Another blast from our family’s travel past… Remember our camping trip to Gatamaiyo Forest? Well, a year ago, we did a similar trip to Mount Suswa with a huge group of friends and a gaggle of kids. Mount Suswa is such a special place – completely remote, untouched, and mind-blowingly beautiful.
Mount Suswa is an inactive volcano in the Rift Valley boasting a unique double-caldera, with an outer crater surrounding a second, inner peak. While not that far from Nairobi, Suswa is not exactly easy to get to. It can be reached with a 4WD by one of two winding roads, often changing as land-owners fence off new bits of land, blocking what was previously the road up the mountain. We hired a local Maasai guide to help us find the road up to the crater, which is likely the only way to find the place. But really, its inaccessibility is a big part of Mount Suswa’s appeal. We were the only visitors in the entire area, so it was just us and the local Maasai who live around the rim.
The campsite is very basic – just a large grassy patch of land right on the edge of the outer crater rim. When we visited, there were some latrines and showers under construction, but they were a fairly long walk from the campsite, and I’m not even sure the showers were working. We simply dug a fire pit and pitched our tents along the edge of the crater.
The afternoon we arrived, we took a zigzagging hike along the outer crater rim and enjoyed extraordinary views of the crater and inner peak. The next morning, we sat and gazed at the steam vents spotting the valley between the two calderas as we sipped our coffee and ate breakfast.
Later, we drove around the caldera to find Suswa’s famous lava tube caves. We hired a couple of local Maasai to guide us as we hiked down into the caverns, which were full of bats, stalactites, and some interesting cave drawings of dubious origins.
A couple of important points to note if you’d like to visit Suswa. If you’re looking for a Maasai to help guide you up the crater, and around the caves, you could try contacting Daniel, who has lived there his whole life. It’s also good to know that there has been some conflict between the Narok and Kajiado councils over who has the rights to collect visitor fees in the Mount Suswa Conservancy. When we went, some of our friends were charged fees by both groups, which was frustrating. Make sure you talk to your guide about which fees should be paid to whom, and ensure that the elders from both councils are on board with that. When we went a year ago, the fees to enter the conservancy were 500 KSH per person, 500 KSH per car, plus 500 KSH for camping. These rates may have changed, however, so be sure to discuss this with your guide as well.
PS – We bought a ridiculously large family tent this weekend! We’re really looking forward to putting it to good use. Maybe after BM2 is born, we’ll take the new baby and the new tent on their maiden voyage to Mount Suswa!