Mount Kenya is an impressive volcano that sits very close to the equator. It is Kenya's highest mountain, with three peaks hovering around the 5,000m mark - Batian (5,199 metres (17,057 ft)), Nelion (5,188 metres (17,021 ft)) and Point Lenana (4,985 metres (16,355 ft). The mountain is an incredibly important watershed, providing water for about 50% of Kenya’s population and producing 70% of Kenya’s hydroelectric power.
Mount Kenya's Highest Peak
The technical peak of Mount Kenya is at Batian (5199m) but unless you are a technical climber it is going to be out of reach as it sits atop a series of chimneys, pitches and gullies. Trekkers aim instead for Point Lenana (at 4985m just 15m shy of breaking through the 5000m barrier). The ascent is in no way diminished, as Point Lenana still sits proudly and independently of the twin peaks of Batian and Nelion with sweeping 360 degree views. It is a challenging peak in of itself with the altitude and relatively steep approach to Point Lenana to contend with. From the summit, the views stretch over the African plains, the nearby Aberdares and onto Kilimanjaro in the far distance.
Mount Kenya's Flora and Fauna
Apart from the stunning mountain scenery, one of the highlights of Mount Kenya is the extraordinarily diverse wildlife and flora. The lower slopes of Mount Kenya are thickly forested and plays host to elephant, buffalo and eland. The upper slopes have a rare Afro Alpine habitat with heath land, glacial valleys and some unusually large plant life playing host to birds, mice and rock hyrax.
Trekking Mount Kenya
There is a choice of trekking routes on the mountain varying from 4 days to 7 days. The nearest town and starting point is Nanyuki. Trekkers can choose to either camp (at designated sites) or stay in the mountain huts.
Best Time to Trek Mount Kenya
Mount Kenya has several small glaciers (although fast disappearing), so it's cold year round. At night at the higher elevations the temperature can drop as low as 14 Fahrenheit (-10 Celsius). Typically the early mornings on the mountain are sunny and dry, and clouds often form by noon. It is possible to hike Mount Kenya throughout the year but it gets more difficult during the rainy seasons from mid-March to mid-June and October to mid-December.
Most trekking routes take 3-7 days to complete. It is highly recommended that you go on an organized trek, or at the very least contact the Mountain Club of Kenya, before you trek.
The Sirimon - Chogoria Route
The Sirimon Chogoria traverse is arguably the definitive Mount Kenya trek. Mount Kenya reaches an altitude of 5,199m, but the trekker’s peak at Point Lenana is at 4,985m. This traverse enters at the Sirimon Gate ascends up towards Point Lenana and then down the Chogoria route to the Chogoria Gate.
The Sirimon - Chogoria traverse usually takes 6 or 7 days in total. The ascent is up the scenic and relatively easy Sirimon route – the most popular route up the mountain. The descent goes down Chogoria which is unarguably the most striking on the mountain, featuring incredible sheer sided gullies, tarns and waterfalls. The route is 60km in length and includes an ascent (and descent) of 2,400m.
The Sirimon – Naro Moru Route
The Sirimon - Naro Moru traverse is the most popular route for trekkers on Mount Kenya. It owes its popularity to the steady rate of ascent (up Sirimon) and the quick descent that is possible down Naro Moru route. Whilst it doesn’t cover all the features of this beautiful mountain the route itself is very scenic passing up the sweeping Mackinder’s Valley towards Shipton’s Camp and then descending through the notorious vertical bog and dense rainforest on the Naro Moru route. The route is just under 60km in total and involves an ascent (and descent) of 2,400m.
The Burguret – Chogoria Route
The Burguret - Chogoria is an intriguing alternative traverse on Mount Kenya. The Burguret route was recently reclaimed from the forest after years of neglect. As a result it still sees very few trekkers, so this is the route if you are looking for real solitude and wild camping. Having climbed Buruguret to the trekker’s peak at Point Lenana (4,985m), the traverse follows down the most beautiful route on the Mountain, Chogoria.
The Burguret - Chogoria traverse spans a distance of 61km and going on the Burguret route is particularly tough with rough often overgrown trails.
The Timau Route
Timau is little used nowadays, and there are few facilities, little marked paths and sparse tree cover on this side of the mountain, so the ascent is mostly through wide open country.
Option 1: 4 Day Sirimon Naro Moru
Departure on any day
Day 1: Transfer from Nairobi to Sirimon park gate 2600m + p.m. Hike to Oldmoses hut 3,340m
Day 2: Hike from Oldmoses to Shiptons hut 4,200m
Day 3: Summit climb from Shipton’s to Pt. Lenana 4,985m + descent to Mackinder’s hut 4,300m (or Met Station 3,000m)
Day 4: Trek Mackinder’s/Met Station to Naro Moru gate 2600m + Transfer back to Nairobi.
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Option 2: 5 Day Sirimon Naro Moru
Departure on any day.
DAY 1 Nairobi to Old Moses Hut 3,340m
DAY 2 Old Moses Camp 3,340m - Liki North Camp 3,990m
DAY 3 Liki North Camp 3,990m - Shiptons Camp (4,236m)
DAY 4 Summit Day (4,985m)
DAY 5 Descend and Return to Nairobi
Option 1: Sirimon - Chogoria Traverse
Route duration: 6 days on the mountain
Total hiking distance: Approximately 77 Kms.
Day 1: Nairobi - Mountain Rock Lodge
Day 2: Trek to Old Moses Hut (3340m)
Day 3: Old Moses - Shipton's (4236m)
Day 4: Shipton's Acclimatisation (4236m)
Day 5: Summit (4985m) and Nithi Camp (3300m)
Day 6: Meru Bandas (3000m)
Day 7: Nairobi
Option 1: 7 Days Mount Kenya Burguret Chogoria Traverse
DAY 1: MOUNTAIN ROCK LODGE - 1950m
DAY 2: GIANT BAMBOO CAMP – 2,600m.
DAY 3: HIGHLAND CASTLE – 3,700m.
DAY 4: SHIPTON’S CAMP – 4,236m.
DAY 5: NITHI CAMP - 3,300m.
DAY 6: MERU BANDAS – 3300m.
DAY 7: NAIROBI - 1650m.