Climbing Africa’s second highest mountain.
The joy of climbing a mountain is something that has enamoured climbers throughout the ages; To climb Mount Kenya is a thrill for inexperienced climbers, but it’s not for the faint hearted
Those who enjoy this adventurous pastime can tell you that reaching the top of the summit is like being on top of the world.
That wonderful feeling of achievement makes the struggle to get there, well worth the effort. The exhilarating euphoria any climber gets after many days of hard graft, makes up for the discomfort, cold feet and tiredness you’re going to have to endure.
What you’ll see on the trek (Terrain, flora and fauna)
To climb Mount Kenya, you must have at least a basic level of fitness to walk all the way to the summit. Depending on the route you take, you won’t need technical climbing gear; however, you’ll need very warm clothes suitable for sub zero conditions, comfortable walking boots, sun screen etc. You’ll travel through a variety of beautiful landscapes and see some really amazing, and often unique, flora and fauna on the way. You’ll pass through dense bamboo and rainforest on the lower slopes and as you pass through this, you’ll cross through to rare Afro-Alpine moorland and plant-life at higher elevations. Towards the summit, you’re likely to trek through snowy tundra and craggy rocky terrain. All this plus a stunning view of the riverine forest and tropical grasslands down below. So, enjoy the journey, marvel at the Giant Lobellia trees and finally, soak up the stunning views just as the sun rises; You really are at worlds end.
Batian and Nelion Summits & Point Lenana (Twin Peaks)
The two highest summits, sometimes known as the twin peaks; Batian (5199m) and Nelion (5,188m), can only be reached by rock climbing. Point Lenana (4,985m) is the most accessible summit, being slightly lower and the most visited. The mountain is complex, but has several well established routes which lead to the summit area. The routes are all connected by a summit circular path, this means that it’s easy to connect with different routes both up and down. Whichever route you take, the climb to the top usually takes 5 days and takes in some very scenic zones rarely seen by your regular tourist.
Popular routes (The three main routes to the summit)
Starting at Naro Moru is the easiest and most popular route up Mt Kenya. The path from this starting point is straightforward with huts spaced along the way. Using this route, a round trip usually takes either four days (three nights) or by adding an extra night to the trip your chances of reaching the summit will be greatly improved.A trek up the Sirimon Route is quieter and a path less travelled. This route has several good alternatives so you can add a day or two for acclimatisation. This route usually takes five days (four nights). Being a traverse, you’ll be able to see the mountain from contrasting sides. Because the highest summits, Nelion and Batian, can only be reached by rock climbing, this route takes you to the slightly lower Point Lenana and gives a walk through magnificent mountain terrain.The Chogoria Route is usually combined with the Sirimon route to give climbers an excellent traverse of the mountain. Approaching from the east, you’ll trek along the magnificent Mackinder Valley.For those who have limited time and who aren’t interested in reaching the summits, having a one day trip to Mount Kenya is a good option. Hiking in the foothills, show you several interesting vegetation zones to see and a range of small mammals and varied bird life.
Acclimatization & Practical Advice (How to avoid a throbbing headache)
Generally speaking you shouldn’t need to undergo a gruelling fitness regime prior to attempting Mount Kenya. Anyone who is comfortable walking 6-8 hour days should be fine. This wonderful climb needs to be taken at a leisurely pace initially to give climbers a chance of acclimatize to the high altitude. No matter what your level of fitness, by taking a slow, steady, approach allows you to enjoy the journey, take in the views and smell the flowers, so to speak, as you ascend slowly up Africa’s second highest mountain. An important reason for taking this part of the journey slowly and surely, is that by taking this easy approach, it reduces your chances of suffering from altitude sickness which occurs in approximately 10% of people climbing Mt Kenya.After a relatively slow initial ascent taking around two days; on the third day, this is the tough climb, even for experienced climbers. It will be a memorable thrill to finally reach the top, but don’t be under the illusion that it’s going to be an easy feat!
Take an experienced professional (Guides and Porters)
Make sure you book your climb with an experienced and professional guide who can give you details of the full itinerary and details of what you need to take. Some equipment can be hired but be sure of what will be provided before you climb! Depending on the size of your group, you can usually expect to be travelling with a guide, cook, porter for the cooking gear, and also a personal porter per trekker. Taking an experienced guide will ensure that your pace is regulated. They’ll be able to diagnose altitude sickness symptoms and be confident enough to make critical decisions when needed. Their knowledge of the flora and fauna on the mountain will enhance your visit tremendously and bring the environment alive. Make sure that your guide and porters are registered with Kenya Wildlife Services and they should aso hold a mountain guide park from Mt Kenya National Park.
Climate and seasonal considerations (When to go?)
Even though Mt Kenya straddles the Equator, don’t forget that it has an altitude of over 4,000m. That’s high! You MUST be prepared for it be freezing temperatures at night! You’ll therefore need a good three/four season sleeping bag for temperatures from anything from minus 10 or even minus 20 degrees C. Also, be prepared for hot sun during your trek, so take sunglasses and sun screen to avoid sun glare and sunburn which is a common hazard especially when walking through snow. Rain is entirely possible, any time of year with it often being quite heavy. Cotton clothing is unlikely to dry out in these climatic conditions, so remember that when purchasing your clothes and equipment. It’s possible to climb during Kenya’s two rainy seasons, although prolonged rain will make for a very soggy trek! The long rains are from anywhere between mid March to mid June and the short rains are usually from September to October. The good news is that even during the long rains, a good portion of the day (10am – 3pm) is usually dry and sunny and at other rainy times you can expect plenty of sunshine for much of the time.
Summary (…So, the main things to remember are…)
- Be prepared & have the right equipment
- Go with an experienced and qualified guide and listen to their advice
- Don’t rush, take your time to avoid altitude sickness
- Enjoy yourself and admire the glorious views!
To book a trip to Mount Kenya, contact email@example.com