Suswa: The Best Day Trip Outside Nairobi
If you have a free day in your week and are looking for an adventurous getaway, Suswa Conservancy should be top on your list. A quick scenic drive outside Nairobi, Suswa is guaranteed to take your breath away – literally!
My first two experiences of Suswa were in 2012 and 2013 with friends from Onetouch. In the latter expedition, we didn’t go past the barrier into the conservancy as we were told to expect extra charges once inside from land owners who had erected toll stations along the way.
Fast forward to this September, and I’m happy to report that upuzi is no more. All one has to pay is Kshs500/- for entry, Kshs300/- for your vehicle and an additional Kshs500/- per person for your guide.
To get to Suswa, take the A104 north of Nairobi and turn left on the B3 just before Limuru. This is the road that snakes down the wall of the Rift Valley to Mai Mahiu. While along it, take a breather and take in the views of the Great Rift Valley.
You can also stop at the little Catholic Church built in 1942 by Italian prisoners of war who were constructing the road you use to get to Mai Mahiu.
If in need of supplies like water and snacks, Mai Mahiu should be your stop. Between here and Suswa, basic supplies will be hard to come by.
Keeping on the B3, turn left at Mai Mahiu on the road that leads to Narok. After about 26kms and past the Longonot Satellite Earth Station, you’ll see a huge Suswa Conservancy sign to your left. This is where you branch off the smooth asphalt and onto dust-filled gravel road leading to the conservancy. The road isn’t maintained and will take it’s toll on any saloon car. Outback, Forester, Rav4, Vitara and above driven by a competent driver will handle the journey very well.
The face you’ll have from driving in the dust.
A smoother section of the road leading up to the Suswa Caves and Crater.
At one part of the journey to Suswa, you’ll drive under these pylons that in several months will carry electricity between Suswa and Isinya Substations.
Suswa Conservancy’s main attractions are it’s caves and unique double crater.
I’ve always started my visit with the caves which are the largest I’ve been to in Kenya. They were formed by volcanic activity in Mt Suswa, a shield volcano who’s last eruption – according to Wikipedia – is unknown.
A powerful flash light is a must when visiting the caves as they are pitch dark. Here, we made patterns with our head torches in a 30-sec long exposure.
The image above and the one below are of the Baboon Parliament. Every evening and morning, baboons gather here with the dominant male seating on a prime stone, addressing other baboons. After the address, the baboons retreat to their sleeping quarters in the caves. It is said these are the only baboons in the world that sleep inside caves. To witness this spectacle, an overnight camping trip is necessary because it happens in the late evening and early morning. Camping is Kshs500/- per person and you need to bring your own supplies. During the day, the parliament is vacant as baboons are out looking for food and water.
Baboon Parliament speaker?
A quick drive and short trek from the caves brings you to Suswa’s double crater.
Photo by Mitch.
Kodonyo our guide takes in the views.
To experience Suswa in no rush, a latest 9am departure from Nairobi is recommended. It will take you about two hours to get to the caves. Also, call Jeremiah, a senior Suswa Guide on +254 712 244583 to make sure there’s a guide waiting for you when you get there. Be sure to keep a free seat in your car for your guide. Carry lots of water, snacks and packed lunch. Wear comfortable hiking shoes and don’t forget a head torch.