Mt Satima, the mountain with Dragon’s teeth

It can easily pass as a kingdom in the series Game of Thrones

In Summary

• Rising at about 3,000m ASL, the rock formations are large and dramatic in shape

Dragon's teeth
Dragon's teeth

Mt Satima, also known as Ol Donyo Le Satima, a Maasai word meaning “mountain of the bull calf”, and dragon’s teeth, which is part of its ecosystem, is a mountain in the Aberdare ranges in Shamata town, Nyandarua county.

Mt Satima is part of the four dominant Aberdare ranges that one can hike, the rest being Elephant Hill, Rurimeria and Table Mountain. I must add that after doing Mt Satima, I have now had the privilege of climbing all of them. Mt Satima is the highest at about 4,001m above sea level (ASL), making it the  highest point in the Aberdare ranges and one of the most dramatic due to the “dragon’s teeth” that are part of its landscape. 

The journey from Nairobi to Shamata town started at 4:45 am on a cold Sunday in June we used the Nairobi- Nakuru route but branched at a place called flyover. From there, we used the Njambini to Ol Kalou route. Shamata is located along that route, which culminates in a turn that takes you up the winding road to the Kenya Wildlife Service Shamata Gate Aberdares entrance.

This is one of the most scenic roads I have ever been on in Kenya. At some point, we found ourselves high up above the clouds, and very soon, all you could see was a blanket of white clouds below and the clear morning blue sky above. On arrival, we paid the entrance fee, which is Sh250 for Kenyan citizens and a guide fee of about Sh3,000. We then proceeded to drive through the Aberdare forest up to the heath and moorland section, where the hike begins.

After walking for about 15 minutes, one is greeted with the rock formations that give a section of this landscape its name: Dragon’s teeth. Rising at about 3,000m ASL, the various rock formations are large and dramatic in shape, with each trying to outdo the other.

They are surrounded by spectacular heath and moorland, bogs, marshes and tundra plants. This, combined with the weather that kept on changing from clear blue skies to cold and grey cumulus clouds, gives you something that looks like a Kingdom in Middle Earth from the movie Lord of The Rings.

It can also easily pass as a kingdom in the series Game of Thrones, somewhere where Khaleesi, the mother of dragons as she was known, would have stayed with her dragons or the knight king with his minions.

I spent a considerable amount of time just admiring the formations and realising that no matter how many photos I had seen, nothing could substitute seeing them with your own eyes.

The biggest and main rock formations look like the iron gates to the entrance to the kingdoms mentioned above. Nature is truly the best artist and creator.

The iron gates mark the end of what is the easiest and moderate part of the climb, which anyone planning for a simple hike can easily do. However, you should have good waterproof hiking shoes as heath and moorland regions have a lot of water bogs. Also have warm clothes as it tends to be cold and windy. The gates usher in the path to Mt Satima, and as soon as you pass them, you start feeling the rapid change in altitude and thinning of oxygen.

The climb to Mt Satima is less of a physical endurance, except for the last part before reaching the summit, but more of a test of how your body reacts to the thinning of oxygen and being at a high altitude. You must monitor how your body is reacting to these rapid changes and constantly take sips of water to reduce the impact the thinning of oxygen will have on your body. After hiking for about 2 hours from the Dragon’s teeth, we finally reached the peak of Mt Satima, which is 4,001m ASL. The views from the peak are spectacular. From every angle, you are surrounded by the various mountain ranges and valleys of the Aberdares.

All I could feel was euphoria and excitement at being able to reach this new high. There is even a sign indicating how high you are and you can take photos to show everyone your new achievements! After staying at the peak for about 15 minutes, we started to descend back to where we started the hike.

The Aberdares ecosystem is a one of a kind. It is a place that I hope if you ever have the chance, go visit and challenge yourself to do at least one of the four major mountains/hills. The experience makes you appreciate nature, see why we need to advocate the conservation of such places, the importance they have in Kenya’s environment and in tackling climate change. All in all, I would recommend starting with Dragon’s teeth!

A special thank you to AdventureGo, Solive Travel, Michael, Kenya Wildlife Service and the KWS guides who made this adventure possible.

For further information regarding travelling to Mt Satima and Dragon’s, please contact Michael on: 0711480765

This story first appeared on the digital magazine Star Sasa, accessible on Sundays for Sh10 by dialling *550*3#

Edited by T Jalio