Gatamaiyu Forest is part of the larger Kikuyu Escarpment Forest which covers an area of 37,620 hectares ( 376.2 square kilometers). Other forest blocks that form the Kikuyu Escarpment Forest include; Kereita, Uplands, Kinale, Kamae, Kieni, Raggia, and Kijabe. Gatamaiyu Forest covers an area of 4,720 hectares(47.2 square kilometers) of which 75 percent is indigenous forest, eight percent is exotic forest, and the rest is bamboo, scrublands, and some green farmlands. Gatamaiyu Forest’s altitude is between 1800- 2700 meters above sea level, and forest topography is jagged with many steep-sided valleys containing raging streams
A day of birding tour in Gatamaiyu forest requires an early rise, to beat the traffic in Nairobi, the drive takes 45 minutes to an hour, and the weather in the forest is quite comfortable. Birdwatching is mainly done while relying on bird sounds, and a lot of patience is therefore required. It is advisable to have comfy hiking shoes. Also, carry insect repellent Gatamaiyu forest has Deer Flies, (between the months of February- April) which have a nasty bite. A rain jacket is recommended too, as the weather in the forest can change without giving a warning. Gatamaiyu forest birding tour is leisurely paced, suitable for any age bracket, and available daily throughout the year.
Birdwatching starts as you exit the Nakuru– Naivasha highway, be on the lookout for the African Stonechat, perching in bushes next to the road, Cape Crows feeding on the roadside, Augur Buzzard soaring high up in the clear blue sky, and feisty duets of Hunter’s Cisticola can be heard on the picturesque tea plantations along the newly tarmacked road to the forest. Golden-winged Sunbird may be seen on Lion’s flowers, Black Sawwing/Roughwing flying low-catching insects and White-eye Slaty Flycatcher perching on the fencing poles. Twelve species of sunbirds may be seen in a day birding tour in Gatamaiyu Forest which include; Tacazze, Malachite, Eastern and Northern Double-collared, Variable, Golden-winged, Olive, Collared, Bronze, Scarlet-chested, Amethyst, and Green-headed Sunbirds. Gatamaiyu Forest is one of the Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) in Kenya, with about 138 species of birds recorded in and around the forest, of which 31 are forest specialists and 20 are considered rare. About 39 of Kenya’s 67 Afro tropical highlands biome bird species occur in the Gatamaiyu forest. The forest is home to the globally threatened Abbott’s Starling, the smallest of the starlings with a shrinking home in a few evergreen forests in Kenya and Tanzania.
Gatamaiyu Forest restricted-range bird species; Jackson Francolin, Hunter’s Cisticola,
As well as a significant number of regionally-threatened bird species including; African Green Ibis, Ayres’s Hawk-Eagle, Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk, African Crowned Eagle, and Red-chested Owlet.
Walking conditions are easy to moderate; most birding in Gatamaiyu Forest is done from well-kept nature trails, the telephone call of the Chestnut-throated Apalis will keep you entertained along the trail together with the Ruppell’s Robin Chat mimicking several forest birds.
Gatamaiyu Forest Mammals
African Elephants are occasionally encountered at Gatamaiyu Forest where they normally come for mineral salt lick, wandering from the main Aberdare National Park; Mount Kenya Guereza, Sykes’s Monkey Giant forest Hog, Bushbuck, Gambian Pouched Rat, Jackson’s Mongoose, Common Duiker, Lesser Bush-baby, Porcupine, Slender-tailed Mongoose, Civet, Bush Ochre Squirrel, Giant Forest Squirrel, and African Golden Cat– has recently been captured in installed cameras
Butterflies; The forest has more than 100 butterflies with three near-endemic butterflies occurring in Gatamaiyu Forest namely Charaxes nandina, Neptis kikuyuensis, and Neptis katama.
Gatamaiyu forest plays an important role as a catchment area for the many rivers and springs. Most of the rivers and streams such as Gatamaiyu, Bathi, Kiruiru, and Nyanduma start from the forests, typically flowing south-easterly before joining up to form part of the Athi River- the second longest river in Kenya, after Tana River which drains its water in the Indian Ocean at Sabaki
Fishing in Gatamaiyu Forest
Nature trails in the forest are well-maintained and suitable for walking by any age group. Gatamaiyu forest also offers a fantastic location for fishing enthusiasts or fly fishers.
Gatamaiyu River is well-stashed with fine-looking rainbow trout fish, a popular game fish for fly fishers. The river has good pools, rapids, and fantastic waterfalls that provide a tranquil to fish in peace and quiet.
There is an 8-kilometer stretch of the river well stocked with rainbow trout. Enough for everyone to make a catch. The rainbow trout love an unperturbed atmosphere…let your mind waft as you bustle out that engaging tune and the trout will approach you. You must have a license to be allowed to fish from the Kenya Fishery Department