Longonot. The elevation of the mountain is in addition below the height where you might develop altitude complications. The entire trail follows a 9 km route for a 996 m altitude gain.
Most hikers prefer to descend once they reach at the peak of the stratovolcano. However, we recommend that you go for the trek round the crater rim, which leads to a further 7.2 kms trail. There is an established circumventing path and is relatively a moderately difficult trek. Taking approximately 2-3 hrs, this trail gives hikers a greater view of the alluring features inside the crater and the slopes of the volcano which are larely forested. The walls of the crater are steep and evergreen with picturesque volcanic cliff. Besides, hikers has the opportunity to spot some of the major natural formations on the floor of the great rift valley more prominently Lake Naivasha that lies on the north.
Importantly, being one of the most hiked mountains in Kenya by both local and international travelers, early morning is the best hours to go for hiking in Mt longonot and avoiding the crowds. This will also give you enough time to hike to the summit and trek round the crater rim. Weekdays are also less crowded than weekends.
When to go hiking in Mt Longonot
Mt longonot is an all year round hiking destination as the mountain doesn’t have glaciers. However the dry season between December to March and June to October is the best period to go for hiking trip in Mt Longonot to avoid the rains that may make the pathways slippery and subsequently limit your ability to ascent.