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COFFEE FARM TO FOREST

Escape to bird sanctuary in the highlands

A nature trail winds through a canopy of trees down into a valley.

In Summary

• Over 120 types of birds have been identified. 

• The most famous is the Hinde’s Babbler, an endangered species that is endemic to the Mount Kenya region.

Sunbird at Wajee Nature Park.
Sunbird at Wajee Nature Park.
Image: KARI MUTU

A visit to Wajee Nature Park is an enjoyable foray into a man-made bird sanctuary. The 20-acre nature park, situated in Nyeri county, was formerly a coffee farm.

Owner and founder Jagi Gakunju is a passionate environmentalist. When he inherited the land in the 1980s, he converted it into a forest by clearing the coffee bushes and replanting hundreds of seedlings of indigenous trees.

Today the estate is covered in mature forest inhabited by birds and wildlife. A nature trail winds through a canopy of trees down into a valley, a delightful excursion for birdwatchers and nature lovers.

A member of staff guides guests on the nature walk, pointing out various flora and fauna.

Wajee Nature Park.
Wajee Nature Park.
Image: KARI MUTU

Over 120 types of birds have been identified. They include golden weavers, African harrier hawks, montane white eyes, silver-cheeked hornbills, African wood owls and many more.

But the most famous is the Hinde’s Babbler, an endangered species that is endemic to the Mount Kenya region and is threatened because of encroachment of forest habitats. Bird lovers come from all over the world just to spot the Hinde’s babbler.

Migrant birds also come through like the Eurasian bee-eater, Willow warbler, African pygmy kingfisher, and black cuckoo shrike. You might also spot some of the resident wildlife such as banded mongoose, genet cats, Sykes monkeys, common duiker, African civets or the rare side-striped jackals.

There is plenty of space to relax in the lush green grounds of Wajee Nature Park, including an outdoor restaurant. For a longer visit, there is accommodation in the form of thatched bandas that look like traditional huts and rooms in two-storey cottage blocks, all with en-suite bathrooms. They serve wholesome meals and many local dishes.

The original family home, built in 1941, is still there. To one side is a self-catering camping ground where people can pitch their own tents. Nights are cold so warm clothing is advisable.

For bigger groups, there is a banqueting centre built some distance away from the nature park to preserve the serene integrity of the bird sanctuary.

Location: Nyeri County, along Mukurweini Mihuti Gakonya Road

Access: A2 highway

Contacts: +254 735 377233, [email protected]

Star rating: 4/5