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‘Mount Kenya – a walk on the wild side’

by Lucy Booth of Kenya Treks

Mount Kenya’s eastern side is a wonderful destination for walkingoff the beaten track.  I visit the mountain every time I’m in Kenya and when there’s an excuse for a recce to this part of the mountain, I jump at the chance.  On a recent trip of four days, Imet only one other group of three walkers.The majority of peopletrekking on Mount Kenya use the two main routes on the western side and although many descend via the Chogoria route, most visitors pass through the more accessibleSirimon and NaroMoru gates.  This is a bonus for those of us wishing to experience thisspectacular montane wilderness in awe inspiring peace!

Your trip starts in Nanyuki and it’s an early departure at about 8.30 to reach Chogoria town by about 11,to rendezvous with our bush vehicle.We start the ascent up the steep ruttedChogoria track which can become impassable when it rains.It is possible to walk up, but it’s a long steep hike of 22 km so most people drive at least part of the way.  Plans do exist for the track to be upgraded, but for the time being,the drive up in a 1960s Landy, through the forests of Meru oak, podo and ancient giant camphor, takes two hours, mostly in second gear and at an average speed of 15 mph!

On arrival at the ChogoriaBandas, a few hundred yards from the Gate, it’s time for lunch followed by a gentle walk in the surrounding hagenia parkland.  Later, an early evening stroll in the area promises the chance of seeing some wildlife, coming out to graze or drink from the waterholes.  On my recent recce, I saw a herd of about twenty waterbuck including a tiny calf and I’ve seen plenty of buffalo and the occasional elephantin the past.  Not particularly surprising if you’re on safari, but at3,000 m up a mountain, it is quite special.  We stay overnight at the Bandas and take advantage of a hot shower and supper in front of a log fire.

The next day we set off early for the Nithi Waterfalls.  The trail meanders through parkland and shady, forested glades towards the moorland with its large stands ofprotea bushes.  We walk to the top of the main waterfall and, although the path is sometimes precipitous, we carefully make our way down to the bottom, with the help of our guides and trail poles.

In 1929, Vivienne de Wattevillespent two months in this area and describes in her book, Speak to the Earth, her experience of one of the smaller waterfalls slightly further upstream:

“One moment of icy spray, and then the weight of white water dashed over my shoulders like ice or fire”.  I wouldn’t recommend total immersion, but it’s wonderful todip toes in the glacial water and feel the refreshing spray from the falls.

We then set off across country for Lake Ellis with the aim of reaching our camp site for lunch, spending the rest of the afternoon relaxing by the lake.  This will be our base for the next two nights.

There are various options on our third day.  The most challenging choice is to climb to the summit of flat topped Kiringo Hill, also known as the Giant’s Billiard Table.  A picnic lunch on the top of Kiringo affords fine views of neighbouring Ithanguni and the main peaks of Batian, Nelion and Lenana in the distance.  This walk takes about six hours as a complete round trip including lunch.  Alternatively, we can opt for a gentle walk along the shores of Lake Ellis or a stroll towards the parasitic cone of Mugi Hill with itsperi-glacial landforms.

On our last day, the plan is to wake up early and make a dawn ascent of Mugi Hill, leaving camp at about 5.15 and aiming to reach the top by 6.30 in time to see the sun rise.  Towards the east the sun breaks over the horizon and then turning towards the west, the silhouettes of Batian, Nelion and Lenana catch the first rays of light and become warm terracotta coloured peaks dotted with snow and ice.  Birds flit and chatter amongst the protea bushesand you may hear zebra barking in the distance.After a welcome cup of tea, it’s back to camp for breakfast followed by the two hour walk to the Gate to rendezvous with your Landrover and the return journey down through the forest to Chogoria town.

We offer this trip during the best months for access:  January, February, March, August and September.

The maximum group for this trip is six, sharing in 3 x two-man Terra Nova Quasar expedition tents.ThermarestProlite Plus sleeping mattresses are provided andthe tents have fleece inner groundsheets andColeman tent lights.

The trip is supported by a mountain team of two guides, a cook and porters.

Most dietary requirements can be catered for, including gluten free.

Kit list recommendations can be provided on request.

Please contact Lucy Booth at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for details.

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