Blue waterfalls, canopy walks, elephants and more. Ngare Ndare forest is one of the most beautiful places I’ve traveled to in Kenya! Ngare Ndare, which means “Waterfall of the Gods” in Masai is very rightfully named. The closest thing to paradise I’ve yet to visit, and by far the most stunning in Kenya, I was shocked by the untouched beauty of this incredible place.
Ngare Ndare forest seems to have been forgotten by tourists, making it one of the best places to visit!
Things to Do at Ngare Ndare
Although it is famous for its stunning waterfalls, Ngare Ndare forest offers a few other activities as well! Super important to know beforehand is that a (usually armed) GUIDE IS REQUIRED DURING YOUR VISIT. It only costs about $10 per day, but because of the wild animals, specifically the elephants, it is highly recommended. The Big Five can be spotted within the forest and it is risky to walk around unprotected.
The amount of waterfalls in Kenya will never cease to surprise me. Everywhere we went there seemed to be another hidden waterfall. The sad part was that, in most places, it was impossible or highly NOT recommended to swim in the waters. In Ngare Ndare forest, all of that changed!
The waters in Ngare Ndare are not only perfectly safe to swim in, but rumored also to be clean enough to drink! The clear blue and green waterfalls were by far the most beautiful I’ve seen in Kenya.
A small hike of about 45 minutes is required to reach the waterfalls. If you have 4-wheel drive, there is also the option of driving through some streams and very tiny forest roads for half of the hike to shorten the walking distance.
The main and largest waterfall is the most popular. On weekends you will probably see many locals visiting and going from swims. However, there is another, more hidden waterfall, known as “The Source” about a 15 minute hike away from the main one. Here we found the most incredible and insanely clear blue water, with only maybe one or two other people there.
Be warned however that the water is ICE COLD, seriously insanely cold! But it is so worth the swim! As the waterfalls are a bit of a hike from where you park your car, be sure to jump in right as you arrive (before you cool off).
Ngare Ndare’s canopy walk was an unexpected surprise for me when I visited. I was expecting mainly to see and swim in the waterfalls, but the canopy walk was an additional pleasure! Rising 10 meters above the forest ground, you can walk above the tree tops. If you’re lucky you may even be able to spot some animals underneath you as you walk the 450 meters suspended bridge above the forest.
Walking above mini waterfalls, babbling brooks, and endless green foliage, it was certainly a wonderful way to end our visit to Ngare Ndare.
As in most places in Kenya, there is always the possibility of great wildlife sightings! In Ngare Ndare they are particularly famous for the many many elephants known to roam the forest. On the drive into the park we saw a whole family and after our canopy walk a whole second group. And they were so close too!
According to our local guide, apparently the Big Five- lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and buffalo can also all be spotted. Most of them tend to only come out at night though.
How to Get to Ngare Ndare
Ngare Ndare forest can definitely be considered a hidden treasure. Tucked safely away, it is quite the drive reaching this place. About a four hours drive from Nairobi and one hour from the nearest city-Nanyuki. Most of the roads leading to Ngare Ndare are also not in the best condition and I would definitely recommend going only with a car that has 4-wheel drive!
There are two gates as entrances to Ngare Ndare. The first, which is only a small hut with no visible signs, is where you pay. If you have the locally used M-Pesa, that is the best as most places no longer accept cash and many do not have card reading facilities. The second entrance is where they will check your ticket and where your guide will be waiting for you. They would not allow us in without a pre-booked guide to come with us.
Here is where you park your car if you don’t have 4-wheel drive, if you want to hike to the waterfalls, or if you are going straight to the canopy walk. In order to skip the majority of the hiking (and if your car is capable) you can drive about a half hour through the forest to another parking place (some room for cars within the bushes) and walk about 10 minutes to the waterfalls. This is only allowed if there has been no rain as the “roads” are merely dirt paths that are very steep in some areas, very windy, and have two water crossings.
Where to Stay
As Ngare Ndare forest is located about a four hour drive from Nairobi, it is recommended to stay in the area for at least one night if you are planning to visit. Nanyuki, the nearest city, is about a one hour drive away. Although there are not too many accommodations within Nanyuki, Laikipia county in general is very beautiful and has many options of lovely lodges. We spent the weekend in Laikipia county and stayed at Olepangi Farm for our stay. It was an lovely place to stay with many options of activities, a beautiful view of Mount Kenya, and wonderful food. The staff also helped us arrange our trip to Ngare Ndare and helped us find a guide very last minute!
View the full post: THE MOST INCREDIBLE LODGE BY MOUNT KENYA – OLEPANGI FARM | LAIKIPIA, KENYA
Tips for Visiting Ngare Ndare
- Guide– You will most likely not be allowed entry into Ngare Ndare without an armed guide! The animals, especially the elephants, are a big concern here. Additionally, there are absolutely no trial markings so finding your way around will be DEFINETLY be a challenge without a local.
- Cost – Entrance fees are about $40 per person for tourists, and $20 per person for residents and citizens. If you want a personal guide, the fee is about $10. If you want to go with a group, it will be a bit less. Vehicle fees for entering with your own car is about $5.
- Camping – There is also the option of camping at Ngare Ndare and there is a campsite area right near the second park entrance. Again you will need an armed guard to keep animals away at night!
- 4-wheel drive – Even just getting to the first entrance of the park would have been a challenge without 4-wheel drive as the roads are in very poor conditions, especially if it rains. If you’re renting a car or even coming by Uber, I would HIGHLY suggest trying to find a vehicle that is good for off the road driving!
If you’re looking for more amazing things to do in the region check out our blog post from Laikipia County and Mount Kenya region: THE MOST INCREDIBLE LODGE BY MOUNT KENYA – OLEPANGI FARM | LAIKIPIA, KENYA. For more fun things to do in Kenya, check out our Kenya page!
Lots of Love and Safe Travels,
Danielle and Brooke, Colorful Sisters