A Day to Remember on the Oloolua Nature Trail

While we've been waiting for T's work permit to come through, we've been pretty reluctant to take any major trips to any of the big parks here in Kenya as the entrance fees for non residents are usually several times that of residents.  So instead, we've been looking for smaller parks closer to Nairobi that could serve as ideal day trip settings.  Last week, I quite accidentally ran into the 'Living in Nairobi' website which I found to have a lot of helpful suggestions on smaller parks within a 2 hr drive from our home.  Among the one's suggested, Oloolua Nature Trail caught our eye.  As I had yet to visit Karen, we thought it would be a good reason to finally head out there. 

We left early on Saturday morning to avoid potentially paralyzing traffic on Ngong Road and found ourselves at the park gate in about half an hour.  At first, we found Oloolua to be reminiscent of Karura Forest in that much of it's trails wound through lush forest, leading past a waterfall and caves reputed to have been used by the Mau Mau.  But this isn't to say that Oloolua didn't have it's own unique touches.  A massive bamboo grove just downstream of the waterfall and a Dr. Seuss-like papyrus swamp were some highlights that served as testament to the astonishing biodiversity included within Oloolua.  My favorite was walking through a patch of almost desert-like grassland in which spindly cacti and fleshy succulents grew among tall grasses and scrubby bushes. 

One of the things I most appreciate about Kenya is that no matter what time of the year it is, something is flowering.  Walking through Oloolua proved to be no exception as we found plenty of bountiful blooms interrupting the lush greens of the forest.  Here is but a tiny sample of the myriad of blossoms that grew along the trail.  

By the time we arrived back at the car it was high time for lunch.  Determinedly, we headed to the renowned Talisman restaurant but not before making a pit stop at the Kazuri workshop (more to come about this later).  By the time we arrived at Talisman, we had built up a sizable appetite and excitedly perused the menu.  In the past several months, we had heard many of our friends rave about Talisman and we were delighted to experience why.   Sitting comfortably by a warm fireplace, T and I split a plate of fried chicken and I gorged on an excellent burger and a handful of 'fat chips' while T enjoyed a slab of braised pork belly on a bed of greens.  While I'm sure this did nothing to promote the level of fitness we worked so hard on in Oloolua, I honestly couldn't think of a better way to end a hike. 


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