Second only on the African continent to the magnificent Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya registers its height at a staggering 5 199-metres. Mount Kenya lies in the Kenyan highlands, about 150 km from Nairobi in Kenya. Perched upon a now extinct volcano, the Mountain has two peaks, which can only be reached by technical climbers, with a third that is accessible for hikers. This third summit is known as Point Lenana and offers nature lovers from around the world the chance to witness a variety of African wildlife that call these slopes their home.
Why you should climb Mount Kenya
As if the opportunity to visit Kenya – the home of Great African Lakes, seemingly never-ending deserts, and national parks teeming with African wildlife – weren’t enticing enough; Mount Kenya presents a unique and unforgettable challenge. Vastly different to Mount Kilimanjaro, this range is less frequented by the touring masses, yet breath-takingly beautiful in many ways.
When it comes to international renown, Mount Kenya is famous for its abundance of African wildlife. Ascending the slopes towards the summit, bring hikers and climbers into the presence of such creatures as the hyrax, the common duiker, the groove-toothed rat, hyenas, porcupines, and – if you’re lucky – the majestic leopard. Twitchers are also spoiled for spotting with an array of birdlife having found a home on the mountain, including species such as the rare Afro-alpine moorland and Verreaux eagle.
How you can climb Mount Kenya
When it comes to reaching Point Lenana, there are eight routes from which you can choose. Of these, the Sirimon routes (Sirmon-Chogoria and Sirimon-Naro Maru) are the more popular, with Burguret providing more of a challenge for seasoned hikers. Sirimon-Chogoria is considered to be the definitive trek up Mount Kenya, and takes up to seven days to complete. The ascent up this route is scenic and relatively easy, with a descent down Chogoria that features one of the most striking vistas on the mountain, consisting of sheer-sided gullies, tarns and waterfalls.
Sirimon-Naro Moru is the most popular route on the Mountain and is renowned for its steady rate of ascent and descent. While this route misses out on some of the beautiful features of Mount Kenya, it is still scenically memorable passing up Mackinders’ Valley before descending through a vertical bog into dense rainforest below.
The Burguret route offers hikers the likely chance of encountering a stampede, and then making up for it with stunning landscapes and a wide range of wildlife. Burguret is more challenging, which is why it is less popular, yet equally pleasing to the eye, even between stretches of rough and muddy going.
Most travellers who decide to embark upon a journey to Mount Kenya, whether they climb to the summit or not, are left with a gratifying awe at the country’s many marvels. With a number of lesser peaks and glaciers that are more easily scaled, you can even choose to split your time between the Mountain and its surrounding forests where elephant, buffalo, lion, antelope, servals and leopards roam.