Mount Kenya National Park is located in central Kenya and it’s the second highest mountain in Africa with its highest peak standing at approximately 5 199 meters above sea level. The park covers 700 sq. km (270 sq. mi), its vertical border begins at 3200m (11,000 ft) and extends up to 5199m (17,058 ft), including the mountain’s peaks. The area surrounding the park is designated as the Mt. Kenya Reserve. Mt. Kenya lies 175 km (108 mi) north of Nairobi and its northern section borders the equator, supports 12 glaciers, plus pristine lakes, tarns and dense alpine forest. Mount Kenya is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a realm of the mythical Kikuyu god known as Ngai. The ancient Kikuyu people built their customary homes facing this sacred peak as they believed it was a place of light, hence the name Kirinyaga.
Mount Kenya comprises three magnificent peaks namely Nelion (5 188 m), Lenana (4 985 m), and Batian (5 199 m), all of which offer various degrees of difficulty when it comes to mountain climbing. These peaks also provide wildlife and birds with distinctly different environments and landscapes, thus making them unique ecosystems that can be vastly different from one another. You can expect rainforests, African moors and rocky terrain. The mountain peaks are crowned with snow that creates crystal clear pools of fresh water at the base of the slopes. The best time to get a fascinating view of the mountain is at dawn when the early light of day silhouettes its stunning summit high over the plains surrounding it.
Mount Kenya National Park is also home to the Big Five (elephant, lion, cheetah, leopard, and rhino) and troops of baboons and monkeys whose fascinating behaviour is a joy to observe. You will also be able to see such animals as waterbucks, tree hyrax, elands, and the white-tailed mongoose. Expect birds in abundance, with owls, eagles, nightjars, ibises and hawks taking center stage in your birding tour.
Because Mt. Kenya is more or less a vertical park, the climate changes as you ascend the mountain. Expect big temperature changes between the day and night, with lows of about 4oC/39oF as you elevate up in the mountains.
Mount Kenya is generally very wet forming a watershed that provides water for large parts of Kenya, as it is situated within the tropics. It receives two wet seasons and two dry seasons.
Most of the precipitation occurs as frost or snow, which feeds the 11 remaining glaciers on the mountain. The south eastern slopes of the mountain receive the most rainfall as the warm moist air comes off the Indian Ocean
Attractions in the park
Mt. Kenya is the second highest mountain in Africa lies 175 km (108 mi) north of Nairobi and its northern section borders the equator, supports 12 glaciers, plus pristine lakes, tarns and dense alpine forest.
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 is also known to be the home of the big game animals that include Elephants, leopard, buffaloes, black rhinos and other animals like tree hyrax, white tailed mongoose, Suni, black fronted duiker, mole rat, bushbucks, water buck and Elands, rarely seen animals including bongo and giant forest hog among others.
Mount Kenya national park is blessed with a number of bird species, over 130 bird species have been recorded living with in the park that give visitors a perfect birding experience. These birds species include; White-faced Whistling-Duck, Egyptian Goose, Blue-billed Teal, African Black Duck, Yellow-billed Duck, Red-billed Duck, Helmeted Guineafowl, Crested Guineafowl, Moorland Francolin, Jackson’s Francolin, Scaly Francolin, Little Grebe, Speckled Pigeon, Rameron Pigeon, Delegorgue’s Pigeon, Lemon Dove, Dusky Turtle-Dove, Red-eyed Dove, Dideric Cuckoo, Klaas’s Cuckoo, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Black Cuckoo, Red-chested Cuckoo, Abyssinian Nightjar, Mottled Swift, Common Swift, Nyanza Swift, African Swift, African Rail, Eurasian Moorhen, Green Sandpiper, White Stork, Marabou Stork, Yellow-billed Stork, Pink-backed Pelican, Black-headed Heron, Great Egret, Intermediate Egret, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, African Sacred Ibis, Olive Ibis, European Honey-buzzard, Banded Snake-Eagle, Crowned Eagle, Martial Eagle, Long-crested Eagle, Wahlberg’s Eagle, African Hawk-Eagle, Eurasian Marsh-Harrier, Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk, Black Goshawk, Black Kite, African Fish-Eagle, Mountain Buzzard, Augur Buzzard, Barn Owl, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, African Wood-Owl, Speckled Mousebird, Narina Trogon, Bar-tailed Trogon, Eurasian Hoopoe, White-headed Woodhoopoe, Common Scimitarbill, Southern Ground-Hornbill, Crowned Hornbill, Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, Malachite Kingfisher, Giant Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, European Bee-eater, European Roller, Broad-billed Roller, White-eared Barbet, Moustached Tinkerbird, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, White-headed Barbet, Green-backed Honeyguide, Greater Honeyguide, Tullberg’s Woodpecker, Lesser Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Red-fronted Parrot, Gray Cuckooshrike, Eurasian Golden Oriole, African Black-headed Oriole, Black-tailed Oriole, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Red-backed Shrike, Red-tailed Shrike, Lesser Gray Shrike, Northern Fiscal, Singing Cisticola, Hunter’s Cisticola, Winding Cisticola, African Reed Warbler, Yellow-whiskered Greenbul, Brown Woodland-Warbler, Eurasian Blackcap, Garden Warbler, African Hill Babbler, Brown Parisoma, Kikuyu White-eye, Northern Yellow White-eye, Hinde’s Pied-Babbler, Black-lored Babbler, Northern Pied-Babbler, Red-billed Oxpecker, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Violet-backed Starling, Spotted Flycatcher, Brown-backed Scrub-Robin, Northern Anteater-Chat, Northern Wheatear, Collared Sunbird, Green-headed Sunbird, Olive Sunbird, Amethyst Sunbird, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Tacazze Sunbird, Bronze Sunbird, Malachite Sunbird, Red-tufted Sunbird, Golden-winged Sunbird, Variable Sunbird, Baglafecht Weaver, Spectacled Weaver, Holub’s Golden-Weaver, Speke’s Weaver, Village Weaver, Chestnut Weaver, Brown-capped Weaver, Red-billed Quelea, Yellow Bishop, Red-collared Widowbird, Long-tailed Widowbird, Jackson’s Widowbird, Grosbeak Weaver, Bronze Mannikin, Black-and-white Mannikin, Yellow-bellied Waxbill, Abyssinian Crimsonwing, Gray-headed Nigrita, Kandt’s Waxbill, Red-cheeked Cordonbleu, Red-billed Firefinch, African Firefinch, Pin-tailed Whydah, Village Indigobird, House Sparrow, Kenya Rufous Sparrow, Cape Wagtail, Mountain Wagtail, Gray Wagtail, Yellow-throated Longclaw, Oriole Finch, African Citril, Reichenow’s Seedeater, Brimstone Canary, Streaky Seedeater, Thick-billed Seedeater, Yellow-crowned Canary, Golden-breasted Bunting, Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, among many others. You can also see some while having a hike within the park.
Activities done in the park
Mountain climbing/ tracking
Mount Kenya comprises three magnificent peaks namely Nelion (5 188 m), Lenana (4 985 m), and Batian (5 199 m) which is the highest of all. All the 3 offer various degrees of difficulty when it comes to mountain climbing. Only experienced climbers with advanced climbing equipment can climb Batian (5,199m) and Nelion (5,188m).
The main trekking route to Point Lenana is the Naro Moru route, and the ascent takes 3 days. The route begins at Naro Moru town on the western side of Mount Kenya, and it continues to Mackinder’s Camp before merging with the Peak Circuit Path, a steep 10km ascent around Batian and Nelion. The trails can get slippery during the wet seasons, so you should plan to avoid these months.The best time to climb Mount Kenya is during the dry seasons, from June to October and January to March. Other mountain climbing routes without an official gate include, Kamweti, Marania, Burguret and Themwe
Mount Kenya National Park has a variety of animals beginning with the big game animals like the elephants, lions, leopards, black rhinos, and buffaloes. Others includes tree hyrax, white tailed mongoose, black fronted duikers, mole rats, bushbucks, waterbucks, elands and many others. The beautiful game viewing activity gives a relaxation from any other tiresome activity done in the park for example the hike.
The park has caves that are visited by travelers for example the Mau Mau cave which attracts a number of visitors due to its significance to the park. It holds history of the Mau Mau worriers who used to hide in that cave with their supplies during war, this alone makes visitors explore the caves to see how they really look like.
Shipton’s camp is located just beneath the summit and is set amongst the snow-capped peaks. There is an alpine hut here where climbers can rent bunks and rest the night before summiting the mountain. Nearby are Shipton’s Caves which are adventurous spots for exploring.
Accommodation in the park
The park has a variety of accommodation facilities ranging from luxury, mid-range and budget accommodation facilities, these include;
Luxury, Serena mountain lodge, Castle forest lodge, Whispers luxury guest rooms, hotel Fairmont Mount Kenya safari club among others.
Mid-range, Le Rustique, Penguin house, Soames hotel & Jacks bar etc.
Budget, for example Batian Guest House and Sirimon Cottage
Campsites like, Kinondoni Campsite, Road Head, Mintos Hut & Campsite, Narumoru Gate Campsite, Met Station Campsite, Mackinders Campsite, Austrian Hut Campsite, Sirimon Gate Campsite, Judmaier Campsite, Shipton Campsite, Liki North Hut 7 Campsite, Solo Campsite and Major Campsite
Best time to visit:
The best to visit the national park for a great hiking experience is during the two dry seasons – January & February and August & September. During the two rainy seasons, the trails are more difficult, and the visibility is poor but the park is open year round for visitors.
Gates to the park
The park can be entered through a number of gates and these include: The Mawingu Gate, Sirimon Gate,Narumoru Gate, Chogoria Gate, Kamweti Gate and Kihari Gate. At the park entrance each guest will be required to pay a park entrance fee or they will have booked earlier.
Getting to the park:
By Road: 175 kms from Nairobi, the park can be reached on Nanyuki-Isiolo road via Sirimon Track or Nyeri-Nanyuki road near Naro Moru.
The park is also reachable via Chogoria on the Embu – Meru road, about 150km north of Nairobi.
By air: The closest airstrips to Mt. Kenya are at Nanyuki or the Laikipia Airport.
When planning a trip to Kenya, consider going through a tour company or a tour operator to do the parking and managing the safari.
If you have plans of traveling to any East African country, for activities like mountain hiking, wildlife viewing, game viewing, wildebeest migration viewing, cultural experience Gorilla tracking, lion tracking, chimpanzee tracking, golden monkey tracking, volcanic exploration, , heritage sites visit plus your bucket list, consider https://africasafaritravellers.com/