Mount Kenya is Africa’s second highest mountain at 5,199m
. At the centre of the massif, the main peaks rise sharply from around 4,500m to the main summit of Batian 5,199m, Nelion 5,188m and Point Lenana 4,985m. Batian and Nelion can only be reached by professional climbers with technical skills. Point Lenana, the third highest point is the target for most climbers as technical skills are not required.
The Three Principal Trekking Routes on Mount Kenya:
Popular Route Combinations:
Naro Moru route (4 days) - 40km: This is the fastest route, but it is not as scenic as the others. The Naro Moru route’s steepness and direct approach to the peak makes it more challenging to acclimatise on than others, however the itinerary offers plenty of time for a safe and successful ascent and descent. The Naro Moru route also features the legendary "Vertical Bog", a steep quagmire of wet moorland that is extremely taxing and unpleasant after rains.
Chogoria route (5 days) - 92km: The route passes the enchanting Hall Tarns and looks down sheer cliffs into the spectacular Gorges Valley and onto the beautiful Lake Michaelson. Chogoria route is the most scenic route and has beautiful access to Point Lenana. Above the habitable altitude, you find a rainforest zone, abundant with many tree species and wildlife. Further up is open moorland, and beyond is the snow line where vegetation is sparse.
Sirimon route (4 days) – 53km: A more gradual trek to the summit, traversing areas of rich forest cover before emerging into the sprawling moorlands. The trail climbs up through an astonishing Yellowwood forest that gradually turns into moorland covered with giant heather. At Old Moses Hut the main track becomes a path that gently leads uphill before splitting into two routes. The vegetation becomes sparser, with giant lobelia and amazing groundsels.
Chogoria / Naro Moru route (5 days) – 92km: Ascent is on the dry side of the mountain, which offers some of the finest walking. Climb up through the forest into a wide ridge approach to the summit area. The route starts on the north-west side of the mountain near Nanyuki.
Sirimon / Chogoria route (5 days) – 90km: On this route, you ascend via the drier Sirimon route and descend on the scenic Chogoria route. Above the habitable altitude, you find a rainforest zone, abundant with many tree species and wildlife too. Further up is open moorland, and beyond is the snow line where vegetation is sparse.
Mount Kenya offers easy or challenging ascents with superb scenic beauty. The mountain area above the 3,200m contour forms the national park. Part of the mountain’s fascination is the variation in flora and fauna as the altitude changes. The lower slopes are covered with dry upland forest, but the true montane forest begins at 2,000m and is mainly cedar and podo. At 2,500m begins a dense belt of bamboo forest, which merges into the upper forest of smaller trees, interspersed with glades. In this area, the trees are festooned with high altitude moss. The high altitude heath at the top (3,000 – 3,500m) is generally open, dotted with shrubs like African Sage, Proteas and Helichrysum. The peak (above 3,500m) is moorland. Many rivers flow from the perpetual snows and among them the mighty Tana, Kenya’s largest and longest river flows.
In 1997 UNESCO inscribed Mount Kenya, a World Heritage Site, as “one of the most impressive landscapes in Eastern Africa with its rugged glacier-clad summits, Afro-alpine moorlands and diverse forests that illustrate outstanding ecological processes”. In the park, there are over 800 recorded plant species with 81 species being endemic to Mount Kenya. There is also a wide variety of wildlife such as elephant, buffalo, eland, bushbuck, waterbuck, zebra, hyena, Colobus monkey, white-throated guenon and common at higher altitudes, the ubiquitous Monte Kenya rock hyrax. Animals rarely seen include leopard, bongo, giant forest hog and rhino.