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Travels & Trips

Mt. Kasigau and Taita Wildlife Conservancy

Over lunch in Mariakani I ponder over the map: Whereto next? With least possible tarmac?

I had earlier plotted a bush route to Mwatate from Kwale. Maybe I could do part of it still this afternoon? Not too much of course considering this is wildlife territory and I am still hugely impressed from encountering two elephants at Galana River yesterday.

This is a different type of coast trip: I am exploring the scenery away from the beach. The other week I chose the scenic route from Nairobi to Voi and had spent a few magical days in Mombasa, Kwale and Kilifi counties including a ride to Hell’s Kitchen and, well, yesterday’s random camping in a cage at Tsavo East’s Sala Gate 100km from Malindi.

I got to Mariakani from Tsavo East via the village route. Relaxed morning! I am dusty and glowing and discovered two enticing routes to try another time.

Now I want to ride through Taita and Taveta county avoiding Voi and Mombasa Highway.

Something like this

I call up Kivuko Ecocamp to find out if I can camp with them for the night. They’re very welcoming and inform me that given their wilderness location, food needs to be pre-ordered a day early, but I can bring ingredients and the chef could whip them together for me at a small fee.

The Route: Mackinnon Road to Mwatate through the bush (Taita Wildlife Conservancy and Mt. Kasigau)

Excited, I hit the (ironically completely empty!) highway and cover the 66km to Batchuma. Here, I buy water and bananas (I know that’s not really dinner), then branch off the highway at the huge signpost for KWS Batchuma Gate (pointing right) and Kivuko Ecocamp (pointing left).

Two kilometres in, I get to the conservancy’s gate. I sign into the guestbook and proceed.

It’s around 12km on a graded deserted road. I believe every bike can make it here, especially in the dry season. I see some birds and gazelles. A little before six, the soil and scenery changes abruptly. I arrive at the cliffy hill that houses the eco lodge.

One of the team members is so kind to take me round the hill to the camp.

View towards Mt. Kasigau

It’s quite spacious and fenced, with a bunch of bandas, the restaurant, many campfire spots and a large campsite. A place to fall off the grid and breathe!

There are some bandas up on the cliffs, too – currently under repair. A lot is under construction or repair including the ladies showers and given I’m the only guest, I take over the gents after pitching my tent.

The team shares their ugali and skuma with me. I even get fruits. I was warned not to come unprepared and appreciate the hospitality twice as much.

They talk me through the different accomodation options and price list. I don’t remember the digits but once again realized that my tent investment is making my travels affordable.

Committed people! They agree to help me figure out a route to Mwatate in the morning, possibly even escorting me. With that in mind, I retire to my tent early and read my book.

Absolute silence.

In the morning I chat with my friend Grace. She’s the badest dirt girl and runs Offroad Adventures East Africa. She gives me a few tips for the day ahead. Do you know that these guys do a recce for each of their trips, mapping out various route options, speaking with locals and elders in the area just to be 100% sure their clients will have a safe and enjoyable experience?

Imagine!

After breakfast, I pack up and two staff offer to take me up to the first junction so that I don’t get lost.

Thanks, Jason and Betrand! See you next time!
A looooong road through the bush… 20km of straightness

I ask myself how I will turn the bike in the deep ruts if I meet an elephant. I probably think about elephants a little bit too much on this ride. Because at some point I spot one right in the middle of the road in the distance.

Can you see him?
No elephant after all!

Mt. Kasigau comes closer. It’s really beautiful. Dramatic skies.

The road goes round the mountain to the west. And then I arrive in Rukanga town.

I stock up on water and have some bananas as I chat with the locals and ask for their interpretation of the grey clouds awaiting me on the upcoming 40km (mixed answers).

There’s a white guy taking a drone shot of us without announcing or asking :-S He records me riding up the main road. If someone finds the video one day, share the link 🙂

I head out reasonably convinced that I won’t get rain “because it rained 3 days ago”. Well, good then! I have 50km offroad to go to Mwatate!

Leaving Rukanga town towards Mwatate. Beautiful views of Mt Kasigau!
Straight to Maungu and Voi highway and left to Mwatate

On the next 40km I meet exactly two bikes and zero cars.

Some littu mud.
Nearly dry

Mostly it’s sweet smooth cruising
Tarmac!

I don’t want to imagine this road during rain. But today I’m having a blast and I take around 50 minutes for the 40km to the huge sisal plantation just before Mwatate.

A matter of fact sign to tell you that you will be prosecuted for tresspassing the plantation
An electric fence to duck under
Once in the plantation it’s busy with farm workers
It’s actually a public road. Hi!
12 kilometres of sisal! I mean wow!
On approaching Mwatate the beautiful Taita Hills appear. The road also passes the sisal processing area.
Time for lunch in Mwatate!
Aaaaand up the twisties to Wundanyi for the night

What a day! I was nervous in the morning but arrived happily and safely. No punctures, no mud, no ellies. Just loads of beautiful nature.

There are many more interesting treks through Taita and Taveta’s hills and bush! One day I want to do Diani through Shimba Hills from here – maybe through the Mt. Kilibasi route. And also try the road along the Tsavo East border which I missed yesterday. And I’m certainly coming to back to hike Mt. Kasigau.

These kinds of ride need a bit of research and planning. And the right tires and tools and and and.

Or you book a trip with Offroad Adventures, who will do the planning for you. Genuine, fun adventurers. They know every beautiful spot and train from beginner to expert level skills, too. Their dirt bikes are well maintained. Give Grace and her team a try!

6 replies on “Mt. Kasigau and Taita Wildlife Conservancy”

Amazing read, quite the adventure 🙌🏾. I was also scared of the elephants as I was reading 🤭😃. Would definitely want to try this.

Amazing how you do this all alone. As a casual street biker guy, I really hope to join the adv side of riding one day

Good thing is you can get started pole pole. My first adv trip was exactly 3km off-road 🤣 To Mount Kenya Forest Castle Lodge. All else was beautiful tarmac.

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