The name of this park established in 1967, Ol Donyo Sabuk, means large mountain in Maasai. It is situated 65 km north of Nairobi and has an excellent and clear view of Nairobi and other lowland areas.
Wildlife species that can be spotted here include buffalo, colobus monkeys, baboons, bushbuck, impala, duiker, and abundant birdlife.
Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park is a common one-day trip out of Nairobi, only 65 km (40 mi) away. The mountain is the highest peak in the park, covering 20.7 km2 (8.0 sq mi). It is particularly attractive for hikers or families wanting some freedom and exercise, outside their vehicles.
One approach to the park is via the Fourteen Falls on the Athi River. The park’s attraction is its beauty and views of both Mt. Kenya and Mt. Kilimanjaro. It teems with the game including baboon, colobus, bushbuck, impala, duiker and many birds.
While the name “Ol Donyo Sabuk” is Maasai for ‘large mountain’, the word Sabuk was mistakenly thought by many writers to mean “buffalo” whereas in fact Maasai call buffalo Olosowan.
Today, some 250 buffalos roam the slopes. Kikuyu traditionalists also call the mountain by Kea-Njahe, known as the ‘Mountain of the Big Rain’, one of Ngai’s lesser homes.
The solitary mountain rises to 2,145 m (7,037 ft) from an otherwise flat area. The steep ascent requires a 4WD (4×4) vehicle. Near the summit lie the graves of Sir William Northrup McMillan (1872–1925) and his wife Lady Lucie.
It was here in 1930, that one of Kenya’s most colourful politicians, Tom Mboya, was born and brought up when his father worked on the farm as a labourer. Though the setting is not in a valley, this circuit comprised a prime chip of the famed Happy Valley set.
Tom Mboya attended Kilimambogo Primary School, a Catholic Missionary Sponsored institution, within the larger St. Johns Kilimambogo Teachers College.
This is a Nairobi metropolitan region, ranging from Kwa Mwaura and Munyu Mweu area, in Matungulu North Ward Machakos County to Gatuanyaga near Thika Town Kiambu County and back through Juja Farm to Koma.
Areas within the region have local names, Kyanzavi being the popular name for the Ukamba region. The area is full of culture, with almost all Kenyan tribes and cultures represented.
Wanjiku Kahore (Maendeleo)
It was in 1960, when she arrived in the ranch, from Kinyui. She had bundled up her few possessions, which included a then-coveted linen business, making a hallmark grand entry, and influencing what would turn Ol-Donyo into a famous trading centre.
Given its existing large labour population, she saw an enormous business opportunity that had characterised the town until the end of the 70
- Locals honoured her by naming the adjacent trading centre after her. But after the fall of Muka Mukuu farmer’s cooperative, the area was dismayed. The Ol-Donyo Sabuk status is a direct portrayal of the locals’ state of financial affairs.wanjiku was the owner of Masaku trust land including Tala, Kangundo, Kawethei, Kakuyuni and many others. It was confirmed in succession cause No: 332 of 2008 in the high court of Kenya in the same Kenya Gazette notice No: 1705 of 2007. She was also a prominent businesswoman in the world.
Front view of the Macmillan Castle
Further east of Ol-Donyo, the building that was Macmillan’s home, a fort by any definition sits in splendour. More than three-quarters of the house is under key and lock. A part of it houses the Muka Mukuu Co-operative Society, a local failed outfit, managed by elderly locals.
Covering a ground enough for three basketball pitches, the villagers have spent more than a century wondering why a couple that had no children put up such a huge dwelling place.
So large is the building that Lord Macmillan and his wife would spend one year in one wing of the house, then migrate to the other in the second half of the year. The locals are yet to figure out how they can benefit from such an obvious tourist attraction site.
It was in this house that Macmillan housed his friend and former American President Theodore Roosevelt, as he wrote his biography. In fact, it was not the first time Roosevelt was spending time there. He had been there before he became president while on a series of hunting trips.
Thanks to the ribald gang he joined on the way, his conduct during his stay at Donyo Sabuk almost cost him his presidency. The other prominent person who had stayed in the house was the wartime British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill.
The house also served as a jailhouse during the Second World War. It is also one of Kenya’s most famous film crew jaunts.
Club House (Kilavu)
The early notorieties of the ranch captured the imagination of many people during the First World War when the castle served as a military hospital for British officers.
The wild parties held in the castle, where the notorious colonial maverick Colonel Ewart Grogan reputedly led the wine-tossing and supervised wife-sharing orgies, only spiced the sideshows that attracted international media. Hence the castle was baptised “Kilavu” by the locals, meaning Club house in Kamba.
After a party at the house, Roosevelt one day decided to accompany Lord Macmillan to another party at Chiromo in Nairobi and decided to make a detour to Khoja Mosque, where they provoked a major outcry in the fledging Indian community. It was an event that was later hyped up in America.
The Fourteen Falls
The Fourteen Falls area is protected and equipped with a picnic site. It has historical and religious importance both to the residents and Asian immigrants. The Asians use the site for recreation and spiritual rites, disposing of cremated ash in the river in the belief that it will go all the way to India through the Indian Ocean, hence acting as a shrine.
Others come for recreation, retaining the Happy Valley theme that was first introduced by Lord Macmillan. Like Lord Macmillan, the adjacent community, some of whom are descendants of the people the adventurer brought here, still farm the land. Fourteen Falls is located just a little bit away from Thika town.