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Kiambethu Tea Farm

Kiambethu Tea Farm

The First Roots of Kenya Tea

Leave Nairobi behind for an idyllic day in the lush green tea fields of Limuru. Just a short drive from the city brings you to a world of endless verdant fields, rich indigenous forest and an era of cool drinks on the veranda and lazy afternoons.

This is the Kiambethu Tea Farm, the exact spot where tea growing began in Kenya 100 years ago. A trip to this beautiful tea plantation is your opportunity to enjoy the grounds and learn about the history of Kenya tea farming and colonial life here in the Ngong Hills.

As befitting this elegant locale, you’ll be greeted upon arrival with a cup of tea and learn the history of the farm. You’ll also get an introduction to the process of cultivating tea and then step outside to see for yourself the deep green rows of tea growing in the fields.

You’ll continue your tour into a nearby forest where a knowledgeable guide will escort you, pointing out the indigenous plants, birds and flowers. Another treat: Colobus monkeys inhabit this space, and you may have the chance to see them up close.

Then it’s a stroll back to the house for a pre-lunch drink on the verandah, gazing once more at the tea fields and the Ngong Hills. Lunch soon follows – this is a three-course vegetarian feast with the produce coming directly from the plantation’s own gardens.

The McDonells’ Farm

Considering that Kenya is the largest exporter of tea in the world, it is surprising that its development didn’t begin until the early 20th century. And the place where it started was right here at Kiambethu.

Arnold Butler McDonell, known as AB, purchased 350 acres from the British government in 1910, with the dream of growing coffee, corn and flax on the rich soil. But the 2,194m (7,200 ft) elevation didn’t suit those crops and he seemed destined to failure.

By chance, a friend brought him some tea samplings from India and in 1918 he planted 20 acres as a last-ditch effort to save the farm. The new crop thrived and within a few years, AB established himself as the first commercial tea planter in all of Africa.

AB processed the tea on the farm himself, bringing it to Nairobi where he sold it directly to the traders. His business flourished as did his family, and with four daughters born on the farm, he eventually built a nearby girl’s school that his daughters attended.

Today, AB’s granddaughter, Fiona Vernon leads the farming and tour activities, sharing her knowledge of the tea business that has been a mainstay of this special family for 100 years.

About the Kiambethu Tea Farm

Location: In the town of Limuru, about 25 km (15.5mi) northwest of Nairobi.

Climate: Limuru has a pleasant climate. The temperature here averages 20oC/68oF. April is the wettest month; July is the driest.

Operating Hours: The farm opens for tours at 11:00hrs. Tours are by advanced booking only.

Getting there: You can book a tour with Natural World Kenya Safaris in Nairobi.

By air: Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is the main aviation hub serving the capital of Nairobi.

Discover Kiambethu Tea Farm

Walk amongst the lovely fields and forests of Kenya’s rich history on this unique farm, the birthplace of a $1 billion industry. Settle in for high tea, a drink and a sumptuous buffet lunch within views of the verdant hills and the green shimmering tea crop. This is a beautiful and prosperous aspect of Kenya you don’t want to miss.

Kiambethu Tea Farm with Natural World Kenya Safaris

Just a 50-minute drive from Nairobi brings you to a lush, fertile place of tranquility and a spot of old-world elegance. Let Natural World Kenya Safaris take you to the Kiambethu Tea Farm in Limuru.

We have safaris departing from the capital to this and other special Kenya Parks and attractions for your Africa holiday.

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Kiambethu Tea Farm