A Day Trek to River Chania in Aberdares National Park
Kenya is known for its vast natural attractions such as the big five. As many tourists flock the Aberdare National Park, Nyeri County to see the elephants, leopards, rhinos, spotted hyenas, white colobus monkeys, and the buffalos, the hidden magic of River Chania waterfalls goes unnoticed. The river is one of those ever-bubbling and never-ending channels. It starts from the slopes of the Aberdare Mountains and travels all the way to the Indian Ocean.
You can decide to watch the river at various places, but it is at the reserve that you get the pure energy of life. The tall trees, grass, reeds, and beautiful flowers flourish where no one has tampered. This power of nature commands birdies to make melody as your mind soars into a world of imagination.
How to get to Aberdare National Park?
The Aberadre park, located 150 km from Nairobi, is accessible by road and air. A 15 km tarmac road connects the reserve from the nearby Nyeri town while a murram road runs through the park to the western side in Naivasha. By air, there is an airstrip for chartered flights on the opposite side of the Park Headquarters, at Mweiga.
Since the Aberdare is a protected area, inquire at the headquarters in Mweiga before embarking on the trek The Kenya Wildlife Service provides with an armed escort, if necessary. From the Treetop gate, Chania falls is 36km. The walk through the moorland is relatively safe. After about 9 hours, depending on your speed, you arrive at the cascade. The trail down the spray-filled ravine is short and mildly steep. There are ropes and wooden barriers to help you navigate without much trouble.
From the rising, slick cliffs, the cold water sprays, to the thunderous roars, this is a trek that is worth your time and effort. Your endeavor pays off at the sight of the grand rapids. It is hard not to be overwhelmed by the gushing waters. At the foot of this cascade, you can choose to remain on the higher ground and watch from a distance or go lower, into the boulder-strewn plunge pool.
Things to do at the Chania Cascade
- Picnic: The smooth, dry rocks on the upper viewpoint are an excellent place for your picnic. The scenic view of the park, the wide grassy clearing, and the roaring waters provide a pleasant and memorable experience.
- Bird watching: The reserve hosts over 290 species of birds, some of which are found around the waterfalls. There is the Jackson’s Francolin, goshawks, eagles, sparrow hawks, plovers, and sunbirds.
- Photo session: The picture-perfect view allows you to capture the magical moments next to the grand rapids, unique vegetation or birds. Mountain scenery photographers are attracted to the river valleys and ridges.
- Trout fishing: The ice-cold Chania river is known for trout fishing.
- More hiking: Adjacent to the Chania falls are the Gura and Karuru falls. You can trail off and continue the adventure to the Aberdares peaks.
This is a hike that you want to take any time of the year. However, to maximize the payoff from your adventure, there are a few things that you should keep in mind:
- If you are short of time, you can drive up to where the trail down the fall begins. The drive also allows you to watch animals on the go.
- You can carry your pet or baby. The two staircases give you the option to view the waterfall at a distance or closer to the water. If you have a delicate company, you can still enjoy the scenery without getting wet.
- Consider the season. Nyeri is a cold area, and the Aberdares can get even colder especially during more humid months. Usually, March to July is chilly. If you visit the rapids on hotter months, the waterfall is less powerful, but you enjoy the cool weather. Cold months have a mightier rapid, but you need to be heavily dressed.
- Be ready for dust, especially in dry months. We went to the National Park twice on different seasons of the year. The first trip in January treated us to plenty of dust, but in July, the little rain had appeased Mother Earth.
- There are two airstrips for chartered flights in Nyeri and Mweiga. You can save time driving from far off places.
- If you want to indulge in the steep forested ravines and high moorland for some few days, there are lodges inside the park for accommodation.
- The road to the rapids is rocky and not friendly to low-lying cars. Consider a four-wheeler or the option below.
- Need some random company? The National Park has a weekend bus from Nyeri town to tour you around.
Photos and text by: Njeri Marasi is a digital marketer, a storyteller, and a blogger at Workandrelationships