Kenya Bike Odyssey

location Africa, East Africa
We recognize Indigenous Peoples as the traditional stewards of this land. Moreflag On Dorobo, Kikuyu, Masai & Samburu Land
  • Distance

    636 Mi.

    (1,024 KM)
  • Days

    18

  • % Unpaved

    80%

  • % Singletrack

    5%

  • % Rideable (time)

    99%

  • Total Ascent

    47,045'

    (14,339 M)
  • High Point

    8,912'

    (2,716 M)
  • Difficulty (1-10)

    7?

  • Technical Difficulty: 6

    Physical Demand: 8

    Resupply/Logistics: 7

    About Our Ratings

Contributed By

Tristan Ridley

Tristan Ridley

Guest Contributor

Tristan has spent over five years cycling around the world, crossing more than 60 countries throughout Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. When not in long-term touring mode he is based in the UK and works as a freelance writer and photographer. You can see more of his journey on his website and follow along on Instagram @tristanrid.

The Kenya Bike Odyssey is a true African epic, featuring 1,000 kilometres of dirt roads and singletrack. Starting in Nairobi, it roams through an array of landscapes, with everything from high mountains, verdant forests, picturesque lakes, rugged windswept plains, red sands, and enormous swathes of wild savannah. Combined with the opportunity to experience the rich and varied Kenyan culture and cycle amongst abundant wildlife such as zebras, giraffes, antelopes, warthogs, and elephants, this route offers an experience not found anywhere else in the world...
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When thinking of Kenya, most people are likely to call to mind the vast savannahs of famous national parks such as the Maasai Mara, but Kenya, situated on the equator, is also home to the Rift Valley. As such, it’s far more mountainous and varied than most people assume. You’ll be amazed at how the landscapes can vary within a single day; there are few places on Earth that can boast such geographic diversity. Aside from the spectacular scenery, the Kenyan Odyssey will appeal to many simply for its access to wildlife. Wildlife abounds on this route, and riders will see many animals from the saddle. Some may even experience the unbridled joy of having them gallop alongside you as you cycle.

The Kenyan Odyssey forms a horseshoe loop, starting in Nairobi and finishing in Nanyuki, some 200 kilometres to the north, where there are easy public transport links back to the capital. The route primarily follows the Rift Valley, with several detours up and out before dropping back in and climbing up the escarpment and into the vast expanse of Laikipia County. To name just a few, highlights include the Menengai Crater, Eburru Forest, the fabulous Soysambu Conservancy, Kedong Ranch, the Kerio Valley, and Kenya’s great lakes of Naivasha, Elementaita, Bogoria, and Baringo.

  • Kenya Bike Odyssey Bikepacking Route
  • Kenya Bike Odyssey Bikepacking Route
  • Kenya Bike Odyssey Bikepacking Route
  • Kenya Bike Odyssey Bikepacking Route
  • Kenya Bike Odyssey Bikepacking Route

The majority of the route is on quiet dirt roads, with occasional sections of singletrack stitched in, and it also passes through a number of conservation areas where special permissions have been arranged to allow cyclists access. Wildlife sightings are possible almost every day, you’ll immerse yourself in Kenyan culture by passing through numerous small towns and villages and interacting with local communities. You’ll also have the option of staying at some truly magical campsites and lodges that have been incorporated into the route, many of which are major highlights unto themselves.

Until recently, Kenya has kept a relatively low profile, but it is now starting to blossom into one of Africa’s adventure capitals. Cycling culture is also growing rapidly, with the Migration Gravel Race and the Rift Valley Odyssey being just two of the major cycling events now taking place in the country. English is spoken throughout, visas are straightforward, flights are relatively affordable, and transport links around Kenya are simple and cost-effective enough that even if you don’t have time for the full route, it’s easy to take on shorter sections using Nairobi as a base.

This is a challenging route with a lot of climbing and rough terrain, but it’s no exaggeration to say that every single day on the Kenya Bike Odyssey is world-class. It’s a journey that will stay with you long after you’ve left it behind. Karibuni Kenya!

Route Difficulty

It’s tricky to assign a difficulty rating to the Kenya Bike Odyssey because a lot can depend on the season and weather conditions. But, on balance, we have given this route a difficulty rating of 7/10. Most of the difficulty comes from the physical challenge that this route provides. Although it flattens out over the last few days in Laikipia, much of the route is very mountainous, with long, steep climbs, and the roads can sometimes be extremely rough and taxing. The sun can be harsh, and there’s often little shade. At certain times of the year, you might have to deal with some extreme heat. For one section, we cycled through temperatures over 40°C/100°F.

For the most part, the route is non-technical, though some of the climbs are steep and rocky enough that brief bursts of hike-a-bike may occasionally be necessary. Resupply is generally straightforward as you’ll typically pass through at least one settlement every day, although it’s highly recommended to bring a water filter as the available water will generally need treating.

Though straightforward, there are some unique logistical considerations because the route passes through a few conservancies or private areas not normally open for free access. On certain days, it is necessary to call ahead to let the landowners know you will be passing through, and certain accommodation options will also require advance notice. The relevant contact information is all noted in both the GPX and the trail notes. It’s quick and easy to organise as all the permissions have already been arranged, but make sure you read everything thoroughly and plan ahead. We’d strongly suggest making a note of the days on which you’ll need to organise permissions and the relevant contact details, as well as downloading or printing out the trail notes to bring along with you.

  • Kenya Bike Odyssey Bikepacking Route
  • Kenya Bike Odyssey Bikepacking Route

Route Development

Having first visited Kenya whilst cycling from Cairo to Cape Town in 2019, I was so impressed with the country and its bikepacking potential that I decided to return along with Gretel Henke in 2021 to put together the country’s first long-distance bikepacking route in partnership with my friend Eric Nesbitt of RVO Cycling Kenya. He is at the heart of the Kenyan cycling community, and I was very very fortunate to meet him during my first visit to Nairobi. Eric was invaluable in putting the route together and is the real mastermind behind it. He has an incredible knowledge of all the best roads, trails, and tracks across the country, as well as all the contacts we needed to make it happen. A huge thank you goes out to him.

During the majority of its development, we were referring to this route as the “Trans-Kenya Bikepacking Route,” as we’d originally conceived it as being larger and taking in most of the country. After scouting, however, we decided to focus on quality over quantity and make it more compact, ensuring that every day would be spectacular while avoiding the multiple long desert slogs. The name had already stuck, although it was no longer really a “Trans-Kenya” route, and it wasn’t until much later that we decided to rename this route and call it “The Kenya Bike Odyssey,” so it’s still occasionally referred to as the former.

The main challenge in route development in Kenya is that because so much of the land is privately owned, maps can’t be relied on, as smaller roads often lead to closed gates or impassible fences. Further, certain areas need to be avoided due to safety concerns or restrictions. Things can also change incredibly quickly in Kenya, with new roads regularly being created and old ones closed off, so even satellite images are often out of date within a year or two. Local knowledge was essential, as well as a fair amount of trial and error. It took three months of scouting to put the route together, as well as a lot of time afterwards getting it tuned in. We had an enormous amount of support from so many people in Kenya and were delighted with how positively people responded to the project. Many thanks to everyone involved, in particular to William Kimosop, the chief warden for the Rift Valley area, who was a huge help throughout.

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  • Highlights

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  • Must Know

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  • Camping

    home

  • Food/H2O

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  • Trail Notes

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  • Embark on a safari like no other, cycling alongside a wide variety of incredible African wildlife, including zebras, giraffes, antelopes, warthogs, ostriches, monkeys, baboons, and even elephants.
  • Journey through an astonishing variety of landscapes, with jaw-dropping vistas every day.
  • Meet friendly locals and immerse yourself in Kenyan culture. East Africa is a place full of life and energy, and you’ll love how colourful everything is!
  • Make your way out of Nairobi through the picturesque tea hills of Limuru and along the very edge of the Rift Valley before dropping in on fast and exhilarating singletrack.
  • Cycle through the Kedong Ranch towards Lake Naivasha and the setting sun, with Mount Longonot looming tall behind you and wildlife all around.
  • Camp by the shores of Lake Naivasha with a chance to see hippos and listen to their distinctive sounds at night.
  • Make your way up Mt. Eburru, where few foreign travellers ever venture, for breathtaking views over the Rift Valley, and then traverse Eburru Forest, where you’ll feel like you’re deep in the forests of Middle Earth, with only the chatter of monkeys to disturb the silence.
  • Cycle and camp in fabulous Soysambu Conservancy, spending an evening sitting around a fire and listening to the sounds of nature around you. Wake up to see zebras grazing within sight of your tent.
  • Climb high into the mountains of the Kerio Valley and spend a day traversing the ridgeline between the Kerio and Great Rift Valleys, with steep drops and awe-inspiring views on either side.
  • Marvel at the beauty of Kenya’s great lakes, camp with the rangers high up above Lake Bogoria, and take a boat out onto Lake Baringo to see hippos, crocodiles, and fish eagles.
  • Discover the endless expanse of Laikipia County, where, aside from being able to see a huge amount of regular wildlife and a vast wilderness, you also have a good chance of seeing elephants on the road.
  • Stay at some truly unbelievable lodges and campsites, many of which are located on cliff edges offering unparalleled views. These places were a major highlight of the route, and you may well wish to stay more than one night just to properly enjoy them.

IMPORTANT/Obtaining Permissions: The Kenyan Odyssey goes through a number of areas where permission to enter must be obtained in advance, usually by calling ahead to let them know that you will be coming through. Most of these are at the start of the route, during the first few days. Make sure you read the trail notes and plan ahead. The landowners in these areas have all agreed to let riders on the Kenya Bike Odyssey pass, albeit for a small fee, and all the relevant information, prices, and contact details have been included in the trail notes. You do, of course, have the option of detouring around these areas, but they have all been included because they offer a truly spectacular riding experience. We think they are well worth the slight extra effort to organise!

When to go

  • Because Kenya is located on the equator, this route can be done all year round, but travel during the rainy seasons (usually around March – May and to a lesser extent October – November) can be challenging as dirt roads can often turn to mud.
  • The best time of year to visit is during the dry season, around June – October, or in January/February, and we would suggest avoiding the main rainy season.

Logistics

  • The Kenya Bike Odyssey starts in the capital of Nairobi and finishes in the city of Nanyuki, around 200 kilometres to the north.
  • Nairobi has an international airport, so flying in is straightforward, and it’s easy enough to get around the country.
  • From Nanyuki, at the end of the route, there are easy and affordable transport links back to Nairobi by rail, bus, or taxi, with the easiest option being just to put your bikes onto the roof of a matatu (minibus).
  • Cycling is also perfectly possible, but this area is very busy, densely populated, and doesn’t make for great riding. For this reason, we think it’s better to end the route on a high in Nanyuki, rather than finish with 2-3 days of slog back to the capital.
  • Nairobi is fairly easy to reach by bus or taxi from several towns along the route, so there are bailout options if needed.
  • Where we have quoted prices here for services such as accommodation or conservancies, be aware that these were prices agreed for all future riders of the Kenya Bike Odyssey, so they should be fixed, but also know that you may well be asked to pay more than this when you get there. Prices go up over time, and trying to negotiate a higher rate from foreigners is also common in Kenya. Don’t be angry or offended by this; take it with a smile and don’t be shy about negotiating if necessary.
  • One thing worth bearing in mind is that things can change very quickly in Kenya. What may be a great ride today could easily be taken away next month if a landowner decides to put up a fence and block road access. In creating the Kenya Bike Odyssey, we have endeavoured to use permanent routes that should stand the test of time, and we are confident that this won’t be an issue. But, if the unlikely happens and you suddenly find the road ahead blocked, be ready to improvise an alternative way around, and please let us know where it happened so that we can adjust the route for future riders.
  • The route has been broken down into 18 sections, finishing with accommodation options every night. You can ride it at whatever pace you like, but don’t underestimate the route based on what might appear to be short daily distances. The terrain, road quality, and heat mean progress may be slower than you think. To ride the complete route, we would suggest taking at least three weeks. Or, better yet, a full month, as you will want to take a few days off along the way, and there are many possible side activities. Many of the lodges and campsites are so beautiful that you are likely to find yourself wishing for a second night just to have more time to enjoy them too. Spending at least the first day in Nairobi to get ready, find your feet, buy a local SIM card, and set up an M-Pesa account (see below) is recommended as a minimum.
  • Kenya has two official languages, English and Swahili, so communication is easy. It’s worth learning at least a few basic words in Swahili, as even a little effort will be appreciated by the locals.
  • USEFUL CONTACTS: If you have any issues with the route, two people who will be able to help are Eric Nesbitt (+254-722-410053) who is the co-creator of the route and runs RVO Cycling, the best bike shop in Nairobi, and William Komosop (+254-720-317760), who is the senior warden for the Rift Valley. Eric will be happy to help with any bike/route-related issues, so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any issues. William, who was also a big help in putting the route together, is the person to call if you have any other problems along the way. Communication is usually through WhatsApp, and the country code for Kenya is +254. 

Bike & Gear

  • It is strongly recommended to bring a mountain bike for the Kenya Bike Odyssey. Although technically doable on a gravel bike, the route is extremely rough in places, and the descents will be made miserable on the wrong bike. While scouting the route, we were joined by Josh Woods on a gravel bike, and although he did enjoy the experience, he would be the first one to caution you against it. The biggest and best descent of the route almost broke him, and while we were blasting down with huge smiles on our faces, he was having a brutal time of it.
  • We completed the route comfortably on rigid mountain bikes, but a hardtail is recommended if available. Even a full-suspension bike would not be out of place on this route; the roads can be very rough at times. Wide tyres are also advisable. I completed the route on 29 x 2.6” tyres and was happy with them, but regular 2.2″ to 2.4″ mountain bike tyres will be fine for this route. Plus tyres would add comfort and traction and make the few short sandy sections easier but are not necessary.
  • Tubeless tyres are strongly recommended, as acacia thorns are abundant and will easily pierce even the thickest tyres (we also had a few that went straight through the soles of our shoes – be careful!). Although not quite mandatory, going tubeless will make life much easier for you. If you can’t run tubeless, make sure you bring enough spare tubes and plenty of patches. Finding replacement parts is tricky in Kenya, especially outside Nairobi, so you should ensure you are fully prepared and that your bike is running smoothly. Many of the climbs are extremely steep, so you will want to bring low gears and travel as light as you can.
  • A water filter or some form of water purification is all but mandatory as it will allow you to avoid buying bottled water. Plus, on some nights, you will be camped in remote areas where you will not be able to find bottled water anyway, but unfiltered water will always be available. You should have sufficient capacity to carry at least 3-4 litres of water, as there are a few slightly longer stretches without resupply, and daytime temperatures can be roasting hot in some areas. That said, as long as you make sure to refill your bottles at every opportunity, 3-4 litres will be sufficient. You can always refill your water at shops and restaurants. These are marked on the route. You will never need to carry more than 1-2 days of food, as restaurants and shops are generally plentiful. Even in the most remote sections, you will still see a town or village at least once per day.
  • Don’t make the mistake of assuming that, being in Africa, Kenya will always be hot. The majority of the route is at an altitude of over 1,700 metres (5,500 feet), and evenings can get cold, even in the warmer months. Make sure to bring some warm clothes and a decent sleeping bag. A freestanding tent, while not absolutely necessary, will make your life easier, as you will likely be camping on hard ground where tent stakes are not usable on several nights. Improvising with rocks is always an option, however.
  • Unless you are visiting in the wet season (which is not recommended) the roads can get extremely dusty. So a Buff or similar tubular neck scarf is very useful. Dust tends to be a problem only when vehicles pass, and being able to quickly pull up your Buff to protect your face is a great help. The second thing we would suggest bringing is a small microfibre towel. You will finish many days quite dirty, but water will almost always be available for washing in the evening. It should go without saying, but bring sunscreen. Kenya is on the equator and the sun is very strong!

Wildlife

  • Kenya is home to an enormous range of wildlife, and having the opportunity to cycle with iconic animals such as zebras and giraffes is one of the best things about the Kenya Bike Odyssey. That said, some of these animals are potentially dangerous, so there are some things you should bear in mind. And, obviously, you undertake this route at your own risk. The big predators such as lions, leopards, cheetahs, and hyenas are incredibly unlikely to be seen as they are generally confined to the game parks, where cycling is not permitted, and they usually avoid humans, being active mostly at night. There are only a few short sections of the route where you may be in the same areas as these animals, and these will be mentioned in the trail notes.
  • The biggest dangers you are likely to face are buffaloes and elephants, which are common in the northeastern part of the route. When riding through elephant areas (these will be marked), always keep vigilant and be elephant aware. If you do see any elephants, stay well back, give them plenty of space, and never get between a mother and her young. The biggest risk is when going around corners where you may surprise an elephant, so be extra careful. Wild camping in these elephant areas is also not recommended, as there is a chance an elephant might not see you at night, or mistake your tent for a bush, and walk right over you. Buffaloes are also to be given a wide berth. Never go near a buffalo, as they are not shy about charging. If one approaches, retreat immediately. Be especially cautious near woodland. Be careful near water sources, particularly lakes, as there may be crocodiles or hippos. In the case of hippos, never get between them and the water, and stay well back.
  • All that said, while it is very important to be aware of the dangers of these animals and to take them seriously, it’s not something that should cause you serious concern. Provided you exercise common sense, awareness, and caution, there is generally nothing to worry about, and encounters with these particular animals will be rare. The vast majority of the animals you encounter will not be dangerous. As with all wild animals, you should still treat them with respect, however. Giraffes, for example, are generally peaceful, but if you get too close and they feel threatened, they are perfectly capable of stampeding. Never forget that all of the animals you will see will be wild, and you should always keep your distance.
  • One last word of warning: watch out for monkeys. They are very sweet and are not dangerous (they can bite if provoked), but monkeys are exceptionally talented thieves. Any food (especially fruit) that you leave out for even a few seconds is liable to get swiped the moment you turn your back!

Money & M-Pesa

  • Outside of the major cities, paying for anything with a credit card is generally impossible. Cash (the local currency is the Kenyan Shilling, or KES) is accepted, but not everyone carries change, and by far the easiest and most common form of payment is to use M-Pesa. M-Pesa is a mobile banking service, which started in Kenya and is now used in 10 countries, that allows you to store and transfer money through a mobile phone, and this has become the dominant form of payment in Kenya, even in the most remote areas.
  • Registering for M-Pesa is straightforward; you will need to purchase a Kenyan SIM card, something we would strongly recommend anyway. There are a number of providers, but the largest, and generally the best, is Safaricom, which has outlets all over the country. There are several official Safaricom shops in Nairobi; take your phone in and purchase a SIM. There are many different packages available, just ask in store. They are not expensive, and we would suggest making sure you have enough mobile data to cover any internet needs you have as Wi-Fi is very rarely available. You should also make sure your package allows you to make calls for arranging permissions.
  • Once you’ve activated your SIM card, you can at the same time register for M-Pesa. This is also done with Safaricom, just let them know that you want to set up an M-Pesa account. Your passport is required both to purchase a SIM and to set up M-Pesa. Once set up, M-Pesa functions as a phone-based bank. You can deposit money into your M-Pesa account, either by paying in cash (which can be done at any Safaricom store or any of the numerous outlets around the country advertising “M-Pesa” in large letters) or by bank transfer.
  • The easiest way to make payments with M-Pesa is to download the free Safaricom app. You can either send money directly to a person’s phone number or you can use it to pay for goods and services by inputting a till number specific to the vendor. Just ask and they’ll tell you how to do it. After the first few times, it becomes very simple. Cell service is generally very good in Kenya, so even in remote areas, paying for things with M-Pesa is not a problem. M-Pesa works very well and has the additional advantage of meaning you don’t have to carry around a lot of cash with you. It’s still a good idea to have a little cash, just in case, but you will likely use M-Pesa 99% of the time. We found it worked flawlessly.

Safety & Begging

  • For the most part, Kenya is a perfectly safe country to cycle, as although there are a few outlying regions that can be dangerous, the route stays well clear of them. Kenyans are generally very friendly and will provide help if you need it. Because there is a lot of poverty, however, be aware that begging is commonplace (especially from children), and scams do happen. Common sense is sufficient. Keep your wits about you and keep an eye on your bike and gear, and you won’t have any issues.
  • A note on begging: although it might seem harmless, and you might think it a kindness to give a small gift, giving money or sweets to people who beg on the street perpetuates a cycle that encourages people to think of foreigners as a source of money, which in the long run causes many more problems. As a more impactful alternative, there are many great charities operating in Kenya, and if you would like to help, we would suggest making a donation to one of them instead.
  • Malaria does exist in Kenya. Because the majority of the route takes place at relatively high altitude, it is not a serious concern on the Kenya Bike Odyssey, but there are a couple of sections that drop low enough (notably Mogotio and around Lake Baringo) for malaria to proliferate. To be on the safe side, taking preventative anti-malarial drugs is a sensible idea. These can be purchased cheaply from just about any pharmacy in Kenya. We chose not to take anti-malarials, instead carrying a course of emergency malaria treatment in case of infection, but there is a real risk attached to this, and malaria is no joke, so it should be taken seriously. Whether you choose to take anti-malarials or not, it’s wise to cover up with long clothes in the evenings (and early mornings) and bring along some mosquito repellent.
  • Wild Camping Considerations in Kenya: Wild camping is often difficult in Kenya, though as with anywhere, it is generally possible. Private ownership is a big deal in Kenya, and as you will quickly discover, there are people everywhere. Even in the middle of nowhere, it is not uncommon to see locals walking around, so if you attempt to wild camp, there is a good chance you will be discovered. Although not necessarily a problem, this could lead to potential safety concerns, so it is not advisable. A far better option is usually to ask for permission to camp with locals. This will almost always be granted, though occasionally you might be expected to give a few shillings in exchange. It can often lead to warm welcomes and invitations to sleep inside.
  • Another factor to consider when wild camping in certain sections is the prevalence of wild animals. In parts of Laikipia, there could be a real danger of an elephant unknowingly walking over your tent during the night, not to mention that big cats also roam in these areas. In these regions, it is generally better to plan your rides so you have a safe place to stay every night. There are various options included in the trail notes and as waypoints on the GPX.
  • Accommodation is inexpensive, with a night at a campsite (with a shower) usually costing around $5 USD. The Kenya Bike Odyssey has been planned with accommodation in mind, and each day finishes with a great (and affordable) place to spend the night. Many of these camps and lodges are major highlights of the route and are incredible places in their own right. We very much appreciated being able to wash off the road dust at the end of every day, not to mention sometimes having access to cold beer, so not being able to wild camp as much as usual never felt like a drawback.
  • In general, most lodges will also let you camp outside for a cheaper rate if you ask, so you’ll have the choice of paying more for a bed or saving money and sleeping in your tent. Where contact information for lodges has been given, it’s advisable to quickly call ahead just to let them know you’ll be coming (no advance payments or formal booking will be necessary) to make sure they’ll be open, as if they have no guests they can sometimes close without notice. See the trail notes and the GPX for more detailed information.
  • Food is affordable and abundant along the route, and although it is usually simple fare, it can be very tasty. Every town or village will have at least one local restaurant, and usually a small shop selling basic groceries.
  • Depending on where you are, restaurants usually offer some combination of rice, beans, chapatti, and vegetables. Chips (French fries), and eggs (usually cooked as an omelette) are common. Nyama Choma (grilled meat, usually goat) is delicious and is one of Kenya’s national dishes. You will very rarely be given a menu, especially in remote areas. It’s usually best just to ask what they have available. If you’re unsure, you can always gesture that you want to have a look at the dish in question.
  • Shops and supermarkets outside Nairobi tend to be stocked only with basics, but you can always pick up staples such as pasta or rice. For ease of cooking, instant ramen noodles are widely available.
  • Our breakfast food of choice was usually Weetabix, which can be found just about everywhere on the route. Fruit and vegetables are cheap, easy to find, and delicious.
  • A variety of street food is available; our favourite was usually the vegetable samosas, though we also got through a lot of mandazis.
  • Provided you bring a filter, water is never a problem. You can always refill in towns and villages. There will sometimes be a communal tap, but most of the time it’s easiest to ask in the local restaurant.

This film documents the story of how Kenya’s first long-distance cycling route was made… watch it below then scroll down for a day by day itinerary of the route.

Day 1 – Nairobi to Bamboo Garden

Stunning riding once you get out of the city, especially through the beautiful tea hills of Limuru. A relatively simple day to get you started, but there is a lot of climbing, and the roads can be rough, so it may take longer than you expect. We have started the route in Westlands due to its central location, but there is no need to start from this point. We suggest you intersect with the route wherever it passes closest to your accommodation.

Day 2 – Bamboo Garden to Lake Naivasha

PERMISSION REQUIRED TODAY: You’ll start out on the edge of the forest and skirt in and out of the woods until you drop down into the first serious descent of the route. You’ll circle around Kijabe Hill on the very narrow “Derailleur Trail” for spectacular views out over the Rift Valley before a very fast descent on the “Lunatic Express” towards Mount Longonot. You’ll enter the Kedong Ranch, where you’ll get your first real experience of wildlife in Kenya before a gradual and glorious descent down through occasional sandy sections to Lake Naivasha, where you’ll camp by the water at the beautiful Fisherman’s Camp. This would be a nice spot to take a day off – it’s definitely worth organising a boat ride out onto the lake. You’ll be able to see hippos here.

Note that Kedong Ranch requires advanced permission to enter, so make sure you call ahead to let them know you’re coming (Amos Omondi: +254-722-639333). The price to ride through is normally 1000kes ($8), but we have arranged a discount for riders of the Kenya Bike Odyssey, down to 500kes ($4). Payment can be made at the gate using M-Pesa. You can see a huge amount of wildlife in the ranch, and it’s an incredible ride down to Lake Naivasha, so it’s absolutely worth it.

Day 3 – Lake Naivasha to Earth Camp

You’ll ride through Hell’s Gate National Park, though if you want to avoid paying the $20 entry fee, this section can also be skipped by continuing around the lake shore to the west. The Hell’s Gate section is beautiful. You can see a lot of wildlife, and it’s the only national park in Kenya you’re allowed to cycle through, so we think it’s worth the $20. But, if you’re on a very tight budget, this is one section that could be sacrificed in favour of others. Continue around lakes Oloiden and Naivasha, and then climb up into the mountains towards Eburru. Finish the day at Earth Camp, an incredible spot with geothermal saunas overlooking Lake Elmentaita. Call the owner (Kaz: +254-722-370718) in advance to let him know you’re coming and to make sure that the camp will be open. This is a great spot for a relaxing day off. It’s very peaceful and beautiful.

Day 4 – Earth Camp to Soysambu Conservancy, via Eburru Forest

TWO PERMISSIONS REQUIRED TODAY: Start with a big climb up to Eburru, then enter Eburru Forest for a magical traverse through massive indigenous trees. Call ahead the day before to let the rangers know you’ll be coming through (Langat: +254-724-249802), and make sure you tell them to leave the exit gate towards Elementaita open for you. Wild camping deep within Eburru Forest is absolutely exceptional, but you must pre-arrange with the Forest Warden, who will provide you with a security ranger. Plan for this and you will be rewarded with an extremely dark night devoid of any light pollution. Forest sounds will be constant and possibly exciting!

You’ll drop down back into the valley towards Elementaita Township before entering Soysambu Conservancy for another major highlight of the route. You must call Soysambu in advance (Monica: +254-724-228444) to organise permission to enter and camp. You’ll camp inside the conservancy, with wildlife all around. It’s a truly magical spot. Negotiations have been ongoing with Soysambu concerning the fees, which are unfortunately extremely high for foreigners. We have negotiated a special rate for cyclists on the Kenya Bike Odyssey – depending on how charitable the managers are feeling on the day you will be paying either 1800kes or 3000kes, which will cover both entry and camping. It might sound like a lot if you’re on a budget, but it is massively worth it as the experience is truly priceless. If you absolutely don’t want to (or can’t) afford to pay the entry fee, an alternative is detouring to Oasis Camp (marked on the map), where you can camp for 500kes per night. From there, you can then rejoin the route at the other end of Lake Elementaita.

Day 5 – Soysambu to the Menengai Crater

Exit Soysambu to begin a big climb back up into the mountains. You’ll have some gorgeous remote riding through the forest before a long descent back down into civilisation. Stay the night at Maili Saba camp on the edge of the spectacular Menengai Crater. There is a swimming pool, bar, and restaurant, so this would also be a great place to take a rest day. Ideally, call James (+254-721-512846) in advance to let him know you’re coming. Excursions down into the crater are available.

Day 6 – Menengai to Mogotio

Nice easy day heading to Mogotio, before camping at a nice lodge located directly on the equator, where cheap Bandas (mini cottages) are available should you want a bed. Plenty of resupply options as Mogotio is a larger town.

Day 7 – Mogotio to Tenges

After an easy first-hour section, you’ll get stuck into a very tough climb up into the mountains at the edge of the Kerio Valley with spectacular views. You’ll pass God’s Bridge, a narrow bridge with steep drops on either side that offers amazing views over both the Rift Valley and the Kerio Valley. You’ll have a fun descent before another tough climb back up to Tenges, where you’ll stay at a camp overlooking the Rift Valley, with beers available. The scenery will blow you away.

Day 8 – Tenges to Katimok Forest

You’ll spend a good amount of time riding the ridgeline between the Kerio and Rift Valleys, with stunning views as you climb up and down. Pass through the town of Kabernet and continue north into Katimok Forest, where you’ll be able to camp at a ranger station. Lots of monkeys at the outpost!

Day 9 – Katimok Forest to Lake Baringo

After riding through the forest, you’ll be treated to the biggest downhill of the route with a massive descent down to Lake Baringo. Incredible views throughout, and a very fun trail. You’ll eventually come out on the main road beside the lake. From here, you can organise a magical wild camp on a low cliff overlooking the lake. For this, you’ll need to call in advance (Mr Cherogony: +254-721-544379) and bring your own supplies as there’s nothing else around, though you will be provided with firewood and jerrycan of water. It’s a special place with wonderful views and a true wilderness experience. Alternatively, continue on the main road a little further south before turning off to stay at Bush Baby campsite. Even if you do go for the wild camp, Bush Baby is a good spot for a day off afterwards. I’d suggest going out for a boat ride on the lake. For a good local guide, we’d recommend Louis (+254-725-103553) as he is very friendly, knowledgable, and speaks perfect English.

Day 10 – Lake Baringo to Bogoria Spa

Straightforward day of cycling, lots of resupply options when passing through Marigat.

Day 11 – Bogoria Spa to Nyalipuch

A big day that you may want to split into two. Pay 300kes at the Lake Bogoria park gate at the start of the day (see map for details) for a lovely lakeside track. There will be a hike-a-bike section as you climb back up above Bogoria to Nyalipuch, where you can camp with the rangers at a spectacular spot on a clifftop overlooking the lake. Call in advance to arrange if you want to camp here (Peter: +254-715-483590). This is one of the best viewpoints on the route, so organising camping at the outpost is highly recommended!

Day 12 – Nyalipuch to Nyahururu

Straightforward day climbing up towards Laikipia. Resupply and lodging options in both Nyahururu and Subukia.

Day 13 – Nyahururu into Laikipia

Nice riding up into Laikipia. Depending on how much ground you want to cover, you could reach Laikipia Wilderness camp in one day and combine days 13 and 14 or stop in Rumuruti, stay at a farmhouse along the way, or wild camp.

Day 14 – To Laikipia Wilderness Camp

CALL AHEAD TO ORGANISE CAMPING: You’ll be riding through some remote and wild areas, and there is a good chance of seeing wildlife. Be careful of elephants! Spend the night either camping by the river or in a safari tent. Either way, call ahead to let Steve Carey (+254-722-750739), who runs Laikipia Wilderness Camp, know you’re coming, ideally with a few days’ notice so that if he’s fully booked, you can plan alternatives.

Laikipia Wilderness Camp is an amazing spot for a safari, as there is a lot of wildlife in this area, and the camp is lovely. This could be another good option for a day off, especially if you spring for a bed. Note that Laikipia Wilderness Camp can fill up in peak season. Another nearby alternative is to stay at Ol Maisor Farm, where you’ll also need to call ahead (Alison +254-708-097190) and ideally give her a few days’ notice. Although wild camping is possible in this region, it can be dangerous due to the volume of elephants, which could unknowingly walk over a tent in the night. Lions, leopards, and hyenas also live in this area, so wild camping is not recommended. If all else fails, you can always ask for permission to camp at a township or near anyone’s house you might come across.

Day 15 – Laikipia Wilderness Camp to Naibunga Wakumbe Hills

A gorgeous ride through some quintessentially African landscapes. Be very careful of elephants, especially in the first hour, as there are many around. This is one of the most remote and least travelled parts of the route. You will see a lot of small villages and communities. You can camp at the ranger outpost in Naibunga. See the GPX, and call ahead to let Paul (+254-700-313084) know you’re coming.

Day 16 – Naibunga Wakumbe Hills to Mukugodo Nikijabe Forest Campsite

CALL AHEAD TO ORGANISE CAMPING: An incredible day’s ride through lots of vast, stunning, arid, and remote landscapes, a million miles away from the verdant forests you were riding through less than a week ago. By the end of the day, you’ll be back in the forest, completing another big climb at the final campsite of the route, a bush camp on another cliff overlooking the vast plains of Samburu and Isiolo counties, with mountains in every direction.

This campsite is the most expensive of the lot, at 2000kes per night (even after we negotiated a much-reduced rate for cyclists on the route), but it’s worth it, as it’s arguably the best viewpoint of the entire route, and the money does go to a good cause in local conservation. It’ll also be your last wilderness night on the Kenya Bike Odyssey, so it’s a hell of a way to finish. Make sure you call ahead (Benson: +254-710-788124 or Michael: +254-723-155986) to organise.

Day 17 – Mukugodo Nikijabe Forest Campsite to Nanyuki

A fairly easy final day back into the city. After watching the sunrise from your clifftop viewpoint, head south through Borona Conservancy, no payment required. You’ll have Mount Kenya ahead of you, and Borana presents a final wildlife opportunity. Zebras, giraffes, elephants, and even rhinos are present in the conservancy, so keep your eyes open. You’ll finally make it back to the highway for an easy finish rolling down into Nanyuki. Grab a shower, recharge, have a beer, and relax. Congratulations on finishing the Kenya Bike Odyssey!

BONUS: Day 18 – Nanyuki towards Nyeri

This an optional extra for those who want to squeeze in a little more cycling before finishing. It’s an easy day’s riding along the railway line, with lovely views and wide open countryside. The day finishes at Sandai Farm, where you can stay with the wonderful Petra. Call ahead to let her know you’re coming (+254-721-656699 or +254-733-734619). An alternative option would be stopping earlier at the Naro Moru River Lodge (see GPX for details), where they have built up an MTB playground with trails, a pump track, and suspended bridges, which is a lot of fun. You will want to arrange transport from here onwards to Nairobi in advance, unless you plan on cycling the rest of the way, which isn’t particularly recommended as it’s a busy area with no great way through. Petra can help make these arrangements, or alternatively this can be organised in Nanyuki or at Naro Moru.

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