Kenya’s coolest caves
From a subterranean restaurant to a stone-hewn house, we think these outcrops rock
If you’re looking for something a bit different to do in Kenya, the country has a surprising number of significant caves to visit. Panga ya Saidi, for example, is a network of limestone caves that have been lived in for some 78,000 years – as was discovered when human remains were found there almost five years ago. If bodily remnants don’t do it for you (and we don’t blame you), there’s the Leviathan Lava Tube – the longest cave in the Chyulu Hills – to explore, or Kitum Cave, which is mined by elephants for its sodium-rich salts. Our favourite Kenyan caves, however, are ones that don’t require hard hats and carabiners to enjoy…
This cave system in Kiambu County, a short drive from Nairobi, was discovered back in 1996 and has since been transformed into an adventure resort. Along with tours of the caves, it offers ziplining, fishing, boating, horse riding, fishing, and quad biking. There’s also a waterfall to visit, nature trails to explore, and plentiful spots perfect for picnicking.
Before you go, be aware that as well as paying a small entrance fee (Ksh400, which is around €3), visitors also pay for each activity they participate in.
For an unforgettable dining experience, you need to visit Ali Barbour’s Cave Restaurant, just over an hour’s drive from Mombasa. Visitors descend 10 metres below ground, before being seated inside a natural coral cave that’s thought to be between 120,000 and 180,000 years old. The rocky room is lit up by nothing but candles and the stars you can see twinkling through the craggy hole in its roof. With a location right by the Indian Ocean, little wonder the restaurant’s specialty is seafood, with dishes including yellowfin tun carpaccio and chilli crab.
Those looking for somewhere out-of-the-ordinary to stay during a trip to Kenya should book in at this hotel, just 40 minutes from the centre of Nairobi. What it lacks in luxury and state-of-the-art facilities, it makes up for in individuality. The entire building is covered in rock. Staircases are hewn from gnarled stone; water pours over rocky overhangs into the outdoor pool; there’s even a large replica of Mount Kenya in the gardens.
Rock House is owned by a safari and trekking company, making it the ideal base if you want to explore Kenya’s wilderness.