The Hidden Gem Mount Suswa
Mount Suswa is a magnificent extinct volcano in the Rift Valley. It is famed for the many caves on its slopes a massive double volcanic crater. Suswa is one of Kenya’s least known mountains and conservation areas. It’s one of the most spectacular mountains of the Rift Valley as it comprises a 12 km across double crater system.
The main attractions of Suswa are the volcanic caves – there are over 30 cave entrances that simply plunge into the ground. Caves are located on the outer edge of the outer crater. The caves comprise lava tube systems, formed in a period of recent volcanic activity. They are totally different from limestone caves.
These spectacular caves some 10 m high and wide in many places are a favorite for spelunking enthusiasts. The caves are extraordinary; their walls have a bizarre texture like stretched dough from the retreating lava. Over six miles of tunnels have been mapped so far by cave explorers. Large areas of this cave system remain unexplored.
One interesting location in the caves is the ‘Baboons’ Parliament’. Naturally, baboons roost in treetops to avoid night prowling leopards or lions. But in Suswa, troops of baboons take shelter at night from their predators in an underground chamber known locally as the Baboons’ Parliament.
This is a series of small ledges high up on the cave wall. Safe beyond the reach of predators and protected by a roof of solid rock, the cave dormitory stays warm and dry even at the height of the rainy season. It is said that if you were to go in the cave early in the morning, you would find the troop’s leader perched on a pile of rocks at the center of the chamber, seemingly addressing the rest of the troop.
The baboon troop’s arrival in the evening coincides with the departure of the local bat colonies. The caves at Suswa are believed to be home to the world’s largest colony of giant mastiff bats. As the last light fades from the sky, the bat exodus intensifies, their sheer numbers creating a spectacle to behold.
As dawn breaks over the volcano, the inverse of the previous evening takes effect. The baboons leave the caves in their numbers and the bats return home to roost
The entire area of the crater can be hiked, including the inner crater rim and the bottom of the inner crater.If traveling by car, it is advisable to park the car on the edge of the inner crater, then follow the paths, sticking as close as possible to the crater rim. The walk up to the main summit starts from the viewpoint. It takes about one hour to get to the first summit (2,250m), and another hour to get to the higher second summit. The ridge leading to the main summit has no established trails and is quite rough, making this section more difficult and slower.
For the more adventurous who prefer to circumnavigate the inner crater, the trail is 22km long and can take you half a day or longer depending on your pace. This option is very tedious. Besides a 1,380m elevation gain, it involves some very tedious blocky lava crossings in the south-east section of the crater.
There are a number of isolated camping spots in the Suswa conservancy, the more spectacular spots being at the edge of the inner crater. The area has a considerable amount of wildlife such as giraffe, Thomson’s gazelle, zebra, hyena, and leopard. You are not likely to encounter the large mammals, but you will come across lots of rock hyraxes, snakes and small antelopes grazing peacefully on the slopes.
Why visit Mount Suswa
Mount Suswa is definitely a hidden gem and despite its grandeur. It is still relatively unknown and one of Kenya’s most under-appreciated treasures. It is only 50km from Nairobi and often described as one of the best day trips from Kenya’s capital. Supremo adventures are on hand to offer you the best tailor-made camping and hiking safari at this remarkable destination.
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