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Take a slow hike up Mt Kenya to enjoy the scenery and adventure
Mt. Kenya, Kenya’s highest mountain and Africa’s second highest mountain after Mt. Kilimanjaro, it is estimated to be about 2.5 million years old. Its awe inspiring spectacle that dominates the central highlands of Kenya and is located 180 KM north of Nairobi within the Mt. Kenya National Park.
Mt. Kenya National Park is a World Heritage site and an international biosphere reserve.
It’s difficult to see wild animals located at the lower forest zone of the mountain but if lucky and at the right time you get to see, the buffalo, elephant, Sykes monkey and the bushbuck. Further up the hyena, leopard and civet cats can be sighted.
For a climbing adventure any fit person can reach point Lenana also called the trekkers peak. The Batian and Nelion are accessible only to those with technical mountaineering and rock climbing experience. Mt. Kenya lies on the equator and you will find snow, ice and even glaciers on it. Although the number of glaciers has dropped from 18 to only 7 today
Mount Kenya can be reached through 3 routes: Naro Moru, Sirimon and Chogoria. The fastest way to access the peaks is through Naro Moru which is well serviced with rest huts. It is however the steepest. A hike to Mt. Kenya takes 4 days with an option of an additional day at the summit.
Naro Moru Hike
A 4 day trek using the Naro Moru route starts with a 5 hour walk from the park gate to the Met Station (3,050m). The first night is spent here and climbers get to acclimatize to the thinning mountain air.
The 2nd day normally the longest with a walk between 8 to 10hrs, the night is spent at Mackinders camp (4,200m) in the peak area’s vicinity.
The 3rd day begins at 2 am with an attempt to reach point Lenana. Some climbers get
Altitude related illnesses while here. To reach point Lenana normally takes 5 hours and descending normally takes 3hours to Mackinders camp for breakfast, then ascending back to Teleki Valley via Caeil rocks to the Met Station. A night rest at the Met Station and on the 4th day begins with the final descent to the Park Gate.
This route has its base at Nanyuki to the north of the mountain. This route offers a much easier climb with more scenic views. It normally takes 5 days up and down the mountain
The 1st day starts with a 3-4 hr walk through the forest and spend the night at Old Moses camp (3,300)
The 2nd day, a hike through the moorland and the Liki and Makinder Valley and after a 6-7 hour hike to Shipton’s camp (4,200m)
The 3rd day takes you up to attempt point Lenana. Ascending takes another 2 days.
The hike begins at the Chogoria town west of the mountain. This is the most beautiful course and scenic of the three. Hikers enjoy scenic views of waterfalls, valleys and ragged rock formations. However the trail is unpopular because it is the longest and the toughest. It takes 6 days to ascend and descend the mountain. There are no usable service huts along the way and climbers must carry a tent when using this route.
Days through these routes can be prolonged by enjoying an extra day to climb the Summit Circuit Path.
Keeping fit will hiking
It’s important to drink 4-6 litres of water on a daily basis to keep you hydrated during the climb. Dehydration exposes hikers to altitude sickness and hypothermia.
At heights above 3,000m oxygen levels reduce. It is advisable not to do a fast climb as one has no opportunity to acclimatize. If a trekker feels the symptoms of mountan sickness, it is advisable to descend to a lower altitude
Spending an extra night near the park gate or at the mountain huts above 4,000m to acclimatize helps to reduce the chances of mountain sickness
Porters and Guides
Porters and guides are needed so that a trekker can fully concentrate on their climb. A good porter is worth his weight in the event of sickness and other contingencies.
They shoulder heavy equipment while the climber carries their day pack which contains essentials such as warm clothes, matches, flashlight, first aid box and food and drinks
Other important gear climbers should carry include: boots should be water proof in addition have rain suits, sleeping bags, sunglasses and hand gloves.
Alternatively a climber can buy a Mt. Kenya Climbing Package which is all inclusive. This package includes transport, accommodation in the mountain huts; meals while climbing, park entry fees, an experienced mountain guide, porters and cooks,
The most comfortable climb is achieved in the dry season which is during the months of January and February and from July to October. Relaxation in some of the hotels around the mountain can be done after the climb.