Facts about Mount Kenya (with Map & Photos)

Mount Kenya is a national park and the highest mountain in Kenya at 5199m, making it the second highest peak in Africa. It is a stratovolcano that arose about 3 million years after the emergence of the East African Rift.

Mount Kenya Mountain
Mount Kenya Mountain

General Information

Mount Kenya attracts many mountaineers, while offering them the opportunity to admire wild plants, enjoy the purest forests and the beauty of the surrounding landscapes. There are 12 glaciers on the mountain, all of which are rapidly shrinking in size, and four secondary peaks located at the entrance to the glacial valley are literally strewn with wild flowers.

Mount Kenya Mountain
Mount Kenya Mountain

Mount Kenya National Park was opened to visitors in 1949 and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. The park boasts stunning lakes, glaciers, peaks and natural mineral springs. At the lowest level are dry highland forests, giving way to mountain forests with cedars, then dense bamboo forests, upper forests with low trees and highland moss, and finally highland heaths and shrubs, followed by open space where you can watch elephants, buffaloes and zebras. Other animals found in the forests include bushbacks, black-and-white colobus monkeys, and Sykes' monkeys, while the fauna is much more varied further down the slope. There are black rhinos, leopards, hyenas, genet cats, anubis baboons(Doger baboons), olive baboons, waterbucks, bush pigs and gigantic forest pigs. Protected animal species include the bongo (shy forest antelope), skinks, and mole shrews.

The best time to watch the animals is during the dry seasons from January to March and from July to October. Birds rush down during the rains - from March to June and from October to December.

Mount Kenya Mountain
Mount Kenya Mountain

The roads go around Mount Kenya National Park from the west (A2) and from the east (B6), and three towns are considered bases for excursions and ascents - Nanyuki (Nanyuki, about 200 km from Nairobi) to the north, Naro Moru (Naro Moru, about 150 km from Nairobi) to the west and Chogoria (Chogoria, about 170 km from Nairobi) to the east of the mountain. Any of them can be reached from the capital by public transport - from River Road or Temple Lane (2.5-3 hours on the way, 300-350 sh.). There is an airport in Nanyuki, where regular flights from the capital's Wilson Airport fly daily (about $ 130, about 45 minutes).

Nothing remains of the volcano's crater. Surrounded by rocks and glaciers, 8 peaks rise, the main of which bear the names of the Masai leaders of the past - Batyan (Batian, 5199 m), Nelion (Nelion, 5188 m) and Point Lenana (Pt. Lenana, 4985 m). According to Kikuyu beliefs, it is here that the supreme deity Ngai lives. If you are not a climber, forget about climbing not only 5-thousanders, but even the saddle between them (the so-called "Gate of Mists"). Mount Kenya was unsuccessfully attempted by African explorers such as Joseph Thomson and Samu-el Teleki. Only in 1899 did the expedition of the Englishman Halford Mackinder overcome Batyan Peak. It took 30 years before Nelyon was conquered: Percy Wyn-Harris and Eric Shipton, the discoverer of the Himalayan Bigfoot, won this victory. Point Lenana in the eastern part of the massif is considered the only one of the main peaks accessible to ordinary trackers.

There are 4 main trekking routes on Mount Kenya, passing at altitudes above 4000 m: Naro Moru (Naro Mogi Route, west and north), Sirimon (Sirimon Route, north), Chogoria (Chogoria Route, east) and the Ring Trail (Summit Circuit Path, connects the others). Tracks start at a level of 2-3 thousand meters, you need to get to the start by car (20-30 km, rent in Naro Moru is about $ 75). The trails allow you to see the alternation of the jungle, alpine meadows and tundra, giving way to stone and ice.

Mount Kenya Mountain
Mount Kenya Mountain

Any of the routes on Mount Kenya requires good shape, good equipment (waterproof and warm clothes, as well as trekking shoes) and time. The most difficult are the Ring Trail and Chogoria - the first because of the high altitudes, the second because of the lack of huts for spending the night. It is on these routes that you will find the most beautiful views and vivid impressions. Naro Moru is the nearest base point to Nairobi, so the route with the same name is the most popular.

The best time to explore Mount Kenya is from December to mid-March and from June to mid-October. At the same time, the best time to climb the 5-thousanders is August and September. The choice of the season is not reflected in the equipment: you will have to take the same thing. A trained climber needs 6 days to reach the two main peaks and descend. Both climbers and simpler people move along the same paths and diverge only at the approaches to the peaks. Groups often include both climbers and trekkers who are served by the same team of porters.

Since Mount Kenya is a national park, KWS imposes special fees on all visitors (adults/children):

  • one day - 50/25 sh. through the Kihari Gate, 55/25 sh. through any other gate;
  • four-day trek - 220/120 NIS, entry-exit through the gates of Naro Moru and Shirimon;
  • five-day trek - 270/145 sh., entrance-exit through the gates of Chogoria, Burguret and Kamweti Gate;
  • six-day trek - 320/170 sh., entrance-exit through the Marania Gate.

This is what the traveler must give to the government, not counting the cost of the trek, usually organized by a local travel agency. KWS undertakes to provide assistance in case of emergency. In total, there are b gates in the park - the most visited are Kihari, Naru Moru, Shirimon and Chogoria (payment can be made on each, in cash).

There are two things to keep in mind when planning a trip:

  • Altitudes and the risk of altitude sickness require attention to health. You will need at least one stop for acclimatization. Usually the first overnight stay at an altitude above 3000 m is enough, but if you feel unwell, it is better to stop climbing.
  • From the proximity of the equator (it is only 12 km from the main peak), the duration of evening twilight does not exceed half an hour. Therefore, at the end of the daytime transition, you have to accelerate in order to be in time for the place of spending the night before dark. Strength must be preserved!

For overnight stays on Mount Kenya, camps (Camps, $ 12-15 / person), huts (Huts) and tents are used. Chogoria huts are for porters and KWS staff only, so trekkers are often asked to show tents and sleeping bags at the entrance. You can rent all this at hotels in Naru Moru, Nanyuk or Chogoria (sleeping bag / tent $ 4-8 per day). You can put up a tent at a distance of at least 50 m from streams and other sources of water. Food to order is not prepared in the mountain camps, fires cannot be made, therefore, in addition to food, gas primus stoves and cylinders are taken on a hike. Porters and mountain guides on Mount Kenya are required to obtain KWS licenses but are hired through travel agencies and hotels ($10/1h/1d).

Mount Kenya Mountain
Mount Kenya Mountain

The most popular mountain camps of Mount Kenya:

  • Weather station (Met Station, 3050 m) - the western side of the array, 9 km from the Naru Moru gate.
  • Mackinder (Mackinder's Camp, 4200 m) - in the Teleki valley, north side.
  • Shipton (Shipton's Camp, 4300 m) - in the Mackinder Valley, north side.
  • Shipton is more commonly used by climbers as it is closer to the traditional climbing route of Batyan.

Climbing the highest peak of Mount Kenya along the most popular route looks like this:

  • 1st day - entrance through the northern gate of Sirimon, ascent to 3300 m, overnight in the Yudmayer camp;
  • Day 2 - Trek along the Mackinder valley to the Shipton camp at an altitude of 4300 m;
  • 3rd day - trekkers get up no later than 3 am and leave in the direction of Point Lenana in order to have time to climb this peak before dawn. Climbers stay at the camp until lunch, although some take part in the hike to Lenana for acclimatization. In the afternoon, climbers move to the base camp at the foot of Batyan (tents);
  • 4th day - early rise, assault of the height of 5199 m and descent to the Shipton camp;
  • 5th day - crossing the valleys of Mackinder and Teleki with an overnight stay at a weather station;
  • Day 6 - Departure from the park through the Naro Moru gate.

As for the tracks, many companies offer a four-day hike along the Naro Moru route:

  • 1st day - entrance through the Naro Moru gate (altitude approx. 2600 m), climb through the forest to the weather station, rest and overnight;
  • 2nd day - the first difficult transition from the weather station to the Mackinder camp, about 6 hours in the meadows and tundra zone, the elevation difference is more than 1 km;
  • Day 3 - rise at 2-3 am, rise to Point Lenana and return to Mackinder. On the same day, after breakfast, we return to the weather station.
  • 4th day - descent to the gates of Naro Moru, departure.

If you are offered something similar without acclimatization at the foot of the mountain (at least one overnight stay), then it makes sense to refuse: this is a serious test for the body.

Mount Kenya Map