At 5,199 m, Mount Kenya is the second-highest peak in Africa. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mt Kenya’s rugged glacier-clad summits and forested middle slopes make it one of the most impressive landscapes in East Africa. It has three magnificent peaks Batian, Nelion and Lenana.
Mt Kenya is an ancient extinct volcano, during whose period of activity (3.1 - 2.6 million years ago) is thought to have risen to 6,500 m. There are 12 remnant glaciers on the mountain, all receding rapidly, and four secondary peaks that sit at the head of the U-shaped glacial valleys.
Mount Kenya is regarded as a holy mountain by communities (Kikuyu and Meru) living adjacent to it who believe that their traditional God Ngai and his wife Mumbi live on its peak. It is also an important water tower in the country and provides water for about 50% of the population and produces 70% of Kenya’s hydroelectric power.
Climbing Mt Kenya
Laikipia is the perfect staging post for climbing Mount Kenya. Ascents of the two highest peaks, Batian 5,199 m (17,058 ft) and Nelion 5,188 m (17,022 ft) above sea level respectively, are technical climbs.
Many Laikipia camps and lodges offer walking parties the chance to scale Point Lenana, 4,985 m (16,355 ft) above sea level.
Timing of your climb: January, February and August are the best months in which to climb Mount Kenya. Climbing conditions are least favourable in April–May and November.
Pristine wilderness, lakes, tarns, glaciers and peaks of great beauty, geological variety, forest, mineral springs, rare and endangered species of animals, High altitude adapted plains game, Unique montane and alpine vegetation with 11 species of endemic plants.
Mount Kenya National Park and Forest Reserve
From Laikipia, visitors can enjoy scenic drives in the 2,100-km² Protected Area skirting Mount Kenya. A drive to any of the road-heads in the Park will take you through successive belts of tropical Afro-montane vegetation, from montane forest above 2,000 m through the bamboo and sub-alpine heather zones to the Afro-alpine moorland zone complete with coarse tussock grasses and scatterings of giant Lobelias and Groundsels.
Roads: 175 Kms from Nairobi, the park can be reached on Nanyuki-Isiolo road via Sirimon Track or Nyeri-Nanyuki road near NaroMoru. The park is also reachable via Chogoria on the Embu - Meru road, about 150km north of Nairobi.
Airstrips: The closest commercial airstrip to the park is at Nanyuki.
Main Access Routes
1. Naro Moru - The Naro Moru route is the fastest and therefore also the most popular route onto the mountain, being used by many of the tour companies and lodges guiding clients up to Point Lenana. It is serviced with huts and offers quick access to the mountain.
The rapid ascent profile makes it unsuitable for climbers wishing to acclimatise more gradually.
The Naro Moru route also features the legendary "Vertical Bog", a steep quagmire of wet moorland that is extremely taxing and unpleasant after rains.
The final climb up to the Austrian Hut tackles a long, loose and uncompromising scree slope up the side of the Teleki Valley.
2. Chogoria Route - The Chogoria route is said to be the most scenic and interesting of the three main routes on the mountain.
A picturesque trail, the route passes the enchanting Hall Tarns and looks down sheer cliffs into the spectacular Gorges Valley and onto the beautiful Lake Michaelson.
The Austrian Hut is reached via Tooth Col at the head of the valley.
3. Sirimon Route - The Sirimon Route is serviced with huts and offers the least strenuous but a long walking ascent to the mountain.
The Sirimon route is the least used of the three main routes, but features the most gradual ascent profile and best acclimatisation options.
The route passes through impressive Yellowwood forests in the lower reaches and features abundant wildlife and beautiful alpine scenery higher up.
The Austrian Hut and Point Lenana are reached from the head of Mackinder's Valley via Simba Col.
In the lower forest and bamboo zone mammals include giant forest hog, tree hyrax, white-tailed mongoose, elephant, black rhinoceros, suni, black-fronted duiker and leopard (which have also been seen in the alpine zone). Moorland mammals include: localized Mount Kenya mouse shrew, hyrax and common duiker. There have also been reported sightings of the golden cat. The endemic mole-rat is common throughout the northern slopes and the Hinder Valley at elevations up to 4,000 m. Forest birds include green ibis (local Mount Kenya race), Ayer's hawk eagle, Abyssinian long-eared owl, scaly francolin, Rappel's robin-chat and numerous sunbirds (Nectariniidae). Other birds include scarlet-tufted malachite sunbird, mountane francolin, Mackinder's eagle owl, and the locally threatened scarce swift. The alpine swift and alpine meadow lizard are near endemic.
Vegetation varies with altitude and rainfall, with a rich alpine and subalpine flora. Juniperusprocera and Podocarpus species are predominant in the drier parts of the lower zone (below 2,500 m). Cassipoureamalosana predominates in wetter areas to the south-west and north-east. However, most of this lower altitude zone is not within the reserve and is now used for growing wheat. Higher altitudes (2,500-3,000 m) are dominated by bamboo on south-eastern slopes, and a mosaic of bamboo and Podocarpusmilanjianus, with bamboo at intermediate elevations (2,600-2,800 m), and Podocarpus at higher and lower elevations (2,800-3,000 m) and (2,500-2,600 m). Towards the west and north of the mountain, bamboo becomes progressively smaller and less dominant.
Above 3,000 m, cold becomes an important factor, tree stature declines, and Podocarpus is replaced by Hypericum species. A more open canopy results in a more developed understorey. Grassy glades are common especially on ridges. The lower alpine or moorland zone (3,400-3,800 m) is characterized by high rainfall, a thick humus layer, low topographic diversity and low species richness. Tussock grasses and sedges predominate. The upper alpine zone (3,800-4,500 m) is more topographically diverse and contains a more varied flora, including the giant rosette plants. There are a variety of grasses on well-drained ground and along the streams and river banks. Continuous vegetation stops at about 4,500 m although isolated vascular plants have been found at over 5,000 m.
Kenya Wildlife Service Self – Catering Accommodation
Kinondoni, Road Head, Mintos Hut & Campsite, Narumoru Gate, Met Station, Mackinders Campsite, Mackinders, Austrian Hut, Sirimon, Judmaier, Shipton, Liki North Hut 7, Solo and Major public campsites.
KWS Park Contacts
Phone: +254-20-3568763 or +254 722-279502