TRAVEL

Hiking Ragia, the forest that made a nation

It was the home of the Mau Mau fighters who fought to liberate Kenya

In Summary

• This little-known historical site is only two hours from Nairobi, entry fee only Sh250

Ragia Waterfalls
Ragia Waterfalls
Image: TEVIN MWENDA

If the Ragia forest, its caves and waterfalls could talk, they would tell the tale of the birth of Kenya. Located in the Aberdare forest, this part of the Aberdare was the home of the Mau Mau fighters who gallantly fought to ensure that Kenya got her independence from the British.

I got an invaluable chance to explore this forest and walk in the shadows of the great men and women who walked in the forest, persevered all the elements of this forest for me to enjoy being Kenyan.

Ragia is located in Lari, a subcounty of Kiambu county, and is approximately 90km north of Nairobi. The journey from Nairobi to Lari takes 2-3 hours. One knows they have arrived at Ragia when they spot the Sasumua Dam, which provides fresh water for the residents of Nairobi. On arrival, we paid an entrance fee of Sh250 and proceeded to begin our hike.

Among the sections of the Aberdare where one can hike, Ragia is considered to be an easy hike. After walking for about an hour through the forest, we finally came to our first waterfall. To get to the waterfall, one must descend a slippery slope that is covered in mud and water marshes. Before reaching the waterfall, your first point of reference is the Mau Mau caves.

The caves are where Kenya’s various freedom fighters hid while fighting the liberation war of our country. Given how cold it was that day, I could not help but appreciate the great sacrifice these men and women gave in persevering the cold, animals, challenges of trekking through the forest to ensure Kenya got her freedom.

After the caves, one is greeted with the roaring sound of the first waterfall. It is truly a majestic waterfall. We took our time there, enjoying the scenery and just trying to reminisce how the freedom fighter relied on this waterfall for water and other provisions. We then proceed to go back up and to the second waterfall.

The trek to the second waterfall is a bit challenging as one goes down a deep descent through the forest, where one small misstep can lead to a bad fall. We then proceeded to pass through some magnificent boulders that were on a river. The boulders require one to carefully manoeuvre their way around to avoid slipping. The river is located in a gorge and is enclosed by beautiful trees that hang from the edge of the gauge shimmering in the sunlight.

After crossing the river and doing a short uphill trek, you arrive at the second waterfall. This waterfall is larger than the first one, with more water volume. The water roars down the rocks, creating an illusion that looks like clouds going down a rock. The water then settles down to reveal its emerald green colour.

We went about exploring the whole area. If you are a bit adventurous, you can move a bit closer to the waterfall. However, this requires you to step on really slippery boulders, but I can guarantee you the effort is worth it. We then proceeded to trek back up to where our journey started, having experienced a great piece of Kenyan history.

During this trek, all I could think about is how come such places that hold such important historical value in our country are not talked about and highlighted enough. Perhaps the Ministry of Tourism and Magical Kenya should consider highlighting areas in Kenya that are of significant historical value to the birth of our country.