Mountain Biking in Kenya

Eliott Foust

A rainbow appears beyond one of the trails in Kenya's Hell's Gate National Park.
A rainbow appears beyond one of the trails in Kenya’s Hell’s Gate National Park.

Featuring world-class trails, grand vistas, and an assortment of challenges for riders of all skill levels, Colorado is a popular destination for all mountain bikers. The trails in Colorado are well known, maintained, and marketed across the world. Conversely, the continent of Africa is not often associated with mountain biking. In particular, Kenya is a lesser known and less popularized destination for mountain bikers, but the country offers a slew of trails and unique experiences.

Kenya is located on the horn of Africa, and the country is bisected by the equator. Because of its location, the weather in Kenya is fairly consistent year round. Average temperatures are in the low 80s, and rain only poses a problem during the rainy seasons from May to June and November to January. The humidity is relatively high which supports lush vegetation throughout the country. Together, the equatorial location and close proximity to the ocean create a warm tropical climate. Because of the weather, it is possible to bike year-round.

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In Kenya, there is a gambit of trails and terrain. There is the option to bike along some rugged mountains, but there is a unique experience to be had by biking through some of their national parks. Many of the national parks are pretty flat. Because of this, they lack the switchbacks, jagged terrain, and technical challenges they are prevalent along the trails in Colorado. However, the trails in Kenya have some features that can not be found in Colorado.

Many of the trails through Kenya’s National Parks are in open valleys and traverse through the Africa Savannah. This causes the trails to be less strenuous and technical, but they offer tremendous panoramic views of the open landscape that is bordered by the escarpment. As you ride through the parks, you are surrounded by exotic wildlife. Both large and small animals such as impalas, warthogs, zebras, giraffes and a large assortment of birds native to East Africa stand just off the side of the trails.

With the presences of such a population of wild animals, there are predators in the midst such as lions, cheetahs and leopards. Kenya’s National Park system does not allow anyone to travel through the national parks without a proper off road vehicle if there is noticeable population of large and dangerous animals in the area. However, that does not quench the thought that something may be lurking just beyond the bushes.

Overall, the trails in Kenya are not nearly as accessible as those in Colorado. However, if you have the opportunity to bike these trails, they will offer an experience that can not be obtained anywhere else.