Nanyuki is a wonderful town that lies on the equator. It’s located on the edge of central highlands and opens to the Laikipia Plateau and the wonders of northern Kenya.
In this guide, you’ll discover the best things to do and places to visit in Nanyuki, Kenya. It contains detailed information and insider tips to help you plan your trip to this mysterious town.
As someone who has lived in Nanyuki town for almost a year, I know it’s much more than just a pit stop while heading north from Nairobi. It’s home to different cultures, conservancies, a base for Mount Kenya climbers, an airfield for the Kenya Air Force, and a base for the British Army.
So, whether you’re seeking wildlife attractions, adventure, historical experiences, or entertainment, this town in Kenya has something for you.
Best Places to Visit in Nanyuki (+Things To Do)
Nanyuki is a great town and is one of the best places to visit in Kenya. It’s the gateway to unexplored northern Kenya, Mount Kenya National Park, and wildlife conservancies in the Laikipia Plateau.
If you’re looking for fun places and the best things to do in Nanyuki, walk with me. I’ll share the fun places and attractions I’ve discovered since moving here a year ago.
1. Stop at the Equator Marker
Although I cross the line almost every day, I always admire the sight of the Equator Marker. The spot is located along road A2 when approaching Nanyuki town from the south. It’s very popular with travelers as one of the top Nanyuki tourist attractions.
I don’t know if the experiment works, but watching the simple setup and listening to their explanations is a wonderful experience.
2. Experience the Nanyuki Nightlife
Although there are many things to do in Nanyuki, a myth surrounding a lost railway route map has made the town more popular as an entertainment hotspot.
The tale tells of how railway engineers got carried away by the fun and merry in Nanyuki. They lost the route map which marked the end of the Nairobi-Nanyuki railway and was supposed to extend to northern Kenya.
3. Explore Nanyuki Town on Foot
Nanyuki town is inhabited by people from different cultures, including local communities, ex-pats, descendants of early British settlers, and military personnel.
Walking along the streets of this small town offers you an opportunity to experience this diverse characteristic and learn about its history.
The latter is a project started in 1977 to assist disadvantaged local women to become self-reliant. It offers spinning, knitting, and weaving training using wool and cotton. The women produce beautiful products like scarves, carpets, shawls, and bags.
Make sure you stop by to see how this old trade is still in use. You can also learn to make your own scarf and finish your wandering with a nice cup of coffee at Java House in Cedar Mall.
4. Go Shopping at the Equator Market
The equator market is one of the best places to go gift shopping in Nanyuki. This small curios market is located on the main road next to the Equator Marker and sells beautiful souvenirs and cultural items.
You can walk into any of the stalls and haggle your way for fabrics, keepsakes, African paintings, and safari hats. You can also get a wristband or a t-shirt to show off when you get home, confirming that you crossed the equator at Nanyuki.
While still there, ask your guide or locals to show you where the famous Silverbeck Hotel was located. The hotel was designed and built in such a way that the equator ran right through the bar. Visitors could enjoy their drinks while switching between the northern and southern hemispheres.
☞ SEE ALSO: 25 Exciting Things To Do in Nairobi, Kenya
5. Explore the Mau Mau Caves
The caves offer a great opportunity to explore nature and are located inside an indigenous forest that opens up to a beautiful waterfall.
If you’re looking for a short trip or adventure, go chasing the Mau Mau Caves. The road to the caves also passes through multiple villages; providing another chance to experience rural Kenya.
6. Day Trip to the Magical Ngare Ndare Forest
If you’re looking for cheap things to do in Nanyuki, head to the magical Ngare Ndare Forest. Located in Timau, it’s one of the best places to hike in Kenya.
I’ve visited Ngare Ndare several times and can’t get enough of this natural jewel. The lush indigenous forest consists of a canopy walk, a hiking trail, and natural blue pools where you can swim, birdwatch, and view the wonderful wildlife.
Since the forest is located in a remote place, a solo trip can be confusing and costly. I’d therefore recommend joining this affordable experience with a local guide.
You can also stay at the rustic Seiku Glamping on Airbnb, which arranges trips to the Ngare Ndare at discounted rates.
7. Eat Fish at the Trout Tree Restaurant
On the way to Nanyuki, it’s worth stopping by the Trout Tree Restaurant. Although located a few kilometers south, it qualifies as one of the best restaurants in Nanyuki.
The restaurant is built around a huge sacred fig tree on the banks of the Burguret river. It’s famous among travelers for its delicious fresh trout and natural setting. Besides the vegetarian dishes, they also serve beef, pizzas (on weekends only), and cocktails.
Trout Tree Restaurant prides itself as a farm-to-table restaurant. And it’s just that. Their trout is taken straight from the pond and vegetables are sourced directly from the garden.
The trout takes time to prepare. So while waiting for your delicious meal, you can relax, watch birds and Colobus monkeys, or chat with your friends over a beer.
For about $10 you can have trout served with Ugali (similar to porridge but much more dense), and green vegetables – my favorite.
8. Visit the Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Located in the Laikipia Plateau between the Aberdares and Mount Kenya, Ol Pejeta Conservancy is one of the best places to visit in Kenya. The 360 km² private game reserve is devoted to protecting wild animals, and is home to the endangered white rhinos.
This hidden gem is one of my favorite attractions in Nanyuki. It’s less crowded, and you can view more rhinos here than anywhere else in Kenya.
Besides nature walks and game drives, visitors can enjoy horse riding or visit the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary. Check out this tour of the Ol Pejeta Conservancy.
9. Climb Mount Kenya
Climbing Mount Kenya has to be one of the best activities in Nanyuki. The mountain is accessible from Nanyuki via Burguret or Sirimon gates. Travelers prefer the latter, as it’s considered the easiest and most scenic route.
The best way to reach Point Lenana (a popular summit with visitors) is to join a 4 Days Mount Kenya climbing tour. The expedition departs from Nanyuki and takes you through a magnificent montane forest, rivers, and alpine vegetation.
For starters, Mount Kenya is the highest mountain in Kenya, and Africa’s second highest after Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The mountain has three main peaks: Batian (5,199 m), Nelion (5,188 m), and Lenana (4,985 m).
Of the three peaks, point Lenana is the most popular. However, if you’re a more advanced and experienced climber, you may prefer attempting the more technical peak Batian.
10. Stay in a Rustic Hut with a View of Mount Kenya
Oak Hut at One Stop Nanyuki is one of the best places to stay in Nanyuki. It’s also a perfect base for exploring Nanyuki and nearby destinations. A night at this cozy spot allows you to connect to nature and really relax.
You can visit the Mau Mau Caves, climb Mount Kenya, see the Equator Marker or take a scenic helicopter flight to Mount Kenya.
Besides accommodation in Nanyuki, One Stop has other facilities, including a coffee bar, a farm shop, and a swimming pool.
Other Places To Visit in Nanyuki
If you venture a little farther outside of the city you’ll find even more fun places to visit, which include the following:
Located close to Chaka town, Chaka Ranch leisure park is ideal for family fun activities such as cycling, karting, quad bike riding, and paintballing. They also serve delicious local foods and drinks.
Ol Jogi Conservancy
Another great place to visit in Nanyuki is the vast (58,000 acres) Ol Jogi Wildlife Conservancy. Located along the Doldol road, the conservancy is home to elephants, giraffes, rhinos, and the endangered Grevy’s zebra.
Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy
This non-profit organization works to protect endangered wildlife species and the environment. The conservancy is famous for breeding the nearly extinct mountain bongo to re-introduce them to the wild.
Mount Kenya Climbing Gym
This is an excellent place for adventurer seekers and people preparing to climb Mount Kenya. It’s a few minutes from the Equator Marker and hosts a lovely cafe – Slightly South Cafe.
Quick Travel Itineraries For Nanyuki
To help you get started, I’ve created three ultimate itineraries for Nanyuki. This way, you can explore the highlights in a day, a weekend, or even a week.
Whether you want to party, climb Mount Kenya, visit wildlife conservancies, or go for a hike, these quick Itineraries will help you plan a perfect trip.
1 Day in Nanyuki Itinerary
If you have a day in Nanyuki, wake up early to view Mount Kenya. Take breakfast at the Dorman’s Coffee Shop and then head over to town for a day tour. Visit the Equator Marker and railway station, and walk along the streets.
2-3 Days in Nanyuki Itinerary
Three days is enough time to get a good taste of this equator town. Spend the first day exploring the town and visiting the Equator Marker and market.
On the second day, go on a wildlife tour at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Start the third day by hiking to the Mau Mau Caves, and afterwards, go for lunch at Trout Tree Restaurant. If you have the energy, finish your trip perfectly by partying at the Downtown Club.
1 Week in Nanyuki Itinerary
A week in Nanyuki presents you with several options for an epic trip. If you’re into outdoor adventures, go on a 4 Day climb to point Lenana on Mount Kenya. Use the last few days exploring the town and shopping at the equator market.
Alternatively, you can make multiple short trips for a full-circle experience. Spend the first day visiting the Ol Pejeta Conservancy and then experience camping at Mianzi. Take a full-day trip to Mount Kenya National Park, exploring Mau Mau Caves and waterfalls.
Where to Stay in Nanyuki
Nanyuki is a leading holiday destination in Kenya; home to many camping sites, lodges, cottages, and villas.
There are several hotels in Nanyuki town, but the best places to stay are outside of town. These places are quiet, close to nature and offer great views of beautiful landscapes.
If you’re looking for places to stay in Nanyuki that are unique and affordable, below are a few ideas.
Located right across the road from the Nanyuki Airstrip, this is one of the best Airbnbs in Nanyuki. The huts (they have four in total) are comfortable, rustic, and cozy. They can accommodate 3 guests each and start at $100.
If you’re looking for a base to explore Nanyuki tourist attractions, stay at the Barn. At $93 a night, the entire home can accommodate 5 guests, making it ideal for groups or families.
What I love about The Barn is the atmosphere. You don’t need to climb Mount Kenya or chase Mau Mau Caves to experience natural beauty. You can relax with a book, listen to the birds sing, or sip coffee while viewing Mount Kenya.
Maiyan Resort and Villas
Maiyan is the best resort in Nanyuki. It’s located about 5 kilometers from town and comprises private villas suitable for both families and groups.
Besides accommodation, they have beautiful grounds for team-building events and social events. Horse riding is also popular at Maiyan.
If you like experiencing true glamping close to nature, stay at Sieku Glamping. You can stay late watching shooting stars and wake up to views of Mount Kenya and Borana Conservancy.
Sieku Glamping is suitable for couples and solo travelers who love locations off-the-beaten-track.
Visitors at the luxury glamping site can sleep in bell tents or tipis. The site is also self-catering, but there is the option to request a hired chef.
Caritas Villa & Cottages
Most villas, campsites, and cottages in Nanyuki don’t come cheap. However, staying at Caritas will save you money on accommodation that you can then spend on activities. If you’re planning to climb Mount Kenya and explore nearby attractions, make this charming and affordable villa your base.
Best Restaurants in Nanyuki
Don’t miss these great places to eat in Nanyuki.
Barneys Bar & Restaurant
Barneys combines a rich history with good service and delicious food at moderate prices. The restaurant is family-friendly, and serves different dishes from beef burgers to lamb shawarma.
I love Barney’s because of its accessible location (at the Nanyuki Airstrip), relaxed atmosphere, and great coffee. Their snacks are also always fresh and well baked.
Visit Barneys for the best food and drinks and the sight of small planes taking off from the runway. The restaurant is open daily between 7:00 am and 6:00 pm.
Java House, Cedar Mall
With various menus, good service, and friendly staff, Java House is one of the best restaurants in Nanyuki – it’s my favorite. This relatively affordable eatery is located in Cedar Mall along Rumuruti road.
Although Java is popular with coffee, the restaurant also serves good food and fresh juices. You can expect to spend around $10 on a beef burger, $3 on coffee, and $4 on desserts.
I particularly love their “Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato” sandwich and classic lemonade. The outdoor seating space also offers a good view of events along the Nanyuki-Rumururi road.
The Nook Cafe and Bar
Unlike other places, The Nook is not your average restaurant. What I love about this place is their sporadic nature. Every week they have a completely new menu inspired by cuisines from all over the world.
Besides the restaurant, the Nook has a bar where travelers can connect over a cold beer. The cafe is open every day from Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Mondays). Dishes start at $12, and drinks at $3.
The Nook is located about 90 m from the main road, along Haile Selassie Road.
Kongoni Camp Restaurant
Besides offering cozy and affordable accommodation, Kongoni Camp is a haven for fine dining. Their restaurant’s menu has various dishes, including the usual suspects – steak, fish with Ugali, burgers, and pizza.
The restaurant and coffee shop are open between 7:00 am and 10:30 pm. What’s great is that you don’t have to spend a night there to enjoy their delicious meals and drinks.
Things To Do in Nanyuki: FAQs
Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about visiting Nanyuki.
Nanyuki is famous for its entertainment hotspots, large farms, wildlife conservancies, the equator line, and as a base for climbing Mount Kenya.
Nanyuki enjoys a good climate, making it one the best places to visit in Kenya year-round. However, the best time to visit Nanyuki is during the dry season – June through September.
You won’t find famous attractions here like Masai Mara, but what Nanyuki does showcase is world-class wildlife conservancies and some amazing nightlife. So yes, it’s worth visiting Nanyuki.
The top attractions and best places to visit in Nanyuki are the Equator Marker, Ngare Ndare Forest, Ol Jogi Conservancy, and Ol Pejeta Conservancy.
Mount Kenya National Park is located in the central region and can be accessed from Nanyuki, Narumoru, Chogoria, and Timau.
Nanyuki is easily accessible from Nairobi via road A2. It can also reached by train or by flying into Nanyuki Airstrip.
Some hidden gems in Nanyuki include the Mau Mau Caves and the Trout Tree Restaurant.
While many visitors skip out on Nanyuki in favor of big cities, beach towns, and national parks, hopefully, you can see that the town is definitely worth visiting by now.
Curve out a few days during your trip to Kenya and visit this beautiful town for a memorable experience. Just make sure not to overindulge in fun activities and lose your map – there are still plenty of other great places to visit in Kenya.