A Guide To Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park Kenya

“The Mountain of the Buffalo”

A rugged hump-backed outcrop of ancient rock jutting high above the Athi plains and hazily visible from Nairobi, Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park is densely forested mountain known to the local Kikuyu as” the mountain of the buffalo” and to the Maasai as ‘The big mountain”.

Just one road leads to its summit, which offers magnificent 360’ panoramas over the Athi River, The pineapple fields Thika and the snow-capped peaks of both Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya. Within easy reach of Nairobi, the lush vegetation and cool air of this compact and scenic National Park make for an ideal day trip or camping weekend.

The Ol Donyo Sabuk national park is located about 85km north-east of Nairobi in Machakos district of Eastern province. The ecosystem constitutes a mountain which is entirely covered with dense montane forest except for a small area at the top.

Facts About Oldonyo Sabuk National Park

Established in 1967
Ol Donyo Sabuk, means large mountain in Maasai language.
It is situated 65 km (40 mi) north of Nairobi
The mountain is the highest peak in the park, covering 20.7 km2 (8.0 sq mi).
It is particularly attractive for hikers or families wanting some freedom and exercise, outside their vehicles.

What To See At Oldonyo Sabuk National Park Kenya

Buffalo are the dominant animals in the ecosystem. Other wildlife include bushbuck, leopard, olive baboon, colobus monkey, vervet monkey, Sykes’ monkey, Kirk’s dik-dik, bush pig, common duiker, reedbuck, rock hyrax, bush-baby, tree and ground squirrel, aardvark,  porcupine, mongoose, python and monitor lizard.

The park is home to 45 species of birds and the easily spotted ones include; white-browed sparrow weaver, grey- headed sparrow weaver, African pied wagtail, mourning dove, augur buzzard, African hawk eagle, purple-breasted sunbird, yellow-vented bulbul, speckled mousebird, helmeted guinea fowl, black-headed oriole, grey tit, ring-necked dove, bateleur, great sparrow- hawk, bronze sunbird, superb starling and Mackinnon grey shrike.

Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park – A Montane Landscape

The park is essentially comprised of the mountain’s slope and ravines and is entirely forested except for a small area at the top within the halo of primal forest at the summit you may also find some of the giant plants more commonly associated with the Afro- alpine zone of Mount Kenya and Mount Elgon (particularly giant lobelia)

Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park – Driving to the summit

The Park’s one road leads directly to the summit (4WD required all year round) a flat open glade marked by a large survey beacon. The summit is the focus of the park and offers breathtaking views, especially in December and January when the air is particularly clear.

Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park – An unusual burial site

Along the road the summit lies the grave of Sir William Northrup McMillan, a wealthy American farmer whose intended burial place on the summit had to be abandoned when the clutches of vehicles accompanying his hearse burned out on the steep slope. Here also rests his wife, her maid and the family dog.

What To Do At Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park – Walking to the summit

Long prohibited for security reasons, the 9 km walk from the main gate (2WD vehicles may be left) to the summit is now possible so long as you take an armed KWS ranger with you. The walk to the summit will take around 3 hours KWS rangers must be booked through the warden and a small fee is payable for this services.

Wildlife Watching at Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park

As the name would suggest, buffalo are dominant animals in the park (the salt lick below the summit often attracts them), bush buck are also easily spotted.

Leopards and porcupine are also in residence, but may prove more difficult to spot in the thick bush.

Abundant forest birds at Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park

Easily spotted species include: white-browed sparrow weaver, grey-headed sparrow weaver, African pied wagtail, mourning dove, augur buzzard, African hawk eagle, purple-breasted sunbird, yellow-vented bulbul, speckled mousebird,helmeted guinea fowl, black headed oriole, grey tit, ring-necked dove, bateleur, great sparrow-hawk, bronze sunbird, superb starling, red-necked cordon bleu and Mackinnon grey shrike.

Butterfly kingdom at Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park

At certain times of the year, usually after the start of the rains, there is a colourful showing of butterflies on the mountain, particularly of the swallowtails and charaxes species. (the relatively rare (haraxes nandina is sometimes commonly seen within the park)

Geology of Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park Kenya

Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park is a remnant of Africa’s oldest erosion surface, generally regarded as late Jurassic. Residual hump of metamorphic rock, the mountain is surrounded by the monotonous lava plateau of the Athi plains, which formed around the mountain when lava (molten rock) escaped from fissures in the earth’s crust, gradually filling the valleys and smoothing the contours of the original landscape.

The ‘Fourteen Falls’: while en route to the park take time to admire thika famous ‘ Fourteen Falls’. These are located half—way between Makutano and Donyo. The falls are sign posted to the leftjust before the bridge crossing the Athi River, and lie 1km, down a track.

Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park
Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park

Main Atrractions At Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park

  • Montane landscape
  • An unusual burial site, McMillan grave
  • Wildlife Watching
  • Abundant forest birds
  • Fourteen Falls
  • Scenic views of Mt.Kenya  from the summit

Accommodation and hotels in Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park

WS Self Catering

  1. Sabuk Guest House

Campsites in Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park

  1. Turacco Public Campsite
  2. Rock Hyrax
  3. Summit Campsite

Self—catering accommodation

Sabuk House. This is KWS self-catering GuestHouse. It is fully furnished with a living room area, dining area and a well equipped kitchen and conference room.The facility accomodates upto 10 persons. Reservations can be made through the Warden or KWS Headquaters, Nairobi.

Tel: +254(20)6000800, 6002345. Email: marketing@kws.go.ke.


Turracco Public Campsite

Visitors can camp at the public campsite near the main gate. Facilities include picnic benches, water, latrines and showers.

Picnic Area

Visitor can picnic at the picnic site near the main gate or at lookout point which is at the mountain. At the point clients have an exellent view of Athi plains, Nairobi City, Thika industrial town, Ngong Hills and the expansive Kapiti plains of Kajiado District while enojoying the rest of the park.

How to get to Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park Kenya

  • By Road: 85 km north-east of Nairobi. From Thika town proceed 22 km along the main Garissa road to Makutano junction. At Makutano follow the KWS sign and turn right, proceeding 3 km on an all-weather murram road to Donyo town. At Donyo turn right and proceed a further 2 km to the main gate.

A Map to Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park

When to visit Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park Kenya

All year round. After heavy rain 4WD may be required on the road leading to the main gate.

What to take with you to Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park Kenya

Drinking water and picnic items (and camping equipment if you intend to stay overnight). Also useful are: camera, binoculars, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, insect repellant and guidebook.

Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park Entrance Fees and Charges


Adults KSH: 350

Child KSH: 200


Adults KSH: 700

Child KSH: 350

Non – Resident

Adults USD:30

Child USD:20

Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park Contacts

Attraction Type: Wildlife
Category: National Park
Region: South Rift
City / Town: Thika
Road / Street: Off Garissa Road
Telephone: 254 20 206 2503
Email: oldonyo@kws.go.ke
Website: http://www.kws.org/parks/parks_reserves/OSNP.html
Entrance Fee: Yes

Watch a tour video of Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park Kenya